How You Can Get Your Kids To Eat Healthier Without A Fight

How You Can Get Your Kids To Eat Healthier Without A Fight




Children sometimes don’t like eating all of the healthy foods that you might enjoy. However, these foods are important as they have the vitamins and minerals that are needed for the growing body. There are a few ways that you can creatively get children to eat healthy foods without them even knowing that the foods are in the meal at times.



This is an easy idea to sneak in a few vegetables with the kids not even knowing they are present. A spaghetti casserole with pepperoni and cheese could include small pieces of tomatoes and diced onions. You can also include small slivers of carrots as they are about the same color of the spaghetti sauce. A chicken casserole can include items like peas and diced carrots if you make it in a similar fashion to a pot pie.


You’re Not A Waitress

When you plan a meal, stick with the plan. Tell children what will be served, and if they don’t want what is served, then they can eat a peanut butter sandwich or not get anything until in the morning, whatever rules work your home. Make sure you have servings from each food group in the meal so that it’s as healthy as possible. Sandwiches can be made with wheat bread instead of white so that children get grains in the meal. You can find quality wheat bread at Klosterman Baking Company. Since most children like bread, introducing different types or textures of bread is a good way to transition to healthier eating.



Some children enjoy dipping foods into sauces instead of eating them plain. Create different sauces so that children can experiment with them. Ranch is a good idea for vegetables, but you can add flavor to the ranch with small pieces of bacon or shredded cheese. Honey mustard or salsa are good options as well. Foods that are easy to dip include carrot and celery sticks, broccoli and chips that are made from vegetables.


Kids Can Help

When kids help make the meal, they are often more inclined to eat what is prepared. They will know what is included in the meal whether it’s proteins, fruits or vegetables. Let them come up with ideas of how to use vegetables in the meal. This can lead to healthy ways of cooking for children when they are adults and have families of their own.


Getting children to eat healthy can sometimes be a chore. They might think that some foods don’t look pleasant or that they taste funny. Get creative when letting children try new foods, such as disguising them in other dishes or using dipping sauces with sticks of food.



How You Can Make A Difference In Kids’ Lives Around The World From Your Home



Many children around the world are suffering and struggling. Some of them do not have clean water to drink, and others do not have access to housing, clothing or education. When you want to make a difference from your home, you can certainly take steps to accomplish that goal.

Raise Money to Donate through Online Sales

With all of the platforms for selling items online these days, you can certainly find at least one that is suitable for you. Begin by going through items in your home to see what you can put up for sale. You may also have skills in a particular craft, and you can sell these items online. Let buyers know that all of, or a certain percentage of, the sales will go to children in need.

Donate Money

You don’t need to have a sale to donate money. Look into foundations, like this one by Gary Young, that help raise money for children in need. Some people decide to make lump sum donations, and others choose to donate smaller amounts on a regular basis. Select foundations and charities where a large percentage of the money goes to children in needs so that you can make sure these youngsters are receiving the funds.

Teach or Tutor Online

Another way to directly connect with these children is to offer free or low-cost teaching or tutoring services. You would need to connect with an entity that provides internet connectivity for these youngsters. Children who are living in poverty-stricken areas generally do not have access to the internet on an at-will basis. Another idea is to connect with a school that does not have adequate resources. If even just one system is established, lessons could be projected onto the screen for the children to watch.

Sponsor a Child

When you are interested in getting to know the specific child whom you are assisting, consider sponsoring a child. You can make a certain amount of donation on a regular basis to this particular child. In return, you’ll receive updates on the child. This relationship can really grow, and you may have a personal connection with the child whom you sponsor. You can take on this responsibility from your home.

Host a Drive

Use the power of social media to let individuals know that you are taking up a collection for children in need. Consider contacting a particular charity or organization to find out what ideas are needed the most. For example, you may take up a drive for clothing during the cold months or for school supplies when youngsters return to their classes. The specific needs are going to depend upon the part of the world where the children are living. If you want, you can go to people’s houses to pick up their donations, but you can also ask them to drop these goods off to you. Once you have assembled the goods, send them to the children. You may want to take up a collection at a certain time of the year, such as Christmas.

Spread Awareness

One major problem with these struggles is that so many people do not even know they exist. They don’t recognize how many kids are living in squalor and how many of them do not have a place to call home. Use the internet, whether through social media campaigns or emails, to let people know about what is happening. By raising awareness, you can encourage other individuals to participate in your efforts too.


When you want to help children from your own home, you have many options available. These options can help you truly reach out to those who are in need.



The Best Music for the Best Children’s Birthday Party

“Music brings people together. Through music, children take an inner experience and move it into a shared creative experience. Group music-making releases energy which can be channeled in creative, productive directions. Children learn about themselves and others by playing music together and by listening to each other — tapping into hidden courage that can be played out by singing together or discovering the inner resources to listen quietly to another child’s playing.” – Judi Bosco (Board Certified Music Therapist)



For children, music provides many, many benefits. Experts agree, there are lots of good things about letting your child learn to play an instrument or listen to music every single day. We live in a world of instant gratification, but real life demands having patience. When you are playing in a band or orchestra (and most musicians do), you have to be willing to wait your turn to play otherwise the sound is a mess. That inadvertently teaches patience.
Music can be a much-needed connection for kids (and adults too!). “It can satisfy the need to unwind from the worries of life, but unlike the other things people often use for this purpose, such as excessive eating, drinking, or TV or aimless web browsing, it makes people more alive and connected with one another,” says Michael Jolkovski, a psychologist who specializes in musicians.
So, when you want to throw an amazing party for your children, you should not forget to pick a theme party, to buy the party supplies and to make a list with your children’s favorite songs. Because we are here to help you, here is a list with songs that will make your party really great:
THE 1950s/60s

This era is filled with tunes that are goofy, bouncy and pretty darn wholesome. Your children will love to listen to this music and they will dance a lot.
· “La Bamba” -Richie Valens
· “Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash (perfect for young Woody & Jessie fans….)
· “Twist and Shout” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” “Birthday” “Octopuses Garden”- The Beatles (I mean, you really
you can’t go wrong with any Beatles song!)
· “Wipe Out” – The Ventures
· “Build Me Up Buttercup” – Foundation
· “The Loco-Motion” – Little Eva
· “Day-O” – Harry Belafonte
· “I’m A Believer” – The Monkees
· “The Twist” – Chubby Checker
· “Magic Carpet Ride” – Steppenwolf
· “Sugar, Sugar” – The Archies


THE 1970s
Classic Rock, disco, punky, funky. The Seventies had it all—and these groovy tunes make for an amazing kiddo dance party.
· “Bliztkrieg Bop” – The Ramones
· “HEY! HO! Let’s GO!” – Ramones song
· “Rock & Roll All Night” – KISS
· “We Will Rock You. “ – Queen
· “You Shook Me All Night Long.” – AC/DC
· “I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow
· “One Way or Another” – Blondie
· “Shake Your Booty” – KC & the Sunshine Band
· “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees
· “Dancing Queen” -ABBA
· “YMCA” – Village People
· “Le Freak (Freak Out)” – Chic
· “You’re the One That I Want” – Grease Soundtrack
· “Rock the Boat” – Hues Corporation
· “We Are Family” – Sister Sledge
· “Funky Town” – Lipps Inc.


