Monday, October 31, 2016


Most of us are in the second grading period of school. The pace has picked up and the homework has increased and now includes science and history fair projects. Band concerts are just weeks away and time is limited. Sometimes the first thing to go is sleep.
     Is everyone in your family, including yourself and mate, getting enough sleep?  Most adults get 1-4 hours less sleep than they really need. School-age children often get less sleep than needed also.

     Adequate sleep is essential for both mental and physical well-being. A well-rested family is happier, concentrates better at school or on the job, and copes with problems easier. There is a link between behavior problems at school and inadequate sleep.
     The nights your family members get less sleep than needed should be the exception. Although sleep needs vary with individuals, listed below are some good sleep guidelines to follow.

     Infants:  Babies sleep about 16 hours a day in 1-4 hour bursts. Around five months of age, many babies sleep through the night. By this time they don’t need food as often, and their nervous systems are more mature.
     Toddlers:  These active little guys and gals need between 11 and 13 hours of sleep at night, plus one nap during the day. Some toddlers outgrow nap time by age three, but should be encouraged to sit on their beds and look at books or listen to music for a short period of time in the afternoon.
     Preschoolers:  Preschool-age children need an average of 11 to 13 hours of sleep at night also. Most of them have given up their naps. Napping may make it difficult to get them to sleep at night. Preschool-age children can benefit from looking at books on their bed for a short period of time each afternoon, especially if they have active mornings.
     School-age children:  Their need for sleep declines with age. Six- and seven-year-old children need 10 to 11 hours of sleep to give their bodies time to recharge. If they are extremely active, they may need a little more sleep. By the end of the elementary years, children need around 9 to 10 hours of sleep. Arguments about bedtime usually start during this time. Have your child count back ten hours from his wake-up time to figure his bedtime. A child who gets up at 7:00 am should be in bed and asleep by 9:00 PM.
     Preteen/early teen:  During the early teen years, especially during puberty, children need about 9 hours of sleep, but rarely get that much. They may sleep more on weekends to compensate for a sleep deficit during the week, but ideally they should be getting the appropriate amount of sleep each night. Lack of sleep will lower their school performances. Test scores and overall grades will reflect the lack of sleep.
     Adults:  Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep, but the average adult sleeps 6 or less hours. Extra sleep on the weekend helps, but that can’t replace a good night's sleep during the week.
     New mothers may need more than 7 hours of sleep to meet the demands of taking care of a newborn. When it’s not possible to get enough sleep at night, a new mother should try to nap when her infant does, or rest on the couch while her infant naps and her older children watch a video.

Signs of Too Little Sleep
Wakes up with difficulty in the morning.
Irritable during the day.
Falls asleep during the day.
Has trouble controlling emotions.
Emotions are very intense.
Hyperactive or lethargic.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fun Friday: Making Butter Beer

Whether or not you are a Harry Potter fan, you can try these two recipes for butter beer (it's not really beer!) for a fun fall drink. One is a hot drink and one is a cold drink. Try both and see which you prefer. And if you figure out how to make the topping for the cold one so it's not lumpy, let me know!

Hot Butter Beer
You need:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons hot butterscotch topping
  • 1 cup cream soda (or you can substitute rootbeer if you prefer)
  • large bowl
  • whisk
Do this:

  1. Combine milk, butter, and brown sugar in a microwaveable bowl. Use a whisk to stir them.
  2. Microwave for three minutes.
  3. Remove and stir.
  4. Microwave again until milk is foaming. About 3-4 minutes.
  5. Remove from microwave and add the butter using the whisk. Make sure all the sugar is dissolved and mixed in. 
  6. Heat the butterscotch topping for 30 seconds. Add to mixture and use whip to combine.
  7. Whisk in one cup of cream soda.
  8. You can add sprinkles, ginger, canned whipped cream to your taste.

Even River got in on the hot butter beer

Cold Butter Beer

You Need:
48 ounces Cream Soda
1/4 cup butterscotch syrup
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup melted butter
Two bowls

To Do:
1. Combine cream soda and butterscotch syrup using the whisk in one bowl
2. In the other bowl, use the mixer to beat the heavy cream until peaks appear
3. Fold in the sugar and vanilla.
4. Add the butter and mix.
5. Serve the butter beer with the cream mixture on top.

