Scattering Sunshine

Today I'm thinking about sunshine because of this adorable sign:

And I'm pondering the ways that people do that. My friend Caryn makes these beautiful sun catchers that scatter sunshine literally and figuratively. I just love watching the dancing beams that it magically creates when 
the sun and the breeze work in concert.

My friend Carol spreads sunshine with her voice. When she sings, whether by herself or with the choir, it's as if the angels themselves are among us, and we are fortunate to be the recipient of her rays of sunshine.

There are so many other simple ways to scatter sunshine.

Bake a cake and share a slice. 
Set a swim date. 
Invite a friend to join you for dinner. 
Drop someone an affirming email. 
Better yet, put a handwritten thinking-of-you note in today's mail.
 Call someone just to say hi. 
Offer someone a ride to the airport so they save $ on parking. 
Pray for the family of a fallen soldier. 
Mow someone's yard (with their permission, of course!). 
Recycle the grass clippings.

The boys and I got to do that last two together recently 
when the hubs was out of town. 
It took us three hours one day and two more the next 
to get the back yard all done. 
As we were rehydrating and reflecting, Jacob said, "Mom, you never have a real appreciation for the man behind the mower until it's you."

In giving, sometimes there's receiving. 
And that sunshine felt really good all around!


Carson-Dellosa Task Cards & Giveaway

It's the last Monday of July {gasp!} and, if you're like me, 
you're starting to think seriously about back-to-school supplies. 
What new resources are you excited about?

Roger Lewin once said, "Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve," and that's why I'm loving these new 
Available for grades K-5, these write-on/wipe-off cards will take your students up Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains from simply remembering and understanding, through applying and analyzing, all the way to mastery, including evaluating and creating. 

Each of these boxes contains 50 cards for math and 50 cards for language arts; each Task Card is aligned with a corresponding 
Common Core State Standard.

The Kindergarten-level (age 5) cards include prompts for centers that could also easily complement calendar time, be morning meeting talks, or act as drawing topics for journal time. They include options to integrate the cards into other skill sets as well. Engage your artists with this card:  Use clay or another material to make a sphere and a cylinder. Weave in some acting with this one:  Use a voice like a lion to count to 30. Start at 11. Connect with your kinesthetic learners with a card like this: Count to 100 by ones. Clap your hands or tap your feet as you say each number.

Formatted and packaged in the same style, the other levels through grade five follow suit. Grade 1 Task Cards include prompts that are understandably a bit more rigorous and developmentally-appropriate for six-year-old students. Brightly colored like the K cards and still perfect prompts for centers, writing, or buddy-buzz time, these cards are more detailed and include even more chances for extension. Let's look at this sample card; not only does it ask for the students to read a short story and answer How? and What? comprehension questions ...

... but it also opens up an opportunity to talk about what an animal shelter is and possibly even spark a service-learning project because students love to help animals. Maybe they can't get a get a kitten like the little boy on the card, but brainstorm with them about what they could do to support your local animal shelter. What might the animals need? 
How could your class family help?
When Common Core meets core values like caring and helping, 
it's bound to create a win-win.

Our friends at Carson-Dellosa even have a free teacher resource guide available for this product {here}.

Have I piqued your curiosity about these critical-thinking Task Cards? 
Cool, because Carson-Dellosa is giving away a box of the Task Cards {the grade level of your choice!} or any one item from the Common Core Products on the graphic below to one lucky reader. 
WoW! ... I know, right?

Click to enlarge and see your many options!

It's easy to enter. Simply leave a comment about how you would use the product of your choice and then check back Thursday to see who won. Contest is opened between now and Thursday, August 1st, at 12:00 p.m. central time. One winner will be selected at random from all of the comment entries and announced Thursday afternoon. 
Come back then to see if it's you!

This contest is now closed.
Click {here} to see who won.

Thank you, Carson-Dellosa, for this awesome product and partnership.
Here's to a magical 2013-2014 school year. 


