Good Music, Brighter Children Blog

A few days ago I shared five children’s books that are perfect to incorporate fun foods. Today is a continuation of five more delightful books. I’ll post the recipes later this week.

Blueberries for Sal045Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

 Synopsis: Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! Sal and her mother are picking blueberries to can for the winter. But when Sal wanders to the other side of Blueberry Hill, she discovers a mama bear preparing for her own long winter.  Meanwhile Sal’s mother is being followed by a small bear with a big appetite for berries! Will each mother go home with the right little one? With its expressive line drawings and charming story, Blueberries for Sal has won readers’ hearts since its first publication in 1948.

 Food: We are in the middle of blueberry season so go and purchase a container of this delicious fruit because there is nothing like eating these amazing little berries that are chocked full of healthy vitamins, minerals and phyto-chemicals.

When our sons were little, I made blueberry pancakes or blueberry muffins for a treat and we munched on them while reading the book.  Last year I found a delicious recipe for blueberry pancakes (Martha Stewart, of course).  There are many fun recipes that include blueberries, (blueberry cobbler, blueberry jam, blueberry muffins) and if you don’t feel like making something with the blueberries—eat them right out of the bag! Blueberries for Sal is a classic and a MUST-read for children—and add the blueberries for a memorable experience!

 Recipe: Blueberry Pancakes (a Martha Stewart recipe)Blueberry Pancakes


Strega Nona Strega Nona By Tomie dePaola   

 Synopsis: Strega Nona — “Grandma Witch” — is the source for potions, cures, magic, and comfort in her Calabrian town. Her magical everfull pasta pot is especially intriguing to hungry Big Anthony. He is supposed to look after her house and tend her garden but one day, when she goes over the mountain to visit Strega Amelia, Big Anthony recites the magic verse over the pasta pot, with disastrous results.

 Food: This story lends itself to eating a scrumptious pasta dish—spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli, fettuccine, etc. Most kids love spaghetti and unless you make the noodles from scratch, it goes together rather quickly. Read the charming story (it was one of our kids favorites) while your pasta pot is boiling away like Big Anthony’s pot. Years ago I took a class to learn how to make lasagna from scratch—including the noodles and béchamel sauce. Although delicious, it was an all-day extravaganza.

Keep in mind that all of the Strega Nona books are delightful and incorporate the use of food or potions—use your creativity and make a fun pasta dish or something from scratch (without the use of magic) while reading this book. Another favorite is: Strega Nona’s Christmas

 Recipe: Pasta Salad (a great recipe for the hot summer months)Pasta Salad


Charlie Chocolate FactoryCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

 Synopsis: Only five lucky children will be allowed inside Mr. Willy Wonka’s famous candy factory and they must have a golden ticket that can be found inside five chocolate bars. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

 Food: Well, you can thank technology, because you can now make your own special chocolate bar labels that will mimic the chocolate bars found in this buyer-beware story! This D.I.Y. project requires you to purchase some Hershey’s chocolate bars; carefully remove the label and then make your own label from several different label programs online. Here is one I found on Pinterest. It is for a Willy Wonka bar and it’s free: Assemble several of these bars AND a golden ticket inside some of them. Then create a game where your children have to “purchase” a Wonka bar and try to “win” one of the golden tickets. Certainly the book is memorable on its own, but adding this fun game takes it to new heights!

Wonka Bar



James Giant Peach  James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

 Synopsis: After James Henry Trotter’s parents are tragically eaten by a rhinoceros, he goes to live with his two horrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Life there is no fun, until James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree and strange things start to happen. The peach at the top of the tree begins to grow, and before long it’s as big as a house. Inside, James meets a bunch of oversized friends—Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybug, and more. With a snip of the stem, the peach starts rolling away, and the great adventure begins!

 Food: This is one of the greatest children’s books ever written! It is amazing on so many levels and has many of the same trappings as a fairytale with the hero, James having to overcome great obstacles to finally reach his heart’s desire. Of course, because this is about an enormous peach—I loved getting fresh peaches for the boys to eat while we read it—the juiciest and the freshest peaches, and you can only find them during the summer months. But, if you can’t find fresh peaches, try peach ice cream or peach jam or even canned peaches (not a great choice, but better than no peaches at all!).

 Recipe: Peach Cobbler. I love peach cobbler—there is nothing quite like it and if you can find some blueberries to add to it—delicious! This recipe is to die for—enjoy!

