Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Veterans and Bully Victims

Children, kids, and teens aren’t the only ones who can struggle with self-esteem. Sometimes the bullies aren’t the ones in the classroom or on the playground. When our soldiers go out and fight a war, they are fighting bullies—or at least that’s how I see it. Our soldiers can come back as disabled veterans recovering from traumatic injuries, burns, wounds, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

I came across this article Beneath the Surface in the July 2011 edition of Texas Co-op Power about diver instructors who are trying to help these veterans. “Serious injuries can take an individual to a dark place. Thompson says: ‘But when soldiers see they can do something as challenging as diving, and do it as well as anybody else, it’s a real confidence booster. They figure, “If I can scuba dive, I can kayak, or golf, or whatever.” ‘ “ These veterans and the kids who are bullied need a confidence boost—something that will remind them they CAN do something they ARE valuable.

“ ‘Diving definitely helped me,’ says Gill, who wears a prosthetic leg in the water. ‘Physically, [while diving] I have my own independence. Mentally, it’s very calming. A lot of soldiers, like me, have PTSD and deal with a lot of stress. In the water, there is no stress.’ “

And it’s not just about us TELLING them they are valuable. This diving program for these veterans helps them see for themselves. Whether or not you believe that bullying is traumatic, whether or not you believe in whatever war our soldiers are fighting—the wounds they bear (both physical and mental) are very real to the victims and we need to have more activities that help them see their worth for themselves.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Writer's Conference

I made it there and back without getting lost, yay me! So I’m directionally impaired and geographically impaired, that’s why I have a TomTom. I had a couple copies of my manuscript Azariah’s Story and my “one sheet.” Within an hour of arrival, they announced how to signed up for fifteen minutes to talk with a publisher. He read through the story and responded positively, but then the reality check came.

Children’s picture books are hard to publish and sell right now. I think it has to do with the picture process. Picture books need an illustrator. Therefore the royalties need to be split between the author and the illustrator. It takes extra time to print the pictures and sometimes this is an overseas process. There have even been some studies that say some parents are skipping the picture book stage with their children and moving right into reading chapter books.

While it wasn’t a full rejection, it wasn’t an offer either. At first I was discouraged, but since the conference didn’t end after that 15 minute segment, I continued taking notes. There was a lot of other information to digest and many ideas to go over and start working on.
Incidentally, one of those ideas involves a monthly segment to interview people and/or organizations who seek to positively impact and improve the lives of children. So if you have a person or organization you would like to suggest, please leave a comment (please include an email for you or them so that I can follow up :) )

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Biscuit donuts

My family loves donuts (or doughnuts). We have them less and less often, but what is summer vacation without some fun treats. I came across this article in the October 2009 Texas Co-op Power periodical and put it in my recipes to try pile. The story itself is sweet (I encourage you to read the link) and as simple as the directions and ingredients were, I figured I could handle it.

First, make sure to buy the small (as in skinny) can of cheap biscuits. I bought cheap and whole wheat. I used a small saucepan, a candy thermometer, vegetable oil, tongs, and a medicine cup.

Second, make sure you keep an eye on the temperature of the oil. The first time, I didn’t, and the donuts cooked way too fast and burned a bit. Watch the donuts. Even at the correct temp (around 350 with the candy thermometer) they cook quickly.

Third, whole wheat biscuit dough is denser, bigger, and already a light brown to begin with so they don’t cook up well.

I used Ziploc baggies for each of my girls to shake powdered sugar onto their own donuts, so they didn’t have to fight like in the story. Overall, I think everyone enjoyed it. The taste and texture is different from the store bought donuts, but considering the donuts were gone the same day here, I don’t think anybody minded.

Texas Co-op Power Oct 2009

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Highland Village, TX takes a stand against bullying
I like that I’m seeing people, especially police, in my local communities taking notice and a stand against bullying. I don’t like that it has to come on the heels of a suicide and an attempted suicide. The new program they are launching includes emphasis on telling someone if you’re being bullied. Highland Village (TX) police officers visited schools this past Spring and will do so again in August and will be declaring an official “No Bullying” week in November.
While I like the police, LISD and elected officials getting involved in this initiative, my favorite part of the article came when the police chief had a few suggestions for parents: “such as helping children learn the social skills they need to make friends because a confident resourceful child who has friends is less likely to be a bully or to bully others. He also said if parents praise children’s kindness toward others, it lets kids know that kindness is valued. And, he added, it is also important the teach children ways to resolve arguments without violent words or actions.” The Highland Village city manager “added that monitoring your children’s social media websites is another way to catch a problem early on. ‘As parents, please understand that you must have instant access to your child or children’s “Cyber Forums” - Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, phone texts, etc. And it’s not just having access as a friend - it’s taking possession of the computer or phone and making sure you know what is being said and to whom they are communicating with on a daily, weekly or bi-weekly basis,” said Leavitt.

He added, “It’s a “tough love” choice, but we must make the personal decision to help our youth of today. It is our obligation as responsible parents and this far outweighs the “personal privacy” and expectations of our children and what is being portrayed today in our society.’”