PBIS Guest Post Swap

 While we're not a PBIS school, there are a lot of correlations between this behavior management system and our character education philosophy.
 A few years back after an introductory training, we adapted its Tier 1 suggestion and developed three expectations that unite all of our classrooms.

I wanted to know more about PBIS and figured I could do that while at the same time trying something new ... a guest post swap. 
So please welcome BJ Bowden to the Corner and 
read all about PBIS before heading to 
Positively Elementary School Counseling 
to talk about empathy with me.

I was so excited when I was asked to be a guest blogger because I have been blogging for just about a year and this is my first time being a guest blogger. Thank you so much, Barbara, for this chance to share one of my passions, Positive Behavior Interventions Support, otherwise known as PBIS.

Though I could go on for days and days about PBIS, this  will be a short overview of PBIS, a framework that schools use to help with their Response to Intervention (RTI) for behaviors. One of the key pieces that I love about this framework is that it focuses on a need to get everyone on the same page and build a strong foundation before you do more intensive work.

Probably the most famous picture of PBIS is the triangle. The triangle represents the 3 Tiers that PBIS makes up.

Tier 1:

The bottom is made up of 80% of your students. This is your Tier 1 Universal or School-Wide interventions that 80% of your student population will respond to. What do these interventions look like?
*3-5 Core Values established as a school. (Mine are: Do Your Best, Respect, Restraint, Responsibility, and Encourage Yourself and Others.)
* Clearly established rules and expectations based on those Core Values
* Lessons to help kids learn what is expected of them
*Classroom social skills lessons
*School-Wide Positive Reward system
* and most importantly, getting buy-in from staff to all be on the same page. (Be patient; this often can take a few years to really get your Tier 1 up and going.)

Let’s look at one of those pieces a little more:

School-Wide Positive Reward System. In my school, we use the Caught Doing Your Best Tickets. All school staff are given these tickets and whenever they see a student following our expectations, he or she gets a ticket. These tickets then go into a drawing for prizes. The great part is that everyone, from lunch staff, to janitors, to teachers, even bus drivers, is trying to catch them being their best. Working together and all being on the same page is huge!

Tier 2

We then move up the triangle to Tier 2. This is 15% of your student body. These are the kids that need a little more than the classroom/whole group lessons to get them on track. What do these interventions look like?
* Small groups
* Check in Check out Programs
*Simple FBA to target what is affecting the students and keeping them from doing their best.
* Some more parent contact

Let’s look at a the Check in Check out Program a little more closely. This is basically a behavior chart system; at my school they're called Positive Action With Support (PAWS). Students are referred to PAWS by their teacher, a parent, or even at times a student can self-refer. Once at student is referred to me, I set up a behavior sheet using one goal for that student. I like to only do one goal at a time so that we can really work on that; then when they meet that goal we can do a different goal if the student still needs to work on other pieces. The goals are always tied into one of our Core Values.  I then walk them through the steps of how a day on PAWS will look. 

Here is what it looks like:
In the morning when the students come in, they go to the PAWS Coordinator (we use an Ed Tech for this). The Coordinator will hand them their daily PAWS sheet and help boost them up for the day with positive praise. The student then brings this to their classroom teacher where they set a daily goal. During the day based on their sheet, they earn points from both their teacher and also the specialists if they have a special that day. At the end of the day, they return with their PAWS sheet to the Coordinator who will add up their score, document it in our data tracking system, and reward the student if they met their goal. If they did not meet their goal, they still focus on the positive and encourage them to meet it the next day. The PAWS sheet goes home each night so that we have daily parent contact which is a huge piece in making sure we are working as a team with the parents. For more info, I would recommend this great workbook for free that goes over the Check In Check Out process. 
Tier 3:

