Thursday, June 30, 2011

Swimming Safety

Summer is a great time for being near the water, swimming, boating, water skiing, fishing, and wading by the waves. Summer is also the time of year where drowning and near drowning accidents occur even with the best of swimmers.

Here are a few tips to keep your children safe near the water.
  • Never let children swim alone. Always have a buddy, and swim where there are adults to supervise
  • Wear appropriate life vests for pools and boating especially if children and adults do not know how to swim
  • Supervise children around ponds and streams. Don't allow them to play alone near the water.
  • Consider swimming lessons for children who love the water but also for those afraid. Lessons can ease the fears and teach confidence.
  • Don't allow running on concrete surfaces near the pool. Running on wet surfaces can lead to falls in or near the water leading to drowning or cause injuries from the hard concrete.
  • Encourage rest periods out of the water every hour for 10-15 minutes. This keeps children from becoming over tired in the pool.
  • Use water proof sunscreen to prevent painful sunburn
  • Use caution when diving. Children should not dive off the side of a pool or into shallow water. Neck injuries leading to paralysis and near drownings are common with this type of activity.
These tips follow the lines of common sense but always a good reminder as summer gets into full swing. Sometimes children and adults that are overconfident become lax in supervising those children who may not be as skilled. Young children also may know the rules of the pool but forget when they are alone and that same pool looks so inviting. Keeping the ladder up and locked when no one is swimming will help to deter a young child from going into the water alone.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SFC Blog: Families Matter: July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop

SFC Blog: Families Matter: July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop: "What is a blog hop? A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS. When several blogs put the same linky list code on their b..."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thumb Sucking - How to Overcome This Behavior

Thumb sucking is a behavior found in many children from a very tender age. Reasons may vary from hunger, comfort, pleasure and safety. Many outgrow this habit in a short time, while for the others parents need to give a helping hand to quit this habit. Letting the child continue thumb sucking gives rise to dental problems, which is why it needs to be stopped.

Here are some ways parents can help children overcome thumb sucking:
1. Awareness - let him/her know impacts on their teeth and that it is also not a good social behavior. This will make them realize that he/she has been indulging in something which is not right.
2. Get a thumb guard - thumb guards are simple gloves which protect only the thumb and prevent the child from sucking on it. Encourage the child to wear the thumb guard till the time the habit is quit.
3. Attention - many times it is seen that the child craves for attention and thumb sucking becomes a habit. Give the child more attention and eventually the child will get rid of the habit.
4. Reward the child - appreciating and rewarding the child when he/she does not suck the thumb can be a motivating factor for the child to quit thumb sucking.
5. Distraction - thumb sucking is an unconscious behavior and as such the child does not realize that he/she is sucking the thumb. Distract the child when you notice thumb sucking by giving them activities which makes use of both hands.
6. Apply bitter/sour tasting liquid - applying the child's finger with vinegar/neem oil will help the child get rid of the habit of thumb sucking. Since the child sucks the thumb unconsciously, it will help the child realize that it is not to be done. However, do not forcefully apply the liquid on your child's thumb and tell them that it is to help him/her to get rid of the habit.
7. Peer pressure - getting your child to play with other children who do not suck their finger will help the child quit this habit. Peer pressure is a powerful motivating factor, which can help you help the child.

Punishing or embarrassing the child in front of others is not going to help the child quit the habit of thumb sucking. It is only going to hurt the child's self-esteem and not encourage quitting the habit.

Log onto for many interesting articles.

Monday, June 27, 2011

SFC Blog: Families Matter: July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop

SFC Blog: Families Matter: July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop: "What is a blog hop? A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS. When several blogs put the same linky list code on their b..."

Best Tips for Teaching Your Kids to Enjoy Hiking This Summer

How do you teach your children to enjoy hiking? Start early and make it fun! So says outdoor enthusiast extraordinaire and author Jeff Alt.

“Getting kids outside is more important than ever,” he says. “TV, computer and video game addictions are replacing outdoor play time. Passive inside entertainment is contributing significantly to the national obesity epidemic! It’s time to get off the couch America! Get the kids outside!”

Jeff is an avid hiker. In addition to walking the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail, he also walked the 218-mile John Muir Trail with his wife, and trekked across a 50-mile path of Ireland with his wife, young daughter, and extended family. He and his wife emerged from the church doors on their wedding day wearing backpacks, and his son was taken on his first hike at 8 weeks.

