I’m happy to announce Homeschooling1!

Comp-1I’m excited to announce the launch of Homeschooling1, a website for secular homeschooling families that are educating one child at home. There aren’t enough resources out there for only child homeschooling families, especially secular homeschoolers so I decided it was time to make a website just for families of singletons. Maybe you have multiple children but are homeschooling only one of your children, regardless this site is for anyone who is looking for homeschooling resources, advice and information.

There will be loads of information about getting started homeschooling, resources regarding homeschooling laws, freebie printables and even a forum so everyone can come together and support each other and share advice, celebrations and concerns.

I’m launching the site on September 1st, 2016 and wanted to give everyone an opportunity to sign up to Homeschooling1’s newsletter for some fun giveaways and updates. I may even toss in a couple of my children’s books as a freebie giveaway in the future ūüôā After subscribing you’ll be sent a free printable planner for the 2016-2017 school year!

Please share this post with anyone who you feel would be interested in this new site!

Don’t worry about my children’s books. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my next release about two feathered friends who spend a fun filled day together at the fair! Here’s a little sneak peek into the world of Ducky and Quackers!

ducky and quackers promo - Copy

Meet Ducky and Quackers! Coming soon from Courtney M Jones!

Thanks so much for being part of this fun and exciting journey and I look forward to connecting with everybody!

Please visit homeschooling1.com to sign up and join this homeschooling community!

Raising Caring and Compassionate Children

black-baby-girl-clip-art-gtipgelo (1)¬†¬† I’m a fairly new mom. My daughter is 2 1/2 years old so I’ve only had 2 1/2 years of experience of raising a child. I love being a parent more than anything.

All parents have concerns. Lately my daughter has been a complete “terrible twos toddler” and she has been in¬†the hitting, throwing and tantrum phase for a little while now. When the transition from that sweet, clumsy and giggly baby morphed into¬†a screaming, throwing, hitting mommy and daddy terror¬†began I did panic a bit. I have read more parenting books than I can count since pregnancy so I felt that I was going to be prepared for this phase.

Mentally, I was prepared. I knew what to do, how to¬†prevent¬†the situations that caused a meltdown, how to keep cool and calm so the situation wouldn’t escalate further, all of that.

Honestly I’m more hurt than angry when she has an outburst. I truly feel for my daughter when I deny her that toy at the store, when she tries to escape from her car seat and I firmly tell her to stop, when she doesn’t want to go to bed or take a bath. I feel for her because if I were¬†her and¬†60% of everything I did was always being corrected or redirected I’d feel like I wasn’t my own person. That would truly drive me up the wall!

I’m pretty sure she’s beginning to understand why her daddy and I are correcting her all the time. It’s because she needs boundaries, she needs rules and she needs to be able to trust her parents to make the big decisions that will enable her to be self sufficient and decisive when she grows up. She needs guidance in this incredibly confusing and overwhelming phase of toddlerhood.

Empathy is the ability to understand other people‚Äôs feelings and respond with kindness. Raising an empathetic child requires intentional efforts to teach the desired behavior. Sometimes this can be quite a challenge. You’re trying to keep your cool and your child is screaming at you, throwing toys on the floor or flinging themselves on the floor while crying and looking at you like you’re the meanest parent ever. For me personally, to kneel down to my daughters level, look her calmly in the eye and cupping her cheek in my hand gently while saying in a soft voice “We don’t hit. Hitting hurts,” or “I know you’re upset because daddy took your bear away, but we do not throw Blue Beary,” it can be quite difficult.

It’s hard to remain cool and calm but it needs to happen and that’s what I tell myself when I want to run to MY room and throw pillows on the floor when she’s pushing my buttons. Children need to be told why they are being corrected and what the proper response should be when they’re feeling an intense emotion that they can’t quite get a handle on just yet. I know I’m doing something right because just the other day my daughter was getting frustrated with a puzzle and normally she would stand up and kick and throw the puzzle pieces everywhere if she couldn’t figure it out on her own. But as I was sitting there watching her become frustrated, something happened. She¬†looked over at me and looked at her puzzle. She did this a couple times and then she got up off the floor and ran over to me “Mama mama, help.” She took my hand and pulled me over to the puzzle that was on the floor, sat down next to me and handed me a piece and pointed at the puzzle: “Mama, Mama.”

So we spent the next half hour assembling and dissembling the puzzle. She sat there next to me and from time to time rested her head on my shoulder and patted my arm. It was the most incredible feeling. For the first time my daughter was able to control her emotions and calmly think of a solution.