THE 1980s
Who does not love to watch little kids chanting and dancing on these:

· “That’s What I Like About You” – Romantics
· “Blinded Me With Science” – Thomas Dolby
· “Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats
· “Get Into The Groove” – Madonna
· “C’mon Eileen” – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
· “Hungry Like the Wolf” – Duran Duran
· “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper
· “Walk Like an Egyptian” — The Bangles
· “We Got the Beat” – The Go-Go
· “Mickey” – Toni Basil
· “You Give Love a Bad Name” – Bon Jovi
· “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor
· “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.
· “Footloose” – Kenny Loggins
· “Flashdance” – Irene Cara
· “Stray Cat Strut” – Stray Cats
· “Jump” – Van Halen
· “Busta Move” – Young MC
· “Walkin on Sunshine”- Katrina and the Waves


The purpose of the party is all about the kids having fun! And these songs will transform your children’s party into a great one:
· “Gangnam Style” —PSY
· “What Makes You Beautiful” – One Direction
· “Starships” — Nicki Minaj (CLEAN version, of course)
· “Good Feelin” — Flo Rida
· “Stereo Hearts” — Gym Class Heroes, with Adam Levine
· “Just Dance” or “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga (download the clean versions)
· “Please Don’t Stop the Music” – Rihanna
· “Firework” – Katy Perry
· “Dynamite” – Taio Cruz
· “Hey Ya”- Outkast
· “Sweet Escape” – Gwen Stefani
· “Life is a Highway” Rascal Flatts
· “Me Myself and I” – De La Soul
· “D.A.N.C.E” – Justice
· “Kids” – MGMT
· “Cha Cha Slide” – Mr. C the Slide Man
· “A Punk” – Vampire Weekend
· “I Got A Feeling” – Black Eyed Peas



Thelma Rimber – I Use My Talent To Lift Someone Else Up

“It was worth all the rejection, tears and sleepless nights. I used my talent to lift someone else up.” –  Thelma Rimber.

Imagine that you are a child, living in destitute poverty in a slum with absolutely no opportunities to do anything.  Then imagine that there is a woman who comes into you life, helps you to develop your innate gifts and talents and inspires you to do more and to be more.  And, she shows you how. 

This woman is Thelma Rimber.  A woman who is so talented that she can have her own successful solo career as an artist and entertainer, but, she chooses to stay and help young people.   We are so honored to have her share her journey and her mission with us here. 



You teach piano, voice and acting. We would like to know about the piano first. When did you start to learn how to play and why?

I would always watch pianists on the keys doing their thing and I’d get fascinated, but somehow it never occurred to me that I could ever play. About four years ago I started a youth choir at church and I would get so frustrated at the lack of our very own keyboard player. We were constantly let down or they would turn up with an arrogant attitude because they knew we needed them. Eventually I felt enough was enough and decided to learn how to play. I didn’t have an instrument though. What’s more, I didn’t have money to get one. On my birthday that year, by some miracle my family surprised me with the first instrument I have ever owned and I was thrilled! A Yamaha keyboard. Another miracle happened and the choir director at my church decided to sponsor my lessons at the one music school I really wanted to get piano lessons from. It’s now my third year as a piano student and I’m still falling deeper and deeper in love with those enchanting black and white keys. Am currently doing Grade 4 & 5 concurrently.


Incidentally my youth choir drifted apart because everyone seemed to be relocating or moving in different directions but am glad it was the push I needed to learn how to play piano.


You are a naturally skilled singer. In order to each others, did you take additional training or learn other methods or do you just teach what you know?


teerimberPeople usually laugh when I tell them I started out as a terrible singer. I would break into a sweat and tremble or even not be able to breathe properly on stage. The result, as any singer can imagine, was a terrible performance. Yet, people would come up to me and say they love my voice. I couldn’t understand why! However, I loved singing too much to do it as awfully as I was at the time so I began to pray for a miracle. I just told God I couldn’t stand being that bad a singer. One day, a friend at church asked me if I would like to download a set of vocal training programs he had on his computer. I did and they had an amazing effect on my voice. My own family couldn’t recognise my singing. I started to share those lessons with children in a choir I taught at the time and then gradually found myself in vocal coaching. I still would love to get expert one-on-one training from a seasoned teacher but so far I teach what I have learned and know. I think starting out as a bad singer helps one know what not to do if you’re to sing well. I also love to read off the net what I can of singing and proper techniques and share these with students.



And acting — was acting natural for you also, or did you take additional courses?

I marvel at how the one thing I do not at all struggle with, of all my talents and skills, is acting. I did take at as a course at school but it was more out of a passion than a need to learn how to do it. It helps me direct from my heart when I’m instructing my students but then again, I do read about it just to grab theoretical aspects that present interesting debates.



Africa is the land of music. Even the languages that people speak on the continent are very melodic. Did you grow up listening to music and if so, what kind of music was prevalent around you and where was it, in the home or in the community?


My paternal family is musical. My dad’s brother is an incredible concert pianist, or was, because he’s retired now. My father has always had a guitar somewhere to whip out whenever we were bored and we would sing along as he played. In Kenya, we have the coastal tribes which mostly speak Swahili. Swahili originated from the African Bantu tribes and the Arab traders mingling with each other along the East African coast. I come from one of these coastal tribes called the Giriama. During weddings and celebrations, we have a genre of music called Bango (pronounced Bang-go) and this is what my ear was tuned into from childhood. Bango is the most beautiful mix of Caribbean sounding Swahili music, sang with saxophones, large drums, guitar and keyboard or marimba (xylophone) accompaniments. This music was always playing at home or in my dad’s car because they’d remind him of his home back in the Coast of Kenya (we live in the capital city, Nairobi, which is a six hour drive away).


My father also loves Jazz and this sank into my system from childhood. He seemed to own endless Jazz music and so, to this day, it is my first love when it comes to choice of genre.


Kenya has an amazing mix of music because it seems almost every tribe has its own interpretation of music. We have 42 tribes in a not so large country yet all these blends fit and express themselves culturally. When we want to reach all Kenyans we sing in Swahili because that’s the national language. More commonly, many youthful musicians sing or rap in Sheng’ which is our local slang (a blend of English and Swahili). So all these, plus music from our neighboring countries were around me as I grew up.



Who were some of your favorite singers when you were growing up?

I think the among the first singers I grew up wanting to emulate were the Maranatha Singers and Ron Kenoly because my mother would play their music while dropping me to school almost every morning. As I gained understanding and more exposure, I fell in love with Ella Fitzgerald’s voice, as well as Nat King Cole because of dad and his jazz. But as I became more aware of my own tastes in music the late Whitney Houston, the late Tabu Lei, Yvonne Chakachaka, the late Lucky Dube, Chaka Demus, Toni Braxton and Tevin Campbell were all favorites that defined music for me as I grew up in the 90s.



What were some of your favorite bands?

When it came to bands, those that played Bango music locally were among my top favorites-we had the Pressmen Band that were a top hit back in the 90s. I also loved another Kenyan group called Safari. Spice Girls too I must say were a favorite as I entered my teens, and the ever lovable Morgan Heritage.


When you were 16, you performed Miriam Makeba’s song, “Malaika” and left the audience in awe and received a standing ovation. What did that experience leave you with?


When I was 17 my dad sent me to South Africa to finish high school and for the first time I was in a school offering drama as a subject, that was heaven to me. For the final exams we were to prepare a monologue to present. I included the song Malaika in mine. In East Africa we know it to be Fadhili Williams’ original composition so I had his version in mind as I sang. I didn’t think of myself as a singer so I was pleasantly surprised when the school principal invited me to sing it at the school’s end of year award ceremony. The audience looked humongous with just over 500 people. It changed my life, hearing the applause and seeing the moved emotions throughout the hall. That was the beginning of me discovering my singing talent.


Even with this confirmation of your natural talent, you did not pursue additional performance opportunities. Why not?


After that, I enrolled into a university in South Africa, Rhodes University, to do a Bachelor of Arts majoring in performing arts. Sadly, I problematically completed only one semester before dropping out and going back home to Kenya. The major reasons were that I was feeling pressure from my family to enroll into law school instead, because it seemed to them that a career in performing arts just did not present a promising future. It became too painful to think of acting or singing while in law school so I shut my mind and heart to it completely.


So, your parents encouraged to you do business studies while you were in college. In conflict with your heart, you studied law instead of the arts. After completing school, you gave yourself permission to go into the arts anyway. What happened within you that allowed you to give yourself permission to do that?