Jeff has lots of great advice about how to make sure you and the kids have a great time outdoors.

Start Early-Develop A Routine:

Give your kids a healthy dose of “Early Outdoor Intervention.” It will pay off later.

Start hiking with your newborn:

Infants and children weighing less than 15 pounds should be carried in a front body carrier or a sling.

Children weighing 16 to 40 pounds can fit into a child carrier backpack.

Children weighing more than 30 pounds might be ready to hike short distances and carry a little daypack.

Let the child lead. This helps you focus on what they’re interested in and keeps you from leaving them in your dust.
Get outside every day. Take a walk with the family once a day. Walk around the block, go to the park, go to the beach, and river. Get maps and books and search out and find new places to go. See new places all the time.

Save money and stop driving everywhere. Walk to the grocery store. Walk to your local restaurant for dinner and back. Walk to the library. Make walking and hiking as routine as brushing your teeth.

Bring the outdoors inside. Educate constantly to generate interest and enthusiasm. Take lots of pictures of the kids and places you go. Make posters for the family and living room and for Christmas cards. Get magazines, videos, and artwork that show places you want to go. Rent movies about faraway places. Use the Internet together to look at maps, and photographs of the wildlife, environments, and spectacular scenery you will be visiting someday.

Go high tech. Bring on the gadgetry! Turn your computer game nerds on to the adventure technology. (e.g. GPS, pedometers headlamp flashlights, geocaching) and teach them all about how these incredible devices are being used for fun, like scavenger hiking in the Shenandoah & Great Smoky Mtn Ntl. Parks (see Kat & John Lafevre’s Scavenger Hike Adventures).

Take the kids to local orienteering course and learn how to use GPS & compass together.

Involve the kids in planning out all trips and adventures. Older children can use the computer to research your destination or sport. (all national parks and most other destinations have websites chock full of facts & info., maps, wildlife).

Let the kids (especially teens) bring along a friend. Get permission from parents and make it a club adventure.

Prepare your family for your adventure:

Preparation is the key to a successful hike. Many of the same equipment decisions that you make for your own adventures can be applied to outfitting your children.

Research the destination & activity (Have your youngster help you with this-google, park websites, library, bookstore travel section, outfitters, etc.)

You’ve got mail! Send for maps and guidebooks of the area, and check with the local travel experts on hiking, rangers, guides, etc. Have the packages sent to your child or children.

Attend local slide shows or lectures (outfitters/libraries/bookstores) every chance you get.

Plan ahead – especially when you have younger children. Choose a trail that offers easy access to domesticated amenities. Having a base camp or prearranged lodging allows you to be a parent, not a Sherpa.

Check into transportation options. You should have a plan for what to do if you need to get off the trail.
Identify the restaurant and grocery amenities. Not only is it good to know what’s available before you arrive so that you’ll know what to pack, but if the weather turns bad, you can have an instantly viable backup plan.

Prepare and plan what you need based on what you find. What kinds of wildlife can you expect? Will water be available? What are the weather and terrain like? You want to avoid hiking in freezing temperatures, lightning storms, and extreme heat. You want to identify and find swimming holes, wildlife, enjoyable views, and great places to boulder, look at flowers, spectacular trees, and wildlife.

Acquire the Right Gear. Get everyone properly fitted into essential gear particularly boots and packs.

Clothing- NO COTTON! Dress in layers (synthetics, fleece, wool, and waterproof breathable items. Bring what you need for the weather and conditions you will encounter

Rain jacket






Deet Free bug repellant (Nutrapell, Coleman, etc.)

Children’s sunscreen

Train at home in your neighborhood with your kids before you go into the wild. Practice carrying your child in the child carrier. This will help you adjust to carrying the pack, and your child will acclimate to the routine. Take older children (age 4 and older) on weekly walks so that they are physically conditioned for the journey. Wear your boots and all your gear on your training hikes to condition you and make sure everything fits and works before you leave town.

Bring Plenty of Water:

An adult should pack quarts of water. Children will vary depending on age and exertion. Inquire about water availability before you hit the trail. Acquire a treatment system so you can use the water along the trail (water filter, Iodine tablets, etc.). Drink before you go. Stop and sip your water frequently. Don’t wait until you are thirsty.

Think Food – Think Fun:

Pack your kids favorite snacks. Desirable food will help encourage your kids to eat and stay energized. Pack more food than you think you will need.

Try out your food and your stove at home before your trip. Make sure you can cook food the kids will enjoy. When preparing your food, think compact, lightweight, and filling. Bring items that are easy to prepare or ready to eat.