As you see by the triangle, Tier 3 is only 5% of your students, which is good because Tier 3 takes the most amount of time to do. This involves such interventions as:
* Full FBAs (Functional Behavior Assessments). We use the Prevent, Teach, Reinforce Model; click {here} for the book that I highly recommend.
* One-on-One Sessions with a student to help work on specific skills
* Wrap-Around Services

So let’s again look at Wrap-Around in more detail, as that is such a key piece of Tier 3. Wrap-Around is an approach where you are no longer working in isolation to help this student but you are wrapping services around the student. This involves team meetings with outside providers and the family. The unique part of Wrap-Around though is the positive approach that it takes. It focuses on strengths of the student and the family. Yes, I did say family as at this point we need to not look at isolation at the student but the whole family to see how we can make a difference. From these meetings, you develop a plan that meets the following criteria: Family and youth voice in the plan that addresses outcomes across school, home and the community. So rather than each person working on a different plan, you are all working together to meet the needs of the student. You can find some great info on this approach {here}.

PBIS is something that could be written up through pages and pages; this was just a quick overview of the 3 Tiers. If you want more info feel free to contact me by visiting my blog {here} or on my Facebook page, where together we can share information to help make a difference in the lives of students.

Author bio: BJ Bowden holds a dual certification as a School Social Worker and a School Counselor, and has worked in both a K-5 School and a Behavioral School for going on seven years. She started her blog about a year ago and just this year moved her blog to FB. She also runs a page that helps support school staff with Donors Choose projects and has already raised close to $8K for teachers and classrooms {here}.


My Happy Plant

So yesterday the air conditioning guy came. It was a routine check-up and I wasn't necessarily happy about the price tag. What did make me happy was this guy's attitude! As he got out of his truck, I was outside watering my porch plants. I was met with an enthusiastic hello as I greeted him and asked how he was doing. He said that he was doing great, to which I added, "despite the fact that you get to spend some time on this sweltering summer morning in my attic?" He said that it's all about how you look at it and that he prefers to think about it like, "well, I'm going up to where the air conditioning unit is." Such a cheerful reframe!

He isn't in the door a minute before he notices this plant.

I know this because he asks if it's one plant or two, then compliments how beautiful it is before he adds:
"Now that's a happy plant!"

I hadn't actually thought about it like that before. I sometimes think it's in the way or growing too big and out of control. But happy? I take its picture and sit on my couch to think about that. It's not long before I hear this AC guy whistling ... or at least trying to whistle. I mention that whistling is a sign of happiness and he asks if I read that on the internet or made that up. Then he asks if I'm an author or something and if I know the works of Khalil Gibran. Well, I don't, but I look him up and I like what he once said:

The AC specialist goes on to say that he stumbled on this artist by accident once when he was bored in school and is really inspired by his life and legacy. Interesting. Then he tells me that he can't really whistle (what?) but that he does like to sing. He goes on to say, "I don't sing because I'm happy; I'm happy because I sing" and I can't help but wonder who this guy really is. And why he's so happy.

And that's it. Everything checks out and I write a big check. As I close the door, I think I see my happy plant smiling.


Promising Practices

Back in 2005, our school won a Promising Practice citation from the Character Education Partnership for our 
third-grade knit-for-service club. 

Photo Courtesy Of Save The Children

After a decade of warming our recipients with bookmarks, blankets, and caps stitched with love, we are about to launch into our eleventh year of kids helping kids through knitting.

Today I'm in stitches 'cause I'm guest blogging our story over at 
Pennies Of Time
If you've never been to Sheila's site, do yourself a favor and spend some time over there. It's a beautiful blog designed to honor the memory of an inspirational little girl named Penny through acts and 
kindness and service.

The following year we earned another Promising Practice award,
 this time for a partnership our HS basketball coach initiated called 
Hometown Heroes. 
It's essentially a program that brings teenaged role models from Friendswood High School back to the elementary school to mentor. One of these heroes made the news this week ... for his impromptu duet with an 
eleven-year-old patient at a St. Jude's House in Tennessee. 