Gregory the Colorful Eater1044Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat

 Synopsis:Gregory isn’t like most goats. Instead of indulging in delicacies like old shoes, boxes, and bottle caps, he prefers to eat fruits, vegetables, eggs, and fish. Mother Goat and Father Goat are disgusted, and after several attempts to get Gregory to eat like a proper goat, they finally take him to see Dr. Ram. But when Gregory finally develops a taste for flat tires and broken violins, he’s not just eating like a goat—he’s eating like a pig! Will Gregory be able to find a healthy balance before he eats everything in the house?

 Food: In the beginning of this book, Gregory is a pretty amazing example to children of eating good food. Instead of eating sweets, sodas and French fries, he indulges in fruits, vegetables, eggs and fish. Then he starts eating like a piggy goat and the story changes a bit. However, it was still a favorite in our family and we all enjoyed the funny antics of Gregory. This is one of those books where anything healthy should be tried—especially vegetables.

 Recipe: Use one of your family’s favorite recipes here–and let your kids know the history behind the recipe and why it is so special!

 ReadingAgain—these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg—get your creative juices working and come up with more ideas of your own, unique to your family and your traditions!


Sharlene 2014





I love children’s literature! Reading children’s books takes you to faraway places; allows you to vicariously participate in exciting adventures and overcome impossible feats! And you can have all this for a $15-$20 price tag!

 When our boys were young, I loved reading books to them that included food in some way (think: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie). These books became a wonderful family tradition because our added food activities created a double treat.

Here are some of our family’s favorite children’s books and some ideas on how we added food to the experience. I’m discussing five books today and I will post another five other books later next week as well as the recipes.

Stone Soup by Marcia Brown:

Stone Soup

 Synopsis: This story is about three hungry soldiers who outwit the greedy inhabitants of a village into providing them with a feast. It is based on an old French tale.

 Food: My son’s preschool teachers read this book in class and then had each of the children bring a different vegetable from home to make a soup. So, Mark and I had our boys help plant our vegetable garden; pick the vegetables; help make our soup, as I read the book. It was a vegetable soup and included green peppers, beans, carrots and tomatoes from our garden. Later, the soup became a little more sophisticated as we added additional ingredients. This book is a great way to get your kids to eat veggies and to teach them the joys of sharing.

 Recipe: Pasta Fajioli Soup   pasta fagioli


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

The Lion Witch Wardrobe

 Synopsis: Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

 Food: If you have read this book, you will remember Edmund, the White Witch, and Turkish delight. After eating the Turkish delight given to him by the evil White Witch, Edmund loses all desire to help or be with his family. He can only think of his own selfish desires. To make this a memorable moment in our reading, I went to See’s candies and purchased a pound of dark raspberry creme chocolates. I explained to the boys that we were going to pretend we were selfish Edmund and eat the whole pound of candy in one sitting to see how Edmund must have felt. Afterwards, I reminded them that we can’t get full on things we don’t need.  It was a hit!  From that moment on, they called the chocolates “Turkish delight!” I still buy them at Christmas time to everyone’s “delight!”

 Raspberry chocolateRecipe Suggestion: Go to See’s candy and find ONE kind of chocolate that you think is very sweet (the raspberry creme chocolates are very sweet). Remember that Turkish delight was sickening sweet and that is what you want—something that will cause them to feel a bit “woozy” after stuffing themselves with it. Relish this selfish moment!  Btw—there is an actual candy called Turkish delight.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Hungry Caterpillar

 Synopsis: This book is an all-time classic picture book, from generation to generation, and is sold somewhere in the world every 30 seconds! It has been said that “The very hungry caterpillar literally eats his way through the pages of the book—and right into your child’s heart…”

 Food: this is such a fun book for little kids. Put different foods that the caterpillar eats onto plates for each of your children such as a strawberry, a piece of apple, a pear, a plum, a piece of cheese, and a pickle. As you read about each food the caterpillar eats, take a bite of that food. Turn this into a multi-activity: explain to them what that food does for your body. Let your children know that one of the reasons the caterpillar got sick was that he ate too many junk foods such as the cake, ice cream cone, lollipop, cupcake, pizza, and cherry pie and he had to go back to eating something simple like the leaf to feel better. The leaf would be like eating vegetables each day–they help us to feel better.