By the time I reached 4th year of law school, I knew I could not live without the arts. I started praying like there was no tomorrow for a way out of law as a career. The chance to pursue a Master of Arts in theatre in Perth, Australia came up and I applied just as I was graduating from law school. I think my father realised he had pushed me into a career I had not wanted for myself and he graciously agreed to sponsor my studies in Australia. Once there, I rolled up my sleeves and got into learning everything I could about script writing and producing for theatre and screen. I however found myself getting thoroughly depressed with the unfamiliar culture and atmosphere that after completing one year, I opted to come back home to Kenya to start off a career in the arts.


How did your parents feel about it?

When I got home, my parents had mixed feelings about me looking for jobs in film and theatre instead of applying for a ‘serious’ job as a lawyer. The journey was heartbreaking for me because one, they never knew what to tell family or friends about what I do because they didn’t understand it and two, they just didn’t seem proud of what I thought were great accomplishments. One day a cousin sarcastically asked me ‘You left law for this?’ I had to grow some thick skin against all the criticism flying about me from family over my career choice. What’s worse is I was still financially dependent on them even after all their investment in my education. I was an embarrassment and it was obvious.


You said it was difficult to “penetrate the [media and film] industry…without any qualifications.” What kind of qualifications were those people looking for and do you think, given your outstanding talent, that they were being realistic or discriminatory? The break the question down a little further, do you think you had the ability to perform to the level that was needed or do you think you had more to learn?


When I came home from Australia, I asked my theatre lecturer to write me referral which I intended to include in my acting portfolio. This prestigious man blew my mind when he said in his recommendation that I was one of the best performers he had seen in 20 years. When I began auditioning locally, one of the directors also seemed stunned by my talent, so did many actors. However, I just have never been successful at local auditions. In the most recent rejection I got, someone on the inside who had been part of the casting team admitted to me what I have always suspected is the reason behind it: bias. He told me he tried to fight for me to get the role but the director had already made up his mind on who should get the role, even though we had not been given an opportunity to audition. I think I have what it takes to take acting in my continent to a new level, but I also think the local casting directors I have come across just might not be ready for that change. I do believe that with God’s time I will meet the right match of directors to work with.



This dream that you had to open a performing arts academy in Kenya. Where do the roots of this dream stem from?


When it became obvious to me that I was being turned away time after time, I realised that I might die old with my dream to become the best performer I can be unfulfilled. I was facing a very dry period with no jobs coming up and no money, when I just got on my knees and asked God to show me what to do. I remembered the biblical figure Moses and I believe I heard God ask me in that moment the same thing He asked Moses, ‘what do you have in your hand?’ My answer was ‘I can act, You can use that, God.’ Then I believe I heard the voice resonate so deeply within ‘Go and lift someone up with what I have given you. I will use that.’


 And this is where Rimthel Creative Arts Company came from?

Yes. The picture then came so clearly to just teach those who are talented but less privileged than I am in the performing arts. I don’t know how I got the courage to do it but I went to the slum called Kibera, and I walked around looking for young talented actors. My life was threatened in the process by a Mafia leader there. Apparently if I was not going to pay him anything to walk freely in the slum, I couldn’t walk around at all or rent premises there to teach from. It got so bad he arranged a mob one morning to accost my assistant and I as we came to teach. The area chief took his side when I took the matter to him and so, I looked for another option. The students agreed to come to a venue half an hour’s drive from the slum every Saturday morning. At first I could afford to hire a van to bring all 20 of them but once things got dry for me financially, they started to walk to my venue and back to the slum. I was teaching them at no cost but a friend in the UK heard about my work and would send me little money by Western Union to keep the workshops going.


What kind of help could you use from others?

Today, I feel pained that I could not go on with my children in the slum because it just got too difficult financially. With financial support, I would be able to pick at least two talented slum dwellers and take them through intensive training to help them build their own platforms to earn a living through performing arts. Without career prospects, they become criminals, prostitutes, contract STIs or get pregnant. These are youth who cannot afford high school so imagine a 14 year old who will never again enter a classroom struggling to survive in a slum for the rest of their lives. Those I worked with even won a trophy in a contest in the slum conducted by an NGO. They had self-esteem and a sense of belonging and I would really hope to restore that. Anyone who would be willing to walk that dream with me can send whatever amount of money is possible for them, or drama resources or anything practical to assist. I have built a small stage in my garage for them to act from during our workshops and I am making monthly payments for an upright piano I took last year to teach music from. With help, I can do so much more.


How does training in the arts help children?

Currently I am doing a Master of Arts in Education Leadership and for my thesis, I have been doing research on the benefits of music for preschoolers. For children, research shows that music raises the IQ, helping with the development of literacy, numeracy and spatial skills. Basically, a young child taking voice lessons develops their aural, oral and reading skills much faster than a child who is not. Reading music and interpretation of note values from the written symbols greatly helps build a child’s mathematical skills. Looking at drama lessons, they really aid in children’s development of self-confidence and creativity. The eye-hand coordination in a child also grows as they learn to play an instrument; this is good for their reflexes. Adults are not left out since studies show that a musician’s brain works differ due to playing an instrument enhancing certain functions. Because of developing their listening patterns, musicians are likely to remember details in every day life more than a non-musician. The processes of reading music and quickly interpreting it as one plays enhances brain functions which makes researchers believe that the brain of a musician possibly acquires a different shape from that of a non-musician. Incidentally, the benefits are more evident in children whose brains are still developing so that their IQ is raised due to participating in musical activities.



When all is said and done, and an 80 or 90 year old Thelma Rimber is looking back on her life, tell us what she sees.


First I want to give credit where it is due. Despite the long route I have taken to finding myself in performing arts, I would want it to be known that I believe my parents did what they thought was best out of love for me and concern for my future success. Today, because of much prayer and dialogue, we remain very close and I am glad to say they are my biggest fans. They graciously continue to support my musical journey and because of that am able to afford my piano training.


I always pray that I will die empty, having given everything God created me to give to this world. I see the massive and international Rimthel Performing Arts Academy with open doors for the talented, whether rich or poor, to come and refine their gifts and skills in acting, music and movement. I see them graduate and have access to fair opportunities to perform worldwide. I see Rimthel working with the Kenyan legal system to enforce the rights of performers against unfair pay packages, discrimination and piracy among other forms of injustice. Whether or not by the time I am 80 I have won an award or too myself, I see my students accepting Oscars and Grammy Awards as I humbly watch on and nod my grey head saying ‘Ah yes, it was worth it. It was worth all the rejection, tears and sleepless nights. I used my talent to lift someone else up.’


It is never just about us; with performers, it’s about sharing our hearts and souls with a world that may or may not recognise us, but is changed because we passed through it long enough to plant a seed.


Tee R.

Piano, Voice & Acting Coach

Rimthel Creative Arts Company

Visit them on Facebook

Let Our Children Fail


by T.M. Todrovich


Throughout the years I have had teenaged children, I have heard too often that one or both of a child’s parents thought they weren’t good enough. Statements such as, “You will never amount to anything”, “You can’t make it in the military”, “Why are you even thinking about college? You can’t do it?” and so many other derogatory comments have been shared with me by young adults.

As a parent, I know teens tend to exaggerate and do not understand where their parents are coming from, and when talking with teens, I do my best to keep this in mind; however, many times the pain on the teen’s face reveal the deep, dark, sad truth. Some of the young adults have risen above these demeaning remarks and set out to prove their parents wrong, but many rehash the statements over and over, like an old tape repeating constantly.

When we discourage our children, tell them they are not good enough, or even if our action and facial expressions show it when our words are more kind, we are setting our child up for failure. We are destroying their self-confidence, their self-esteem, and their desire to better themselves. This is a tragedy.

