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Saturday, November 29, 2014

After Thanksgiving



Now that the Thanksgiving holiday has passed, it is time to think of the future:  Christmas, winter, the New Year.  Besides decorating and shopping, this time of year I like to buy a new weekly calendar and plan my goals for the following year.  I feel like unless I make time for things on purpose, I will never get around to it.  It seems like mundane chores and just living gets in the way of doing the things I really want to do.  I want to make time on purpose to create, to paint, to explore new mediums and to work on book ideas.  How can I squeeze those things in if I don’t do it on purpose?


I decide first how many things I would like to accomplish and I usually think conservatively.  For example I’d like to paint 36 new paintings next year, that works out to 3 paintings per month.  However I know that, although that would be lovely, I just won’t be able to carve out that much time for painting.  So conservatively I’d like to paint 12 new paintings; one per month is more manageable.  Also I’d like to complete 3 new books next year, but I will be happy if I can complete and self-publish one new one.  Books are time consuming if you want to do it right and make sure there are no errors before you go to press.

What do you want to do with your year?  Is there purpose to your planning?  Think about it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving



There is something very healthy about being thankful for what you have instead of regretting what you don’t have.  A positive outlook makes you feel better all over.

Yesterday, I found out that my cell phone number, which I have had for about 8 years, was given to someone else’s device and my number/my phone is no longer working.  Everyone at the service carrier tech department were very apologetic that this happened but no one could fix it.  I was going to have to go to one of those stores and get a new sim card or a new plan.  I simply didn’t have time for it right before the holiday.  I started thinking of having to call or text everyone who has my number and try to give them a new number and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I started crying.  That is my normal fall back when bad things hit me.  However within about half an hour, it struck me that praying might be a good idea.  My faith is very important to me but I don’t always think of it first.  My bad.


Anyway, I realized that the cell phone wasn’t essential to life or love.  It was given to me as a gift many years ago and has been one of those things that has continued by the grace of God all this time.  I have hardly ever had to pay for it.  God has provided a way all along these years.  If it is time to give it up, that should be okay with me.  He gave it and he can take it back.  It has been a luxury that I didn’t deserve or even earn.  Also, we have other methods of communication to fall back on, so we aren’t without contact with the outside world.  As I started to think about all the blessings I received and for almost nothing, I realized that I should be happy.  I didn’t really deserved to have it in the first place and I could have been without one all these past 8 years.  So really I am blessed.

In a few days, after the holiday rush is over, I will probably go to a store and get it all straightened out.  Until then, I have a lovely peace in my heart about the whole situation.  On the plus side, none of my “needy” family can call me and beg for this or that.  I don’t have a phone.  No more creditors or telemarketers can call me right now, I have no phone.  What a peaceful few days I have ahead of me.  I am very thankful.  This will be a great holiday.


Blessings to everyone.  Especially those facing difficult family situations.  I’m thinking of you and praying for you.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Multiculturalism in Children's Books

Is it true the children’s books published in America are heavy with Caucasian main characters and light on multiculturalism?  Do we have a vision problem in America?  Is it true that if you cannot see yourself in a main character that the book is not as interesting, and therefore not compelling ethnic groups to read more?

I have had quite a dialog with some of my friends about this.  Some think it isn’t a problem; that children will role-play with any main character, white or black, and that the multiculturalism craze is just a passing fad.  Others state that they don’t remember any children’s books they read growing up that related to them personally, or that encouraged them to read at all.  In the middle, some say that there were very few books that caught their interest, and those that did were about white main characters.  Although Superman was white, he was an alien from another planet, so does that count?

In the end the debate continues and I’m a little saddened when I hear that children can’t relate to characters they read about.  I love books.  I have been Anne of Green Gables sitting in the flowers and imagining I see fairies.  I have been Alice following a white rabbit down the hole with no idea how to get back up.  I have been sitting on a stool as the cat in the hat strolls up to my house and destroys everything before my mother gets home.  I have even been Jim Hawkins hiding in the apple barrel and overhearing Long John Silver orchestrate a mutiny on the way to Treasure Island (although I admit that didn’t seem strange to me then as it does seem now).

If a child cannot relate to the main or even secondary character and therefore doesn’t learn that books hold the key to life and adventure, then we have a whole group of people who are poorer because of it.  And by extension the whole world will be poorer because of it.  Can this be the reason the literacy rate is so low in this country?  It is certainly more difficult to encourage children to read if they really don’t see a character they can relate to at all. 


I wrote on this issue in length in the article titled, “Multiculturalismin Children’s Books in America.”  I would love your input and comments.  What do you think?  What is the answer?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A few more Free Things

This is a hard look into those websites that claim they will find you free things but require more than I am willing to give in time and effort.  By far the most useful site is Craigs List and even that has its downfall areas.  Be careful of scams.  Sites like Craigs list aren't monitored as strictly as some and people will try to scam and steal from honest folks.  It helps to be aware of this and not give out too much information.  That being said, I have sold and bought items on Craigs List and was treated well.   I do think that more secure and local sites are best.  That is why I would rather deal with places like the free listings on Facebook from folks I know live in my area.


There is a Craig’s List for lots of regions, so you first want to find your state and city, which will direct you to a Craig’s List.org for your area.  In the middle of the page there should be a listing “For Sale” and in the middle of that list is a listing called “Free”.  For the cost of emailing or phoning the person listed and going to get the item yourself, you could find used furniture, moving boxes, German Shepherd puppies, kittens, or even desks and children’s toys.  If you find something you are interested in be sure to call or email (or both) right away as there may be a number of people also interested or the item may have already been hauled off.  I find this to be a great feature to keep your eye on for children’s furniture and moving boxes.  Very helpful.

Many areas have someone who has taken it upon themselves to create a Facebook page with similar elements to the Craig’s List free listing.  They like to list low cost yard sale type items or free-to-a-good-home items on Facebook.  Just type in “free” in the Facebook search and see what might pop up.  I have gotten some lovely things this way.  I bought an electric bread maker from a sweet little elderly lady who said she just didn't have time for it as she was by herself now and she basically wanted to get rid of it.  She sold a $300 bread maker for just $50.  I was overjoyed.
Oil painting of a loaf of bread from my new used bread maker.

In my area there is a Facebook site called (city) Homegoods and Resale Page.  Along with that I found several other Facebook pages with similar names that sell nice items at yard sale prices from local folks.   


This is a site that sends you to other free stuff sites like the ones listed below.  Most want a lot of information from you or require you to use their search engine.  However there are a few good sites listed.  You just have to plow through a lot of refuse to find it.


This site directs you to other sites where you can get free things.  You have to fill out membership information in each of the directed sites but many are worth it.  They have free music, free event tickets, promotional give aways, free samples, coupons, free books, and free movie tickets.

The free music is genuinely free but much of it isn’t very good.  Like the free stock photo sites, you have to really pick through junk to find gems. 

The problem with this site is that you are expected to use their Ask.com search engine.  Although it is free, I find it annoying to HAVE to use something I didn’t really choose.  I looked through a few free things then changed back to my preferred search engine.


This seems like a good site and they do send you free things in the mail but they require you to complete surveys to “determine what products would be best for you.”  I don’t mind a survey or two, especially if it only takes a few minutes to fill out, but these guys send you survey after survey and they are longer and longer each time to complete.  Finally after one lengthy 20-minute survey, I deleted their site.  It just wasn’t worth it.  The sites that send the most free stuff are the baby care sites such as Freebabystuff.com.  This makes sense because they know you must have a baby and the child will need those products for the next couple years.  They are guaranteed a return on their investment.