Select foods that just need a little bit of water to prepare. Plan for two pounds of food per person per day. Eliminate bulky packaging; condense food into plastic bags. Pack an extra day’s worth of food.

  •  Freeze-dried meals
  •  Foil-wrapped meats such as tuna or chicken
  •  Dehydrated fruit and veggies 
  • Sliced apples, grapes, bananas, carrots 
  • Energy bars or granola bars 
  • Peanut butter 
  • Cheese and sausage 
  • Bagels, crackers, candy bars, nuts, 
  • Tortilla & cheese sandwiches 
  • Energy bars for kids (e.g. Cliff’s zbar for kids) 
  • Oatmeal of dried cereals

Depending where you go, remember to bring a food bag and rope to hang 10 feet up in a tree so the bears can’t get to it.

Learn First Aid and be prepared for trail emergencies:

Carry a first-aid kit, and brush up on child first aid and CPR. Learn about the dangers of hypothermia, and monitor children for signs. Pack all of your child’s medication.

Know the location of the nearest medical facility for you and the children.

Learn how to use a compass and map or GPS. Learn how to make a quick shelter to help keep you warm and dry. Keep matches and lighters dry and in a safe place. Know how to start a fire to keep warm. If you do get lost, make yourself as visible as possible. Place a bright item (e.g. item of clothing or gear) in the open. Make distress signals and make noise. If you brought a cell phone, check periodically to see if it works. Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member.

Keep the journey fun:

The driving priority with children is to make sure they have fun. Let them lead the way and tell you what they want to do. Whatever animal or rock your young child takes interest in, stop and explore with him or her. Talk to your child about what you’re seeing. Label the animals, rocks, trees, and flowers. Tone down your mileage goals to the comfort level of your child.

Engage older children with trip planning, animals, local history, or anything that applies to what they are learning in school.

Teach your children good backcountry ethics. Kids can learn to pack out trash, take nothing from the woods but memories and pictures, and proper backcountry toileting at a young age.

About Jeff Alt

In addition to walking the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail, Jeff Alt has walked the 218-mile John Muir Trail with his wife, and trekked across a 50-mile path of Ireland with his wife, young daughter, and extended family. He and his wife emerged from the church doors on their wedding day with backpacks. His son was taken on his first hike at 8 weeks.

Alt is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). His adventures have been featured in media nationwide including: ESPN, Hallmark Channel, the AP, CNN-Radio, NPR, and more. Alt's award-winning books, A Walk for Sunshine and A Hike for Mike, have been reviewed in Library Journal, Chicago Sun Times and more.

For more information visit




Sunday, June 26, 2011

Keep Kid's Brains from Going to Mush This Summer!

Keep Kid’s Brains from Going to Mush This Summer!

Keep learning going, summer-style…  

Parents and kids are gearing up for summer, and while kids do need a break from the school year (the months of homework, science projects and pop quizzes, OY!), there are ways that parents can make sure that all that hard work will not waste away these summer months – and at the same time keep kids active, now that there’s more time to fill!

Alisa T. Weinstein is the creator of Earn My Keep Allowance Program ( that teaches kids the value of money by test-driving real careers. Alisa’s new book Earn It, Learn It: Teach Your Child the Value of Money, Work, and Time Well Spent (Sourcebooks) profiles 50 fun careers and tasks associated with each career. Parents simply choose a career, pick a task, have their kids complete it within a set amount of time, and earn while they learn. The program is quick, easy, authentic, cheap, and most of all, FUN!

In short, Earn It, Learn It is packed with more than 950 engaging, educational, easy-to-do tasks absolutely perfect for restless kids, tired parents and endless summer days, including:

· Outdoor Adventure Guide: Fill an old school backpack with camping gear (like a pair of socks, flip-flops, sunscreen, and lip balm) and a raincoat and/or rain boots. Ask Mom or Dad to mist you with a squirt bottle or garden hose while you try to get your rain gear on and keep the rest of your backpack’s contents dry—Outdoor Adventure Guides must be prepared for any emergency!

· Geologist: “Bake” a mud pie. Build it layer by layer, starting with some thick mud. Layer on some gravel. More mud. Sand. More mud. Dirt. More mud. Then use a wide straw to drill into it—what does your straw pull out? And what are you going to do with the earth in the straw? Geologists have to consider these details before mining for rocks!

