Thursday, December 23, 2010

ATTN STUDENTS & PARENTS--Best Pencils & Erasers Ever !

I was over at my friend Joy’s house the other day while her grandkids were doing their homework. I sat with the six-year-old and was helping her with English. I couldn’t help but notice that her pencil and eraser were absolutely atrocious and she was struggling to get the words onto the paper.

I then went over to Brianna (a visiting neighbor kid who spends a lot of time there) to help her with her homework. Her pencil and eraser was in pretty much the same state…pitiful!

I reflected a bit afterwards about the disparity of the fact that my friend had just bought a brand new large flat screen TV, but didn’t have any decent pencils, erasers or pencil sharpener in the house. Made me think of the Titanic—they had everything but the things they needed most: more life rafts, binoculars in the crow’s nest, and a wire operator who would have paid heed to the ice warnings instead of sending passenger messages.

Obviously the outcome of using lousy pencils and erasers CANNOT be compared to the loss of the Titanic, but it is interesting that people frequently overlook the importance of items that are staples.

I love my friend, and I love her grandkids—so I took it upon myself to go buy some of my most favorite pencils, erasers and an automatic pencil sharpener for them. Plus I also bought some for Brianna (her neighbor’s daughter).

When I delivered them they all seemed very surprised and happy…but I knew that they weren’t really going to get excited until they started using them.

I went back a couple of days later…oh my gosh…you’d have thought I bought them the moon! The rave reviews from all concerned were nothing short of spectacular! They said, “I’ll never buy another kind of pencil or eraser.” “I can’t believe how much easier it is to erase things now.” “My work goes faster now.”

And the automatic pencil sharpener has become the Holy Grail of homework! I think they’re wondering how they ever did without it, and it brings to mind the good old days when pencil sharpeners were attached to the classroom wall or the teacher’s desk. They were reliable and dependable...ready and willing to get the job done!

It’s nice to know you can still make a difference in someone’s life, and that there are indeed little things you can buy that can become BIG things. So if you know someone who lacks some essentials, why not add them onto your “to do” list with a good pen or pencil and go buy them a some staples!

Here’s what I bought the kids:

U.S.A. Gold Natural #2 HB pencils by | They are easy to spot because while most pencils are yellow on the outside, these look more like natural wood. They are more expensive than the others, but not that much.

Pentel Hi-Polymer Erasers | They are rectangular and have little blue sleeves on them. Word of Advice: Do not take the sleeve off—the eraser functions better WITH it.

Note: Both pencils and erasers can be found at either Target or Walmart. The automatic pencil sharpener was purchased at Office Depot for about $13.00.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Few Words...Much Said...The Art of Quotations

I have a host of volumes on quotations, some better than others, but all of them give inspiration from time-to-time. What I love about quotes is the fact that in very few words, they say much. Every word within a quote is well-appointed and perfectly placed, which makes quotations Word Art!

One day I was standing waiting for my daughter in the magazine aisle at Publix grocery store when a book of quotes caught my eye. “The Complete Book of Zingers” by Croft M. Pentz. The subtitle is “Over 5000 Perfect One-Liners.” As I stood there reading and laughing I quickly looked at the back to see the price (expecting it to be high since it was a grocery store versus a book store), but it was only $9.99. Cool, I thought, another gem for my collection!

Here are a few from that book. Hope you like ‘em!

“There is no free tuition in the school of experience.”

“There is nothing like a little experience to upset theory.”

“People who make a hash of things are generally struggling with yesterday’s leftovers.”

“To err is human, but when the eraser wears out before the pencil, you are overdoing it.”

“Life is like a camel, it never backs up.”

“I would rather be hurt, than do hurt.”

I don’t know what it is about quotes, but they have a way of cutting through a matter. One in particular that really made changes in me was, “I’d rather have the pain of discipline and not the pain of regret.” Interestingly enough I had a friend who hated that quote…she said it made her mad. She never did elaborate on why, but after about three times I never said it to her again.

