Monday, September 29, 2014


I'm sitting here waiting for Dancing with the Stars to come on. The only things I usually watch are NCIS, NCIS LA and Rizzoli and Isles all of which I watch on DVR after the fact.

But I started watching DWTS last season when Candace Cameron Bure was on. And decided to try it again this season since the Duck Dynasty girl is on it. I don't watch Duck Dynasty because they all drive me crazy, but at least they're being real.

There are so many random thoughts bouncing around in my head, I thought I'd just write them down and maybe it'll clear my mind.

 1. I hope I said something that made sense in my radio interview by phone this morning.
 2. I wonder if I can get a Canadian radio station here in FL, but not sure I really want to hear myself. (It was taped for Wed a.m.)
 3. Why do kids let my daughter coerce them out of their snacks and lunch treats? 
 4. If someone said to me, "I won't be your friend unless you give me that" I'd say, "You aren't my friend anyway or you wouldn't be trying to get my snack/treat."
 5. I'm glad that both twins' teachers seemed to "get it" when we had conferences last week.
 6. I hope my new alternator doesn't cost too much.
 7. I hope my 2001 SUV with over 243,000 miles last another couple of years.
 8. It's pouring. I hope it doesn't rain on Jessica's wedding day since it's a beach wedding.

 9. How did the plan to have an inexpensive beach wedding get so expensive?
10. I will be glad when we are done with this science fair project. Still have the research paper, bibliography, experiments, log, display board and abstract to go.
 11. This year we have a month's break before we start history fair--I think.
 12. I hope my mom and sister can come for Jessica's wedding. My mom isn't really able to travel anymore.
 13. I wish there was some soda in the house. 
 14. I wish there was some chocolate in the house.
 15. I wonder if the Tyndale editor got my new proposal. I haven't heard anything from her since she started. Another writer gave me her e-mail address.
 16.  I "love"Tangled and Frozen--mostly the music--I wonder when there will be another Disney movie?

 17. I wonder if the new Left Behind movie is worth going to the full price theater to see?
 18. Why hasn't there been anything new/decent at the "cheap" theater in the past few weeks? Planes 2 and How to Train Your Dragon 2 seem to have been skipped.
 19. I wish it were easier for me to write fiction. I want to write teen fiction that makes a difference. The real stuff. 
 20. Why does time seem to go so much faster when you're doing something fun than when you're waiting for something?

Okay, if you made it through that whole list--or skimmed it and have arrived at the bottom--it's your turn. Hit comment and write at least five random things that are going through your mind.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Last Saturday Jessica and I drove to Murfreesboro for the Christian Products Expo, which took place Sunday afternoon to Tuesday noon.

We did some shopping at an outlet mall and ended up buying clothes that I wore for the book signing and the two days on the floor expo floor (even though I'd packed clothes).

Before the book signing

The expo was held in this hotel, but we stayed in a less expensive one an exit away.

Ready to sign. I should have started signing ahead because when they opened the doors, we were all swamped. I signed over 90 copies of my book in one hour. I think we went over time. I tried to talk to each person and find out where he or she was from. Some were local, but some were from as far away as WA and PA just for a three day weekend.
With another Tyndale author, Karen Whiting, and Michael, our sales rep.
I'm talking to a bookstore owner from Shipshewana, which is near where I grew up. I've taken the kids there the past few years when we've gone to IN.
Karen and I working hard at loading the bags with fliers and book marks and adding the tissue paper.
Jessica taking the bags down to the room for the morning meeting.
Getting ready for the morning program--opening, devos etc.
I was up first.
I even remembered what I was supposed to say!

I don't know what Cynthia (on the end) was talking about, but Cec is either asleep or praying, and I have no idea what I said to Karen.
Okay, we're all awake and calm again.
This bookstore owner won a box of books we donated.
With Michael and Karen on the expo floor.
These guys from CA were just so awesome I had to get a picture with them.
I send author interviews to Andrea for the More to Life  newsletter, but I hadn't met her until this weekend.

So that's what Jessica and I did last weekend.

We are now less than four weeks until Jessica's wedding.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Disney Princesses--Good or Bad?

Recently my book Promises for God's Princesses was released.

And Tyndale asked me to write a blog post with the theme princesses. No other directions, I could write about anything within that one word topic.

Normally when we hear "princesses," our minds go to the well-known Disney princesses. And I actually thought about writing about the positive lessons they teach. But as I started thinking about that, I started thinking about the negatives, too.

So I didn't write that blog post about the Disney princesses, but I've shared some here. This is mostly an overview of the princesses and I'd love to hear from you on the good and bad of these fair ladies. I'll talk more about those in a future post.