· Photographer: Take close-up shots of two, three, or four different textures in nature: a flower’s petal, a blade of grass, an earthworm’s wormy body. Print out your pictures and examine how the camera captured the subject’s texture and color. Then ask a family member to identify your subjects in three guesses—no hints!

Earn It, Learn It also helps parents tackle the ALLOWANCE issue by offering an exciting, proven alternative to “should we pay allowance for chores or not?”

Note from blog editor: I have reviewed this book on the site before and believe me this book is fun. It offers all kinds of activities to do with your children and many for the kids to do independently aside from earning money  or an allowance. This book will help to ward off the summer boredom.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer: Parenting Tips

Here we are again at the end of another school year and about to embrace the lazy, hazy days of summer. Graduations are taking place everywhere in the month of June. Every student is preparing for the next step in the journey of an academic career. Some students are getting ready to attend new schools after the graduation ceremony. It is a crossroad of change for all students as they face the challenges of a new school year. Many will be in different classrooms with a new teacher and routine at the start of the next school year and with that comes the topic that has an effect on students and those who help them with the after-school part of their schedules; homework. Does the new teacher give a lot of homework or not?
There are all sorts of hurdles that come with helping a young student with homework, particularly when it comes to math, where the subject can seem virtually unrecognizable to a parent or caregiver in comparison to the way another generation followed instructions in the subject matter. Nothing can bring homework help in math to a screeching halt faster than a student sighing and saying “That’s not how she said to do it.”
We’ve all heard the stories about the students in a class that are burdened with an overwhelming load of homework on a nightly basis. Granted, many of these tales may be somewhat inflated by the time we hear them.  The question remains; what is the appropriate amount of homework for each school grade?
Some people argue that homework should not be a part of the school day at all and that it puts unnecessary mental and emotional pressure on students. There is a documentary making the rounds, called “Road to Nowhere,” made by director, Vicki Abeles, who is also a parent, and the movie is igniting a movement against assigning homework to students. Do students get all the instruction they need in the academic school day or is homework an integral part of the overall picture serving as a review of work done in class?
Whatever your thoughts are on the debate of the relevancy of homework, pour yourself a tall glass of lemonade, relax in a hammock and rest comfortably knowing that aside from a summer reading list, there are no new homework assignments due until school opens again for the 2011-2012 school year. Enjoy your vacation.    

Be well, 
Alice Knisley Matthias
Education Writer

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: Babysitting Sugarpaw by Children's author VS Grenier

Babysitting SugarPaw

Author: VS Grenier

Illustrator: Kevin Scott Collier

ISBN: 978-1-935268-06-2

Halo Publishing 2009

This is a fun story about the antics of a bear while he has a babysitter. Sugarpaw changes the rule chart and makes a mess in the bath. He spills paints and does everything he can to make the babysitter not like him.

 In the end he feels bad about how he has acted.  The babysitter cleans up the messes and tucks Sugarpaw into bed. In the end the antics are between the two of them and Mama and Papa bear never know how silly Sugarpaw acted. The babysitter was the best after all.

Children will love this story because they will relate to Sugarpaw. Most little one's don't really like it when parents leave and sometimes they do act out with the babysitter. The illustrations are cute and enhance the story helping to engage the reader throughout the book.

This is a book that will be enjoyed over and over. Read what others have said:

BABYSITTING SUGARPAW Book Blurbs for back of book:

“Children will love to read about the mischievous antics of Sugarpaw who doesn't want to be babysat. Will Bonnie, a first-time babysitter, be able to keep Sugarpaw out of mischief until his parents return? Bonnie Whiskers finds she is up to the task, teaching Sugarpaw about patience along the way. Sweet illustrations by Kevin Scott Collier perfectly capture Bonnie's babysitting challenges.”

~ Donna Shepherd, Author of Chizzy's Topsy Tale

“Babysitting Sugarpaw is a very cute, funny, and sweet. Kids will love it.”

~James Dashner, Author of the 13th Reality Series and The Maze Runner

“A charming story of loving and being loved.”

~ Rick Walton, Children’s Book Author

“Ms. Grenier’s sense of humor sparkles in this picture book and Kevin Scott Collier’s illustrations add the perfect touch to a delightful story. Young readers will giggle as SugarPaw does his mischief. Perhaps they’ll also think twice about being a troublemaker when they have a babysitter, especially if she’s a good one like Bonnie Whiskers.”

