February 14, 2014

Today is Valentine's Day, and I just wanted to share a cute and easy necklace I prepared for my sons' classmates today... I know you all probably helped prepare something for your kiddos already, but this "Be my Monster" necklace still would make a great party favor! This is how to make it:

YOU NEED (for 1 Monster Necklace):

  • 1 1/2 inch pom-pom (any color you want)
  • 2 wiggly eyes (any color you want)
  • 5 1/2 inch chenille stem-any color you want (for the ears/antennae)
  • 2 1/2 inch chenille stem-same color as the antennae (to make the small ring)
  • 20 inch neon necklace with connector (to close the necklace)
  • 40 beads (assorted colors) I like to use the *Perler Beads
  • 5 1/2 by 4 inch card (any color you want)
HOW TO MAKE IT:

  • Take the 2 1/2 inch chenille stem and make a small ring. 
  • Take the neon necklace, make a loop around the ring and tie a knot (see picture).
  • Glue the ring with the necklace on the back of the pom-pom. I like to use *Glue Dots Adhesives (*1 inch Glue Lines).
  • Take the 5 1/2 inch chenille stem and fold it in half (see picture). Bend the two edges in the shape of small ears/circles (or antennas). 
  • Glue the chenille stem on the front of the pom-pom. I again use the *1 inch Glue Lines. 
  • Glue the 2 wiggly eyes on the top of the chenille stem (see picture). I use the *Glue Dots  3/16 inch Mini, or you can buy the peel-&-stick wiggly eyes. 
  • Insert the 40 beads in the necklace (20 for each side). After adding the beads, tie a knot to keep the beads in place (see picture).
  • Insert the connector inside the neon necklace.
  • Use a hole punch to punch two holes on the top of the card (about 1 inch from the edge or 3 inches apart).
  • Attach the necklace to the card (see picture).
  • Write "Be my Monster!" or any other lovely personal message you and your kiddos want!
  • Have fun!





