Monday, July 28, 2008

Cloud Watching

Mommy and I played a game today
We laid flat upon the grass
She said to watch the clouds roll by
She said, “Study them as they pass.”

The sky was blue as the ocean
Fluffy clouds far as we could see
They tumbled and they swirled
Then a puppy looked down at me.

His ears rolled to the left and right
Then suddenly he was gone
That cloud then formed a pirate ship
As I watched there from the lawn.

We saw animals and people
As the day ticked slowly by
There were so many things to find
As we gazed into the sky.

The clouds are always twirling
They look down on you and me.
There’s magic all above us
It only takes time to see.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Don’t Let a Bully Control You: Tips for Standing Up to a Bully

If a bully is making your life miserable, it’s time to take control. You’re an important person. No one has the right to threaten you. Being bullied can make you feel lonely, sick, and desperate. Here are a few tips to stop the bullying:

  • Take a stand. Sometimes a bully doesn’t think anyone will stand up to him. When you stand up for yourself, he will realize you’re stronger than he thought. Be brave! You can do it.

  • Tell someone. If you’re at school, tell a teacher. Let them know you’re being bullied and ask for help. If that teacher doesn’t help, go to another teacher. If you’re being harassed in your neighborhood or somewhere else, talk to an adult. Tell your parents, your aunt, your uncle, or another adult. Someone will listen.

  • Get together. Bullies don’t usually pick on one person. Get together with someone else who is being bullied and talk about how you’re feeling. Help each other stand up to the teasing. The bully will get the hint that you’re not taking it anymore.

  • Know you’re an important person. Tell yourself how important you are. You have a right to live a happy life. You don't deserve to be bullied.

  • Don’t sink to his level. Fighting isn’t the solution. Don’t get discouraged, give up, and think that fighting is the answer. It isn’t. Be strong. Eventually, the bully is going to be in trouble for his behavior.

    • By using these tips, you’re taking control of the situation. Remember: Don’t give up! By being brave and standing up for yourself, you’re going to become a stronger person.

      Sunday, July 20, 2008

      Stop the Argument -- 3 Steps to Apologizing to a Friend

      It’s important to apologize if you’ve done something to hurt a friend and the two of you ended up having an argument. Sometimes it’s hard to tell someone you’re sorry, that you’re in the wrong. However, there are ways to make up and save the friendship.

      Here are tips on fixing and keeping your relationship:

      • Don’t wait too long. Let your tempers cool down, but don’t end up waiting too long. Talk to your friend about the argument. Chances are your friend feels as badly as you do. Talking about the problem might keep you and your friend from arguing about the same thing later. If you don’t take care of the problem, the next time, it could be an even bigger issue.

      • Try to understand why your friend’s feelings were hurt. We’re all different people, and we see things differently. Ask them to also understand why the argument happened, and explain why you felt the way you did.

      • Tell your friend you’re sorry and you’ll try not to let it happen again. Your friend needs to know you care about him and his feelings.

        • Even though friendship is work, it’s worth it. Can you imagine your life without friends? You won’t have to worry about that if you use the three steps listed above. Your friends will be glad you care enough about them to work on your friendships.

          Wednesday, July 16, 2008

          Help Your Child Live a Healthier Life

          I realized a long time ago my brain is too food-focused. I can’t count the times I’ve given directions like these…
          “Go up two stop lights, turn left at Logan’s, and then right at Texas Roadhouse.” (Or Taco John’s or Taco Bell… any restaurant could have been a source of reference.)
          Now what’s that all about? Is my inner navigational system linked to every restaurant in town? (Actually, I’m afraid it might be!) Why didn’t I mention Best Buy or Macy’s? Something’s definitely wrong with that picture.
          Our nation is more overweight than ever before. I wonder why. Could part of it be because when I watch television I’m bombarded with commercial after commercial about a bigger burger, cheesier fries, or bigger slab of fish?
          I joke, but it’s actually no joking matter. Dining out too often adds additional weight. It’s harder to take weight off than it is to put it on. It’s not easy to make a wise food choice when faced with so many options. So why not help your child start a healthier lifestyle now?
          Try these easy tips:

          • Our children follow our lead. If we eat unhealthy foods, they’re more likely to do the same. Encourage healthier snacks and meals. The best time to teach them is when they’re young.

