Let’s Go Camping!

Summer is a time of year where we usually enjoy spending more time outdoors. Hiking in parks and forests, visiting wildlife sanctuaries, swimming in lakes and beaches…so many great things to do on lazy summer days.  If the idea of CAMPING in the great outdoors sends a cold shiver down your spine, maybe you just haven’t found the right way to enjoy the camping experience.  Camping is WAY MORE than using port-o-potties, giving up showers and running water, and sleeping in a muggy, bug-infested tent in the middle of nowhere.

camping

RV parks and campgrounds offer lots of amenities and are a budget friendly way for families to experience the natural world. Here are a few to consider when planning a family camping trip:

HERSHEY PARK CAMPING RESORT, HUMMELSTOWN, PA: Offers 300 campsites for RV hookups, log cabin rentals, pools, movie nights, and discounted admission to Hershey Park.  http://www.hersheyparkcampingresort.com

NORMANDY FARMS FAMILY CAMPING RESORT, FOXBORO, MA: If you don’t have your own RV, you can rent a YURT, pop-up trailer, or safari tent. Located between Boston and Cape Cod, this resort offers yoga classes, mountain bike tours, and a dog park.  http://www.normandyfarms.com

LAKESHORE RV RESORT & CAMPGROUND, OELWEIN, IA:  Located on the shores of Lake Oelwein, this resort offers swimming, canoeing, Frisbee golf, beach volleyball, and a day trip to the FIELD OF DREAMS movie site.  Every year some baseball legend emerges from the corn fields to have a game with fans.  http://www.lakeshoreiowa.com

AMERICAN HERITAGE RV PARK, WILLIAMSBURG, VA: For history fans you might want to try this resort where you can stay in a cabin or cottage as you enjoy nature trails, pool, volleyball and basketball courts and discounted tickets to COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG: http://www.americanheritagervpark.com

Be sure to check out state parks and campgrounds in your state for more opportunities to enjoy the camping experience this summer.

To get you kids in the mood, try reading some of these camping-themed books:

  a rustic camping journal to record all the moments and memories of the camping experience.

Goodnight, Campsite: A children's Book on Camping Featuring RVs, Travel Trailers, Fifth-Wheels, Pop-UPs and Other Camper Options. by [Sponsler, Loretta]  “Goodnight, Campsite” is an award-winning children’s book on camping, featuring more than tents. Our book highlights RVs – Travel Trailers, Fifth-Wheels, Pop-Ups, Class A, Class C, and other camper options.” (description is taken from internet page)

https://i0.wp.com/maddogmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/smores-from-audrey.jpg  A camping alphabet book.

For more camping-themed book for kids of all ages, check out this link:

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=camping+themed+books+for+kids&id=63353A9A8FD071C4C79134DD4B1B2A74D25F3C82&FORM=IQFRBA

Starry, Starry Night: Stargazing 101

For a unique and fun-filled family evening, pack up a thermos of your favorite beverage, some cookies or other snacks, flashlights, and a few blankets.  Then head out to an open field or playground where you can view the stars.  The best viewing sites are those where there is little interference from ground lighting.

Kids will enjoy using binoculars as well or a portable telescope if you have one.  Leave electronic devices in the car.  All you really need is your eyes and  a willingness to relax, lie down on the blanket and watch the sky.  Play a game of “connect the stars” to make figures like ancient astronomers did with the constellations.

milky-way-071015-1

For serious star gazers, the best spots to view them around the country can be found here:

https://www.timeout.com/usa/things-to-do/best-places-to-stargaze-in-us

https://koa.com/blog/the-12-best-places-to-stargaze-in-america/

How about this view of the Milky Way?

milky way

Do you have a favorite spot ideal for stargazing? Care to share?

Good Fortune Lurks Inside Tasty Treats by Marilyn Ostermiller

         

Fortune cookies are the anticipated treat at the end of a dinner in an Asian restaurant. It’s fun to slip out the slim strip of paper and read what the future holds.

fortune-cookie-pile

          Traditionally, the fortunes were based on sayings by Chinese philosopher Confucius, These days, the fortunes are crafted by writers who have a flair for brevity with a twist. The fortunes range in tone from profound to bits of common sense and even riddles. For example:

          — A feather in the hand is better than a bird in the air.