February 10, 2014

Some of you (especially if you're somewhat newbie like me) might be asking, "What's a blog hop?" Well, I was in the same boat as many of you until recently an amazing blogger named Fern Ronay invited me, or should I say, "tagged me" (yep, still learning the bloggers' vocab folks ;)) to do a blog hop. 
The steps are as follow:
Step 1: Acknowledge the person and site that involved me in the blog hop.
Thank you Fern for inviting and acknowledging me and for believing in my work! This is Fern's blog post when it was her time to shine last week: Blog Hop: Why Do You Write?
Step 2: Answer 4 questions about my writing process. 
Question 1: What am I working on?
Right now, I have two projects in my head and one that I'm actually doing. I'm currently writing a Christian themed children's book for intermediate readers (more words and less illustrations) and after publishing it, my plan is to dive in head first and write a novel. It's a big risk, since it will be my first novel...but, I have this story completely done in my head and it's bugging me everyday! I can't stop thinking about it! :D 
Question 2: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
For my children's books, I try to create the themes from my experiences with both my former students and my two boys. For example, when I wrote Dragon Howl I was thinking of how my students were judged based on their appearances or their label as "special". Even though they were special education students, they were incredibly smart, caring, funny, and clever. However, somehow they were not challenged enough or seen as a less capable group by other students. 
My alphabet book Crazy Town Upside Down: An Alphabet Book is different from other alphabet books because the child becomes part of the action by following and tracing each character's own adventure around a letter. It also utilizes memory enhancing techniques (rhyming, alliteration, and humor) and engages the learner across multiple learning styles (kinesthetic, visual, and aural). These strategies really help the child remember both the sound and shape of each letter. The idea of this book came to me when I was teaching alphabet letters to my students and later my youngest son. To help them differentiate between letters "b" and "d" or "p" and "q", I was creating funny stories while they were tracing the letters. For example, for the letter "b", I used to tell them that a skinny man ate a big melon and got a big belly (emphasizing the sound b made on "big" and "belly"). That became really helpful when my students were writing words or sentences. I noticed how they were making less mistakes and remembering how a certain letter was formed. 
The idea for my first book The Silly Potty Story (for boys) came when my oldest son was a toddler. My husband and I had a very difficult time potty training him. So, one day, while I was bathing him, I came up with this story about a little boy who becomes aware of his need to go potty, so his mom engages him in a silly talk about where to go potty. Since it's silly, it entertains the child and makes toilet training easier and less stressful. Also, in the story, the decision to go potty in the toilet comes from the boy himself, which is a critical step in the potty training process.
Question 3: Why do I write what I do?
I write and illustrate children's books because it's fun! It has been a dream of mine to write stories since I was a child. When I came to the U.S. in '95 on a tennis scholarship, I thought I couldn't become a writer. I thought, "There's no way I can major in English or Journalism...", so I decided to follow a different path and become a teacher. While I was a special education teacher, I was doing many projects with my students where they were creating photo or video assignments to tell stories. It was a way to motivate them to write. They really enjoyed these types of projects and were so involved that many times the bell would ring and they wouldn't want to leave for their next class! 
Being a special education teacher requires many, many hours after class filling out IEPs and having meetings. After a while, I noticed how I was spending almost 12 hours a day at school and proportionately less time at home. During that time, my youngest son was a toddler, so I decided to devote more time to my family and help children in a different way. I'm blessed that I have an amazing husband who has studied 5 languages and has an amazing knowledge of the English language. So, with his help as an editor and co-author, I was finally able to fulfill my dream of becoming a writer. 
Question 4: How does my writing process work?
Well, let's see... The ideas first pop in my head while I'm doing something like playing with my boys, vacuuming, taking a shower, etc. Then I write some notes down and run to my husband to tell him my ideas. For both "Dragon Howl" and "Crazy Town Upside Down", I had the help of my husband to develop the rhymes. Then, I sit down with my husband, and we plan together how/what illustrations will go on each page, characters, colors, background etc. Then with the "not-so-much" help of a digital illustration program, I draw, edit, redraw, change, write, edit again, rewrite, change fonts and formats, change characters' positions and colors, edit some more... It's a constant editing process... 
Now, for "Dragon Howl" I didn't have a digital art program at first, so I drew all the illustrations by hand, tried at first do all of them in watercolor (didn't really work that well...), and then decided to go digital. I did my research, bought and learned how to use a digital art program, scanned all my pencil sketch drawings, traced and colored them (very hard and detailed process), and after a year of work, I published my book.
For my "soon to be novel", the idea came into my head, and each day more of the story was developed "in my head", to a point where the whole story is now completed "in my head"... I might be shy around strangers, but I'm very verbal around the people I know and am comfortable with, so I just talk nonstop about the story to my husband, mom, godmother, mother-in-law, and close friends. I know...they know...I'm annoying... But this is not the only story I already have completed in my head! Many years ago, I had already created one and told the whole thing to two of my best friends (that was way before I was even a teacher), and my friends were telling me that I should write and publish the story. It's a love story that takes place in the past (mid 1800's), and it's in my plans to write it in the future... :D

Step 3: Introduce my 4 lovely guests for next week's Blog Hop.