Just keeping it real --Our cream mixture came out lumpy, and I think we either didn't beat it long enough or it went lumpy when we added the butter. I sprinkled cinnamon on top to hide it :)

We will just  pretend it's supposed to be a lumpy mountain of goo

What is your favorite fall or winter drink? Or soup? Or something festive? Leave me a recipe to try!!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Author Interview with Burton Cole

I often have author interviews on my blog for teens. And this one appeared there last week. But I also wanted to post it here because he writes for ages 8-12. So if you are looking for books that are both inspirational and funny for your kids, read on.

Today we’re talking with Burton W. Cole, author of several books including the newest, Bash and the Chocolate Milk Cows, an Inspirational humor/adventure book for middle grade readers.

How did you choose the title?
I want titles that grab attention. There’s not much that grabs my attention faster than the word “chocolate.” So far, I have published three misadventures of Bash and Beamer novels. Raymond “Beamer” Boxby narrates the tales about the crazy things that happen when he spends time with his third cousin twice removed Sebastian “Bash” Hinglehobb. In the third book, Bash concocts a way to make it appear that the cows gave chocolate milk on April Fool’s Day. Hence, “Bash and the Chocolate Milk Cows.”

Did you design the cover?
I am halfway decent at drawing, so with my first book, I pitched the idea that I do my own illustrations to my publisher at B&H Kids. I sent in sketches. He said they were nice, but that he had a former Disney animator and Big Idea illustrator Tom Bancroft in mind for the covers and the 12 interior line drawings. He sent me Tom ideas for the book. It was absolutely no contest. “Yeah, let’s go with Tom,” I said. It was awesome.

How would you describe the book to someone in a text message?
#faith, #fun and #farmpranks.
Okay, actually, that’s my Twitter hashtag description.
Since I text with the one finger hunt-and-peck method, I’d probably describe it with typos. I’ll try to eliminate those. It would go something like this:
Chickens dripping in strawberry-rhubarb pie run amok in a fire station. A goat gets painted in an explosion of circus colors. And the cows give chocolate milk on April Fool’s Day. Just the typical weirdness Beamer encounters when visiting cousin Bash on the farm. Meanwhile, somebody’s holding up stores and feed mills. Beamer finds himself face-to-face with the robber with only his crazy cousin, pesky neighbor Mary Jane, and Morton, the goat of many colors.

Who is your main character and what problem does he/she face?
While the titles of all three of my books—Bash and the Pirate Pig, Bash and the Chicken Coop Caper, and Bash and the Chocolate Milk Cows—would lead you to believe that Bash is the main character, actually, he’s not. Ray “Beamer” Boxby narrates the stories and really is the kid who keeps getting shaken, stirred, bent, stapled, twisted, bruised and otherwise in a pickle.

Beamer is boring kind of guy. He’d prefer spending his days reading comic books and playing video games. His cousin Bash spends as much time as possible outdoors, building crazy inventions and trying daring stuff, like riding cows to the dairy drive-through, building a raft from an old shed door, and teaching his pet pig to ice skate. Beamer also has himself to deal with—his trying to learn how to live, really live, with joy and excitement. He’s a new Christian now, has a lot of questions, and doesn’t always think very highly of himself.

Bash and the Chocolate Milk Cows takes place over April Fool’s Day. Bash brims with pranks, tricks and jokes—including a scheme to make it look like the cows gave chocolate milk on April 1, an elaborate plan that involves all the neighbor kids. Beamer just knows that Bash is going to get them grounded again.

Worse, there’s a robber working the farming community. He’s not a very good robber. Mostly, he gets away with chocolate and no cash.

Beamer is trying to puzzle out what in the world baptism is, is trying to learn how to run for fun, is trying to not get into trouble, even when he helps Bash stuff his mom’s car trunk full of pies and live chickens for a trip to the fire hall just down the road, and is about to come face-to-face with the robber and his gun with only his wild cousin Bash, pesky neighbor Mary Jane and a goat of many colors as the other options to save the day.