Recipe: Layered Finger Jell-O. I made layered finger Jell-O and we used cookie cutters and cut them into the various shapes of the food the caterpillar ate; such as a strawberry, an apple and a pear.

Finger Jello


Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham

 Synopsis: “Do you like green eggs and ham?” asks Sam-I-am in this Beginner Book by Dr. Seuss. In a house or with a mouse? In a boat or with a goat? On a train or in a tree? Sam keeps asking persistently. With unmistakable characters and signature rhymes, Dr. Seuss’s beloved favorite has cemented its place as a children’s classic. In this most famous of cumulative tales, the list of places to enjoy green eggs and ham, and friends to enjoy them with, gets longer and longer. Follow Sam-I-am as he insists that this unusual treat is indeed a delectable snack to be savored everywhere and in every way.

 Food: If you are feeling adventurous, go ahead and dye some scrambled eggs green and while you are reading this book, have everyone try this gross concoction!  OR, you can explain to your kids you are having a new food that night for dinner, and like the character in the story—each child needs to try at least one bite. This book is really a wonderful example of how difficult it is to get kids to try new foods (unless it is from McDonalds). It has been said that in order for a child to embrace a new food, it needs to be introduced to them from eight to eleven times! So, the next time you want them to eat a new veggie or meat (Brussels sprouts or liver) read this book beforehand—and at the very least, everyone will enjoy the delightful sing-song rhyme!


If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

If you Give a mouse a cookie

 Synopsis: If a hungry little mouse shows up on your doorstep, you might want to give him a cookie. And if you give him a cookie, he’ll ask for a glass of milk. He’ll want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn’t have a milk mustache, and then he’ll ask for a pair of scissors to give himself a trim…

 Food: It is impossible to read this book without having a bag of chocolate chip cookies nearby to munch on and a glass of milk to drink. So, make this a fun and memorable experience for your kids and bake some chocolate chip cookies and then read the book while you are munching away—trust me—they will forever associate this book with wonderful, warm, and chocolaty memories!

 Chocolate Chip cookiesRecipe: The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World

Just realize that anytime you use more than one of the five senses when reading to your children, that book remains forever in their minds and in their hearts. Stay tuned for the next  five books coming soon!


Sharlene 2014

Fruit Soup 2



4 cups sugar

4 cups water

¾ cups lemon juice

2 pkgs. loose frozen raspberries (they can be fresh)

1 pkg. loose frozen boysenberries (they can be fresh)

2 boxes loose frozen blueberries (they can be fresh)

1 can (#2) crushed pineapple (this can be fresh, cut up)

6 sliced bananas

1 quart ginger ale or other carbonated drink—grapefruit, lemon, etc.



Combine sugar and water and bring to boil to dissolve the sugar.

 Add lemon juice and freeze the entire mixture.

 In another large bowl combine the raspberries, boysenberries, blueberries, pineapple and bananas.

 Just before serving, remove from freezer the sugar/water mixture and add to fruit. It will be somewhat solid but will un-freeze and make the soup slushy.

 Stir in ginger ale.

 Serve with a spoon.



15-20 people



There is a frozen fruit medley available at Sam’s Club. I’ve tried it before and it works perfectly. I’ve also tried to find it at Costco, but they do not carry it. As mentioned, the fruit can be fresh when all the berries are in season–like the summer months. I’ve tried it both ways and it is delicious.


I’ve been making this recipe for our special Christmas Eve dinners since 1982. I got it from my friend, Margaret Miller—an amazing cook!  The boys love it and although it’s really not a soup, (really more of a slushy fruit concoction) we’ve always called it, “Fruit Soup.” It’s a very refreshing recipe and can be used as an appetizer, part of the main meal or as a dessert.  I’ve made this during the hot summer months, during the holidays and years ago when we had the school teachers over for lunch. It’s one of those recipes with many happy memories attached.


Sharlene 2014

Honeycomb on a white background.

A few weeks ago I talked about the problems with sugar so the question remains—what do you replace it with?

 The answer: HONEY!

Here is my experience with honey: I love honey, I cook with honey, and I eat it out of the jar. I have purchased my honey in the past from beekeepers in Utah and from Farmer’s Markets in California and from Honeyville in Riverside, California. At each place, I have purchased raw honey. It is honey that has either been heated at a very low temperature or unheated, unpasteurized, and unprocessed.  It is very thick and the taste of the honey depends on where the bees have pollinated.