I know there are times my kids think of something and I am not entirely sure they can accomplish their dreams. Occasionally their dream is so distant and far from their abilities I am certain it is not something they will be able to do. I look back at these dreams and although I do not recall, I’m sure I have discouraged them in one way or another. We all make mistakes, say the wrong thing, and do things we wish we could change, and usually this is done with the excuse we are only trying to help our child.

Is this the best course of action? Is it wise to tell our child, “Um, sweetie, you have poor eyesight and will never be a pilot,” or “Dear, you are clumsy and will never be able to be a cheerleader?” Yes, we do it because we don’t want our child to try and fail. Yes, we do it with the best intentions. But is it right?

For some parents, their intentions are not honorable. They don’t believe their child can do anything and discourage them from trying. One young friend of my family’s wants to join the armed services. When he mentions it to his parents, he is blatantly told he isn’t smart enough and is too lazy. I know this young adult well, and that is far from the truth. For this young man, he sees no future because his parents tell him repeatedly he isn’t good enough.

How do we change this thinking? How do we encourage a child who has been told they can’t achieve their dreams that they should try and even if they fail, they have something to be proud of? Is it possible?

For parents like our friend’s, they have to change their thinking and look at their son with new, less judging eyes and see the good, hardworking, determined man inside. For other parents who have good intentions, we must think before we speak, something we try to teach our children to do. We must check our reactions, our facial expressions, and do some deep soul-searching. We must find out why we feel the way we do.

If we are afraid our child will fail, we must realize that our child is going to fail at something. We all do. Failing is necessary for finding our strengths, our weakness, our dreams, and what is worth fighting for. Failing is an essential ingredient in learning how to succeed. If and when our child fails, instead of having a smug, “I told you so” attitude, we must teach our child the positive outcome of failing, and we must express our pride in the fact they tried.

Our job as parents is to lead our children into an independent life, a life where they find who they are, what they are meant to do, and what they love. By lovingly discussing the pros and cons of a dream and allowing our child to make his or her own decision, we are promoting independence, confidence, and growth.

The next time my youngest child says he wants to be a professional gamer, I refuse to point out that he is mediocre at games, that I do not allow him the time to play for hours and hours on end, and that he does not have the best gaming set up. Instead, I will encourage him to keep dreaming, encourage him to read everything he can find on gaming (I am a firm believer reading, even if only articles on gaming, is essential), and let him learn all he can. Perhaps he will one day prove me wrong and be a millionaire gamer, or perhaps he will realize he isn’t quite cut out for professional gaming and it should be a hobby. When he reaches adulthood, the decision is his, not mine. I will take comfort in knowing I supported him to the best of my abilities. If he fails, I will be there with open arms. If he succeeds, I will be there cheering him on. And whatever happens, he will know he always had my support.



Click here for a link to the publications written by Tina Toler Keel.

Janele Mckay – Looking to Do Something Meaningful

Janele Mckay posted a request for school supply donations on LinkedIn.  When we saw that, we knew we had to reach out to this woman, who like so many others in this world, is trying to make a difference by helping others.  Many of us would like to do charitable things, but don’t move beyond the thought or the idea. However, we are willing to donate and share if asked.  It takes a special kind of person who wants to dedicate the time in their life to help others, especially children.  We wanted to talk to Janele so we could learn a little more about her and what she wants to do.



You went from political work to teachingjanele-mckay.  What inspired the change?

The political work was an internship and a very amazing and insightful experience that I had the opportunity of doing while completing my A.S. in Human Services. I’m very interested in doing work in which I can make a difference. After obtaining  my A.S. I struggled with finding positions in my field. So I went on to obtain a B.S. in Healthcare Administration and found my self in the same position. I currently work part time as a substitute teacher until I find more stable work and/or graduate with my M.S. At this point I wouldn’t mind being a college professor but would really prefer to do something more meaningful. Something that wound bring about recognizable change.


You are reaching out to people asking for school supplies for children.  What prompted this?

A family member of mine is an advocate for gun violence and invited me to join her cause. I helped to chaperone the Jr. Newtown Action Alliance Teen Summit and now I’m helping her and another friend with the back 2 school function. We hope to have our own non profit in the near future. In the mean time I’m looking forward to dedicating my time to more functions similar to the two mentioned and find my footing so that I can fulfill my need to help others in need and do something inspiring.


How is the back 2 school supplies collection going and what items are needed most?

I personally haven’t revived much response. However, my partners have received a surprising amount of donations including clothing.

I would say backpacks and three ring binders are needed most. These items are a little more pricey. We tend to receive many items for grade school but could use some middle school items as well. However, all donations are accepted and appreciated.


What school district are you working with?

I usually work with the Terryville and Plymouth school districts as a substitute teacher through Kelly’s Educational Services.


What age groups?
I have worked with all age groups.


What are some of the more specific needs of these children beyond the need of school supplies?

They need attention! They are bored! They need a place to go. A place where they can be themselves. A place where people will listen and take interest in their ideas vs. shoving the need to go to school down their throat. Education is extremely important but its nothing if one doesn’t have a sense of being and confidence.




What else are you trying to do for these children?

My long term plan is to open a recreation center with an Arts and History focus/theme in mind. In the near future I hope to organize a successful Christmas toy drive.


What other avenues are you seeking for school supply donations?

This was an idea that started small and became bigger than expected. I just jumped on board and continuously offer my assistance as needed.


Do you have an organization or do you plan to start one?
I definitely plan to start one. I have big dreams but I’m hearing I need to start small.  So I’m currently helping when, wherever, and however I can. In doing so I hope to be able to immediately give back to the community and connect with individuals that may help me support future projects.


Are you working with other people?

Yes. My cousin September Chatfield, and those in which she has connected with throughout her advocacy.


Have you reached out for corporate sponsorships or donations?

No. We are looking forward to starting a Hartford chapter with the Newtown Action Alliance group. However, I would like more information on how I can reach out to sponsors who would fund a recreational center. Our kids need an inspiring place to go. One in which they can both learn and fulfill their dreams.


What kind of help do you need?

We could use some guidance so that we can continue to work efficiently and effectively.  We could also use some direction on how to obtain funding for larger projects. I’m currently writing our business plan and would love if someone could proof it and provide some expert opinions.


If people want to send donations or to help in other ways, how do they reach you?

My email address is  From there, we can share phone numbers.  I would love to speak to anyone who is interested in helping or donating.


What are your own personal goals for your future?

I’d like to run a non profit organization that help children change the way they think. One that would appeal more to their dreams while helping them understand the importance of education. Most of all give them a place they not only enjoy going but one they will truly grow from. I also hope to start a group for battered women. The group will not only give them a peace of mind, but will provide them with the skills and resources they need to truly be free and live a normal life. Again I’m looking to do something that is meaningful. Something that will change lives.

What inspires your desire to set up a group for battered women?

My inspiration for a battered woman group comes from personal experience. Much of the assistance available is not advertised. You really have to do your research and dig for it. This can be hard for individuals who are suffering from domestic violence. They need guidance support and direction. Many have asked how do I do it. My response is just that I do what has to be done. My children in all honesty have been my true motivation.


Please reach out to Ms. Mckay if you would like to donate items for children or if you are interested in helping her develop the non-profit organization to help children and/or battered women!  You can also visit her website at


Bonding With Technology



By T. M. Todorovich



A couple weeks ago, my four kids downloaded the Kim Kardashian game to their cell phones, logged in through game center, and made friends with one another. Listening to them speak of their photo shoots, the mean girl, clothing, and time limits was frustrating. I couldn’t get a word in and they certainly weren’t paying attention to a word I said. I have to admit I felt rather deflated and in the way. Instead of yelling, something I really wanted to do, I walked away and read a Jodi Picoult book. Okay, that part was a perk, but still – I wanted to spend time with my kids instead of them being absorbed into yet another game.


I must admit, although reluctantly, I play a game on my cell as well. I’m totally addicted to Farmville 2: Country Escapes. I take mini breaks to see what I can sell, what is ready to pick and plant, and what my animals are doing. Because of that, I would be hypocritical if I yelled at them for a silly game. As long as they were completing their chores, I let it go.