Another one that’s helped over the last few years is “Skinny tastes better than sweets,” by Tony Robbins. That one little thought can redirect you…away from Fudgy Pudgy Swirl ice cream, and towards healthy fruit. Of course he has many one-liners he uses being the guru of Personal Power. He uses them to prod, stir, inspire, and just plain tick you off towards change–whatever it takes to keep you focused in a move-it-forward direction.

Years ago (100s and 1000s) grown-ups would use short inspirational quotes to help children improve their character. I think it still works, but sadly we’re more into filling kids’ heads with information and facts…we’re not overly concerned with character that much anymore; unless the kid is getting into trouble, that’s a different story altogether. (Maybe if more time had been spent on the character development, trouble wouldn’t have reared its ugly head.)

Anyway...stepping down from my little soap box there, the bottom line is that quotations can quite literally forge tremendous change in a person’s life; at least the right quotations. After all, what inspires one person may not inspire another…as was proved with my friend and that quote I so dearly love.

Copyright 2010 Gloria Jean Dewitt

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Watch Young Learners Go From Zero to Hero

Over the years I’ve bought a lot of books to home school my daughter, who is now almost eighteen and preparing for her GED.

One series that proved pivotal to her gaining ground were the Peggy Kaye “Games For” books: Games for Math, Games for Writing, and Games for Reading. Of course now there are even more books in the series, but when my daughter was younger there were just 3 or 4.

Because my child was one of those learners that wanted everything to be fun it was a far bigger challenge to get her motivated. I had to think of creative ways to even get her interested. So the Peggy Kaye books were a God-send because they had a multitude of ideas and games to engage my child.

The book on math uses simple games to stimulate learning and is particularly great for those kids that have actually become afraid of math. This book is like a magic wand that says, “fear be gone!”

Games for Writing is every bit as good, with lots of creative ways to stimulate your child. Here’s a review from Amazon, I think it says it all:   

“I am both a writer and former English teacher (besides being the mother of two), so I maybe prejudiced, but I think writing is the most important thing children learn in elementary school. Once they get to high school, in most subjects it will not make any difference how much they know if they can not get clear thoughts down on paper. If you have a child struggling with writing, this is a very useful book. Some school districts get so obsessed with mechanics (spelling, punctuation, etc.) that the kids rarely practice doing any real writing. Others are more creative, but never seem to get around to things like spelling, punctuation and handwriting. In contrast, the approach Peggy Kaye uses is perfectly balanced. She is full of ideas for encouraging creativity, but also full of painless, even fun ways to practice spelling and penmanship. Both of my kids have loved games from this book, and ASKED to play them. They have no idea how much they are learning, they just enjoy the games. I have looked at a lot of books like this, and I have not seen any that are nearly as good.” (Submitted by bluemama to Amazon.)

All of the Peggy Kaye books are rated 4 and 5 stars and they have a host of positive reviews! So if your child is struggling with reading, writing, or math in any way, there is no need for them to feel discouraged or stupid; which, by the way, many children do feel when they’re not “getting it!”

I remember the first book series that my daughter wanted to read: The A to Z Mysteries, a fabulous series of books for young readers…and if your child loves mysteries, these may just be the books to motivate! I thought to myself, ‘she wouldn’t have even gotten to this point without those Peggy Kaye books.’

So it’s all about getting them to learn in a way they enjoy…tapping into their likes and interests. Finding their Zen regarding learning! Letting them fit neatly into the box that is uniquely them, and not someone else.

My daughter struggled with learning to read, but finally found success when she started reading things she was really interested in. So sometimes we have to drop our agendas and curriculums in order to make it work and help our child/children. My daughter now loves to read and write, and is currently working on a blog that focuses on her interest in Japanese Anime. If I had tried to fit her in the “normal” box, she may never have come to this point!

So if your child feels like a failure regarding school, don’t lose heart, just arm yourself with some Peggy Kaye books and watch your child go from ZERO TO HERO academically! Your mother’s or father’s heart will thrill over the changes that take place, and your child will LOVE LEARNING!!

Copyright 2010 Gloria Jean Dewitt

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Failure at Exercise & Tired of It? Discover Your Preference!