Not only does FHS alumni Jacob Karam play football well, 
but he also plays piano skillfully.
Oh, and he exudes compassion and caring.
See how sensitively he interacts with this songster,
read all about it and enJOY the video {here}.

Screen shot from video taken by Breanna's mom

Magical things happen when kids help kids!

Our character cam caught Jacob connecting with our kids a few years back when he was the quarterback at FHS. Just look at how their fans 
look up to these role-models!

At our Red Ribbon/Character Counts! Week pep rally, Jacob took the mic to talk with our students about teamwork.

Then his teammates circled up and did their rallying cheer.

Clearly this young leader walks the talk on and off the field;
the caring shirt isn't just something Jacob wears, 
but it's something he lives. 

He left Friendswood for college on a football scholarship;
these days, you can find Jacob pursuing victory with honor
for the University of Memphis Tigers.

We are so proud of you, Jacob!
Keep up the ♥ work.


The Honest-Tea Test

Move over Candid Camera and make room for 
the Honest Tea Test. 
Did anyone else see the news about this integrity index in

Hello Hawaii and Aloha Alabama!
Your honest citizens passed the test with flying colors.

Participants in these two states were 100% trustworthy
according to the results of the Honest Tea test. 

Basically, Honest Tea employees conducted the test
earlier this month, 
in all fifty states, 
over a ten-day period, 
allowing the opportunity for 10,000 honest acts. 
The question was this:
If people were left on the honor system,
would they pay the $1 for the tea at one of these kiosks
even when nobody's looking ...
or simply take it for free?

Honest Tea employees watched from afar and collected the data. They they disaggregated it by things like hair color and length, number and gender. Turns out women (95%) were more apt to pay than men (91%). And people in a group were more likely to be honest; holding one another accountable is a good thing, I suppose. Anyway, it's an interesting study.

We actually got rid of our vending machines in our teachers' lounge three years ago and now have snacks and soda available on the honor system. 
What, if anything, do you have that's on the honor system?

Take the online test or challenge your friends {here}.


Eco-Friendly Living Guest Post

Photo by Nancy Glaze/Arvada, CO
A few years back, our school district hired a retired maintenance man part-time to audit our energy use and help us better conserve our resources. At first, it was really hard for me to get used to turning my light off every time I left my office, but eventually habits form and now it's weird if my light is on and I'm not in there. Anyway, every month we'd get an energy report from this auditor and data doesn't lie; we were saving a lot of money with simple energy-saving measures like cutting those lights off and unplugging things like lamps, computers, and walkie talkies over night. 

One time, our campus got a thank-you email from our energy guy. The subject line - The Writing On The Wall - naturally piqued my curiosity. Basically, he wanted to commend us for such a great job because during his audit that night he'd found that we had everything unplugged as requested. The next part was the coolest, because this older gentleman took the time to not only notice, but to add: 

It's clear that you are living 
what your beautiful bulletin boards say.

Be still my beating heart! Wasn't that the nicest thing to say!
How else can good citizens conserve their resources? 
Please welcome guest blogger Sophia Evans for today's tips.

Five Interesting Recycling Facts for an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle by Sophia Evans

If you are committed to leading an environmentally-conscious lifestyle, you probably engage in helpful practices such as recycling, reducing your consumption of resources, and making wise consumer choices. A little can go a long way in the fight to protect the Earth, and the first step in making a difference is to be well informed. Here are a few helpful insights and tips on how you can be an even better steward of the Earth.

Johnson and Johnson has also risen to the occasion and adopted more Earth-friendly practices. They've committed to reducing their carbon emissions and water usage. The company has also removed all toxic and carcinogenic ingredients from their line of personal care items.

If you use Brita water filters in your home, you should be aware that the filter cartridges can be recycled. Simply dry the filters out, wrap them in plastic, and send them back to Brita. They can recycle the plastic casing into many household products such as toothbrushes and cups. The carbon and resin portion can be recycled into fuel. Brita even promises to reuse the packaging materials you sent the cartridge in!