On top of the Kim Kardashian game, my kids spend a lot of time on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. My oldest daughter will at any given moment blurt out, “Ohmygod!” or my second child, Eric, will start ranting about something. My third child tends to suddenly become stricken by the giggles. I ask what’s wrong, or what’s funny, or what happened, and they say, “It’s on Tumblr!” My eyes roll in the back of my head until they hurt, my heart stops a minute, and I think, “My kids need a life and need to talk to one another instead of always being on their phone.


Last night, however, I realized something I had not previously seen. It is, afterall, difficult to see clearly through rolling eyes. Instead of being in their own little cyber world, my kids were all talking – and to one another! It was like a Christmas miracle in July.

Eric and Jessica spend hours discussing their next modeling job, who they are dating, and share one another’s joy when the other becomes an “A-lister” (I am not even sure what that means, but they get really excited about it). Even my fourteen year old son has joined the Kim Kardashian band wagon and is getting involved in the conversations. And on any other subject, he has nothing, and I mean nothing, in common with my other three!


I began watching closer and see my girls showing one another something on Tumblr. Or I listen as Eric tells me the latest news, or gossip, on Twitter. There are many times my kids and I talk to each other through tweets and Facebook comments. We sit around the living room discussing or laughing at something on Tumblr. When an important social issue is brought forth on social media, we read each other the status, tweet, or comment, and then we spend an hour discussing our own views, beliefs, and ideas.


I’ve learned very recently – this morning actually- that sometimes technology, games, memes, and tweets, aren’t always a bad thing. For my family, they open up dialog, provide a common interest, and create a unique interaction between my kids. For that reason, and that reason only, I love the Kim Kardashian game and am thankful it was created. Bonding is a wonderful thing, even if it is accomplished by a cell phone game.


Click here for a link to the publications written by Tina Toler Keel.

How to Get in Shape after Pregnancy



When the entire thrill about the new baby has passed and the initial shock and awe is gone, you realize that you are now a loving mother and your life has improved and changed significantly. However, you also realize that your body has changed as well. Nobody is slim and fit after pregnancy, and nobody expects you to be, but it is nice to make the change as little as possible and to try and get back to being your fit self. Here are some ideas about how to achieve that in a healthy way, without any harm to you and the baby.


First of all it seems that having a fit body soon after pregnancy begins even before the childbirth. While you are still carrying that bundle of love inside you, you should never try and cut back on meals or reducing your calories below what your doctor said. You are not only cutting back on yourself but also on your baby. However, try to hold reigns on those cravings for sweet food and the like. Don’t cut back, but take only what you need. It will ease the process afterwards.


Don’t even think about trying any of the diets before you hit the sixth week after your childbirth. You will need around 2000 kcal a day to be a healthy mom. The precise number will be given to you by your doctor if you ask them. However, you might consider breastfeeding as a really good option. The math behind this activity is as follows: You burn 600-700 kcal by breastfeeding while you will need to take in about 500 kcal extra by day. This means that you will be losing weight and getting some quality time with your kid by breastfeeding him.pregnancy-exercise


Don’t overdo it, especially if you had difficult delivery or a C section. Naturally, your first step is to ask your doctor what you can or cannot do. However, the first thing you can do to shed some weight is to take your kid for a walk. Walk and push that stroller and if you make just a bit faster pace with it, you will burn around 150 kcal in 30 minutes. Of course, if you can, the best thing is to find a personal trainer that has a certificate in postnatal exercise.


Skin Care

Let’s say that everything is going according to plan and you are slowly shedding that weight. Your skin needs attention as well, as all those changes are affecting its tightness. Consider using some of the skin tightening products to make it nice and tight and to avoid those pesky stretch marks.

Dieting, breastfeeding and active post-natal life are keys to a great body if you are keeping it in the right pace and consulting with your doctor. However, don’t compare yourself with celebrity mothers because their lifestyle is nothing that you would like for yourself and your baby.


Sophie Andersen is a beauty blogger from Perth. Sophie is a contributor for several health and beauty blogs. Sophie enjoys writing and sharing her experience. Follow her at @andersen_sophie.


Rescue Your Child From Technology





Today’s advantaged children get lost in their playstations, xboxes, cell phone and ipads.  Technology is a great thing, but it’s greatly over used in some cases.  If you have children who don’t want to go outside and play or find the great outdoors boring, they need to rediscover — or perhaps learn for the first time! – the magic of nature.

Go outside with them and look at the trees, the leaves, the grass, the flowers, insects — everything!  Pay attention to different bird calls or “bird songs” and try to figure out what kind of birds you are hearing.  Count the variety of plants that grow in your area or the variety of insects.  Dig into your own inner child and help yours to explore.




If you have a yard, find the perfect place to hang an old tire to make a swing or where the best place is to put chairs for sitting outside and enjoying the world.

If you don’t have a yard – as long as you have grass and some greenery – you can create excitement!  How many different insects do you see or hear?  What kind of grass is growing in your area.  You can make a bird feeder from an orange juice carton and fill it up with seeds to attract various birds that you can watch.  How about finding creating ways to make a bird bath?  The ideas and fun can be endless for both of you.


As you teach your child about real life (away from all the gadgets), they will begin to learn new things in different ways.  Many children are kinesthetic, meaning they learn through physical movement and by touching tangible things.  Kinesthetic learners will have challenges learning from technology that other types of learners won’t have.

Outdoor play on items such as these swing sets in virginia beach are the best for kids.  It keeps them physically active, healthier and if there are other children that can be included or invited to participate, it helps them develop strong socialization skills.  These are attributes that can’t be gained by playing video games.  So get out with your kids and see, hear, touch and smell nature!



Leading Our Children to Rich, Full Lives



Submitted by T. M. Todorovich, USA


My life has been full of ups and downs, happiness and sadness, victories and disappointments, just like every one’s life has been. None of us have had the perfect life, made all the right decisions, and had perfect relationships, careers, friends, and had everything. The good stuff mingled in with the bad is what makes life interesting. The hard times, the disappointments, the mistakes, they all guide us to be better and mold us into the person we become. I know this, but when I look at my children, I tend to forget.


When one of my children is hurting, I hurt too. Sometimes I hurt worse than they do, sometimes not as much, but I always hurt. If I see them making what I see as a mistake in a relationship choice, I want to fix it. I want to tell them, “Don’t do that! You will regret it.” I see them making the same mistakes I made, settling for something less than perfection, and procrastinating making big decisions and my heart stops. My pulse pounds and I see all the negatives.


During those times, I forget to stop and see it from my child’s point of view. I normally only see it through my own eyes, my own failures and shortcomings, and my own experiences. That is where I am wrong.


As parents, our responsibility is to guide our children. Too often we believe the guidance comes in the form of demands or orders. That’s not the case. Our goal should be to give them the tools they need to make their own decisions. We have to trust in our own ability and trust in our child’s ability. We have to know we did the best we could and now it is up to us to let our child lead their own life.


Easier said than done, right?


How often do we judge our children, even when we think we aren’t? How often do we project our own fears, disillusions, and failures onto our children? How often do we feel disappointed in our child’s choices and decisions based on decisions we have made in life?


These are important questions and a few that I have been struggling with recently. I sometimes have difficulty separating their life from my own. And I know this is entirely wrong.


It is easy for me to see my child’s relationship as being the wrong one. It is easy for me to see my child is making a mistake by picking a career that may or may not lead to financial success. It is easy for me to judge my child for making a choice I feel will lead him or her into a bitter, cold, depressing life. It’s easy because those are things I have done. And I need to change those projections, and soon.


cocoaWhat may have been a mistake for us may be the best choice for them. What may have led us to despair and heartbreak may lead our children to rich, full lives. And if it doesn’t? We must not project our pain onto them but must rise above, be there to offer support, and let our children learn from their own experiences. We can’t always coddle them and wrap them in bubble wrap. We can’t protect them from heart ache. But we can give them our full acceptance, love, support, guidance, and encouragement. It won’t always be easy, but as mothers we know doing the right thing for our kids isn’t always easy, but it is essential to all of our well-being.