I'm sure you're already familiar with the princesses, how could you be alive and not know them? But in case you've missed some, they are:  (and these are my own interpretations of the stories!!)
Snow White is the original Disney princess, born with skin as white as snow, hair as black as Ebony and lips as red as a rose. She hides from her wicked stepmother in the home of the Seven Dwarfs, happily keeping house for them until she is tricked into eating a poisonous apple. She is naive, but kind, happy and a willing worker. And of course it only take a kiss from a prince to revive her once poisoned.

Cinderella was perhaps the most popular of the princesses for a long time. I think Elsa may have passed her :) Cinderella's widowed father remarries, and Cinderella gets a step mother and two lazy step sisters. When her father dies, she is mistreated by her step mother and sisters, yet she remains kind and gentle, doing the work without complaining and with only the mice and other animals for friends. Her fairy godmother helps her attend the ball where the prince fails in love with her after only a dance. Not knowing her identity, a kingdom-wide search for the owner of a lost glass slipper reunites them.

Aurora, a little naive and a hopeless romantic, is sheltered most her life. When evil Maleficent pronounces a curse on her while she's an infant, she is hidden away to be raised by three good fairies. She falls into a death-like sleep and can be awakened only by true love's kiss. Of course if you've seen the recently released "Maleficent" with Angelina Jolie, you know that isn't the true story at all :)

Ariel is the daughter of King Triton and the youngest of seven sisters. Not content with being a mermaid, she trades her voice for the chance to be human. of course everything goes wrong with this plan, but in the end, King Triton, realizing that Ariel loves Eric, changes her into a human and agrees she can marry Eric. Ariel is quite different than the first three princesses who seem to just go along with the plan. Ariel is independent and willing to take risks to get her dream, but she also has obedience issues.

Belle is one of my favorites because she is true to who she is. She doesn't go with the flow, but embraces her love of books and turns down Gaston who the rest of the girls swoon over due to his good looks. When Belle's father is held in a castle by the beast, she sacrifices her own freedom for his. Although at first she's turned off by the beast's looks, she soon learns to look beyond appearances. She declares her love for him while he is still in beast form, not realizing he's a prince under a spell/curse. I think she's the first Disney princesses who was a commoner who married into royalty.

Jasmine is a strong, confident princess who doesn't want anyone to tell her what to do, including her father. She longs for her independence. She meets Aladdin, who is disguised as a prince, and goes on a ride on a magic carpet--and of course falls in love with Aladdin. After a lot of plotting, and battles between good and evil, Aladdin realizes he can't keep pretending to be who he's not. With the help of a Genie, he gets things worked out and is allowed to marry Princess Jasmine even though he's not royalty. There's a lot of deceit and lying going on in this movie, but of course it all works out in the end.

Jessica and I had a chance to see it on Broadway in NYC last May.

Pocahontas is an adventurer and nature lover who talks to the spirits. She is noble and wise beyond her years. The daughter of a Native American Chief, she meets John Smith in the wilderness and they fall in love. But it's not meant to be. John takes the blame for killing someone he didn't kill in order to protect young Thomas. He's going to be executed, but is saved at the last minute. Just as it looks like everything will turn out okay, he is shot while protecting the chief and John returns to England for medical treatment. And of course the movie wouldn't be the same without the raccoon.

Mulan is different from the other Chinese girls of her time. Although beautiful, she's clumsy and outspoken. She's also brave and loyal. Disguising herself as a boy, she takes her father's place in the army, with an (very small, humorous) ancestral dragon to help her. When Mulan is injured, her true gender is discovered, and she's kicked out of the army. Still, she ends up being the hero in the end, saving China and winning the love of her former commander.

Tiana is a beautiful, hard working young woman living in New Orleans in the '20's who wants to open her own restaurant. When both she and the handsome, but lazy, Prince Naveen are turned into frogs, they set out to find someone who can change them back to humans. That's not as easy as it sounds or it would be a very short movie. But in the end, love prevails and Tiana's dreams all come true proving that hard work and persistence does pay off.

Rapunzel doesn't know her true identity as she lives in a tower with Mother Gothel. And although kept secluded in a tower all her life, she's perky and intelligent, finding ways to amuse herself. When a handsome stranger shows up, Rapunzel finally gets her dream of seeing the floating lights. When she realizes she's the missing princesses, she has a show down with Mother Gothel, and of course takes her place as princess and marries the reformed thief, Flynn/Eugene.

Merida is a refreshing change from some of the earlier princess. Red haired and fiery, she is the only princess not to have a love interest during her movie. Her mother's desire to see her become a proper lady and marry a suitable man clashes with Merida's independent nature and her desire not to be tied down in marriage so young. She would prefer to ride her horse and shoot archery instead. When her mother is turned into bear, Merida has to find a way to break the spell before Mom is mistaken for the bear that tore off the king's leg and is killed for revenge. Working together to get Mom transformed back into a human helps Merida and Mom form a bond and understand each other better. The movie wouldn't be the same without the mischievous brothers.