          • Eat at the dinner table. It’s easy to overeat while watching television. Make sure the television is turned off during meals.

          • Don’t chastise your child for overeating. Let them know you love them and want the best for them, but tactfully encourage them to watch portion sizes.

          A couple tips about activity:

          • Limit time in front of the television or video games. Once your child has become a “couch potato,” it’s hard to break the habit. Kids need to be active at least one hour a day. Encourage your child to get moving.

          • Exercise. Try some stretches. Add a daily exercise routine or take a 30-minute walk 4-5 times weekly. (Don’t forget to warm up and cool down.)

          The dinner table is a place for families to come together. Our families are pulled in so many different directions during the day. Getting your child to eat healthier and exercise takes work, but it’s work that pays off. By following these simple tips, you’ll have a healthier child, save a few calories and help your family reconnect.

          Saturday, July 12, 2008

          Lisa Land

          I’m an organizer fiend.

          Now please don’t misinterpret that. That’s “organizer," not “organizing." There’s a difference. Trust me.

          I envy the people that can organize the fool out of things. They have organized book shelves, organized day planners, organized pantries. Heck, they even have organized underwear drawers. But I just can’t seem to get the hang of it.

          My dream isn’t to have a Martha Stewart home. Nope. That’s beautiful and all, but I want a family-friendly home. I want my family to feel comfortable in our home. I want the kids to feel like they can pull toys out and play with them. I’d just like to have everything in its place, though. Toys piled in their bins, books stacked neatly on book shelves, and shoes resting neatly in the shoe basket by the front door.

          However, life isn’t like that in Lisa Land. The toys spill over the toy box with a teddy bear flopped over the side, begging me to save him. The books are in baskets, all right, but they’re backwards, forwards, upwards, and downwards. The shoes seem to have given birth. It looks like every shoe in our closet walked straight into that basket.

          So I buy organizers. You’d think, “She has the tools, now she has the ability to organize. Right?” Nope. Not me. Not here in Lisa Land.

          Take, for instance, the stackable drawer bins I bought for the grandchildren to keep toys in. I printed a picture of each child and placed it on the front of their individual drawer. Smart, hmm? Nope again...still no cigar.

          The drawers are stacked neatly on top of one another like they should be, but each drawer has only a toy or two toys in it. That’s it. The rest of the toys are once again spilling over the toy box. The bear still hangs there, doe eyes pleading with me.

          I’m scared to death my girls will call one of those organizer shows. They’ve threatened it. (And I threatened them, of course!) They said I’m the only unorganized person they know with a million and one organizers. Go figure.

          The only consolation is that my grandchildren absolutely love Lisa Land. That’s the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box. The books may be askew, the toys piled, and the shoes multiplying, but they love Grandma’s house. Who could ask for more?

          Tuesday, July 8, 2008

          How to Color Sand

          Your trip to the beach was a blast and you picked up some sand while you were there. What can you do with it? Color it, that’s what! Then you can use it for any craft you want and it’ll be extra special, because it’s a souvenir.

          Supply list:

          Fine sand
          Food coloring
          Paper towels
          Paper cups
          Plastic spoons

          Neat tip:

          For easy cleanup, spread newspaper on the surface you’ll be working on. When you’re done, you can just fold up the newspaper and throw it out.

          Here’s what you do:

          Fill paper cups half full with sand.

          Add enough water to cover sand.

          Add food coloring. (It may take quite a bit of food coloring, depending on the shade you want. Start with a little and then add more until you get the color you want.)

          Stir with a plastic spoon.

          Wait for 30 minutes. It takes awhile to color the sand. Be patient!

          Drain off water.

          Put paper towels over the newspaper and then spread out paper towels on top of the newspaper.

          Spread out the sand and allow it to dry completely.

          What can you use it for?

          You can use your sand for lots of different crafts. Try these:

          You can glue wiggly eyes to seashells and lay them on top of the colored sand.
          You can dye the sand different colors and layer them in a baby food jar.
          You can put some of your sand in the bottom of a baby food jar, add water and blue food coloring and drop in a seashell. Now you have your own ocean in a jar!