~Beverly Stowe Mcclure, Author of Rebel in Blue Jeans

“Anyone who has ever done babysitting will be able to empathize with Bonnie and her plight. For that matter, so will anyone who has ever been babysat! Author VS Grenier has created a tender, heartwarming story that children will enjoy having read to them and parents will enjoy reading repeatedly. Babysitting SugarPaw should bring back a lot of fond, and perhaps a few not-so-fond, memories for both former babysitters and former children who were babysat.”

~ Wayne S. Walker, reviewer for Stories for Children Magazine

Get your copy today and enjoy a good book with your child. Visit the next stop on the tour for VS Grenier at

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Child Author: Ellen Keast

Kids of all ages will appreciate this new book by author Ellen Keast, most of all because she is a kid herself. What a talented author this young girl is?
A Rainy Week                                      

By Ellen Frances Keast


When an unforeseen storm threatens to ruin her family’s weeklong vacation at Lake Okoboji, it is up to eleven-year-old Ellen to brainstorm indoor adventures in lieu of their previously anticipated outdoor activities.

Summer vacation had finally arrived and Ellen could not be more excited. Not only did summer bring a much needed break from homework and cafeteria food, but also the opportunity for Ellen to enjoy her favourite activity—going to the lake! Ellen’s parents know there is no better way to celebrate the arrival of her favourite season than a trip to Lake Okoboji in northern Iowa. So to start their summer off with a bang, the Keast family quickly load up their car and head to the lake for some fun in the sun. As they draw nearer to their cabin, Ellen can hardly contain her excitement as she plans days full of swimming, fishing, and boat rides. However, as soon as the family arrives at the lake, a clash of thunder suggests that their summer is not the only thing starting off with a bang. The nice weather Ellen and her family had expected quickly vanishes into a week-long deluge of rain.

What’s a girl to do when it rains on her parade? For Ellen the answer is simple: have fun! Rather than letting the bad weather dampen her spirits, Ellen quickly brainstorms a week’s worth of indoor activities that are equally, if not more fun, than her previous outdoor plans. From card games and baking cookies at home, to fun-filled visits to the children’s theatre and indoor water park, Ellen has little time to brood over the bad weather. In fact, she proves that with a sunny attitude, one can make the most of any situation—even if it’s raining outside!

About the Author: Ellen Frances Keast is a full-time student with a wide array of talents. In addition to writing and illustrating A Rainy Week, the second book of her published series, Ellen has also participated and excelled in numerous speech and poetry competitions. In her spare time, Ellen enjoys playing the saxophone, gardening, and baking. The first book in the series, A Snowy Week, was written when she was in the first grade. Ellen Frances Keast currently lives in Harlan, Iowa where she is writing the next book for her series, A Sunny Week, which will be set in Hawaii. A Rainy Week by Ellen Frances Keast (published by Strategic Book Group, RPR $10) is available from the publisher’s website and Amazon Please visit the author’s website at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The World of Ink Network: It's All About Choice: Getting Back in the Game: c...

The World of Ink Network: It's All About Choice: Getting Back in the Game: c...: "Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network Show: The Writing Mama withhosts VS Grenier and Marsha Cook will be chatting with Herb D. Trainer...."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What if Your Child is the Bully?

Families Matter 2 Us.

What if your child is the bully?  This is a great question and one that is often overlooked. This article gives some tips and answers to this question because none of us wants to believe that our child could be the one doing this.

What if Your Child is the Bully

By: Kecia Burcham

We have been bombarded with information about bullying victims in the past few years with stories ranging from cyber bullying to suicide. Just yesterday, The Nashville Tennessean as well as national news carriers reported that the President and First Lady are taking a stand in affiliating themselves with the “It Gets Better” project.

There has been some controversy, but overall, we do pity the targets of this behavior. However, much of the news has overlooked the parent perspective of the bullies themselves. What if your child is the bully?

How do parents accept and deal with the fact that their child might very well be the problem? That’s a hard pill for most parents to swallow. According to Mental Health America, some indicators that your child might be a bully are that he or she -

• doesn’t have empathy for other kids or adults.

• tries to dominate or manipulate other kids or adults.

• likes feeling powerful and in control.

• is a poor winner (boastful or arrogant) and a poor loser.

• gets satisfaction from others’ fear or pain.

• is good at hiding bullying from adults.

• is excited by disagreements or troubles between others.

• blames others for problems.

• gets angry easily.

• has gotten into trouble for behavior before.

• is impulsive – hits, kicks, pushes or intimidates others.

