Saturday, January 30, 2010

Orphans from Haiti

Today we have a special guest. Children’s author, Nicole Weaver, has started a blog, to help families who adopt children from Haiti. Weaver moved to America from Haiti as a child herself, and still has friends and family there.

Please tell us about your blog and why you started it.

I started my blog because I want to be able to help the American parents adopting Haitian orphans.

What was it like for you as a child in Haiti?

My father was an architect, life was not bad. I lived near the beach in a house that my build. I eventually moved to New York, to live with my mother.

Was it difficult for you to adjust to living in America? What was the hardest thing about it?

Yes and no, I had to get used to the cold, and had to learn a new language. The hardest thing about coming to America was the constant teasing my classmates subjected me to. I knew very little English; consequently I was teased a lot and was called “French Toast”

What do you think will be most difficult for the children who come to America from Haiti after the earthquake?

Adjusting to a new climate and language, new way of eating, being totally lost not understanding fully what happened to their parents.

What do you suggest adoptive parents do right away to help them adapt?

I suggest for them to hook up with other Haitians in their communities. Here in Colorado we have a very strong Haitian community. We have monthly functions, where everyone brings a Haitian dish to share. There are a few Americans who have adopted Haitian children; we support them in every way possible. That is precisely the reason I started my blog, to make myself available for these wonderful people with so much compassion.

If American kids have Haitian orphans in their schools or neighborhoods, how can they help?

Be friendly to them, help them learn English; accept them for who they are.

Haitian Support from the Depths of Despair

From the depths of despair one woman has risen out of her own grief for her perished relatives in the Haiti earthquake. Knowing her strong held faith in praying for those who died will help the spiritual side of this disaster, Nicole Weaver, has turned her helplessness into action.

Fluent in Creole, French, Spanish, and English Ms. Weaver is reaching out to American families who are contemplating adoption of Haitian orphans. Knowing the vast differences of American and Haitian cultures first hand being a Haitian American herself, Weaver is offering support through her blog as a one stop resource to make the transition of a Haitian adoption go smoothly as possible.

American families are offered detailed information on:

Planning and preparing Haitian meals, including where to purchase Haitian foods.

Lessons on how to learn Creole and French.

Suggested books on the grieving process of losing a parent/parents/siblings.

Free translation services.

Additional services for those living in the Denver, Colorado Metropolitan area, Weaver is offering in-person food preparation and babysitting services to assist further in making an adoption transition a success. If you don’t reside in the Denver Metropolitan area, Weaver is offering consultation via telephone, email, or Skype.

Visit today for more information and to be in contact with Nicole Weaver directly.

(I've mentioned some things about how children deal with traumatic experiences on my other blog, and hope that information may be helpful to adoptive parents.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thanking Teachers

Several people who left comments about my last post suggested thanking the wonderful teachers they'd had. Please do that. Hearing from past students they'd helped will mean a lot to the teachers.
Mrs. Griffith, the teacher who had taught us the poem I mentioned (and many other things,) is a good example. She had been strict and demanding, but also kind and caring and we all knew she loved us. In fact when we lined up to enter or leave her classroom no child was allowed through the door without a hug. (Yes, that would be illegal today.) We were her second generation of students and she'd taught the parents of some kids in our class.
When I was in my 20s and started working with kids I found her address in the phone book and wrote her a note about how much I appreciated her. More about 15 years after that my mother phoned me and said something I'd written was in the newsletter the school district sent to everyone in the area. It was the letter I'd written, published next to Mrs. Griffith's obituary. The letter I'd sent meant so much to her that she had treasured it for the rest of her life.
So if you remember teachers who helped you a lot and can find contact information, please thank them before it's too late and encourage your kids to do the same.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Today another author who shares my passion for encouraging kids to read will tell us about herself and her book. Here's what Katie Hines has to say:

In today’s society, what with X-Box, Game Cubes, Wii, and so forth, it is becoming more and more unusual to find a child who loves to read. When I was young, I learned to read, to visit worlds I’d never been before and never would, and to participate in others’ creativity. I sailed the high seas with “Mutiny on the Bounty,” I walked on the yellow brick road, I even went to Kansas! Reading turned into a lifelong passion, and I regularly learn more about other people and cultures, both in the form of fiction and nonfiction. These are things I wish every young person had a chance to experience in their lives. People who read are also more articulate, and eventually, I believe, become more productive in society. So I write with those ends in mind, but also because I love the process of creating a novel of my own. Writing fulfills a need in my life that nothing else has been able to fill, and I love the thought of helping to take young lives and show them new and exciting worlds—a world beyond video games--and meet their potential in life.

I have been writing on and off ever since I could remember. While in high school, I had several poems published in an anthology. That was following by a long period of non-writing in which I went to college, got married and raised two great kids. I picked up writing again in my late 40s, penning a memoir. From there, I went to writing a humor column for a local newspaper, a few op-ed pieces, and feature articles for another. During that time, I also wrote a middle grade urban fantasy entitled, “Guardian” which is due to be released in January, 2010. My short story, “My Name is Bib,” was published in The Loch Raven Review and is being expanded into a full length young adult novel. I am also currently working on several other writing projects.

BOOK: A middle grade urban fantasy, “Guardian,” is due to be released from 4RV Publishing later in January.

Imagine you have made a secret promise that can lead you to the discovery of an incredible treasure and an ancient power. But in order to fulfill that promise, you must defeat an age-old sect that is determined to claim the treasure and power themselves.