          Monday, July 7, 2008

          The Apple Tree

          My husband’s grandfather and grandmother bought a special gift for my daughter, Angie, when she was two years old. It was an apple tree. That apple tree has stood in our side yard for 23 years. It’s not just an apple tree, though. It has special meaning.

          It was a beautiful spring day when Grandpa Ray and Grandma Pansy carried a bucket of water, the new tree, and a shovel to our yard. Angie followed them, so eager to help. They helped her pick a spot to plant it, explaining that it needed lots of sunlight. When Grandpa Ray started digging the hole, Angie wanted to help. Since she wasn’t big enough to push the shovel into the ground, Grandpa showed her how to place her foot on top of his and they pushed together. He helped her tenderly place the tree inside. She pushed some dirt into the hole first, and then he finished covering the tree.

          Grandma Pansy handed Angie a cup and showed her how to dip the water and pour it around the newly planted tree. Angie watched the water seep into the ground.

          Grandpa and Grandma talked about each step of the process as the three of them planted that tree. Angie had lots of questions. They answered each one with patience.

          That apple tree flourished. I look out the window and see the small green apples that will make up this year’s harvest. There have been quarts and quarts of apple pie filling made from that one small tree. There were also apple pies and apple butter. Even though the apples are sour to the taste, each year both of my girls have to eat one straight from the tree.

          Through the years, there were many hours spent in Grandma Pansy’s kitchen preparing tasty goodies. The kitchen smelled of cinnamon on those days. It was hard waiting to get a taste. My girls didn’t just watch us work. They helped. They turned the apple peeler when they were little, and they filled jars and helped in other ways when they were bigger.

          Grandpa Ray and Grandma Pansy are both gone now, but the apple tree remains. So do the memories of all the apples and years past. Good memories. Memories of family time, laughter, and love shared with people near and dear to our hearts.

          It was something as simple as planting a tree, but in the process, they created memories.

          Create memories. Share with your loved ones… time, laughter, and love. There’s nothing else in the world like it.

          Saturday, July 5, 2008

          The Ability to Laugh at Myself

          Ask me about it sometime… the ability to laugh at myself. I have that ability. It came at an early age, because I was always doing silly things… and getting caught doing them!

          I’ve had a sense of humor as long as I can remember. Between that and my crazy laugh, my friends in school dubbed me “Chuckles.” Yes, a silly nickname. But they hit the nail on the head.

          Some days I wonder how I end up doing the silly things I do. Like the time I tried to remove my pantyhose without removing my slacks first. Or the time I fell across a mop bucket in gym class…a mop bucket with wheels! Talk about the ride of my life!

          Through these and other goofy moments in my life, I’ve gained the knowledge that there are times in our lives when we just have to laugh at ourselves. Why not? Sure, it might be embarrassing, but it might also be hilarious. Why not just admit it and have fun with it? I mean, come on... I ended up with a pair of pantyhose with one leg made to fit a long-legged giraffe and the other made to fit a short-legged pony! Who else in the world could say that? (If you’re raising your hand at this point, we have to talk!)

          I realize there are times to be serious and there are times to have fun. I’ve had a lot of the serious side. But I’ve also had a lot of the funny side. Our lives are what we make them. If we don’t share laughter, we’re missing out on blessings. Laughter brings people together. It makes a day brighter.

          I laugh, therefore I'm blessed.

          Through finding the ability to laugh at yourself, you too will be blessed. You’ll find a smile on your face as well as a smile on the faces of others. You’ll also discover the sunshine in your day.

          Laugh. Laugh hard, laugh long, and laugh with others.

          Be blessed.

          Friday, July 4, 2008

          The People Watcher

          My Grandma Susie was a very special part of my family’s life. Grandparents are wonderful people. They have so much to teach us. There was a particular day when I was about 10-years old that Grandma taught me a special lesson.

          My mother, Grandma Susie, sisters, and I were shopping. I’d grown tired and asked Momma if I could sit beside Grandma. She took me to Grandma, who was sitting on a bench beside the exit doors, and then went to finish her shopping.