I am not fully ready to let go and apply this knowledge, but I never will be. I know, however, through many tears and smiles, through nights spent in worry and days full of laughter, I can do this and my relationship with my children will be stronger. My children will also be healthier, well-adjusted and able to overcome obstacles, exactly what I want for my children. And if they fall I will be here waiting with a hot cup of cocoa, tissues, and a loving embrace and will encourage them to get back up and try again.

Click here for a link to the publications written by Tina Toler Keel.

Teach Kids About Work & Money With An OnLine Chart

This is a unique idea and it’s free to try.  You can set up your family profile and assign tasks to your kids.  You can also post messages and set up saving and spending plans as away to provide your children with even more practical on-hands education.


Children love computers and doing things on-line.  Try this program to see if it captures their interest and gets them to work harder and a little smarter!


How Do You Celebrate Christmas?


We wish all of our readers a wonderful (and stress free!) holiday season.  A lot of women are out shopping for the family, not just seeking gifts to purchase, but also getting prepared for the family feasts.

But remember to take it easy and to relax a bit. It can be challenging because we are hit with Christmas and the idea of shopping from all avenues.  We get daily emails from stores announcing their sales, specials and free shipping.  Our apps may even have commercials running through them on our smart phones.  Then don’t even mention television.  Television commercials are the most aggressive of all.  If we listen to them then life itself can take on a different meaning.  “Every kiss begins with Kay” and if he doesn’t “go to Jared,” we can make the man in our life feel like he’s nothing.  So relax and take it easy.  Gift giving and receiving is not the beginning or the end of the world.

I had a really interesting conversation with my daughter today.  She and her husband have decided not to purchase gifts for each other because they are dealing with expensive car repair issues with both of their vehicles.  I for one am glad that they are going through this.  It gives them a chance to sit back and reevaluate their usual spending behavior for the holiday.  This year there is no massive mailing of Christmas cards; there’s no running around the stores shopping for each other and all of their friends.  There is just the quiet feeling of a new perspective of everything is okay even if we’re not out doing all of these things and spending all of this money.

You don’t have to participate in the Christmas holiday in the way the media dictates that you do.  Their goal is to make profits and to feed their bottom line.  The only way they can do that is to convince us that it is our duty to shop.

Even year I find myself explaining to people why I don’t celebrate Christmas in the manner in which most people do.  I don’t get into the hype.  I don’t shop; I don’t buy gifts.  This year for the first time in many years I made some Seasons Greetings cards and sent them out simply because I would like to reciprocate for the many cards that I receive every year.

My big celebration of this holiday is to coordinate an annual toy drive at the company that I work for.  It is an opportunity to help other parents give their children and teenagers something for Christmas who would otherwise get nothing.  This is special because these children probably don’t get things year round.  Their clothes are used or hand me downs and if they have toys to play with, they are probably fairly limited with what they have and may not usually get something brand new of their own.  To stand there every year when the truck comes to pick up all of the donations we’ve collected gives me a thrill.

What I wish I could give these children most of all is the ability to tap into their inner selves to develop their gifts of music, art, dance, theater, etc.  It is so important to me that we give children (and adults) these things.  To help someone develop themselves from the inside out is imperative.  We all need to be given or to take the opportunity  to do this.  Life is music.  Life is a dance. Life is art.  If I had my way, I would buy a truck load of cheap fender jaguar bass at Musicians Friend, along with pianos, drums, harps and anything else that can be played and makes sound and give them away to children everywhere.  I would much rather see a child learning how to play guitar than to play video games that teach them to kill things.  Ah well, enough of my ranting…

Please tell us what is important to you at Christmas time?  How do you celebrate?


Keeping Alcohol Away from Little Ones In Your Home



When my family visited Jamaica, we rented a “cottage suite” for myself, my husband and our two young children.  Though not an actual cottage, the accommodations were very nice.  We had our own private little bungalow with a very large room with a television, bunk beds and a full size bed.  We also had a large double bathroom and cooking area.  Also in our room was a small refrigerator that was loaded with alcohol!  Free alcohol was part of the accommodations.  Though my husband and indulge lightly in alcohol from time to time, we did not want the worry of curiosity by the kids when we were sleeping.  So  we immediately called the front desk and had them come and remove all of the alcohol.

My children know about alcohol, but have never had any.  Because they are so young (pre-teens), they are always supervised by adults, even if visiting friends or relatives without us.

We’ve had a number of discussions with them about alcohol and drugs and try to make sure they are well informed.  At home, we picked up the best marshall amplifier refrigerator at musicians friend, where we store our own private alcohol in our bedroom.  A small fridge makes all the difference in the world to us because we don’t have to store our beer or wine in the kitchen refrigerator.

Our children understand that alcohol is a drink for adults and they stay away from it.  We ask that anyone they visit not keep alcohol in their refrigerators and everyone has been cooperative.  Our friends actually like the idea of keeping a small fridge in their bedroom for these kinds of beverages.  Of course, you can get all kinds of stylish ones to dress up or add to your decor.  Ours certainly does!

I am curious as to what Women Move the Soul readers think about this idea!


Submitted by Marlene Willow, Nebraska, USA

Marlene is a mother of two, homemaker and avid PTA volunteer doing her best to make sure her children’s schools are on point with training and education and improving parent involvement.





Understanding Your Pregnancy Due Date



Pregnancy Joy

The news and joy of finding out that you are pregnant will inevitably bring with it many feelings of uncertainty and confusion most especially if you are a first time Mum. You will have discovered through hear say about people carrying their baby for 9 months or for 40 weeks and so you presume that this will also be the case for you. However what comes as a surprise for many women is the fact research has shown (as per that only 5% of babies actually stay in utero (in the womb) for the full 40 weeks.


What is a due date?

What women should realize is that a full-term pregnancy can be anywhere from 38 weeks to 42 weeks long. We often hear about a baby born at 38 weeks is an ‘early’ arrival or similarly how one born at 42 weeks is a ‘late’ baby. This is actually incorrect in factual terms.


When is the real due date?

The main point that new Mums-to-be need to know is that the 40 weeks of pregnancy are not counted from the day of conception, in fact they are counted from the first day of your last menstrual period.



While this might seem a bit confusing as it is almost as though the pregnancy time clock begins before the sperm even meets the egg but it does make for a more accurate prediction of due date. This is because you can say for absolute certainty which day you began to bleed for your menstrual cycle but you (or a doctor) cannot do the same with as much accuracy for the day you ovulated.


To summarize

When it comes to predicting the date; the first day of your pregnancy begins on the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). This is taking into account that your baby is technically about two weeks younger than that (most women ovulate and conceive two weeks after their LMP) and will only have covered 38 gestational weeks (the period of development in the uterus from conception until birth) by the time you reach 40 weeks. Many women have irregular menstrual cycles and so may have difficulty calculating their due dates (the LMP method is far from perfect), so talk to your doctor to get the best estimate of your pregnancy due date.


Submitted by Vanessa, a writer for

Music For A Lifetime – Start Kids Early



Music is life.  It is the beating of a bird’s wings, the beating of our heart, the sound and the rhythm of our own breath.


Ever sit out on a summer night and listen to the crickets’ songs or sit and enjoy the morning bird symphony as they sing to the rising sun?  All of this is music.  Even the sounds of a baby’s cries and squeals of delight is music to many of us.  There is a saying that “the sounds of children playing is beautiful music, but if your life condition is low, you cannot hear it.”music-children3


Music is important for all of us, but for children, it helps with their development in so many different ways.  There is a correlation between music making and the deepest workings of the human brain. Research has linked active music making with increased language discrimination and development, math ability, improved school grades, better-adjusted social behavior, and improvements in spatial-temporal reasoning, a cornerstone for problem solving.