Drew Newman is ready to tell his friends a secret, but two strangers burst on the scene, demanding an ancient, magical, book. He plummets into a world of uncertainty and fear as his home is invaded and he desperately tries to find the book.

Aided by the mysterious Jean-Paul, Drew’s search takes him and friends to Oak Island, Nova Scotia, where he continues his search. Joined with his Grandpa Ian and cousin, Zea, the tension ratchets up when Drew is kidnapped and he encounters the head of a sect that wants the book, a magical talisman and a treasure, for themselves.

Sprinkled with magic, “Guardian” explores the commitment of a boy determined to fulfill his promise to his mother and claim an uncertain destiny.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It's pouring where I live and I keep thinking of a poem I learned in third grade;
"The rain, they say, is a mouse-gray horse
That is shod with a silver shoe.
The sound of his hoofs can be heard on the roofs
As he gallops the whole night through."
(I think the poem was written by Robert Louis Stevenson)
The amazing thing is that I still remember something I learned nearly 50 years ago, and that's only one of hundreds of memories from grade school. The teacher who taught us the rain poem was an excellent one, as were several others I had. Some of my teachers were just okay, most were pretty good, and one was terrible, but all of them influenced my life in ways that have lasted.
Teachers often make a difference that continues as long as their students live and, as a result, those students go on to influence other people, who influence still others in turn. And the teachers never know what a difference they have made.
But teachers aren't the only ones. All of us are changing the future in small ways that may eventually cause big changes. Even a passing comment to someone we see in the checkout line at a grocery store can lead to things we'll never be aware of.
None of us know when something we do or say will be used to help change the world.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Choosing a Charity

Dozens, if not hundreds, of organizations are collecting donations of money and helpful items for the people of Haiti. Most of us would like to help even if we can't afford to give much, but how do we decide which organization to use?
Of course some of the groups are well known, but does that mean they're the best places to give? Not necessarily. I'm not implying that the charitable organizations are dishonest, though some, especially new ones, might be. But some of the big groups spend so much on overhead expenses like paying a large staff, a lot of office space, extensive advertising, etc. that only a small portion of donations actually reaches the people who need help. Someone I know from Haiti suggests giving to the Lambi Fund because nearly all the money they take in goes directly to the people of Haiti. However they aren't involved in emergency assistance and any donations to them will be spent to help the country recover when the emergency situation is over.
It takes time to research an organization to be sure they're legitimate and that the donations will be used in the most practical way. If you don't have time to do that please don't let it discourage you from giving. If the charity is legitimate at least some of your gift will be spent as needed and every little bit helps. If everyone in America gave just one dollar the total amount of donations would be in the millions.
And this is a wonderful opportunity for parents and teachers to help children learn the importance of helping others.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


After being a guest speaker for a local MOPS group a couple of times I'm honored to have been asked to join them as a Mentor Mom.
For those who don't know, MOPS is an acronym for Mothers of Preschoolers and exists to help people fitting that description. The mothers gather a couple of times a month and give each other moral support, share what they've learned about parenting, and socialize.
Being a mother isn't an easy job and, in our modern times, it has become more difficult because many young women don't have a nearby extended family to give help and advice. Even those who do can benefit from spending time with other moms.
In my opinion MOPS is an organization that is greatly needed and members and former members seem to value it a lot.
MOPS is an international organization so local groups can be found in many communities. For more information please go to

Saturday, January 9, 2010

If I Could be Anything

Kevin McNamee has done it again!
After enjoying the book I reviewed in my last post I read another by the same talented author. If I Could be Anything takes us into a boy's vivid imagination while he's picturing multiple possibilities, all of which sound like fun. What kid wouldn't want to bounce like a kangaroo or soar like an eagle? McNamee's catchy rhymes will carry children along, especially if the book is read aloud to them.
But at last the boy appreciates being himself, surrounded by those who love him. With such a comforting ending the book would make a wonderful bedtime story.
Marina Movshina did a good job of capturing the imaginary feel of the book in her illustrations, too.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Sister Exchange

Maybe it's because I experienced a bit of sibling rivalry myself, but I often seem to say books I review might be helpful for families dealing with that problem.
Kevin McNamee has written a book specifically for kids dealing with sibling rivalry. It's interesting that the characters' names are the same as those in the dedication, so probably the author is writing from personal experience.
The Sister Exchange is a delightful picture book about Brianna, who wants to trade in her annoying little sister, Julianne, for a better one.
Julianne drives Brianna crazy by following her around and trying to do everything her big sister does. But when the older girl asks her mother if she can exchange her sister, Mom comes up with an amazingly creative way to solve the problem.
The delightful illustrations by Kit Grady do a perfect job of showing what the characters and settings look like.
I think every family with more than one young child would be wise to get this book and read it to their kids often.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Whew! The holidays are over. That season is my favorite part of the year, but I'm a bit worn out after all the concerts, plays, visitors, parties, and family gatherings.
We have an extended family; make that extremely extended.
Relatives include people like my uncle's sister-in-law and her great granddaughter, my second cousin's cousin, his nieces and nephews, and many others.
Unfortunately there don't seem to be words for all those relationships. As kids we simply called distant relatives our uncles, aunts, and cousins, but as adults we sometimes need to be more specific.
And why doesn't the English language have terminology for our children's in-laws? Someone once suggested I refer to my daughter's mother-in-law as my "me-in-law," but somehow that term doesn't seem to work for me.
I guess I'd better stick to my husband's suggestion. He refers to all of those distant relatives as "step-neighbors-in-law." Maybe you have some of those in your family, too.