          — A friend is a present you give yourself.

          — A golden egg of opportunity falls into your lap this afternoon.

          National Fortune Day is celebrated on July 20 to recognize these crisp, folded cookies with a hint of sweetness.

          Sources say the distinctively folded cookie originated in Japan, where elaborate desserts and folding techniques are enjoyed. The cookie migrated to the United States in the late 1800s. It became increasingly popular during World War II.

          What better way to celebrate the cookie’s big day than to bake a batch at home? A recipe with photos and an instructional video can be found at the food blog, http://www.fifteenspatulas.com. The ingredients are staples in most well-stocked kitchens — eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla and almond extract, water and flour.

          Before embarking on this baking venture, it’s best to have the fortunes printed on slender paper strips. Need some ideas to get started? Visit fortunecookiemessage.com where the messages range from cryptic to optimistic

          —Your shoes will make you happy today

          — The greatest risk is not taking one.

          — Wealth awaits you.

          An alternative to baked cookies are paper fortune cookies that incorporate origami, the ancient Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures. The specifics can be found at unsophisticook.com.

Children are fascinated with fortune cookies as well. The book, “Fortune Cookie Fortunes,” written by Grace Lin, is an engaging story about two sisters who want to know if their cookie fortune will come true. It’s suitable for kids from five to eight years old.

 

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Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who also writes stories for children.

 

 

GET READY FOR: GIVE SOMETHING AWAY DAY! By Kim Pfennigwerth

                                                                                               

For the 7th year (Hooray!), Darlene and I are celebrating July 15th’s Give Something Away Day.

I have given away and donated many items over the years—to shelters, thrift stores, libraries, etc.

For our celebration, Darlene and I have given away different items and many books. Books on writing, kidlit books from author friends, and especially books by diversified writers and/or illustrators.

This year will be more of the same, but in case you didn’t know…

Give Something Away Day is the chance to clear out clutter, clean out closets or drawers, and donate to a shelter or food bank. Or you could give away something a little more magical. Give a helping hand, a smile, a hug, some thoughtfulness, or time. By giving something away, you can brighten someone else’s day and it works pretty well at giving yourself a lift!

The pandemic and social unrest has brought a lot of turmoil into our daily lives, schedules, and emotions. We have witnessed an unprecedented hike in racism, anti-Asian hate, violence, bigotry, and intolerance that benefits no one.

Like most people I know, I treasure feeling validated, loved, and receiving unconditional support. So does everyone in the LGTBQ community—our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. This year my giveaway is directed to support and highlight their talents. Whether a preferred pronoun use is she/her, they/them, he/him, zie/zim, give someone validation, recognition, and brighten their day. What better opportunity to give support than Give Something Away Day.

diverse-hands

This year, three lucky people in the USA will have a chance at one of our giveaways.

I am giving away:

One board book: WE ARE THE RAINBOW by Claire Winslow Illus. by Riley Samels

We are the rainbow

And one picture book: BLOB written and illustrated by Anne Appert

Blob by Anne Appert

Darlene will be giving away a: $25.00 Amazon Gift card.

This year, as in years past, I am including community links. I hope you explore some or all of them and possibly find a way to support one, two, or more. 

So give something meaningful away and make GIVE SOMETHING AWAY DAY a mood-lifting day for yourself and someone else!

To be eligible for the giveaway, please leave a comment telling us about a kindness you recently gave or received. It will give our day a boost reading your comments!

 

beachwalkWillKim

Kim Pfennigwerth lives in South Carolina and enjoys walks with her dog on the beach or going for a paddle in her kayak. She is a lover of books, animals, children, and kindness in no particular order. She is often spotted participating in writing workshops or in a bookstore or library reading piles of picture books while writing and revising her own manuscripts. 