Singing songs and reciting poems and rhymes with children helps children develop literacy skills.  Keeping a steady beat develops language. Young children innately relate to words, sounds, rhythms, tones, and pitches long before they talk, sing or dance.

Music encourages the ability to listen and thus to concentrate. Songs encourage speech and auditory discrimination. Through music, children learn to hear tempos, dynamics, and melodies. Listening for loud and soft, up and down, fast and slow encourages auditory development in the brain.

Music is nonjudgmental. There is no right or wrong, it just is what it is. Listening to different types of music nurtures self-esteem and encourages creativity, self-confidence, and curiosity.  Young children benefit by developing higher forms of thinking when they learn music.


Overall, music relieves stress.  We use it to relax us, excite us and to have something that we can identify ourselves with.  The more music your children have in their lives, the better they will speak and read.  Buy or rent instruments.  It’s easy to get a cheap music gift.  Sign your child and yourself! up for music lessons or make sure that music is a part of your child’s curriculum at school.  Music is a gift that will last a lifetime.


The Home Playground



submitted by Alanea Mitchell, Virgina USA


Oh, to be a child again!  Next to my office is a “arts” magnet school that serves 3-5 year-olds.  They focus on dance, music and visual art.  There is an old saying that talks about how the sounds of children at play is beautiful music and if you don’t hear it as that, then your life condition is low.  “Low” means that you are depressed, sad or angry – anything but happy.  It is absolutely thrilling to hear the beautiful music of children at play.  With all the high pitched screaming with delight, squeals, laughter, roaring (little boys pretending to be tigers) – it’s good stuff, it’s good medicine.


I used to love taking my children to the playground when they were young.  I didn’t just sit and watch though!  Where and whenever possible, I would climb the jungle gym, go down the slide, swing with them side by side (after they learned how to get themselves up in the air on their own!) and even run through the sprinklers.  Other moms and dads would just stand around or sit on the bench and watch their children.  I liked being hands on.  I liked to play too.  This was years ago, but I still remember like it was yesterday and I envy parents of young children.  Though I am 54, I am a young 54 and can’t wait to do the same things with my grandchildren!  (I’m still waiting though and hope my kids get on the ball soon!)

In fact, I have money put away and plan to have a playground installed in my yard for my grand kids.  They will always be welcome at my house and I’m sure that my kids will enjoy dropping their kids off so they can have a break from time to time.    I and going to relive my childhood and my younger years.  I’ve picked out swing sets in williamsburg va and I’m ready to play!

How about you other Moms, Dads and Grand Parents?

Housing for Military Families


submitted by Tomaca.

As some what of an Air Force brat, I can attest to the moving around while my father was in the service.  My older siblings had more experience with this than I and got to spend time in more places throughout the U.S. and internationally – outside of the U.S.

After spending 27 years in the Air Force, my father was ready to retire and settled us down in a small city in the north on the East Coast.  Back in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s, there were not a lot of opportunities for African Americans to buy houses – in certain areas.  Fortunately, the seller of our family home, immediately recognized and respected my father for his service to the country and allowed him to purchase the house.  It was in a predominately white populated area and we were among the first exceptions in the neighborhood.

In this year of 2013, things have changed quite a bit in terms of integration and acceptance.  This is wonderful.  We owe a debt to our military people.  We owe them gratitude and compassion.

When you have children, you have certain priorities.  You want good schools, good neighborhoods and plenty of places and spaces that help your children to grow.  Organizations like the are invaluable to helping our service people and our vets find suitable homes and appropriate locations for their families.   The families that use these services also give good, honest feedback to further assist people with making decisions.  Family is everything.  Love is above all else when it comes to your children.



The Greatest Person I Know



Mothers dedicate their lives to their children.  We give all we have and all we know how to.   Many thanks to Michael for honoring his mother on Women Move the Soul.  As someone who has met this young man personally, I can attest that he is respectful, polite and eager to learn and grow.  They say you can know the character of a mother or a father by the behavior of their child.  They are a reflection of us.  Michael’s Mom, you truly are as awesome as he says you are.   – Tomaca





To My Awesome Mother:

You’ve worked till this day, very hard to maintain a great life for my brother and sister and I. We’re so very fortunate to have you in our lives…

The year my sister was born, you filed for divorce in order to keep drugs and smoke away from us. For the past seventeen years you’ve pretty much raised the three of us on your own with no child support whatsoever. You’re the strongest person I know.

Incredible is when you manage to balance a financial career, pick us up after school, and still help us with our science projects, math homework, and be there for each parents’ night. Seriously, always there, and if there was something we asked for that was too much at the time, you made up for it in so many other ways.

Through high school and college you give me the support and encouragement I need to keep moving forward.  I know it wasn’t always easy for you. I also couldn’t have been the easiest kid to raise, ha-ha, but you did raise us with so much LOVE and patience, everything I’ve accomplished I have you to thank for. You’re the greatest person I know. Thank you for everything you are.


I love you too.


Debra Britt – Celebrating History through the Eyes of a Black Doll Collector

Debra Britt is the founder of the Doll E Daze Project &  Museum, Inc., the national Black doll museum.  They have a collection of over 6,000 dolls; they provide education and workshops and raise self-esteem in young Black children.  She tells us how it all got started.

I guess the biggest question is why did you decide to open a Black Doll Museum?

There was never a plan to open the museum. I am a Christian and I believe that my life purpose was to open this museum. As a business person, I  know that  failure to plan is a plan for failure.  However, the events in my life called me to this ministry. Entering the 5th grade, my teacher had difficulties accepting a black child in his room, therefore I endured pain and humiliation on a daily basis being called a monkey and taunted by him. I knew this not to be true and tried to ignore him and educate myself with history and geography while I was in his class. I have a seizure disorder that in 1996 left me disabled and unable to travel alone or long distances. I began to research dolls I had collected.  In 1999, my husband and I adopted two girls who had been emotionally and physically abused.  They needed love and positive reinforcement about who they were.  In 2004 I began my journey with my sister Felicia Walker and Tamara Mattisson to ensure that all children have the tools to become strong, confident, loving, lovable and independent. That begins with positive self-esteem – accepting the skin you’re in and loving it.

The museum chose me.

I acquired 3000 dolls on my own.  I know what a powerful impact is made to see a doll in your image that you can

Debra Britt, Founder Doll E Daze Project & Museum
Debra Britt, Founder Doll E Daze Project & Museum

call beautiful. In addition, through my research I have actually proven that teaching history with artifacts is an empowering experience. The museum’s physical space allows me to do that on a daily basis. We enlighten and uplift a child in crisis.


Where do your dolls come from?

The dolls at the museum come from all over the world.  When my baby sister Kareema Thomas was 25 years old, she had a stroke. There was no medical reason. They told us she would not be able to walk again as she was paralyzed. She saw Byron Lars “Limelight” Barbie in an Essence magazine and told her four older sisters she wanted it. That weekend we put her in a wheel chair and took her to several malls looking for the doll. It was nowhere to be found. However, we told her she could have any other doll that she wanted if she attempted to get the doll. She knocked a couple down and we brought them for her. Every weekend after that for at least a year, this was a ritual – getting her to take small steps. It then became a bonding for us.  My mother eventually joined us.

We then began traveling across country, all the while searching for dolls during our vacations, at flea markets and doll shows. We used timeshares and discovered conventions and other collectors. While Kareema ‘s interest was in Barbie, we all took on different interests.  I like vintage dolls, Felicia loves Native American dolls, my mother – porcelain, Tammy, miniatures and clothing and Celeste likes African dolls. We also uncovered the collecting bug of “action figures” in my brothers, as well as Barbie’s and fashion dolls they said it was for their daughters. That was almost 17 years ago. We still travel and now the daughters ,granddaughters cousins and nieces all join us. It is a family affair.