What did you bring to the book from your own life?
A lot of the crazy stunts in this series, I made up. And a lot of them, my siblings and cousins pulled on various of the farms we lived on. I tell people I don’t want to see which silly antics are made up and which we did because Mom hasn’t found out about all of them yet.

About You
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a magician, and I wanted to play forward in the NBA. I also aspired to be a syndicated cartoonist, an author of mystery novels, and a rock star trombone player.

Do you still want to be that? 
  • There doesn’t seem to be much call for trombone players in rock bands. Also, I’m more the smooth jazz and contemporary Christian music kind of guy now, but my trombone skills never quite developed to that level.
  • Sometimes I wish I’d continued working toward cartoonist.
  • As for basketball, it turns out you have to actually be able to dribble the ball, and it helps if your shots go into the basket at least occasionally.
  • The magician thing was ruined by the association with dark arts.
  • As for mystery novels, I couldn’t plot enough clues.
  • So I became a newspaper reporter and humor columnist. I’ve been a newspaper man for nearly 35 years now—I’m features editor at the Tribune Chronicle in Warren, Ohio—and a columnist the last 23 years.
  • Oh, and I write books—with crazy characters, silly situations, a heaping of heart, a blast of the Bible, and even with a few mysteries mixed in.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I started writing bad poetry in third grade. By fourth grade, I wrote my first “novel,” four chapters over six pages, handwritten in pencil in cursive. And with my own illustrations. It was called “Vanish the Killer Whale.” That ol’ orca terrorizing on community let my imagination swim all over the place and set my course.

Did anything unusual or funny happen on your journey to becoming an author?
I quit. I’d been trying so hard for so long. I was more than 50 years old, and I just couldn’t seem to get anything accepted. I’d let things go for years, but for about three years, I was working it hard, writing, rewriting, dreaming, pushing, trying to do everything I knew to do. And one night, I stood outside under the stars, crying, telling God, “I quit, I quit, I quit. I can’t do this.” It was when I quit trying to do it on my own, to do it my way, when I sobbed, “I can’t do this,” that I heard that quiet voice that said, “But I can.” I surrendered my writing, my dreams, my ideas, my will to God. And it what seemed like a whirlwind, I suddenly had an agent (because friends in the American Christian Fiction Writers group I was in worked on my behalf—I didn’t do it), and a publishing contract with B&H Kids/LifeWay, and a deadline for Book 2. It happened because I quit—quit trying my way and accepted God’s.

What books have influenced you most?
I read a lot. I grew up reading about every Hardy Boys book I could find at the library. When I ran out of Hardy Boys, I resorted to Nancy Drew. I loved mysteries. I’ve ready all 56 short stories and all four novels that Conan Doyle wrote about Sherlock Holmes. I couldn’t get enough of Sherlock Holmes.

I eventually discovered that I wasn’t all that great at writing mysteries but I did have a knack for silliness. My humor writing hero is Patrick F. McManus, particularly the short stories he writes about his childhood with his best friend Crazy Eddie Muldoun. 

I also still love stories with heart and strong Christian values—let’s not just make it a nice, moral book, let’s go ahead and talk about Jesus. He’s worth talking about. I enjoy Jan Karon’s Father Tim books and the action/drama/romance novels by Dee Henderson.

And yes, I do read the Bible. I’ve read it all the way through several times and am still reading it again and again, trying to soak in so much more of God’s words, wisdom and instruction.

Do you have life philosophy? Favorite verse?
It’s difficult to pick a favorite single verse in the Bible. One my favorites is Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for the good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” And the 31st verse is, “If God be for us, then who can be against us?” Actually, I love Romans 8.
Psalm 139 is also huge for me. LOTS of great verses there. You should read the whole thing. A couple samples: Verses 9 and 10: “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall they hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me.” And verses 23 and 24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

What advice would you give a teen who wants to be a writer?
Write! Don’t worry about trying to make it pretty the first time through. Get the ideas down. Write freely. Let your imagination run wild. Write with gusto. Have fun. Once you have it all down the first time around, go through it again to play with words. Find stronger action verbs, brighter descriptions. Delete the unnecessary words and scenes—even if they’re favorites of yours, if they’re not needed, they’re dragging your story down. Have fun coming up with better, stronger and quicker ways to say things. The third time through, you can start getting fussy with your mechanics, like commas and semicolons. Get rid of all those exclamation marks and adverbs. If you have to use gobs of exclamations and bunches of words that end in “ly,” you probably need stronger verbs and more vivid words. And keep having fun playing with words. Then keep going through polishing and cutting and gussying it up. This is you, so sing!