          I sat quietly for a few minutes. Grandma also sat quietly, her slim hands folded together atop her pocketbook. She watched as each customer walked through the doors. She followed the procession of people, her head turning back and forth, back and forth. She didn’t utter a word. Finally, I couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

          “Grandma, what are you doing?”

          “Why, I’m watching people, Lisa.”

          I hesitated before asking my next question. “Why?”

          Grandma Susie stopped and looked down at me with a gentle smile on her face before going back to the procession. She spoke as her head turned from side to side.

          “Lisa Ann, there are millions of people in the world. God made each one of them different. They have different noses, different eyes, different skin…each one is unique.”

          I pondered Grandma’s words and began watching the procession. She was right. One man’s nose was long; the other man’s nose was short with a bump on the end; one woman’s skin was creamy; the other woman’s skin was dark brown. I tried to find two people that looked alike as we waited for Momma to finish shopping. I couldn’t.

          That day, my Grandma Susie passed on her love for “people watching.” I love to sit quietly on the sideline and look at the differences in people’s faces, eyes, lips, and noses… the things that make them each an individual. Those individuals create such an interesting world around us if you just take the time to stop and look.

          When you look at others, appreciate what makes them different. Difference isn’t a bad thing. It’s what makes us unique.

          Thursday, July 3, 2008

          Fourth of July Wishes

          The Fourth of July, Independence Day… whichever you choose, tomorrow will be celebrated throughout the country with families and friends gathering for fireworks, barbeque, desserts, and some good old socializing.

          Kids and adults alike will enjoy breathtaking fireworks displays. Who can’t help but “oooh” and “aaah” at the beautiful colors popping and bursting overhead, threads, spinners, and tails trailing through the air until they disappear into the darkened sky?

          I’m a sucker for the displays. When my children were young, I sometimes thought I enjoyed the fireworks more than they did. But of course, I’ll always be a child at heart. I believe our world would be a much happier place if we try to remember what it’s like to be a child.

          Watch the sky tomorrow night. Watch it light up with the hues of the rainbow. Then find a young child’s face. I’m sure it will put a smile upon your face as they’re enraptured with the sights before them. Remember what it’s like to have that fascination, that awe and that sense of wonder at something so amazing, so untouchable… and then remember the child inside you.

          Enjoy your family, your friends, and especially your children. Teach them the history of Independence Day, but above all, teach them to enjoy childhood, to grasp the moment and end the day with a smile!

          HAPPY FOURTH!

          Lisa Kirby

          For the history of July the Fourth, click on the link below.

          Wednesday, July 2, 2008

          “The Case of Beethoven’s Bandit” by T.A. Sigafus

          Whether or not your interests include music, “The Case of Beethoven’s Bandit” is a book that will engage readers with laughter and suspense. I met the author, T.A. (Terri) Sigafus, and had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with her at the 2007 Missouri Writer’s Guild Conference in St. Charles, Missouri. I found her to be an extremely charming and sweet person. Also a talented musician, Terri plays the cello and she shares her love for music through her writing. (She and her husband, Chad, create acoustic, folk-inspired children’s music.)

          In “The Case of Beethoven’s Bandit,” Sigafus mixes mystery and music for an entertaining story. The Little Maestros—Gert, Alexander, Wallaby, and Gracie—and their conductor, Madam Macaroni, receive a piece of music from their friend, Professor Podges. The music contains a hidden message. The children can’t find Professor Podges, and so they search for him and the pieces of Beethoven’s unfinished tenth symphony.

          The mystery is written in an entertaining way and children are taught a little about music in a subtle manner as they read this enchanting book. The characters are endearing and well crafted. My granddaughter and I read the book together. We read only a couple chapters each time she spent the night, and she was excited about starting each new chapter. We found ourselves laughing together often throughout the story.

          Terri talked about how she conceived the idea for the four main characters in her book. Four of her students in the private lessons she conducted were cut-ups and the Little Maestros were created. Having met Terri, I even noticed resemblances between Madame Macaroni and Terri. (Gotta love her!)

          The book is a wonderful read and I look forward to reading more of Terri’s books. Be sure to pick up “The Case of Beethoven’s Bandit” and curl up and enjoy!

          Visit Terri’s websites at the links below and happy reading!

          Official website of T.A. Sigafus

          Meet the Little Maestros