Here we are.. I'm proud to introduce you to...
LEILA BOUKARIM
Years before I had children, I never thought I wanted them. But the day I had my first, I couldn’t imagine my life without him. My children have made me who I am today. They are my heart, they are my soul, they are the air that I breathe. They are my everything.
My four year old is a Highly Sensitive Child. My husband and I didn’t always know that. We knew that he always stood out in every group he was a part of, in ways that were both good and not so good. And although we knew how amazing he was, not everyone could see it. He is often misunderstood by family members, other children, and his teachers. We finally put our finger on what this was when I discovered Elaine Aron and her book, The Highly Sensitive Child. After having read the book, it all started to make sense. I started to speak with other parents of Highly Sensitive Children, and it was like hearing our story over and over again.
After four years filled with challenges, worry and also lots and lots of joy, I am now confident that I know my child better than anyone else does. I know why my son acts the way he does in certain situations. I know what causes him to be anxious. I know what he enjoys. I know that he reasons like an older child. I know that he loves deeply. I look at him in awe and admiration. He has made me a better person. He is my inspiration.
I started this blog in hopes of being able to reach not only other parents of Highly Sensitive Children, but also teachers, caregivers, and anyone who knows a Highly Sensitive Child. This topic is still unknown to most, making it especially difficult on our Highly Sensitive Children to fight their way through life while being completely misunderstood. It is our responsibility to help bring to light the fact that these children are not just normal. They are extraordinary!
CHRISTINA BROCKETT
My name is Christina (or Tina if you prefer) and I am a working mom with a son and daughter. Each day is a carefully orchestrated balancing act of being a wife, mother and working professional with the occasional bit of me time thrown in. I’m the author of The Missing Pages of the Parent Handbook. 
The Missing Pages of the Parent Handbook is a product of two years of interviewing a cross-section of American parents about times when parenting threw them a curveball. I believe that I am a work in progress and document that evolution as a person, and mother, at my blog Momevolving.
SELAH CAMBIAS
I’m an award-winning author of a parenting book that helps parents get along better with their kids by learning their personality types, or archetypes. I was working as an Archetypal Consultant – someone who helps adults figure out their life’s purpose - when I figured out that it works brilliantly with children. When parents figure out what their kids’ personality types are telling us, things get a whole lot easier. 
So, to help share the nuts and bolts of what I learned and now use as a Family Coach, I wrote Family Types, A Guide to Better Parenting Using Personality Types. When I’m not working on teaching videos to share on my new blog, I’m running around my three tween and teens, trying my best to soak up every moment. You can find me at Selah Cambias-Live Action Parenting.
JODY CANTRELL DYER
Jody Cantrell Dyer is a mother, author, and speaker in Tennessee. After struggling to conceive for six years, then clumsily (yet successfully) adopting, to now navigating an open adoption with her child's birth parents, Dyer felt compelled to write The Eye of Adoption. She felt that someone needed to "tell it like it is" so others would be better equipped to handle the turbulent and triumphant, mysterious and magical, beautiful burdensome blessing of adoption.
Jody calls herself a "compassionate humorist" and is a natural storyteller. Readers laugh and think "outside the barn" weekly on Jody's humor blog, Theories: Size 12, Go on and get mad but you know I'm right.
Links:







February 2, 2014

I absolutely love this pizza! I was craving it so much that I had to call my mom to get the recipe. She also gave me 2 nice tips to make the pizza even more tasty! In Brazil, we call this pizza a "Pizza Portuguesa". What a delicious fusion of flavors from the ham, onions, boiled egg, and kalamata olives! Many might be tempted to leave out one of the ingredients like the boiled egg, onions, or olives, but please don't! All these ingredients are essential, as they work together to create an amazing, savory blend!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 individual size "ready to bake" pizza dough
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 1 can of undrained whole peeled tomatoes (should create enough sauce for 4+ small pizzas; you will only need approximately 4 tbsp for each)
  • 4 tbsp of  shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 thin slices of ham
  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced
  • 5 round slices of yellow onion
  • 14 half slices of kalamata olives
  • 1 tbsp of oregano
HOW TO MAKE IT:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Brush olive oil on the top of the pizza dough
  • *TOMATO SAUCE: Pour the entire contents of the can of undrained peeled tomatoes into a bowl and squeeze them with your fingers leaving some thick, irregular chunks of tomatoes to make the sauce more robust. Spread approximately 4 tbsp of this sauce onto the pizza dough, making sure to add some of the tomato pieces
  • Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the sauce
  • Top with the 2 slices of ham, onions, egg slices, and olives
  • *OREGANO: Pour the oregano into your cupped hand and then rub the oregano using both hands over the pizza, making sure to sprinkle the oregano on all the toppings. By rubbing the oregano in your hands, you enhance its flavor.
  • Place the pizza directly on the rack into the oven and bake for 9 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool for 1-2 minutes before eating.