Bash and the Chicken Coop Caper was named “Best Middle Grade Novel” by the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference  NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  (May 29, 2015) Bash and the Chicken Coop Caper by Burton Cole was awarded a 2015 Selah Award for “Best Middle Grade Novel”

Want to connect with Burton Cole? Check out his author page.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fun Friday: Make a Splatter Jar

The jar with a battery operated tea light.

Want to spread a little light this Halloween season?

You need:

  • Glass jar
  • White, orange and black paint made for glassware- we used Folk Art Enamel with a picture of a glass on the lid
  • Brushes
  • Place to work away from anything important because this can get messy.

I worked outside on a board that is going to become another raised garden.
What to  do:
Wipe the jars with rubbing alcohol to get off oil from your hands or any dirt.
Add a couple of drops of water to the paint (and stir) so it's a bit thinner. (Iforgot to do this with part of the paint, and we have big globs.) 
 Start with the lightest color. Dip the brush, hold it in front of the jar and tap the brush with your other hand making the paint splatter forward. For this project start with white.

Let dry for an hour and splatter the orange.
Let dry for another hour and splatter the black.
Let dry for another hour and plut on a cookie sheet and put in a cold oven. Heat to 350F. Bake 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and let it cool in the oven.

Add a candle and let your light shine!
I don't have the right kind of candle for this, so I used a birthday candle, but that puts the light at the top,not the bottom.

Cell phone light

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Ask your children how they can shine their light at home, school and in the community.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Quick Tips: Celiac Awareness Month

October is Celiac Awareness month. Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, author of A Mind of Her Own, shares some tips for Gluten free eating.

What do you feed a friend who can’t have gluten because it makes them sick? 

Think safety first. Using your pots, pans, and baking utensils will cause them to be ill. You can ask them to bring their own dinner. We Celiac’s are quite good at packing meals and often prefer to do that. Here are some things you can do to make it a Celiac comfortable:
  • Purchasing a gluten-free dessert will fill your GF friend with joy to have something special while everyone else is eating cake.  There are premade cookies, cheesecakes, cupcakes and even doughnuts that can be heated in the microwave. Most grocery stores carry these goodies, look for them in the frozen food section in the Gluten Free aisle.
  • Provide a salad with proteins like nuts or eggs, read the dressing bottle and make sure it says gluten free.
  • Serve cheeses and meats for appetizers and use gluten free crackers for everyone and to keep the appetizer from being cross-contaminated. Or make a special platter of appetizers with a box of gluten-free crackers for your guest.

Christian author, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, writes historical and contemporary romances. Author of Mind of Her Own, A Bride's Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee and We’re Not Blended-We’re Pureed, A Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families. Once widowed and now remarried she writes with humor and experience on the difficulty of joining two families be it fictional or real life.
You can connect with her on her webpage, blog or Facebook page.

Don't miss The Matchmaker Brides Collection coming February 2017.Order from amazon

Don't miss these other Quick Tips:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fun Friday: An Oldie

Probably everyone has heard this one before:

You’re standing in a hallway with three light switches on the wall, each of which turns on a different lamp inside a closed room. You can’t see inside the room, and you can’t open the door except to enter the room. You can enter the room only once, and when you do, all the lamps must be turned off. How can you tell which switch turns on which lamp?

Last week's answer:  Take the first letter of each word and place it at the end. It will spell the same word backwards.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

One More?

Yes, there may be a number nine. We have felt for a long time that there was an empty spot in the family. But our state is not easy to work with. They are much easier now that we are looking for a teenage boy!

Our children go like this:
Ashley    33
Tyler       26
Jessica     25
Jeff          23
Adam      21
Jasmine   15 
twins       11

Jasmine is so much younger than the original four that she never had a playmate. Ty and Jess played together, and Jeff and Adam played together. We tried to adopt from the state and nothing. So we adopted from Haiti. I should have realized that by getting twins and them being four years younger that they wouldn't be her playmates, but it seemed like they belonged in our family. And they do!