What does his have to do with empathy you’re probably wondering. Well, I’ve noticed lately, especially in the city I live in that a lot of parents don’t take that extra minute to talk things through with their child. I tend to hear a lot of rushed moms who use threats of no dessert or TV or a smack¬†if they don’t stop “whining” or “put that back.” These are things I hear at the grocery store all the time. I’ll take a moment to watch how the moms interact with their children and the problem is blatantly obvious. Those moms aren’t treating their children with respect. They aren’t empathic to their children’s needs because their priorities overpower a teachable moment that would make this a¬†much more enjoyable experience¬†for everyone.

What is happening? I look at those children and this may sound corny but it’s hard not to get teary eyed. You can see it in their faces, they’re just dying to learn, to explore, to be guided by their mom. Instead they’re dragged around, being yelled at and toys and dessert are threatened, just because they’re kids being kids.

I have never had that problem with my daughter at the store. There are times when I get funny looks from parents because when I’m in the produce aisle my daughter will point and cry out “APPLES!” I’ll push the cart over, grab a produce bag and align the basket right next to the apples. “Let’s get four apples today.” I’ll hold the bag out and one by one, my daughter will reach over and pick up an apple and as she drops them in the bag she’ll count the apples out loud as she lets them go “Oooone, Tooooo, Treeeee.” I get a kick out of that every time. Since she was in a car seat at the store I was doing that. I’d explain what I was doing and count everything out while describing colors and shapes and I guess it’s just a special routine we’re always going to have while she’s young. Those moments are so special to me, and I’m sure they are for my little girl as well.

Raising an empathic child is one of the most important attributes that you can teach as a parent. Without that skill, children will grow to be uncaring of others feelings, selfish, pushy, bossy and possibly a bully who demeans and hurts others. The ability to put yourself in someone’s shoes and to see things from their perspective is something that I could not live without. Empathy has helped me to treat my daughter with love, compassion and respect. While other parents out there scream and drag their children around because they have their own agenda, I include my daughter in my agenda. She isn’t an inconvenience, she’s my daughter and she’s learning. She’s soaking up everything I do, everything I say, the way I respond to every situation she witnesses. “If mommy screams and yells and hits, than it’s okay for me to do the same, but when I do the same I get screamed at and yelled at.” Think about that one for a minute. Wouldn’t that confuse you to pieces if you were a child?”

Taking the extra minute or two to comfort your child when she’s afraid or angry, to explain why hitting and throwing is wrong, to tell them what is expected of them before embarking on the errands, to squeeze in that extra hug and kiss everyday, to focus on what they’re doing right and to make them feel good about it instead of only paying attention to them when they make a mistake or misbehave. Those are the building blocks for an empathic child. I will admit, some children¬†will be way more difficult than others but remember, they’re just children. Children who need compassion, guidance, redirection at times¬†and most importantly, unconditional love.

Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and ask questions that encourage them to think about their feelings and the feelings of others. Model empathy in every way you can and with every opportunity you have.

Books are an excellent tool for teaching empathy to your child. Point out facial expressions and have your child label those feelings. Talk about emotions that are displayed with frowns, smiles, tears. It’s a very useful tool that has worked wonders for me. In fact, my latest book Fred The Frog Finds A Friend is all about empathy and my daughter and I read my book everyday. The beetle is her favorite character and she’ll point to his face because he smiles and frowns in the book and she’ll say “Maaaad, Apppy!” It’s the coolest feeling realizing that¬†a book I wrote is teaching my daughter one of the most valuable lessons she’ll ever learn.¬†Its my¬†hope that other parents will want to share my book with their children as well.

If you¬†and your children had¬†teachable moment that you would like to share I’d love to hear it and I’m sure that other parents would love to hear about it as well!

Dreaming of Doing? Or Doing What is Dreamed

¬† Times are changing, just as they always do. Every decade we have new trends, new revolutionary products that make our lives a little better, a little easier, a little more comfortable. The next generation is born and every new parent looks down at that beautiful little miracle snuggled to their chest and they watch this new life sleeping in their arms and suddenly, visions of the future take hold and this beautiful blank canvas has been stretched onto it’s frame, and over the years it’s like a work of magic, the colors blend, the shapes begin to form and the final picture comes to light. The question remains, will dreams inside this young individual become reality? Will the hopes and goals become a road map to success and to everything they’ve always wanted, or will those dreams turn into a skill that someone else will take hold of and use to make their own dreams a reality because the bravery wasn’t there? The road map was never completed and was left blowing in the breeze? Or maybe they were told it wasn’t possible and society talked the good game and convinced you that you should just go through the motions and work for someone else, because it’s safe, because that’s the conventional and traditional way to live. What happened to that innocent miracle who could do anything, be anybody, change the world?

No matter what anyone tells you, that person is still there.