My favorite honey is clover (from Utah) and I also like orange (from California). I have also ordered Manuka honey which is a healing honey from New Zealand.  You can purchase this honey from The Synergy Company.

 I try not to purchase honey from the grocery stores because most of it has been heated to high temperatures which destroys the enzymes. First try your local Farmer’s Markets or go online and order from Honeyville. If you have a beekeeper nearby, definitely order from them. Be aware that the cost of honey is rising because bees are disappearing.

Honey has a lot of advantages, but today I want to focus on how it can help your teeth.


 Honey for Your Teeth (a study)

 According to a study conducted by researchers in New Zealand, unprocessed honey with mid-range antibacterial potency can actually protect against tooth decay! “By using average-potency honeys, the growth of bacteria is stopped completely,” says lead researcher Peter Molan, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. “Honey has components that prevent dental plaque from forming.”


 There are three bacterial species responsible for dental caries that were tested in the lab: Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus sobrinus, and Lactobacillus caseii. The researchers found that honey sharply reduced the quantity of acid produced by these bacteria. “It almost cut the acid production down to zero,” says Molan. “Honey also stopped the bacteria from producing dextran, which is a component of dental plaque.” The researchers say that unprocessed honey contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide. The guess is that it is mainly responsible for the unlikely antimicrobial activity of honey.


 The researchers also found that honey can fight inflammatory infections of the gum. Because of this, honey could be used in treating periodontal disease and gingivitis—both inflammatory conditions that result from infected gums. They found that the honey could remove swelling and pain very quickly.

 “Honey has shown fantastic results in healing wounds,” says Molan. “It has good anti-inflammatory components, which clears the infection.” Researchers say that honey producers in New Zealand and Australia have batches of honey tested in the laboratory to identify the samples with high antimicrobial activity. Those types of honey are labeled as “antiseptic” and are available to consumers.

 Marcia Cardetti, director of scientific affairs at the National Honey Board in the United States stated, “Consumers ought to know that honey has this benefit for dental health: Perhaps they can make it as part of their diet.”

So there you have it! Try incorporating honey into your diet–on your oatmeal, on your toast, substitute honey when cooking and eat at least 1 Tablespoon a day for improved health–and your teeth and gums!


Sharlene 2014


What do designers Dolce & Gabbana, composer George Frideric Handel, and royals Queen Elizabeth I and King George I have in common? 

Read on…

Over the July 11-13 weekend, famous Italian designers, Dolce & Gabbana launched their annual Alta Moda collection on the rocky shores of Capri, Italy. Guests traveled by boat or helicopter to this remote island paradise and were warned to wear flat shoes. The designers presented 78 looks starting at $40,000. Every striped and floral dress was a masterful work of art; hand-painted and hand-stitched and accessories  included 18-carat gold sandals and flip flops lined with astrakhan fur.

Unlike Paris’s haute couture shows which draw crowds in the thousands and include writers, editors and celebrities, the Dolce & Gabbana’s “Collezione Capri” was attended by only 250 people to a site reachable only by boat. In previous years, Alta Moda collections have been staged in Mr. Dolce’s native Sicily. This time, Mr. Gabbana greeted people arriving to the island on his 51-meter yacht, Regina d’Italia (“Queen of Italy”) while Mr. Dolce compared working on Alta Moda to reading the classics. 


 The weekend concluded with a riotous party that included fireworks, dancing, and loud singing.

 Ever heard the phrase, “the more things change, the more they stay the same?”   When I read about this exclusive fashion show, I couldn’t help but think about similarities between Dolce & Gabbana and other famous people from history: composer George Frideric Handel, and royals Queen Elizabeth I and King George I of England.

 As far as boats and yachts and parties and clothes and music and fireworks go—it seems that royalty (dressed up as fashion designers, queens, kings or composers) love a party—and an elegant and ostentatious one at that!  Interestingly, the “Collezione Capri” has all the trappings of an event that Queen Elizabeth I and King George I would have attended, or better yet, staged; with the classical music repertoire of George Frideric Handel playing in the background and the queen discussing the classic poets and writers of the day: William Shakespeare and Thomas Wyatt.  