About 18 months after they came home, a caseworker in Daytona Beach who had our very outdated home study wanted to place a child with us. But our county and their county did not see eye to eye on things, and he was placed in a home she wasn't as sure about. A year later he was back on the list and we went through the same thing. But he has since then gotten a family.

Jasmine has wanted a brother near her age. There is one child she wants who is closer to the twins' age, but she likes his looks, description and hobbies. However, he may be snatched up before we complete class and get our home study. We have to do the class because they switched from MAPPS to QPT plus we are 8 years outdated! We have finished week 3 out of 8.

There are four children we are looking at. Two are five hours away, and two are farther. We don't know if they will be a good match or if they would be willing to move. Plus there is the chance someone else may choose them. 

Since they are already on the photo listing which is public, I'll post their photos here. Two are 15, one is 14 and one is 12. The problem with the 15's is that they could be 16 by time we get them and we'd only have two years to really parent them. Of course if they turned out to be awful, we'd only have two years :) One wants to go into the marines. The 12 year old is only 11 months older than the twins, so I'm not sure about that. But he looks like an amazing kid. Wish he was a year older!
Christian, 15

Justin, 15

Parris, 12

Antwan, 14

What do you think? I'd be in trouble if I had to choose between these four. I want them all!!!!! Good thing a caseworker will be the one to decide if we are the best family for any of them. We also have to realize that things might not go as planned and for some reason we don't get a child. Sigh.

Those of you who have adopted teens, what do I need to know? 

How did you prepare?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Help Your Child Boost His Grades

Kaleb working through the Middle School Survival Manual

The first grading period is drawing to a close. If your child is struggling with study skills, teacher problems, peer pressure or friendship issues, this book might be for him. Reading it together will show your child you are willing to be involved in his education and that you value his success.
Kayla working through the Middle School Survival Manual

Jasmine working through The Middle School Survival Manual even thought she's in 10th grade

The quiz below is from chapter 2. Do it with your child and see how you both do! 

Listen effectively.
     You spend more time listening than you spend reading, writing, or talking. Most of your school day is spent listening, but effective listening goes beyond just hearing the words. You need to concentrate on what's said and understand it.
     How much do you really know about listening? Take the quiz below to find out.
     1.  It's important to know whether you're listening to understand directions, to learn something new or for another reason.
            ___ True                    ___ False
     2. The average person:
            a.  Speaks about 500 words a minute but can hear and understand about 150 words
a minute.
            b.  Speaks about 135 words a minute but can hear and understand about 500 words
a minute.
            c.  Speaks about 330 words a minute and can hear and understand about 330 words
a minute.
     3.  In class it's important to:
            a.  Listen for both concepts and details.
            b.  Listen for the big picture and forget the details.
            c.  Concentrate on the details that might be on the test.
    4. If you're bored or confused while your teacher is talking you should:
            a.  Text your best friend.
            b.  Listen for new information and relate it to what you already know.
            c.  Make your to-do list for after school.
            d. Write down questions to ask the teacher later.

1.  True.  You can relax when you're hearing a funny story or joke but when you're hearing instructions you need to listen for step-by-step details. If you're learning new material you have to listen to understand concepts. Knowing why you're listening can help you tune in better.
2.  B The average person speaks about 135 words per minute and can hear and understand almost 500 words per minute. Since you process information faster than your teacher speaks, it's easy to let your mind wander. Don't. Use that time to think through what the teacher is saying and relate it to things you already know. Think about questions you may have about the information.
3.   C    Sometimes you can focus on details and miss major concepts. You may be so caught up in the details of a war that you miss why the war took place in the first place. Or you might listen for concepts and miss important details. Tie facts and concepts together in your mind while your teacher is talking.
4. B & D It's hard to keep listening when you don't understand the material or are bored. Listen for things you do understand and for interesting pieces of information. Make note of what you need the teacher to clarify.

 Listening involves more than hearing the words. It requires thinking through and organizing information in your mind.

Chapter Two also talks about being prepared, talking notes, doing all assignments, reading effectively, starting projects early, and asking questions.

You can order it at your local Christian bookstore, or through amazon.