Do you feel like you’re a flat flop failure at exercise? Have you tried different programs…only to end up deserting them all and remaining El Blubbo?

Maybe it’s time for a different approach. Here’s the thing, nobody will continue to work-out if they don’t like the work-out. You have to find something that you think is fun—a form of exercise that taps into your preferences.

Okay, so maybe you don’t know what your preferences are, or maybe because you’ve failed so much you think you just hate exercise in general. No. No. No. And again, I say “NO.”

There IS something that you’ll enjoy doing. Something you’ll like so much that you’ll stick with it and get results…you just have to find it. So start by thinking of things you liked doing in your youth, or things you think you might have an interest in now.

Then consider whether you like exercising by yourself or with others. My friend Kathy hates working out alone and I love working out alone. And if you’re not sure, then you need to try both. Remember that scene in Runaway Bride, where she has to try all the different eggs dishes to discover her preference? Well, that’s what you’ll have to do!

Here are just a few exercise ideas:

  • Kick boxing
  • Walking
  • Dance lessons (tap, swing, western, clog, etc.)
  • Dance at home to your favorite music
  • Martial arts
  • DVDs (the selection is incredible)
  • Gymnastics
  • Ping pong
  • Tennis
  • Swimming
  • Basketball (and yes, you can even play by yourself)
  • Team sport
  • Lessons at your local Recreation Center or YMCA
I myself am wacky for walking, so I lace up my tennis shoes about 4-5 times per week and share my passion for walking at  Connecting with other people on their journey is something that brings me a lot of joy!

So why not make this your new project…I guarantee that once you discover what you like to do, you’ll continue and be fit as a fiddle!

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My favorite walking workout DVD is by Leslie Sansone...she makes it easy and fun. So if you're someone who knows you like to walk, this might be a great starter DVD.

OR, you can STRIP THAT FAT AWAY through diet: Click Here

Copyright 2010 Gloria Jean Dewitt

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lady Gaga Versus Pink

Lady Gaga Versus Pink ...The variables!

Is Lady Gaga cosplay gone wrong? Or just an updated version of Cher? After all, at the peak of Cher's career she wrote the book on living "fashion outside the box!" Of course lots of people thought she was strange, but everyone enjoyed her romp through fashionista fantastico, and I think the same holds true for Lady Gaga.

People appreciate anyone willing to live life with flair, and when they have a sense of the ridiculous it bumps it up a few notches. We mere mortals have to wear turtle necks and blue jeans...LG gets to throw caution to the wind and express herself for all it's worth!

Pink, on the other hand, writes songs with angst and raw "take me or leave me" grit! She says what most people wish they could say, and inspires people to embrace themselves...flaws and all. A message that we all need at some time or other.

She may not be as daring in her duds, but her music can swing your soul's pendulum and give you inspiration to carry on. Her fashion statements are more an expression of her personality and personal preferences versus making the statement "you'll never see anything like this again!"

Both write great songs, but LG's seem to be more geared towards dance, while Pink's are more message oriented. And it seems like Pink wants to share who she is and what she's come from much more than LG. In a way, I almost feel like Lady Gaga  is hiding herself musically and becoming too much of a persona versus an artist.   I have to wonder how she feels about that, after all, any musician who works hard at their craft wants to be praised.

The bottom line is this, they both are very talented and should have long careers ahead of them, but LG might have to become more real in order to sustain hers.  People might find her wardrobe choices interesting for awhile, but will eventually want more substance. Any thoughts?

Best Songs 9: Music Videos from different decades and genres!

Easy Breezy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Recipe

Love fudge, but don't like the hassle? Here's an easy chocolate, peanut butter fudge recipe! We just delivered some to two of our neighbors, and they inhaled it...said it was "absolutely delicious!" Here's the recipe:

* 12 ounces of creamy peanut butter (Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter is best.)
* 12 package of milk chocolate chips
* 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
* 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

In saucepan, combine peanut butter, chocolate chips and condensed milk. Heat on low, stirring constantly until the chocolate is melted. Add pecans (optional) and mix well. Pour into 9 x 9-inch buttered dish, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Entire pan without pecans is about 4700…so it’s calories be damned on this one! But if you MUST count, then it’s about 150 calories per each 1 1/2″ square.

