We are a blended family with 5 wonderful adult children, 1 amazing Golden Retriever, 1 Goldfish, 5 grand dogs and 2 grand cats. Getting everyone together for the holidays or anytime during the year is an impossible feat! We have a daughter in Colorado, a son in New York, a son in North Carolina and a son and daughter still nearby in Iowa. We pray for them daily, talk with them most everyday and love them beyond what words can express. Cell phones, FaceTime and texting make them feel not so far away and bonded in family ties. They tend to call while they are driving home and catch us up on their day, giving us the highs and lows of what’s going on in their lives. When the call comes in, we drop everything and answer and just enjoy the moment together in conversation. We love to hear their voices and share in their day. The two younger ones are my bonus kids that I love dearly. I feel very blessed to have them in my life and to witness what a wonderful father my husband is. He loves to laugh with them, tell jokes, give advice (wanted or not) and just spend quality time with them. We dream of having the whole big crew together with their significant others, dogs and cats for the holidays…we know this is a big dream and the reality of it happening slim to none. We prayerfully put this dream in Gods hands and if that is to be it will be. Until then we feel blessed to be together anytime we can. Last year we almost pulled it off with Christgiving, where we combined Thanksgiving and Christmas together. We were blessed to have everyone and their pooches, minus our son in New York, at our home. However, with Facetime we got him and his girlfriend with us! The day was wonderful! We celebrated Christmas with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the background, played games with fun prizes, ate the traditional Thanksgiving meal with all of my parents’ and grandparents’ recipes and opened presents. The holiday cheer and spirit was amazing! My advice to blended families: be flexible, patient and kind when blending a family especially during the holidays when so many pressures and demands for time are high. We truly are blended, blessed and bonded… we pray the bond continues to strengthen in God’s perfect timing and in His perfect way. Wishing our readers a joyous Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas… or Christgiving!!
This was a great day for everyone. The Ellsworth Men’s basketball players split up and read the book “Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say” to kindergarten through 3rd grade classes. The players also answered a few questions about the book and Panther Basketball. The Panthers finished with a few assists as they helped some of the students work on their WRITE YOUR WAY activity sheets.
By the time all of the classes were finished, it was time for lunch – and who doesn’t like pizza?!
Looking back, it was an awesome day at Alden Elementary. We’re not sure who had more fun – the students or the basketball players! We are planning on going out again in a few weeks to follow up with the activities that we did together.
Last minute gift ideas
Sometimes better late is sometimes just that, better. I have never really been one to go out and get the Xmas presents months ahead of time. It sounds like a great idea. But still, to find the time and actually know what the kids want at that point is simply impossible. It seems that Christmas lists are ever changing and have a mind of their own. I cannot tell you how many times over the years that I have actually purchased a gift only to find out that it is not on the Christmas list anymore. You think there may some things you can get early that should be a sure thing, but even with shoes, clothes, and games the kids can have a change of heart, and in many cases grow out of them before they get a chance to unwrap them!
More often than not, my procrastination has turned out to be the smart move. I am able to get shoes and clothes that they like and fit right now. Sure, sometimes it is too late to find the more popular gifts like the “Tickle Me Elmo” or this year’s “Pie Face” game, but other things do come along and sometimes are even better because it is a surprise. You do find something that they really like and it is not on the list.
Do you still have a gift or two find?
There is still plenty of time out there for those of us who may have a gift or two to find. So here is a short list of ideas for the kid in all of us: A favorite movie on DVD or online, hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, a daily journal or notebook, nice socks, action figures, a handy flashlight, a nice picture with a frame, a board game, or a water bottle. A favorite for parents and children alike could be new book or in this case an ebook like Mommy Loves Baby or Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say…both now available as an ebook and an Ibook. These are two books that both the child and the parent will enjoy to together.
The tool that promotes feelings of love and security in your child for a lifetime
If someone told you that they had a tool that could promote your child’s healthy growth and enhance their feelings of security and love for a lifetime, you would purchase it in a second, wouldn’t you? Well luckily, this tool is readily available and free of charge. The tool is…dah, dah, dah, dah…reading to your child.