• is intolerant or prejudiced towards other people or groups.

• may be a gang member.

Children who bully are more likely to grow up to be child and spouse abusers and are more likely to be involved in troubling or violent behaviors. The longer the behaviors are allowed to continue, the harder they are to stop.

So what can parents do?

First and foremost, take every opportunity to teach your child the skill of empathy. Research concludes that lack of empathy is the commonality among bullies and violent offenders. Help your child understand the impact of bullying on others and let him or her know that it is not okay. Enforce fair and consistent consequences for the behavior.

It is also important to teach your child appropriate ways to deal with anger and frustration and to reward or compliment better choices. When appropriate, encourage your child to “make amends”, but do not force this.

If the school does contact you about bullying behaviors your child has displayed, try to remain calm and do not be defensive or angry. It can be very difficult for a parent to hear and accept that their child is hurting another. Don’t assume the school or others are “out to get you”. They are not. No teacher or administrator likes to make that call. Remember that you are both working in the best interests of all children involved. Seek counseling or other outside help if bullying continues.

Continue reading more about bullying on What if your child is the bully? - Nashville Parenting

Kecia Burcham works as a middle school counselor and holds a masters degree in education/school counseling as well as being a certified trainer in the "7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" curriculum. She is also a certified NLP life coach, business coach, master weight loss coach and social/emotional intelligence coach. Kecia is a published poet, author and songwriter. She has worked in the field of education/psychology for 20 years and has one grown daughter. She can be reached at

Monday, June 20, 2011

Healthy Snack Kids Will Love


Makes 6 servings

Equipment Needed:

-Measuring cups

-Mixing bowls

-Spoon, Knife, Cutting Board


-1 ounce ranch dressing mix

-2 cups low-fat plain yogurt

-3 Celery stalks, cut into sticks

-3 Carrots cut into sticks


1. Cut each washed carrot or celery stick into 4 pieces.

2. Combine yogurt and dressing in a large bowl until blended.

3. Serve as a dip with celery and carrots sticks.

Nutrition Facts:

Serving size: 2 tbsp. dressing and 2 celery and carrots sticks

Calories: 79

Fat: 2 g

Sugar: 6 g

Protein: 5g

Sunday, June 19, 2011

July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop

What is a blog hop?
A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS. When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the exact same list appears on each blog.

Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list. The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.

Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can "HOP" from blog to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop:
Make friends, share the love of reading and be entered to win a FREE book!
All you have to do is post the Author and/or Book Spotlights I will send you. Promote them during the month of the July ’11 World of Ink Virtual Tour on any social network you have. Tweet it once a day, share on facebook and then follow others back that leave you a comment. Easy!

Hop Rules:
1.      Follow the Top link of the hop! Host: Families Matter
2.      Grab the button and put it in a post, sidebar, or blog hop page and let us know where it is here in the comments section. This will help the hop grow and gain us all new followers. It's a Win, Win for everyone!

Create your own banner at!
Copy this code to your website to display this banner!

Book Contest Rules:
·         One entry for each comment left per author blog stop. (must leave a real comment about the author, tour or book. Saying “this is cool” or “I love your book” will not count.) Make sure to include your safe email so we can contact you if you are the winner. Example: vsgrenier AT storiesforchildrenpublishing DOT com.
 Ask a question – get a bonus entry per author blog stop.

 World of Ink Tour Schedule for "Brush Barry Brush" by Linda Valderrama R.D.H

World of Ink Tour Schedule for "Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures: A Parent's Guide" by Clayton P. Thomas

Please play nice and follow our simple rules!

July ’11 World of Ink HOP is open
  Sunday June 26th at 12:00am to Saturday July 2nd at 11:59pm MST!

If you want to become a World of Ink Host and do a review or interview shoot me an e-mail:   

Please make sure you Follow the top link of hop if you want to link up!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Berry Pops- A Sweet and Tasty Treat.

Do you need a fun summer activity that doubles as a healthy sweet treat? Try these nutritious berry pops. Here is the recipe, easy and tasty too.


Makes 6 servings

Equipment Needed:

-Measuring cups and spoons

-Saucepan and blender

-Wooden spoon and hot pad, cookie sheet

-Paper cups, aluminum foil, popsicle sticks


-1/3 cup berry juice blend

-1 envelope of unflavored gelatin

-1 ½ cups low-fat vanilla yogurt

-1 ¼ cups frozen unsweetened berries


1. Place the juice in a pan and sprinkle the gelatin over it, Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until gelatin crystals dissolve.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and place on a hot pad.