It doesn’t matter how many years have come and gone, how far you’ve drifted from those days of innocence and the idea that everything is waiting to be discovered that anything is possible. You may think you have lost it. Just asking yourself if you still have it is proof in itself that YOU are still there. Those aspirations are alive, screaming at you from within to open the floodgates so that they may rush out and sweep you away to the life you’ve always wanted. What you saw in your youth is what can still be seen today.

Why is it we look at our children and say “I want my children to have better than what I had, I want them to succeed, they will never end up like I did because they deserve everything this world has to offer?”

As the years go by and your children grow, what do you think is the better picture; a parent or parents who constantly encourage their child to be the best, to do their best, that they can and will succeed because they can. You never made it to what you truly wanted because of some reason, the money wasn’t there, the opportunity never presented itself, or perhaps you got caught up in the current moment and just never had the time to go go go with it. That’s why your children must succeed, you want them to be where you never were, where you couldn’t go, what you dreamed of doing or becoming but didn’t or couldn’t.

OR

As the years go by and your children grow, your children are witnessing daily, the strength and determination that their parent or parents have to work tirelessly, to never give up, to go for what it is they want because failure is not an option. You’ve pushed hard to get there and you’re living the dream you saw yourself living as a child, only now it’s not pretend play. You’re there! You’re living it!¬† You don’t bear down on your children to never give up, to go for it, to be the best, because you don’t have to. Your children are there everyday, they see in you what they see in themselves. They too can and will make it, simply because they grew up witnessing and sharing with you the joy you felt daily, to do what you love, to jump up and scream with delight when another bridge has been built and you’ve made it to the other side.

Families are happier and children more stable when everyone has a sense of peace. If you hate what you do everyday, if you leave at sunrise, dreading the day ahead and sighing in relief when you get home and you’re too burned out to do anything but sit, eat, shower than sleep, is that truly the memories you want your children to carry for the rest of their lives? My mom/dad loved me but was always so sad or mad. They would look at me with this empty gaze, their faces wrinkled with exhaustion from their unproductive lives and beg me to do better, to be better. Now I’m simply here serving up the legacy that I never want to end up like my parent or parents.

There’s one problem.. Where’s the direction? You struggle to climb up that hill, hoping against hope that you can make your parents proud and succeed because they couldn’t or didn’t. Now stop and ask yourself; WHY am I going in this direction? Is it for myself? Is this what I really want? Is this what I want for my children?

In my opinion, this country is is a state of peril because of the decline in numbers of great thinkers, innovators, the ones that had an idea and went with it, not sure where it would take them but they knew what that final result was going to be, because they would not accept anything but that. In other words, our society is falling apart because we are losing our dreamers. They are slowly disappearing and slipping back into the shadows, submitting to any type of income because they feel they have no other choice because there are financial obligations, current events in your life force you to delay it. Before you know it, another decade has come and gone, new innovations have been once again introduced and there’s new trends up and out and for all to see.

Everything is different, but nothing has changed. Is that truly what you want to leave behind as your legacy? Or do you want to say the hell with it. I want this so bad, I need for this to happen, I want to make it. I want my life to mean something and most importantly, I want my children to look at me and then themselves and tell themselves every single day that they can be anything, do anything, make a difference, change the course of history in whatever way they can contribute.

I can give you a list fifty miles long of people that have done just what I have described. To be something or someone great doesn’t mean you have to be part of the elite class, to be rich, powerful and famous. Power corrupts and the elite see everyone else as sheep. To be great is to be what you’ve always wanted to be.

Maybe it’s owning a business, maybe it’s service to others with your vision at the forefront. No matter what it may be, it’s the world you want to live in, the life you want to live. Money and power only get you as far as a number on paper, maybe a statistic. To have financial freedom IS the American Dream and it is my hope that everyone can and will find a way to achieve it. Whether it’s owning a Lamborghini or a Chevy as a reward for your hard work and determination, it’s your dream.

Reach down deep inside yourself. Resurrect that child who is still in there and pull those dreams back out onto the table. To accomplish those dreams consists of a simple formula, just start doing something to make that dream a reality. Start that business plan and begin making the plans to execute the formula. Write that first book, build that house, find that niche. But you have to start doing it to start seeing it. Don’t just read this, feel empowered and then check your email and forget about what you just read. Please just go out there and give it everything you’ve got. Your children will thank you, your friends will thank you and society will thank you.

Once you make it happen, you will be proof that anything and everything is possible. The word will begin spreading that we have the power to be who we truly want to be and before we know it, everyone will be doing it.

Step outside, look up at the moon, gaze into the sky, find that child within. Remember what it is you truly wanted. “When I grow up I want to be __________.”

I only ask for one thing; Reach for the stars and never stop.

Now I leave the rest to you.

A Desire to Inspire

¬†I’m asked by a lot of people why I chose to write children’s books. Everyone has a story to tell, thoughts to express, desires they could only reveal while wearing the masks of their alter egos. In a nutshell, everyone is born to express something in some form or fashion.