Intellectual development is enhanced by reading but the bonding that occurs between parent and child is where the real action is.
The experts have told us that reading to infants can “jumpstart brain development and can even make them more receptive to learning.” “Brain jump starting” is a a great reason to read to your child. Another reason, and one that is close to our hearts is the incredible bonding that occurs between parent and child during a reading session. This incredible bonding is what motivated us to start our publishing company and write Mommy Loves Baby and Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say, the two books we have published so far. We saw how reading promoted the health and well- being of own children.
The power of a reading session with your child or children
The power of a reading session with your child is truly remarkable. Think about it. The conditions are perfect. It is just you and your child (or children.) They have your undivided attention and you have theirs. Everyone feels safe and secure, like a blanket. You start to read in a soothing voice. Your child points out a picture or asks a question. You answer with no judgement. You are communicating with one another. It is all good.
If the book that you select to read is a family-oriented book, all the better! You are providing a safe environment to read the book and on top of that, the book itself is about something family- oriented. In the Mommy Loves Baby book, for example, every picture depicts an animal with his parent, mommy or daddy. Again and again the book repeats…”Mommy Loves Baby” and “Daddy Loves Baby.” Picture it. The child has Mommy or Daddy in their arms and they are being reinforced with the words “Mommy Loves Baby” and “Daddy Loves Baby.” Talk about soothing and secure!
Have you experienced the phenomena of a book reinforcing the bonding between parent and child? Tell us about it and please share the title of the book!
Barb and Troy will be appearing…live…at the Robert W. Barlow Memorial Library in Iowa Falls, Iowa. Come join them on Thursday, July 30th at 10:30 am. Monte the Monkey (stuffed animal) will be joining them because like all good little girls and boys he loves story time!
Mommy Loves Baby and Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say are the books the authors will be reading and sharing with the children. After the children hear the stories they will go home with activities and coloring sheets related with zoo animals.
If you are in the Iowa Falls area please join us and bring a few friends! For more information, call the Robert W. Barlow Library at 641.648.2872.
What motivates an author to write a children’s book?
I have always enjoyed reading books to my kids, the kids in my preschool and the kids at Sunday School classes. To see their faces as they absorbed the story warmed my heart! It was almost like they were right there in the story and part of it. I could see their imaginations come to life! It was the books that dealt with animals and animal families that peaked their curiosity and amazement the most.
Good stories come from your own experiences
Troy and I talked about writing children’s books by drawing from our experiences raising our children and the things we did with them, like, for example, taking a trip to the zoo. I began to reminisce about story time with my children and the idea for Silly Zoo was born. It has been a journey writing Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say, remembering trips to the zoo from when I was a child, to taking my own family. Everyone has their own favorite animal that they like to see and revisit every time they return to the Zoo. My favorite animals to visit are the monkeys and gorillas. I love to watch them groom each other and care for each other. Their attention to one another is so endearing to me. They love their babies like I love my babies!
The rewards from sharing a good book are endless
It is my hope that through writing these books with Troy that I will have the opportunity to visit schools and libraries to read to children and again see little faces light up as they enjoy the story. To see a child’s imagination light up through books is an amazing sight!
What is your favorite time to read books to your children? Is a gathering place you like to take your kids for story time, like a library, book store, or park? Let me know and If I am in the area I will try and be there, Silly Zoo and all.
Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say is available soon!
As we get closer to releasing our latest title, Silly Zoo is All I Can Say, we cannot help but think about how it has brought back so many memories of our visits to the Zoo with our children. We have had so many wonderful experiences at the zoo that it was not possible to include them all in the book. We are sure, though, that you and your children will be reminded of your own memories of a time at the Zoo when a funny animal did that crazy thing right in front of you.