Elsa and Anna are the newest Disney princesses as Frozen was the first movie to have two princesses, and both are loved and adored. The song "Let it Go" has become the new anthem for today's girls. Although the princesses have a rocky start with Elsa setting off an eternal winter, the sisters eventually find that love is the answer to a frozen heart. Add in a lovable snowman with lots of personality, an ice delivery man named Kristoff and a reindeer named Sven and you have a movie that is a hit with all ages. 

So, this is my list of princesses and my own version of their stories. Some princess are stereotypical and some are spunky. Some do exactly as they're told, others disobey but have a happy ending anyway. They are loving, kind, brave, and sacrificial. But some also have wrong values and wrong means to get what they want.  So the question is, are they positive role models for our girls or not? What positive and negative values do you think they teach?

Who is your favorite princesses and who is your daughter's favorite  princesses? Has that changed as each new movie is released?

I am also posting this on my blog for girls.
If you want books that are good reads for your princess, go back a couple of posts to my list of the best Christian books for preteen girls.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Into a Routine

For some reason, it's been a lot harder to get back into the school routine this year. I wasn't ready for summer to be over. I wasn't ready to start getting up at 5:05 and having everyone out the door by 6:10 a.m. I am still functioning on auto pilot that early. I normally don't get to bed until about 11:30 so 5:05 feels like the middle of the night.

Yet, that's the way it is. Back to homework, teacher conferences, IEP meetings and science fair plans. Right now Jasmine is working to get 60 3x5 note cards filled out with information about friction from six different sources. Then she has to write a three page typed report, conduct her experiment--three trials minimum and design her board. We already have the scientific plan sheet turned in. It looks like this:

Experimental Plan/Proposal
(Must be approved by instructor)
All responses need to be typed

Student’s Name: _Jasmine Cassel  Teacher: Mrs. Dolittle

A.     Question/Problem
How does road surface effect car speed?

B.      What is your research topic?

C.     Hypothesis:
If the road is rougher then the car will go slower because there is more friction

D.    Materials
·        Board to build race track
·        Dividers for lanes
·        Nails
·        Sand paper Fine P 100
·        Sand paper  Medium P 60
·        Sand paper Coarse P 40
·        Sand paper Extra Coarse P20
·        Glue
·        Four different style of matchbox cars
·        Stop watch
·        Notebook
·        Pen
·        Assistant

E.     Procedures
·        Build a ramp three feet long and two feet wide, divided into four lanes.
·        Cover each lane with a different coarseness of sand paper.
·        Time car #1 on each lane using a stop watch.
·        Record the times for each lane.
·        Repeat steps 3 and 4 with car #2.
·        Repeat steps 3 and 4 with car #3.
·        Repeat steps 3 and 4 with car #4.
·        Repeat the experiment three times for consistent results.

F.      Experimental Design

·        Independent Variable: Type of car, the roughness of the sand paper

·        Dependent Variable: Car speed

·        How will your dependent variable be measured? With a stop watch

·        Control: The sand paper extra coarse p 20.

·        Constants: Length of ramp, incline of ramp, weight of the cars, surface condition of the ramp

How many trials will you conduct? Three times

I was planning to put Kaleb in the other branch of the charter school next year from the one where Kayla is, but realizing that in two years they will start science fair projects and history fair projects, I am now planning to have them at the same school so they can work together on them!!

It's been a tough pet week here. Tuesday the 9th we gave the dogs their monthly trifexus (@ $18 each!). Scrappy was having problems breathing and was walking with a limp. By Friday his back  legs were not working at all, and he was laboring to breathe at all. Rick took him to the vet, but there was nothing to be done. They said he would never be able to use his back legs again. His heart was giving out and not doing his job, and he could barely breathe. He was at least 15 years old, maybe older. So we lost our buddy that day. We got him when Jasmine was about 3-4 months old. So she and the twins have grown up with him, and Adam doesn't remember life before him.

Travis, 19 months old
 We have to crush up the trifexus and mix it with canned food. They have to be fed one at a time so they don't take each other's food/medicine.
Sasha, seven months old

Scrappy, 15 years old

Caspian, 3 years old

Our daily schedule is pretty workable. On Monday evenings Jasmine has county Christian Youth Choir. On Tuesday Kaleb has tumbling, but we are dropping it at the end of the month. On Wednesday Jasmine has hip hop. (Jazz was moved to Thursday so we decided against doing it). On Thursday Jasmine has marching band from 2:45-4 and the twins have gymnastics. Nothing on Friday or Saturdays because we don't have anyone in soccer or baseball. They are all out the door by 6:10 a.m. and everyone is back to the house by 4:00 (which is a little long, but they are trying to work out the bus situation.)