How many do you have in the collection at this point?

At This point we own 6,273 dolls of which none are duplicate.  This does include my extensive collection of Black Santa’s, Angels and cloth dolls, We keep 1500-2000 dolls on the floor daily. We rotate the displays every 6 weeks and also put dolls on display in several libraries that we collaborate  with.


How many do you plan to have? 

Felicia Walker
Felicia Walker

I actually have no idea how many we will have. We tell the African American experience with our dolls and history never ends.  If someone donates a doll to us and if we already own that doll, we clean and restore it.  If we are called during the holidays, we use those dolls for our doll giveaway.  They are given with love to girls in foster care, homeless shelters and battered women’s shelters.


If this a nonprofit or for profit business?  Are you looking for donations?

We are a registered 501(c) 3 non profit organization and do accept and need donations to sustain the museum.


What supports the museum financially?

The museum is supported totally by donations and through our doll making workshops and bully prevention program we have created partnering with schools. We currently work with Hartford Performs in the Hartford Public School system. Our programs meet the curriculum framework standards for social studies, history and the arts. Readers can support us through donations, memberships, volunteering and the purchase of merchandise.


Are any of the dolls for sale?

We do have dolls for sale at the museum. The dolls range from African wrap dolls, fashion dolls, and soft sculptured dolls. Many of our dolls come from the cottage industry of black doll artists. We also partner with several small businesses such as River Trading and Pretty Brown Girls.

Tamara Mattison
Tamara Mattison

Understanding that your dolls are probably from a variety of time periods, what is the range?  How old is the oldest one you have and where did she come from?

The dolls range from the late 1700-present in all mediums. We have sold some dolls to keep our doors open.  We have an 1847 wishbone doll, 1885 paper doll and a bottle doll from 1830. My oldest doll is from 1796 and I received them a set from the house I moved into as a child. They will be leaving soon as I need to sell so we can keep our doors open.


There was a time when Black dolls just were not made in America.  When was the first time you had your own Black doll and what did it mean to you?

This is true.  Black dolls weren’t readily accessible in America, my grandmother Jessie was a maid and she often bought home toys and clothes from the children she took care of. She would painstakingly take the white dolls apart and dye them in a pot with rite dye to provide me with a black doll.  She made me an African wrap doll and gave me a history lesson on the origin when I was just 8 years old. So memories of black dolls have been there for me.

In 2004, I wrote the a book entitled “Legend of Cecilia.” It is a story of the first African princess, the princess of courage. It will be available in September and is also a musical that is in process. It will be on our website for sale during our Grand Opening Celebration Black Doll Fest, Sept. 27-29,2013.  The National Black Doll Museum presented by the Doll E Daze Project is located at 288 N. Main Street  in Mansfield, Ma .


Please tell our readers where the museum is located and what your hours are?  And how can they find more information?

We are open Thursday-Monday 9-5 pm.  We are open in the evening by appointment and closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays.  Our admission fee is $13.00 for adults and $9.00 for children and seniors. We can provide an hour-long tour of the museum.  More information is available at our website or by calling us at (774) 284-4729


Doll E Daze Project & Museum, Inc.

288 N.Main St.

Mansfield, Ma 02048


Read about them in the Boston Globe

Join them on Facebook:  National Black Doll Museum

Doll E Daze blog

School Starts Soon!


Submitted by Tomaca

Is it too soon to think school about at the end of July?  Don’t you want to enjoy the rest of the summer without the thoughts of the back to school scenario?  The stores have already started pushing the purchase of school supplies.  Kind of like how they push Christmas shopping on us in October – before Halloween.

But maybe it’s not too early for those who want to be fully prepared.  If you have a tight budget, you need to spread out the purchase of clothes over a period of time.  If your children attend schools that require them to wear uniforms, you are better off than most because the need (or perceived need by your child) for the style and variety is not there.  A sturdy pair of shoes and sneakers are always needed.  But of course, nowadays kids are conditioned to desire diversity.  The endless commercials by the stores condition and program those young minds (and our older minds) to need, to desire, to want.  We live beyond our means to project that are not real.  They are crafted and fashioned by an industry who is programming us to spend, spend, spend.

What about cell phones?  How many children do you have, how many of them have cell phones and how much does it all cost? Hasn’t all of this spending gotten out of hand?  If it’s a problem for you, how do you deal with it?

I guess I am painting a negative picture.  But, education in itself is a wonderful thing.  Learning, reading, studying, growing – this is beautiful.  The gaining of knowledge is the beginning of the development of wisdom.  Learned people excel in a lot of areas of their life.  Younger children learn facts in school.  As they get older and they begin to learn and develop thinking, processing and reasoning skills.  One of the benefits of college is that it helps you to develop these skills.

A friend of mine recently acquired her master’s degree and said that no one will tell her just anything ever again.  Knowledge is power.  Education is power.  Children who are not looking forward to school need to understand these things.  Education is essential.

For our college students, I wonder how many of them struggle to keep up with the daily homework.  Professors will say to you things like “read the chapters 7, 8, 9 and 10, and we’ll continue the discussion tomorrow.”  Or, “write 20 pages on the subject and have it done by tomorrow’s class. ”  I wonder if some of our kids would run to an on-line company for essay writing service, or download papers that are already written about the subject they have to report on.

There are programs available that check for plagiarism and they’re very accurate.  So, it’s hard to get by with not writing your own work or turning in original content.   For those of us who work full-time – in the home and outside of the home – and are taking courses, hiring a writing service might not be a bad idea.  The important thing is to understand what is being written about and to know the material of study.  I think then it’s acceptable to hire a service.

But, for now let’s enjoy August, the sun and the warmth of summer.  It’s still great beach weather and relaxation and vacations are still calling!


Does Baby Teeth Care Really Matter?



When you have a baby, life suddenly gets insanely busy. Between diaper changes, feedings and night wakings, who has time to worry about baby teeth? They don’t really matter anyway, right? Wrong! Your child’s baby teeth actually matter very much, and if he is over one year old and you haven’t taken him to the dentist, it is time to get serious about her oral health.

The Right Age

According to Kool Smiles, when your baby’s first tooth appears or turns one year old, you should start thinking about making that first appointment. The first visit is more about getting your child used to the dentist and to teach you about how to properly care for their teeth. However, Web MD adds that if you have weaned your little one from the bottle and he or she doesn’t eat or drink anything during the night then you should be good to wait until age two).

Dentist Visitsblack-baby

Well, you can go to a regular dentist, but that may be doing your child a disservice. Pediatric dentists have additional training in child development so they know how to better interact with your child and make the visit as pleasant as possible. Not to mention, most pediatric dentists have fun offices that make the experience more enjoyable for your little one.

Pediatric Dentist

There are likely many pediatric dentists in your area and it can be overwhelming to choose just one. The best place to start is with your pediatrician. Ask for a referral and go from there. You can arrange a meet-and-greet with the pediatric dentist before committing if it makes you feel more comfortable. Remember, if at any point you decide the pediatric dentist is not right for your family, never hesitate to switch to a different one.

Ease Their Fears

First, breathe a sigh of relief because this is perfectly normal. A stranger is putting his hands in your child’s mouth and they don’t really understand why. Web MD believes that the best thing you can do is stay calm yourself. Your child takes cues from you more than you may realize. You also need to use your words wisely when talking about the dentist. Avoid negative words, like pain and hurt, and focus on the positive aspects of the dentist, like the healthy and strong teeth your child will have. You can even take your little one along to your dentist appointment so they can see what it’s all about.

Make it Fun

The biggest thing you can do is show excitement yourself. If you are excited to take your child to the dentist, chances are they’ll be excited to be there. You can also employ the help of the abundance of kids’ books and television shows that teach about what your child can expect at the dentist. even suggests staging a practice session for your little one, in which you are the dentist. Have your child put his head on your lap, open wide and count his teeth with your fingers.