¬†Coming to the realization that children’s books was the place for my talents wasn’t a fast or easy to find answer. I’ve been an artist since I gained the motor skills to finger paint, I’ve considered myself a writer since the fifth grade when I had to write a daily journal entry in my English class and discovered the sheer enjoyment and release that writing brought to me. By putting my bright green pen on a sheet of notebook paper and transforming a one line assignment on the chalkboard into a full page story, full of twists and turns, emotions and color was exhilarating for me.¬† Honestly, I enjoy living in that fantasy world that’s in my head. To take that journey that whisks me away from reality and into the perfect world where I create my own utopia, that’s all mine and that I can escape to is just one hundred percent freedom to me.

 I have been bringing my perfect world out for years into my paintings and short stories. I never released my short stories to anyone, but my paintings are out there for all to see. I had always dreamed that someone would take a look at one of my paintings and have trouble looking away. I wanted my paintings to become an escape for others. One look at the bright and bold colors that I always use would suddenly create an explosion inside of you, bringing to the surface that fun and imaginative side of you that is innocent, fun, unafraid to do whatever it may be that makes what seems unreachable suddenly so easy to obtain. I wanted to give the dreamers like myself the inspiration to dream and do, all at the same time.

¬†All of that may sound odd to you, but to me it’s natural. It’s who I am, who I will always be. I’ll always be the woman who looks at someone or something and sees potential for success, for freedom. If you want it, charge! Go for it, let nothing hold you back from reaching those stars that you stare at night after night, yearning for the formula to success so that you may feel free to live the way you’ve dreamed of living. I’m not just talking from a financial standpoint, that usually ends up being the reward for your bravery, determination and hard work of turning those dreams into a reality. I’m also talking about reaching deep down inside of yourself and discovering what you truly want to do with this one life you’re given. For some people, it’s not easy to figure out. For others, that answer has always been sitting on the surface, poking at you, making you feel horrible everyday that you ignore it. We are all meant to do something great, to be someone great. It all boils down to whether or not you swallow that lump in your throat, and forge ahead into the unknown, stopping at nothing to bring that dream into the real world and to transform it into reality, into your life, into who you are and becoming the definition of you, what you do, what you’ve made happen for yourself.¬†

¬†I’ve painted, I’ve done photography, I’ve been a vocalist in a band, I’ve made custom clocks. I love doing anything art related. Vibrancy, color, light. I love it all.

¬†As much as I love art, it never truly clicked. I felt like it wasn’t truly what I was meant to do with my life. Something was missing.

¬†Then my daughter was born. I’ve never been someone who stops doing what they love, but with my husband being a truck driver and no family living in the same city, I was usually on my own taking care of¬† my daughter. After what felt like an eternity of no new artwork I found the time. There was something missing in our living room. We had furniture and decor, but there was nothing that really brought the room together. I realized that I needed to do an acrylic painting of squares on a canvas and hang it up on the fireplace in the corner. That would bring all the colors and theme of the room together!

 My daughter was four months old at the time. I figured out how to do it. She would wake up for about an hour, eat, play for a bit and then sleep for two hours or so. Her schedule at that age was very predictable. So I unwrapped a dusty canvas that was tucked away in the closet, set up my paints and easel on the living room floor so I could keep an eye on her napping in the boppy pillow on the couch and got to painting!

 What usually took me a day ended up taking me two weeks. I was so happy when I finished the painting and it still hangs proudly above the fireplace. That was the last painting I made.

¬†As my daughter grew I was reading more and more books to her on a daily basis. I was almost obsessed with those books I was reading to her all the time. Her reaction to the rhyming, the characters and especially the bright colors was fascinating and insatiable to me. Then it hit me. I love writing, I love drawing and painting, I love to inspire. Oh my gosh! Children’s books!

¬†It was like a perfect harmony for my skills and abilities. Why hadn’t I thought of it sooner? Well, before my daughter was born I hadn’t picked up a children’s book since I was, well, a child!

 I got to work right away, writing fun poems, dreaming up the perfect character that would compliment the story lines. I felt like I had been doing this forever. I felt at home. Yes, this is it. This is what I was meant to do.

 I thank my daughter everyday for being the answer to my dreams. She was the key to my destiny and I never would have imagined that!

¬†My dream, my goal is for the books I write and for the characters I create to inspire other children. If I can bring those big smiles to every child’s face who sees my books, who reads my books, I will feel like the richest woman in the world, even if I don’t make much doing it. Strange isn’t it? I don’t dream of making millions from my books. I dream of my books inspiring children to awaken that creative side of themselves, to laugh, to question everything on the page, to learn new words, shapes, colors. If I can make that dream a reality, I will be the most successful person in the world.