Queen Elizabeth I would have loved Dolce & Gabbana; particularly their Alta Moda collection!  She was a clothes-horse, a fashion trendsetter and would have craved the detailed extravagance of this collection. It is estimated that she owned at least 2,000 pairs of gloves; her fashions were considered outrageous in terms of volume, embellishment and extravagance and she loved ornate dresses in all colors of the rainbow (sound similar to the Alta Moda collection?)

Queen Elizabeth 1  Queen Elizabeth 2

She too owned something akin to a “Gabbana” yacht and on it would glide down River Thames dressed lavishly with her entourage in tow. Elizabeth I was very fond of music and played the lute and virginal (harpsichord) and other instruments. She also felt that dancing was a great form of physical exercise and employed musicians to play for her while she danced (think Mr. Gabbana dancing in a pink wig with his guests loudly singing “Volare”). During her reign, she employed about 70 musicians. No doubt, the flamboyant end-of-a celebration party thrown by Dolce & Gabbana mimicked the parties Elizabeth I threw for the upper echelon of her court.


So how does composer Handel fit in with all this? …

George Frideric Handel was the court composer for King George I of England. He was commissioned by the king to compose music to be played for his extravagant barge  trips down River Thames (in a similar way, the models for the Collezione arrived by boat in dramatic parade-like fashion with music playing in the background). At the king’s request, Handel wrote what he simply called the Water Music.  History relates that when King George heard the music for the first time he was so captivated that he requested it to be played, not once, but three times! I believe that Handel’s music is as elegant as the Alta Moda collection. The intricate patterns found in his music are similar to the intricate patterns found in the Alta Moda collection and both leave one breathless and inspired.  Handel’s music has made an indelible impression on the masses for over 200 years and I have no doubt that pieces from the Alta Moda collection will someday be found in a museum alongside Handel’s music–both recognized treasured art pieces! 

For another occasion, King George I commissioned Handel to write the music to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (an occasion, like high fashion, that would demand a celebration). A huge victory pavilion was built to serve as the place for this event and the spectacular fireworks display. The king, of course, wanted equally spectacular music for the occasion, so he requested that Handel use only military-type instruments and no strings. The fireworks and music took place on April 27, 1749—a mere 265 years before the fireworks concluded Dolce & Gabbana’s  “Collezione Capri” celebration.


Quoting from Bon Jovi’s final stanza of, “The More Things Change,”

“You know the more things change the more they stay the same
The same sunrise, it’s just another day
If you hang in long enough they say you’re comin’ back
Just take a look, we’re living proof and baby that’s a fact.”



If you want to read more about George Frideric Handel; his life and music, refer to my book, Good Music Brighter Children


Sharlene 2014

Nail polish is becoming more popular by the nanosecond and people of all ages are flocking to get their nails painted in the latest styles, colors, gels, patterns, prints, stick-ons, etc.

 However, as we’ve previously discussed, the beauty industry’s first concern is not safety…sad to say. But, the good news is that many new companies are cropping up that ARE interested in safety—in fact their motto is the same as physicians: “first, do no harm.” As a result, they are watching the chemicals they put in their products.

 There are five main chemicals that you do NOT want in your nail polish. These are potentially dangerous and can cause severe nose bleeds, dizziness, headaches and rashes and need to be avoided. They include:

  1. Dibutyl phthalate

  2. Formaldehyde

  3. Formaldehyde resin

  4. Toulene

  5. Camphor


 So you have two choices:

  1. Make your own nail polishes (which is what I will be discussing next week)

  2. Find a company(s) that manufactures safe nail polishes (think “green”).

Today I want to talk about a company that produces nail polish that will not harm your health. It is called, “Nailing Hollywood” and was started by celebrity nail stylist Jenna Hipp. Because of her own traumatizing experiences with nail polishes (severe nose bleeds, headaches, dizziness, etc), she decided to start her own company which includes the avoidance of the five dangerous chemicals just mentioned. Her collection has been very successful. In 2012 she earned several awards including the Genius Award from Elle magazine and best in beauty awards from Nylon and Essence magazines.


 In 2013, Hipp partnered with Costco and became part of the Beauty’s Most Wanted campaign, launching her five-free “What’s Hot Now Nail Collections” in Costco’s around the country. Her latest additions to the collections are “The New Brights” and “The New Moderns.” Jenna Hipp 4

 Hipp’s company, “Nailing Hollywood,” represents the industry’s top talent among nail stylists specializing in celebrities, editorial fashion, advertising and product development. Some of their clients include: Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Kesha, Michele Williams, Demi Lovato, Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Garner.