This recipe can be found in The Ultimate Cooking with 4 Ingredients by Jean Coates. My friend gave me this book a few years back and I just LOVE IT…it has lots of great, tasty, easy-to-make dishes!

If you’ve got a super busy life, but like to feed your family healthy, this book is a MUST HAVE!!

Bump Email ... Write a Letter & Send it Soon !

Don’t know about you, but I miss the art of letter writing, and that little thrill that comes from receiving something in the mail.

Email is all fine and dandy, but there is something sort of exciting about getting a letter in ye ole snail mail. I like holding the envelope and just looking at it for a minute. Then I open it very carefully, so I don’t damage the envelope…in case it’s a keeper, because I actually have a Memory Box where I store special letters and cards I’ve gotten over the years.

I got a three-page letter from my friend Kay when she was living in Russia that was so special I actually pondered framing it. She told me about how she was cooking pastries in her little oven at home and then taking them out into the cold streets to sell them. She was a missionary over there and that’s how she was earning extra money for the things she needed. That letter was brimming with Kay’s personality and interesting details about her life! If it had been in an email it wouldn’t have had the character of her handwriting, the paper she wrote it on, or the envelope!

I happen to think people STILL like getting letters in the mail…and Christmas cards prove my theory, because most people love getting them! Heck, they even like getting them if the person just signed their name and put no note inside! So it must be that it makes them feel remembered and cared for, and in this frenzied million-miles-an-hour world it’s nice to think that someone “took a moment” out for you.

Several years ago I was part of a prayer-gram ministry at the Oasis Christian Church. Prayer grams were little letters we (on the team) would send out to those we had prayed for. What we’d do is take the prayer requests, divide them up amongst us, pray over each one in our own time, and then write whatever we felt God wanted us to say.  One day while at church a gal walked up to me and said, “You know I received a prayer gram from you quite a while ago, but I still carry it in my purse to encourage me.” I also had a gentleman walk up to me at another time and pull the prayer gram I wrote him out of his wallet. He said that he just wanted to thank me and that the words in that letter really got him over some major humps.

Because we are a techno-savvy society, we forget that we’re still human, and that the human heart has not changed! Our hearts remain just as they were before the Industrial Revolution, iPods, and email.  We want to be thought of, we want to be loved, we want to know that we matter to someone.

When the mail service first started (thank you Ben Franklin, our first Post Master), it was for the sole purpose of transmitting news in a more efficient way across the miles. Of course it also served to help those who were distanced by miles (families or sweethearts). It wasn’t about bills, advertisements, or cataloges. It was about keeping people informed of important things, and keeping families in-touch.

Loved ones were sending letters to say, “I miss you.” “I love you.” “Wish you weren’t so far away!” Plus they were able to express things in letters that they perhaps couldn’t in person…conveying deeper feelings and emotions without fear of looking foolish. When the mail service was started there was no other means of communicating but the written word…that was all they had, and whether we know it or not, it stills feels darned good to get a letter, it’s just that people have forgotten how good it feels, which is why most people don’t send letters any more.

I don’t know if it’s a mystery, but it must be, because receiving a letter in the mail feels better than receiving an email. So I say, “Bump Email! Write a letter and send it snail mail! Do it today, or write yourself a note to do it later. But whatever you do…DO IT!" You’ll be surprised by what you feel during the experience, and even more  surprised at the response you get from the one you send it to!

Copyright 2010 Gloria Jean Dewitt

If you are someone who is more old school, or someone who loves history and interesting people, then you will love the book Ben Franklin’s Almanac, Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman’s Life by Candace Fleming. I own this book and have read it a number of times…each time I pick it up it’s like a fresh read, and it always inspires me to do great things!!

I've also put a great book on writing personal letters ... letters that will profoundly touch the receiver!