Do you have an old bicycle lying around that you don't use anymore, or know someone who does? There are thousands of people around the world whose lives could be improved dramatically if given access to a bicycle. You can donate unwanted bikes to Bikes for the World, a non-profit organization that helps provide bicycles to needy communities around the world.

The average office worker uses 500 disposable cups a year. Imagine what an impact we could make if everyone started using reusable cups. Little things like this can go a long way in the fight for conservation.

Together, we can keep the Earth green and beautiful. These tips can help you do your part, and help inform others of their impact as well.

Author bio: Sophia is a stay-at-home mom, who lives in Upstate New York and blogs about Eco-friendly lifestyle tips. She finds that it is easy to transition into a green lifestyle by making the small changes; she's always staying up-to-date with the latest news and trends in the green community. Sophia tries to live the best green, sustainable life as she can! She also enjoys blogging about healthy lifestyle tips, and all things beauty. She enjoys the outdoors, spending time with her family, and staying fit and healthy by running and biking. Sophia blogs over at My "Soph" Called Life.

Thank you, Sophia, for stopping by and enlightening us with these useful conservation strategies. I recently read that you can also recycle your empty plastic gift cards so that they don't all end up in a landfill. 
Click {here} for more details. 


From The Inside Out

Happy Birth-day, little Prince;
welcome to the world.
What a special time for the Royal family.
{How happy Diana would have been.}

Today I'm wondering what it's like to be royalty ...
and I'm thinking about self-worth and self-esteem.
Have you seen this book yet?

 What exactly makes someone beautiful anyway?
And who gets to decide that?
In Does This Make Me Beautiful? by Harriet Morse
a young Harriet gets invited to Caitlyn's house and 
she's understandably on top of the world because 
Caitlyn is a popular girl with whom 
Harriet has always wanted to play.

During their time together, the conversation turns to beauty, the outward kind, beautiful like the models on the posters that Caitlyn has all over her walls. After they decide that Caitlyn even looks like one of them with their "shiny hair" and their perfect clothes, Harriet asks if she looks like any of them, to which Caitlyn responds, "No, you have red hair and a ton of freckles ... But it's okay, Harriet, you're nice." Ouch, right? Well, okay, maybe not, 'cause I'd choose nice over pretty, but Harriet did not take that comment as a compliment. In fact, it kind of upsets her nice world.

As Harriet struggles to find something, anything at home to wear that will make her prettier, like the girl on the poster that Caitlyn gave her, her mom comes in and, with the help of Grandma Ruby's mystical mirror, helps Harriet see that her true beauty comes from her heart. 

I couldn't help but notice that in this book, the mom doesn't solve Harriet's problem, but, after helping her process her thoughts, instead gives her a tool and helps her arrive at her own conclusion.

Read this treasure aloud with your young princes and princesses, 
then share this Britt Nicole gem - Gold.

Of course there's a fine line between building up kids with superficial, empty praise and authentically empowering them with your
 unconditional affirmation and love
If you ever need help in this area, you can visit my 
go-to parenting experts Michele Borba or Bill Corbett.

When we love our children, really love them, for who they are and not for how they look or what they can accomplish, then their self-worth is nurtured in such a way that inner beauty will trump outward riches. Every time

And when they can accept that they're 
worth more than gold
 and when they value themselves, 
then healthy self-esteem will follow and
 they'll be more likely to serve others. 
Mental health can be built, 
and that's done most successfully when it's from 
from the inside out.


What's Your Favorite Flavor?

As I learn to get better and better at savoring the summer, 
today I'm excited about ... ice cream!
Baskin Robbins Baseball Nut in particular.
Vanilla ice cream, ribbons of raspberry, cashew chunks.