How Silly Zoo came to life with illustrations telling part of the story
Our zoo story has been sitting idle for years just waiting for the right person to come along and tell the story with pictures. The whole process developed quickly over the past few months, as Len DiSalvo worked his magic by coming up with some fantastic illustrations. Sometimes Len had a different interpretation of the animals in the story. Understanding his perspective was the fun part because we knew what we envisioned but sometimes you just have to let the artist do his thing. Each time we received an email that contained Len’s new sketches, we waited until we could open them together so that we could measure each other’s reactions to the various sketches. Some sketches were an instant hit, while others needed a tweak or two. Any changes were to let Len know exactly what we were thinking when we were putting words on paper. What a process! It was an exciting time as with each new email, we were able to see the book take shape. We still laugh at the rhino sketch with the rhino looking at the sign “white rhino” with that puzzled look on his face and question marks!
Silly Zoo has factual information on the animals as well
As the illustrations came together we were also adding facts about the animals for readers to have a chance to learn a little more about their favorite animal. This was a fun, educational experience as we both learned a lot about the different animals. Did you know that a hippo can actually walk on the bottom of the river bed, no bridge necessary here? The strange thing about all the facts for the different animals was that sometimes, very specific facts were actually different from one source to the other. So this naturally led to more research. As far as the activities to add we simply thought about the fun, different things we did with our kids: drawing pictures, word games, and making up stories.
Use Silly Zoo to connect with your little one
The next time you put your children to sleep have them start a story by selecting their favorite zoo animal. Ask them to tell that animal’s story…what they like to do, who their friends are, where their family is and let your child pick where the story goes. Let his imagination go from there.
Our favorite bedtime ritual was to read a short book at bedtime and tell one of our favorite stories. Does your child have a have a favorite bedtime story or book?
A trip to the zoo brings family together
Over the years we have taken the kids to see many places and done many adventurous things. Of all the places we have visited, it never fails that the zoo is the one place where the kids can go and just be their silly selves. There are so many animals at the Zoo, doing what they do best – “be themselves.” The things that make animals unique, through a child’s eyes… who am I kidding… even through an adult’s eyes, are such funny sights to see. For example, who can resist a giggle at elephants playing in the water, giraffes getting a drink, and of course, monkeys doing what they do best, entertain us all.
The inspiration behind Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say
It was during these visits to the zoo and the continuous giggling sessions that followed that encouraged us to ask “what was so funny?” The kids would simply answer “what a silly animal!” After stringing together enough visits to the zoo, it was time to put all the experiences on paper. We thought a book would be a great way to showcase all the funny, little things that animals do in one place. Through a book, we can bring those “silly sights” to each and every child in the comfort of their own homes, schools, and libraries.
A great illustrator completed the picture for Silly Zoo
What we needed was someone who could tell our silly story of all of our numerous trips to the zoo through illustrations. After seeing Len DiSalvo’s work in other books, we realized that this would soon become a reality. We talked with Len about the story and our vision of what it could be. Len enjoyed his trip through the zoo and he came up with a series of illustrations that took us back to those moments we had with our kids. And of course when he sent us the Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say cover, we knew that we were on our way to share with everyone a chance to visit the Silly Zoo. Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say, a children’s book for kids aged 4-8 will be released and available in May on our website and on Amazon.
I am sure you have had some good times at the Zoo as well. What is your funniest memories of visiting a zoo? What is your favorite zoo animal?
By popular request, prints of Mommy Loves Baby illustrations available
The publishing business has been a enjoyable experience for all of us here at Curtis Christine Press. It is important to us that our customers and fans are happy. We are willing to try new things and take action on your suggestions. For example, we have had several requests for prints of the Mommy Loves Baby illustrations which were created by artist, Andrea Dickkut. You have asked and we have responded. We have obtained several prints on a trial basis to find out if they are worthy of a place on your child’s wall.
The free prints offer
While supplies last you will receive a free 8 x 8 print of your favorite Mommy Loves Baby animal page with each book purchased through Curtis Christine Press! We want your feedback on the book and the prints. Share your thoughts on any other products that you may be interested in, too! Comment here or reach out to us on our contact page.
Our next book Silly Zoo Is All I Can Say will be available in late May 2015. It has been crazy-fun putting it all together, but you will hear more about that soon.
It has been an exciting time here at Curtis Christine Press!!
Thank you for being part of this journey with us!