 
 
Warm regards,

 

 

Gender Spectrum: https://genderspectrum.org/articles/understanding-gender 

The Matthew Shephard Foundation: https://www.matthewshepard.org/

PLFAG: https://pflag.org/

The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Right To Be: https://righttobe.org/

The Innocence Project: https://www.innocenceproject.org/

The National Immigration Law Center: https://www.nilc.org/

The Loveland Foundation: https://thelovelandfoundation.org/

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum: https://www.napawf.org/

Embrace Race: https://www.embracerace.org/

Books for Soldiers: http://booksforsoldiers.com/donate_to_the_soldiers/

Donate Books – Find your public library: http://www.publiclibraries.com/

Dress For Success: https://www.dressforsuccess.org/

Food Bank: http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-localfoodbank/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

Wowie…Boom. A Poem For July 4th

The following poem is taken from my novel-in-verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston). WoCCover01

On this July 4th, I am dedicating it to all those who mourn a loved one, those who have lost someone, those who grieve for a better world, those who celebrate kindness, friendship, and love.

BOOM
Wowee booms are what Katy calls
fireworks since she learned
to talk. Wowee for what you see
bursting in the sky and boom for the
noise it makes a few seconds later.

It’s the best definition
for something spectacular,
not like anything else.

Dad is the one
who likes to celebrate things
in a big wowee boom kind of way.

Even though these fireworks
are just as spectacular as ever,
there is something missing.

Someone who made
everything around us seem
louder
brighter
shinier.
I miss that kind of boom.

I imagine Dad staring at the
same moon, watching fireworks
like us, imagining that we are together.

Where are you Dad? Are you MIA
in a place that has fireworks?
Can you see them, hear them?
Are you someplace safe?

This is my wish for all on this Fourth of July, this day we set aside to celebrate our nation’s birthday:  May you all be safe, may you all feel love, may you all be kind and treat your fellow men and women as you wish to be treated. May you have a “WOWIE BOOM” kind of day.

fireworks

Want Clean Beaches? How You Can Help.

Clean Beaches Week is the “Earth Day” for beaches. 

Held annually from July 1-7, it is a celebration of the clean beaches lifestyle.  Founded in 2003, the week has drawn enormous public support: over 150 coastal governors, mayors, and county commissions have now issued proclamations in support of the week.  In 2007, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed resolutions enacting the week by unanimous consent.

Beaches, provide recreation, supply us with a variety of delicious and nutritious food. They need our protection. You can celebrate CLEAN BEACHES WEEK by

Show beaches the love they deserve. beach

While you get ready for a day at the beach, here are some books to get kids excited about the day.

Beach Day cover jpeg

Folk Hero Paul Bunyan Lives On in Tall Tales by Marilyn Ostermiller

Legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan emerged as a folk hero during the late 1800s. To commemorate his storied exploits, June 28 has been designated National Paul Bunyan Day.

Akeley, Minnesota, which claims to be the birthplace of this mythical fellow, will present its 73rd Annual Paul Bunyan Days June 24-26. Festivities include dancing, a pancake breakfast, cake walk and horseshoe tournament. The centerpiece is a statue of the gentle giant kneeling with a shovel (akeleymn.com)

bunyan 2

The legend began in the late 1800s, as French-Canadian lumberjacks told imaginative stories of Paul’s prowess around the evening campfire. Those tall tales traveled south into the forests of Washington, Oregon, and other northern border states.With each retelling, they grew more outlandish.

Some historians believe the legend of Paul Bunyan was based on a real person — a French Canadian logger named Fabian Fournier, who moved to Michigan after the Civil War, attracted by high-paying logging jobs. Fournier was said to stand head and shoulders above the average American male and was brawny.

Those tales credit Paul Bunyan, along with his outsized companion, Babe the Blue Ox, with creating the Grand Canyon by dragging his hefty axe through Arizona for more than 200 miles. It also has been said his footprints filled with rain to create Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. It is even postulated he single-handedly created Mount Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak, by piling rocks to extinguish a campfire.