Graphic from www.baskinrobbins.com
We went to a minor league baseball game to watch the Sugarland Skeeters the other night because John's UT alumni band was invited to play there. We had a great time, but truthfully, the last thing I wanted to do after the game (at 10:15 at night) with an hour's drive ahead of us was stop for ice cream. 
I was in a hurry to get home!

But hurrying is the opposite of savoring. 
I'm pretty sure you can't savor when you're in a hurry.

And when the boys saw that the light in the BR was still on, John made a U-turn so fast. I was tempted by the Turtle flavor and I tried the Peach, but that's before I saw Baseball Nut ... 
one little taste and it really hit a home run.
I savored every bite.

Then yesterday I saw this news clip of my sweet niece
pitching National Ice Cream Month 
on television and I knew I just had to share.
We are so proud of her!

What's your favorite flavor to savor?


In My Shoes

Empathy ... 
it's all about the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes,
to cast yourself in their story,
to feel how they're feeling,
to understand what they're experiencing.

And elevating empathy is something that I could not be more passionate about, so imagine my delight when I found this new title by Dr. Bob Sornson.
Click the book cover graphic for a review 
by my friend Roxanne over at

I can't wait to use this treasure in peace class this fall.
It'll beautifully complement this Sisterly Love character clip:

What was your first thought when you saw the scissors?
How did you think her parents might feel when they saw her new do?
How did finding out about her sibling's struggle change things? Why?


Catie's Wings

My friend and counseling colleague lost her courageous earthly battle with the cancer monster this week; the image I have of Catie's flight through Heaven's front door makes me 
sob and smile,
feel numb and then alive,  
and hyperventilate 
and experience peace 
all at once.

How is that even possible?

Catie was clearly an angel on earth whose time here wasn't nearly long enough. For me, anyway. So here I sit with conflicting emotions as I reflect on who she was, what she accomplished in her 57 years with us, and how I can move forward and carry the torch that lit up her world.

I wrote about how we met back in 2008 {here}, but basically she'd heard me speak at a conference the summer before in Dallas, and we'd collaborated a bit by email after that session. When it was decided not to hold that conference there the following summer, Catie drove herself to Chattanooga, Tennessee to attend another one of my workshops. 
Tenacity and drive ... I like that in a friend.

 We met again in the summer of 2009 in Dallas - that time I also got to meet her pride and joy, her grandson Michael! - when she came to participate in another of my workshops. Catie was indeed a lifelong learner with an insatiable thirst for empowerment tools. Even as she faced death, she was looking for ways to help others live. She and I got together one last time in the spring of 2011 when I flew to OK for an NSOC site visit. Not only did she meet me at the airport and help me navigate an unfamiliar place, but she also took me out and treated me to lunch and a visit. 

That was the first time that I realized how challenging and painful her journey to restored health must have been, because throat cancer had robbed her of her saliva. Something seemingly so small that she asked me to pray for when she was first diagnosed, that she not lose her spit. Something that we take for granted every day. Spit. She'd lost it despite our fervent prayers, but guess what? Catie never complained. She never even mentioned that she'd been forced to use artificial saliva. She was too busy living to sweat the small stuff, like spit. And after that amazing hour together with my friend, I got this gracious gift:

I had such a wonderful time! It's like I've known you always and I will be eternally grateful that I chose your breakout session 3 years ago! I feel so honored that I got to spend time with you and take you to lunch. I love my beautiful paper that will be right by my desk at work as a reminder of your encouragement. I could not have done this year without all my beautiful friends...and you are one of the beautiful-est! ANY TIME you are in Oklahoma I will come and get you and feed you!

:o) Catie 

This is the compassionate counselor who stole my heart. This is why my heart is breaking. And this is why I must continue to stand at the front door of my school every day and greet my little angels with a smile and a hug. 

Her legacy must take wing, through me, through us. Catie doesn't want me to be sad that she died; Catie wants me to celebrate that she lived. 