Adam is playing city soccer on a church team on Thursday evenings.

Jessica is working at Applebees and counting down to the wedding--just over five weeks now. She is trying to go to open tumbling for adults on Thursday evenings (same time as Adam's soccer games of course!)

So, everyone has at least one extracurricular activity. And it seems to be going well so far. And that's pretty much our routine for now.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Learning Styles

School is back in session, and if you're like me, your child is already swamped with homework and the dreaded science fair project.

 On my blog for girls here, I posted about learning styles today and included a quiz from The Christian Girl's Guide to Me: The Quiz Book to help them figure out their learning style. It's just a fun quiz, though, and there are better online quizzes published by professionals in the field.

I thought for this blog, I post an article I wrote about kinesthetic learners several years ago. Leave your thoughts about learning styles in the comment section.

     As a mother, foster mother and former teacher, I've had the chance to interact with children from a variety of backgrounds. At times I've been told that a child doesn't have much potential. This isn't true. Every child has potential and can learn, but each will do it in his own way and time. When we discover how a child best learns, we can make the process easier and provide more chances for success.
      If a child isn't learning, have ears and eyes checked first. A child who can't see the blackboard or words a page won't learn well. A child who can't hear instructions has little chance of getting things right. Request testing to eliminate special learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
Learning styles
     If everything has been ruled out and your child still seems to have trouble learning, take a look at his learning style. There are three kinds of learners:
     Auditory. The auditory learner does best when things are explained verbally. He enjoys books on tape more than reading books, and he may need to study with music in the background or learn his multiplication tables by singing them rather than writing them.
     The auditory learner does best when traditional teaching methods are used such as teacher lectures, explanations, and discussions.

     Visual. The visual learner gets his information from books, charts, and graphs. He does well with worksheets and workbooks. Films, overhead transparencies, and things written on the blackboard benefit the visual learner.
     The visual learner does well with to-do lists, calendars, and written assignment pages.

     Kinesthetic. The kinesthetic learner has the toughest time at school. He needs to touch, hold, and manipulate things to learn. He needs to count beads to learn to add and subtract and to perform a science experiment to understand it.
     The kinesthetic learner does well when he can perform an experiment, act out a story, or go on a field trip.

The traditional classroom
     Most classrooms benefit the auditory and visual learners. A teacher writes things on the board as she explains them. She hands out a worksheet with written instructions that she also reads aloud to the class. The kinesthetic learner is the one who has the most problems. In preschool and kindergarten, there are many opportunities to touch and manipulate. There may be a sand or water play area, plastic bears to use for counting, and all sorts of things in a science center to touch.
     Once a child is past these early grades, the kinesthetic activities are reduced. Often touching and manipulating things is discouraged. The kinesthetic learner struggles unless the parents and teacher can work together to produce an environment that allows for the child's learning style.
     If your child doesn't seem to be learning well, observe him and try to figure out his learning style. Then ask yourself, "Does my child's teacher teach in a way that benefits my child?" If you suspect that your child's learning style isn't compatible with the teaching methods in his classroom, schedule a conference. Ask the teacher how the classroom work could be modified to help your child learn. You may have to do some brainstorming and offer positive suggestions to the teacher and even the principal or administrator but the effort will be worth it when you see your child come alive and begin learning.

What kind of learner is your child? Check out the quiz on my other blog using the link above.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Trying to Hang on to Summer!!

I'm just not ready to be back into the school routine. It's still summer. Unfortunately, the school system sees it differently. This is our third week of school.
In spite of school getting in the way, we went to the pool which is open another two weeks.

Climbed the pool climbing wall.

Looks like Kayla tried to change her mind at the last minute.

Then we went to Taco Bell.
Sunday afternoon we went to a beach an hour away that we haven't been to before.

It's on a peninsula so it has two sides--Gulf side and bay side. This is the bay side--shallow and sheltered.
This is the Gulf side--wild, crazy waves. I am mourning the loss of my (expensive) prescription sunglasses to the waves. The side pieces were too thick for a band, and I underestimated the waves!

Wipe Out!

Wipe Out!

Along the highway

We pulled off the side of the road and let the kids climb for almost an hour.

Didn't lose any children.

We stopped at a little park on the way home.
On Labor Day we had a group of 18 at the bay--Rick, me, the twins, Jasmine, Jessica, Hunter, a neighbor family, Adam and his best friend, his girlfriend and three of her younger siblings. Another little boy (the red head at the left edge of the picture) came over to join our group because I guess he thought we were having more fun than his family.  I was pulling people on the tube most of the time so didn't have a lot of interactions on shore.

I was not and am still not ready for the school routine. 5:05 is still the middle of the night to me. I'm all for spending the day playing in the sun, not doing science projects and math homework.

Who's with me?