Several children’s books recount Paul’s exploits including “Paul Bunyan, A Very Tall Tale,” written by Jo Weaver and illustrated by Loretta Krupinski. It is appropriate for kindergarten through second grade students.

Several statues may be the reason Paul Bunyan continues to be popular.

bemedji 2

Paul and Babe have stood on the shore of Lake Bemidji, in Minnesota ever since their statues were erected there during Bemidji’s 1937 Winter Carnival. He stands 18 feet tall, wearing a red and blue checked shirt, and blue jeans. Babe is 10-feet tall.

Other places to see statues of Paul and Babe include:

— Brainerd, Minnesota

— Klamath, California along the Pacific Coast Road Trip

— Bangor, Maine (part of the Great Northern route)

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Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who also writes stories for children.

Give Your Backyard Critters, and the Earth’s Creatures Some TLC.

We are ALL interconnected and part of the chain that feeds and sustains life on earth. Wondering how you can help protect the most vulnerable critters on our planet? There are FIVE simple things all of us can do to help make a difference for the creatures who share the earth with us. 

1. Bee populations are disappearing, which effects food crops around the world. Help LOCAL HIVES by adding a “bee bath” to your backyard. Fill a shallow dish or birdbath with water and pebbles or marbles to welcome these pollinators into your garden.

bee

2. You can help protect CORAL REEFS by replacing your regular sunscreen for one that does not contain OXYBENZONE. This ingredient damages the delicate reefs.

3. I’ve mentioned this one on numerous posts: FEED MONARCH BUTTERFLIES by planting MILKWEED in your garden. This is the only plant these endangered creatures lay their eggs on and the caterpillars eat. You can get get milkweed seeds in your local National Wildlife Federation office.  http://www.nationalwildlifefederation.org

milkweed

Milkweed from my garden. Bonus: it also attracts bees.

4. Eat seafood that is sustainably caught and protect whales and dolphins from getting trapped in fishing nets. Download the Seafood Watch app to identify businesses that serve and sell sustainably sourced seafood.

5. Help the endangered Sumatran tiger from losing its habitat to coffee growers. Make sure your brew is Rainforest Alliance certified. This means the beans are grown  and harvested in a sustainable, animal-friendly way.

Summer Fun: Crafts For Kids of All Ages.

Summer vacation is here!  While your children enjoy a break from school, you still want to make sure they are active and spending time in constructive pursuits instead of vegging out in front of the TV or computer.  Trips to parks and playgrounds, lakes and beaches, are a great way to enjoy the outdoors.  For days when it is too hot to go outside, or for times when quiet activity is preferred, there are some great sites for summer crafts.

The Long Thread offers 50 Summer Crafts for kids of all ages including Stone Dolls, Recycled Crayons, and Fairy Wings.

http://thelongthread.com/?p=4054

Try the awesome crafts for kids of all ages and abilities on the HAPPINESS IS HOMEMADE  site. No special skills or tools are required.

https://www.happinessishomemade.net/easy-summer-kids-crafts-that-anyone-can-make/

Finally,  check out the RED TED site for videos on some amazing crafts that will keep your children entertained all summer long.  http://www.redtedart.com

Happy Summer!

Book Review: BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES by Mike Ciccotello

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of a charming and fun-filled picture book in a give-away on the Writing and Illustrating blog run by Kathy Temean: http:kathytemean.wordpress.com

BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES by Mike Ciccotello is that book. Here is my review of this delightful story that bridges the transition from summer to Back-To-School for the youngest kids.

Beach Toys vs. School Supplies

            The contest is on for who can build the best sand castle of all: The beach toys who have done it forever, or the school supplies who have all the proper equipment to measure and make the sand do what it does best. Does bigger mean better?  School supplies think so, but when things don’t work out quite the way they envisioned, will beach toys come to the rescue?

            Engaging illustrations and “punny” word play make the contest fun to watch. The message of friendship, co-operation, and kindness make this a perfect book for the transition from summer to school for the youngest readers.

So, grab your beach toys and school supplies and head on over to the beach for some sand castle building of your own…now is the perfect time.