If you'd like to know a little more about Catie's life work - To Heal, To Teach, To Create - you can read a year's worth of her motivating, inspiring, and thought-provoking blog posts {here}.

Because she not only treasured her Anderson School Family but lived to serve, empower, and love them, Catie's celebration of life memorial service will be held at the school this upcoming Friday. What a special celebration that will be. 

Thank you, Catie, for showing me and countless others how to fly.


Somebody Come And Play

As the mom of teenaged and adult children, I often wonder if I did a good job. Ah, the million dollar reflection ... If I had it to do all over again. Some things I did with great ease and success; other things, not so much.

Let's talk about play.

Look at how positively filled with joy this exuberant child is. She saw our fourteen-year-old in a tree and watched her older brother follow him, so she wanted to climb up there, too. I watched a younger me as her mom reluctantly agreed and then held her every step of the way. Sometimes Often times Too many times I was overly cautious and protective to let my kids explore and discover through play. To be honest, it was a mix of caution and the fact that playing seemed kind of frivolous; it really ought to be a more like a treat rather than an every-day occurrence ... or at least that's what I thought. 

Now I wonder why we didn't climb more trees.

And at the risk sounding like a drill sergeant, let me say that my kids did play ... I just hope that we played enough

We definitely played in the kitchen. When the kids were younger, they'd pull out the utensils and gadgets to sort them by size, to line them up, to use them to make noise. Just yesterday, Jacob peeled the figs while I mixed the batter and, voila, out came some delectable fig muffins. The kitchen was our chemistry lab.

We took the kids to the farm almost every summer and a few times had a blast navigating through a corn maze. Have you ever done that? It's great fun. The boys have also played gardener with their dad every summer; there's nothing tastier or more satisfying than home-grown produce!

 When the weather isn't cooperating for outdoor play, we're inside with a puzzle, a deck of cards, or a board game. While I tend to not be patient enough to look at 1000 pieces and picture the whole, this form of play had definitely sharpened Joshua's skills. 

The pool that we built after hurricane Ike took six of the trees from our backyard forest and turned it into a prairie has definitely been a wonderful playground for us in the recent past. I find it therapeutic to simply relax on my raft but the kids enjoy games like volleyball and Marco Polo.

Playing with pets has to be the best therapy ever. We found this little kitten, lost and alone, underneath my dad's back porch and quickly adopted and tamed her. Jacob commented later how easy it was to transform her from a timid and scared little ball of fluff to a friend who would follow them wherever they went, just by showering her with a little bit of time, attention, and love. Well, that and a little bit of warm milk ... 

Mostly we've just had hamsters in our suburban home, but pets are pets and love is love. And we do love to dog-sit.

Finally, another way we've played is through our music. And while I will admit that music is as much a discipline as it is actual playtime, it served as both for our kids. I just love it when the house fills with music. What it treat it was after Jacob's graduation party when he and his friend sat down and played together. All three of our kids started playing the piano in kindergarten which planted seeds of appreciation music that will last them a lifetime. Joshua's at the point now, entering high school, when he wants to be done with piano lessons. I understand, because that's when I quit taking formal lessons, too, but John and I are both hoping he doesn't give it up.

I'm reminded about Ernie singing the old Sesame Street song asking that Somebody Come and Play. 

To smile a smile ...
And sing the songs ...
Rhyme the rhymes ...
All day long ...
And laugh the laughs ...
See pleasure in the wind ...
And be my friend ...
to watch the sun ...
'til it rains again ...

Playtime ... it's not just for children anymore.

One of my favorite things is when a friend texts to ask if 
I want to play. 
Sometimes it's a pedicure, other times it's a girls night out. 
Last night a friend actually invited me to play Bingo,
but I already had plans to go to a baseball game with the boys.
 Whatever the case may be, I'm glad to get a new chance every day to learn from and enjoy playtime. And I hope that my kids will always know that you're never too old to learn to 
appreciate the benefits of play.

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