Here is some contact information regarding Jenna Hipp’s company:

Company: Nailing Hollywood Management, Inc

Owner: Jenna Hipp

Address: 905 Cole Ave.Los Angeles, CA 90038



Instagram: @jennahipp, @nailinghollywood, @beautysmostwanted


Have any of you ever tried Jenna Hipp nail polishes? If so, I would love to hear from you—how you like them and how well they last.

Last, I must say that her nail colors and style to me reflect something a bit more sophisticated than most nail polishes and nail style presentations that I’ve seen. To be quite frank, they remind me of the classy elegance found in classical music. So, while you are getting your nails done with Jenna Hipp nail polish, or while you are polishing your own nails, put on some classical music (see the Resource Section of my book, Good Music Brighter Children for suggestions) and see if your nails don’t reflect more elegance and sophistication, too!


Sharlene 2014

When you hear the word, “camping” does it evoke happy memories of hiking amongst breathtaking flora and fauna, witnessing majestic mountain ranges, drinking from sparkling clear rivers, basking in front of serene lakes, experiencing a woodsy aroma or clean fresh air?

Or does it fill your heart with dread?

 Before I launch into talking about camping, let me just say—today my idea of camping is checking into the Marriott and ordering room service. However, 35 years ago I was forced to think differently…because camping with our kids was a family tradition.

Camping029 My husband Mark is a true outdoorsman. He loves anything related to nature and is a dyed-in-the-wool Boy Scout.  So in his opinion, camping with the kids was a “must.” I reluctantly followed along.  We did have some great times camping and I love the outdoors—I just don’t like having four kids rolling around in the dirt with no running water and no indoor plumbing available.

 Just about every summer included some kind of camping—sometimes it was in a tent, sometimes in a pop-up trailer, and many times at my in-laws cabin in Lake Tahoe (can that still be considered camping?)

Here is the breakdown of our fun in the woods:

Camping028The Tent: by far the most rugged experience. The kids loved it and to add to the “experience” I baked apple pies over a campfire oven (the scent attracted every animal and human within a 20-mile radius). We hiked, fished, ate around a campfire, slept on the hard ground and then repeated the experience the next day. I always brought books to read and games to play when the kids had had enough of the great outdoors. During one camping trip to Tuolumne Meadows near Yosemite, I read the now out-of-print book, Inside My Feet: The Story of a Giant and The Half-A-Moon Inn, and Scary Tales to Tell in the Dark, which added to the backwoods experience. And yes, we saw every animal known to man—black bears, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks and once– a beaver!



On a scale of 1 to 10 here is the breakdown on everyone’ s experience:

Rating by Mom: O—“Exhausting!”

Rating by Dad: 5—“Not that bad, but would have been better if the kids were older.”

Rating by Kids: 10—“Great, loved the dirt, loved peeing in the bushes, loved roasting marshmallows over the campfire, loved seeing the black bear.”


Camping024The Pop-Up Trailer: We rented a pop-up trailer twice and once when I was still nursing Trevor. What compelled us to go camping with a newborn is beyond me—I must have had rocks in my head or been deranged at best. The trailer was okay—I filled up the water tank in the trailer before we left so we had good-ole city water filled with all kinds of chemicals to use on the trip. Still no indoor plumbing, but it was nice not sleeping on the hard ground and the trailer also had a stove, but we still had campfires for the s’mores and hot dogs.  The only problem—two of the kids got sick in the middle of the night—will not tell you what happened.



Rating by Mom: “Still a O—no indoor plumbing”

Rating by Dad: 8—“Nice to have a “bed” and some running water”

Rating by Kids: 10Fun to go in and out of the trailer all day long”


Camping027Cabin in Lake Tahoe: This is what I call camping! A roof over our heads, a real bathroom with a flushing toilet, running hot water, and a comfortable bed.  Actually we loved our yearly outings to Grandpa and Grandma’s cabin. This “cabin” was more like a luxurious house with four bedrooms, a playroom, a Jacuzzi and a deck to play badminton. We took excursions everyday—biking in the woods, fishing (Jason & Ryan each caught a mackinaw on one trip), day-hikes, river-rafting, miniature golfing, visits to the Donner Party Museum, and believe it or not—trips to the bookstore in Reno. We barbecued every night and even roasted marshmallows over a pit. I’m all for camping where you can have the experience of the woods, with some of the creature-comforts of home. We went to the cabin yearly for 20 years. All the boys have wonderful memories of Grandpa & Grandma’s cabin in the woods!