3. Mix the yogurt, berries, and warm gelatin mixture in a blender. Secure lid and blend until smooth.

4. Fill six-ounce cups with the blended mixture and cover each with a sheet of aluminum foil. Place the cups on a cookie sheet.

5. Insert the popsicle stick in each cup by making a slit in the foil.

6. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze until hard.

7. Peel away the paper and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:

Serving size: 1 Popsicle

Calories: 71

Fat: 1 g

Protein: 3 g

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review: Troo Makes A Splash

Troo Makes A Splash

Author: Cheryl Crouch

Pictures: Kevin Zimmer

ISBN: 978-0-310718109

Pages: 32

Juvenile fiction/ Religious/Early Reader


Troo and his rain forest friends are at it again. Troo wants to swim so he blocks off the river to make a small swimming area. What does this do to his friends down river? Troo learns a lesson about how actions affect others in this easy reader story for children 4-7 years old.

Author Cheryl Crouch creates characters that children will relate to and puts them in situations that mimic real life. Children become engaged immediately and follow Troo through decisions and outcomes learning Biblical principles along the way.

I love Troo and all his antics. He first thinks of himself but as the story unfolds, Troo learns to think of others as he grows and changes. Children will love Troo and will enjoy reading this easy reader over and over again.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Interview with Children's Author and Publisher VS Grenier

Welcome award winning children's author and publisher VS Grenier here on the blog today.

I want to thank you for being my guest here on Families Matter SFC blog). You are an inspiration to writers and publishers with all that you have accomplished.

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became a children's book author.  
I’m a California girl and former fashion buyer for companies such as Hot Topic, Brighton Collectibles and Frederick’s of Hollywood (not in that order). I now live in Southern Utah with my husband, our three children, and our minature schnauzer Taz. I started writing for children after the birth of our middle child and our move to Utah. Even though I loved being home for the first-time with our children, I had a hard time not working. Writing helped fill that void in my life.

What inspired you to write? I didn’t start off writing to become an author. I thought it would be a nice hobby while I stayed home with my kids as I stated before. As I started writing in my spare time and taking writing courses, the writing bug bit me. Next thing you know, I’m sending out manuscripts to publishers. I look back and think, why didn’t I start writing sooner in life. I really love doing what I do and wouldn’t trade working from home for anything.

Do you consider yourself a born writer? No, I don’t. I’m still learning new tricks of the trade when crafting a story. There are times stories or article ideas come to me and then other times…I have to do writing prompts to help spark an idea or thought. But I don’t mind not being a born writer. It’s fun learning from my mistakes.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it? I can’t say I suffer from writer’s block in the way most writers do. I suffer from not having enough time in my day to jot everything down that comes to mind. Then when I do get the chance to sit and writer, I find it hard to remember the thought or idea I once had. I guess that’s kind of like writer’s block.

Have you had any training to become a writer? Yes, I’ve taken writing classes and workshops. And even though I teach writing courses now, I still attend conferences and take workshops. You never know if someone has some information you didn’t know about or has a better way of doing something you already know.

Do your children inspire any of books, characters, or plots? Yes, of course they do. My book “Babysitting SugarPaw” is based off my childhood and my son’s a little bit. I have another book which is based completely off my middle daughter. A lot of my short stories in magazines are also based off family members like my dad or mom. I think it is hard to keep your family or friends out of your books completely.

Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary, tell us about your publisher, and also how you got the idea for this book. My current book is “Babysitting SugarPaw” and is a picture book for children of all ages, even though picture books are for ages 3 to 8 mostly. What makes my book unique is the story teaches about friendship and honesty while a little bear named SugarPaw is left with a babysitter for the first-time. Bonnie Whiskers is a first-time babysitter and so together they learn about each other and how spending time with a babysitter can be fun…as long as you follow the rules or tell the truth.

It’s a great book for babysitters to take along and read to the child they are watching or for parents to read with children being left with a babysitter or caregiver. And if you like to create mischief…you’ll love this picture book, too.

What is a typical writing day like for you? I don’t have a typical writing day per say, but I do start all my mornings the same. I wake up and get ready for the day. Then I jump on the computer while the kids sleep in (now that it is summer) and check my emails. I do a bit of promoting for our World of Ink Tours here at Stories for Children and get my To Do list in order. After that, my day can go about a hundred different ways depending on my kids, household earns and what is on my To Do list.

