Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Lots of families are trying to be more frugal these days, and one way to save a lot of money is to stop eating out and buying fast foods. Cooking from scratch can be time consuming, but here's a way to make it work. Cook enough for several different big dinners at one time. Then divide each dish into several sections, each big enough for a family meal, and freeze the ones you don't intend to serve right away. Cooking enough for a week or so all at once and then heating some up each night won't require much more total time than going to restaurants or waiting for pizza deliveries, and rotating the dishes will keep them from becoming monotonous.
It might seem boring to stay home, but a picnic doesn't cost much and provides a change of scene. And reading a book out loud to the whole family, or playing board games together can be an inexpensive substitute for going to a movie and offers a change from watching TV or playing video games.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
When kids have to wait, they may get squirmy and impatient. Now there's a new way to keep them entertained in checkout lines, long drives, doctors' offices etc. Everyone has heard of e-books, which can be downloaded to computers, but now there are books for kids that can be downloaded to devices like cellphones and i-pods so children can enjoy them wherever they may be. Maybe the new kind of books will be called I-books.
Unlike traditional hard copies, the downloaded ones probably won't be something kids will be able to share with their own children and grandchildren someday because of technological changes, but I-books won't take up shelf space or be one more thing to be put away when kids (or parents) clean their rooms, and they can easily be carried anywhere. And they'll probably help kids improve their reading skills and motivate them to read more. The I-books also cost less than hard copies. Here's an example of one if you want to learn more:
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Before there was a National Earth Day, that event was first celebrated locally in Berkeley, CA where I worked at the California School for the Deaf.
The dorms were having an epidemic of head lice, which most of the staff had never even heard of before. At the school nurse's suggestion, the counselors had tried using various medicines to kill the lice, but nothing seemed to help. Probably because all the children's combs and brushes were washed in the same tub of water each week, the horrible creatures continued to infest everyone. Finally, in desperation, one of the dormitory counselors went to the Public Health Department and returned with something they had assured her would eliminate the lice.
That's why we spent the very first Earth Day putting DDT on the heads of all the children.
(Yes, it worked, but I'm sure nobody will ever celebrate Earth Day by doing that again.)
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Okay, grown-ups, this post is for you. If you have a kid who won't eat healthy vegetables, here are some tips that may help:
1. Let children help grow and harvest vegetables for family meals.
2. Add pureed vegetables to pasta sauce, soups, or casseroles in small amounts. (Green spaghetti isn’t appealing.)
3. Boil celery in a mixture of apple juice and water for a sweet taste.
4. Offer freeze-dried vegetables, often found in natural food stores, as snacks.
5. Serve peas, beans, and young asparagus raw.
6. French fry beans or thin slices of zucchini with plenty of salt.
7. Serve tomato slices with sugar on them.
8. Teach kids to prepare and cook vegetables for the family.
Friday, April 17, 2009
I just read two books in the Davis Detective Mystery series by Rick Acker, The Case of the Autumn Rose and the Lost Treasure of Fernando Montoya. Both were well written page-turners. They're actually YA (Young Adult) books and the teen-aged characters get into situations that might be too scary for some younger kids. However there's nothing raunchy or depressing about them so they're okay for middle grade readers who won't find the dangers disturbing. People of any age who like action-adventure stories and mysteries that don't have obvious solutions will probably enjoy these books a lot. Unfortunately these seem to be the only books in the series so far and I hope there will be more in the future. Maybe someday Acker will even write a prequel for younger readers showing how Arthur and Kirsten got started as detectives.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
With the current news about the earthquake in Italy, now is a good time for kids to read "Earthquake" by Susan J. Berger. Actually it's a great book for kids interested in science to read at any time. Berger manages to give plenty of interesting and practical facts while still keeping a light feel. She breaks the information up into manageable bytes so kids won't get bored with it. I can't wait to share the book with my grandson.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Having just returned from a writers' conference and learned a lot about marketing for my books, I'm planning to make some changes about what I post here. I'll still review books, especially for kids, and will talk about other things of interest to children and parents. I plan to start another blog in the next couple of weeks that will cover some of the things I've talked about here in the past, such as disabilities. I won't mention much about writing on either blog since there are plenty of other places on the web where you can get that sort of information. So, as they used to say in the day of radio programs with plots, stay tuned to find out what happens next.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
This will be my last post about writing for a while.
As you know, writers' conferences are a good place to meet people for critique groups. They also help us improve our craft, network with other writers and, sometimes, connect with editors and agents who will like our work. (That's no guarantee of publication, but it makes it much more likely.) And, believe it or not, if you're already published they help you sell your work because word of mouth is the best publicity. So if you're a writer, start saving your pennies and go to a writers' conference. You'll probably be glad you did.