Rating by Mom: 10—“Amazing experience—the best—highly recommend it!”

Rating by Dad: 10—“Well, this isn’t a true Boy Scout experience but great nevertheless!”

Rating by Kids: 20—“Best memories, best time, best experience!”


 So,please share something about your camping experiences—were they good or bad and are they traditions in your home?




Sharlene 2014

KYIV, UKRAINE - NOVEMBER 15, 2013: FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifier game Ukraine vs France at NSC Olympic stadium in Kyiv

For five weeks during June and July people throughout the world were glued to their TV sets watching the 2014 World Cup. It was an exciting five weeks with Germany winning in a tense title match against Argentina. The only goal of the World Cup final was made in the 113th minute of the match with the final score: Germany 1, Argentina 0. This was not a first-time win for Germany—they have won the World Cup three times previous.


There were a couple of things that came to mind when Germany took home the trophy:

 First: Germany is the land of all of my maternal ancestors and my husband’s maternal and paternal ancestors. They are tough people, strong, opinionated and they don’t bend under pressure—in fact, I think many of them thrive under pressure. At least, this is what I’ve experienced with my German relatives. And clearly, these players from Germany understand and hold up under pressure (well…I thought all the teams did).

 Second: To be a player in the World Cup soccer requires you to be an outstanding athlete with a high level of bodily-kinesthetic ability.

 Third: some of the greatest classical composers were born in Germany—Bach, Handel and Beethoven (to name a few).

Bach  Beethoven

So, let’s talk about a couple of these points.

Good Music Brighter Children In chapter seven of my book, Good Music Brighter Children (p 164-166) I talk about The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. This theory has been around for eons, but in 1985 Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University wrote a book entitled, Frames of Mind where he categorized the hundreds of multiple intelligences into 7 categories:

1. Bodily/Kinesthetic

2. Musical

3. Linguistic

4.  Spatial

5.  Logical/Mathematical

6.  Interpersonal

7.  Intrapersonal

Gardner later added two more intelligences: Naturalist and Existential.  He went so far as to say that if you are engaged in music or learn a musical instrument that all of the six other intelligences are developed simultaneously.

 Clearly every player in the World Cup has been blessed with the Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence and have given hours of work and effort to see it shine on the pitch. They are aware of their bodies, have control of their movements, and use their bodies like dancers on a stage or gymnasts on the mat. It is both motivating and captivating to watch.

 Regarding music, interestingly, this particular group of 2014 soccer players has been called the “Ultimate Soccer Rocker Team,” by Michael Leonard of News Lifestyle. Why? Because of their love and involvement with music!  Rather than the classical repertoire, they jive to the beat of groups such as: The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Slipknot, Mastodon, Five Finger Death Punch, to name a few.

 However, many are musicians themselves and their instrument of choice is the guitar. For example:

  • Sweden’s Jonas Olsson is a guitarist and fervent music fan

  • USA’s Alexi Lalas sings and plays guitar in his band, Gypsies

  • Ex-Croatia defender Slaven Bilic plays guitar (his favorite is a red Gibson Explorer) and is a member of Rawbau, a Croatian rock group.

  • England’s left-back Leighton Baines loves his acoustic guitar (which he brought to his Rio hotel)

  • Brasil’s Sandro Raniere Guimarães Cordiro plays guitar

  • Argentina’s Lionel Messi plays guitar and his favorite band is Oasis (he is also considered to be the most gifted soccer player in the world).

  • And last, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele is a guitarist.

Maybe there is something to be said of exercising both fingers and feet—it seems to keep the world’s soccer teams playing in perfect harmony.

 So, what would Bach, Beethoven and Handel say about Germany’s win? No doubt, along with everyone else, they would be dancing and singing in the streets. And I think they would have collaborated in composing a piece of music to honor these gifted athletes. Music with no holds barred and all the bells and whistles blowing—a glorious anthem—a song of praise and honor for a job well done! Bravo Germany!



Sharlene 2014

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