I would love to have a typical writing day, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon for me. I can say this…I work about 20 to 22 hours a day between my family, Stories for Children and my personal writing/editing.

What is the most difficult part of writing? Finding the time to sit down and just write. I’m busy as an editor for Halo Publishing and my small company Stories for Children Publishing. When I’m not spending time working on assignments or tasks for either one, I’m busy being a mom. My son fences, so that takes up a lot of our time at night. My middle daughter is in soccer and swimming, and the baby is just fun to go on walks with or build towers of blocks with.

Do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other jobs? Yes, very much so. I wish there was a way to get more hours in the day to do everything I would love to do, but there isn’t. Finding balance can be very hard even if you don’t have children or a full time job as a writer. Life happens and you can’t stop it from getting in your way from time to time. The trick is to steal those small amounts of time to jot down a sentence, scene or thought. Then when you can, carve some time to just sit and weave them together into a story.

What do you enjoy most about writing for children? I love being able to draw upon my life and my family’s lives to tell a story. I don’t know about most writers, but I have some very interesting family stories to help spark storylines. My first short story “Flying Upside Down” is based off two stories my dad use to tell me as a kid about his dream of becoming a pilot. Both the stories are true and were perfect backdrops to my short story about a boy wanting to fly.

On a side note: “Flying Upside Down” has been published three times over the years in Fandangle Magazine, Stories for Children Magazine and by Pearson.

Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them? I have two picture books almost ready to be submitted to publishers. I also have two YA novels I’ve been working in when I get the chance. One of them is in rough draft form. Meaning it’s my first draft and no one will ever see it until I’ve made a billion revisions. LOL. The other is only outlined, but the story likes to play as a movie in my head at night when I’m sleeping. I guess I need to write it soon before I get locked up in the padded room.

Tell us about your writing space? My office is fun place to be. It’s kind of like the second family room of our house. I have my desk area and to my right is my kid’s desk/computer area. I also have a futon/couch, TV and Wii system in my office. My kids like to play games while I work. It’s nice because they still get to visit with me and I get some work done at the same time.

What is the most difficult part of writing for children? Letting others read my work. Sounds funny I know, especially since I’m an editor, however, I’m never totally happy with my work. I have a hard time letting it go and sending it out for submission.

Tell us about the marketing process for authors. What do you do to market and sell your books? I tend to do a lot of online marketing. I find it very hard to get out and do in person marketing with my little ones in tow. However, this Summer I am focusing on local in person marketing opportunities. I think it is important to use as many marketing tools as you can.

I think for children’s authors it is important to let your reader not only get to know your book, but also you as an author. I think sharing information they would be interested is important and builds a fan base. I don’t believe it pushing my books or writing on my fans or readers. I like sharing information with others and if they buy my work…that’s just a bonus to me. 

Do you make school visits? If so, please describe a typical school presentation. Yes, I do make school visits. So far I have done visits for author nights and have been a judge for writing contests at schools where I also share writing tips with those interested.

I have recently put together a workshop I've done with some kids in my area on how to craft a book. In this workshop the children each work on writing their own short story. I teach them the basic rules of writing a story and then once they are finished. I critique and edit their work with them. After they are happy with their finished story, I publish it into a book for them to give to family and friends. The kids really love this workshop.

If you are interested in having me come speak, do a workshop or school visit, you can find out more about the types of things I’ve done or offer on my website or I can be reached via email at storiesforchildren AT vsgrenier DOT com. This is my author email and not my company email.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? Of course, keep writing and reading. Never give up on your dreams. Surround yourself with people who will lift you and support your goals. Don’t give up and come visit me in the World of Ink at or

Follow the next stop for award winning author and publisher VS Grenier at

SugarPaw hopes to get rid of his babysitter, Bonnie Whiskers. Anyone who has ever done babysitting will be able to empathize with Bonnie Whiskers and her plight.

Come follow along during my June 2011 World of Ink Tour and one lucky Blog Hopper will Win a FREE autographed copy of my book "Babysitting SugarPaw."

The rules are easy. Leave a comment, your name and email (example vsgrenier AT storiesforchildrenpublishing DOT com), and you will be put into a random drawing. The more blogs you visit and comments you leave, the more your name will be entered.

One comment per blog equals One Entry!

If you ask a question at a blog, I'll give you a bonus entry.

Good luck! Contest ends June 30th.
VS Grenier's World of Ink Tour Schedule


*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.