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Have you ever worked with puppets? Or performed in a play? Then we may have the perfect job for you.

We recently published The Undercover Kids, a book for kids from 4th to 6th grades. We encourage kids to write and submit their own stories. As part of this program we are going into schools this fall with our author Gloria Smith Zawaski to introduce The Undercover Kids book series.

Our program will include large puppets and we are looking for someone to come with us to local schools in the Hudson Valley with our puppets Katie and Jake.

If you are interested or know of someone contact me, Terrie Goldstein, at publisher@excitingread.com.

We are delighted to invite bloggers to join our site and blog topics that are of personal interest.

 We are asked how often you should blog. As often as you like is the answer, but the more often you blog the more times people will return to read your information.

 It is important to note that a blog is not an article. An article is a one-way conversation – you share information. A blog, when successful, is a two-way communication – you state an idea and other add to your ideas. In a blog, when done well, the whole is better than the original blog because additional information has been added.

 Here are some blogging tips

  1. Make each blog 150 to 200 words, no more.
  2. Include your main points up front;
  3. Use sub-head in sections of your blog to make the piece easy to read.
  4. Use short paragraphs
  5. Create a blog using lists like:  3 Best Ways to…,  How to find…., Best Resources include…
  6. Develop a catchy headline (If you need help with this let us know)
  7. At the end of your blog elicit response from your readers. Ask a question, like “What resources would you suggest?” or “How did you find…” You want to encourage people to respond to your information.
  8. Last, when people respond to your blog you should respond to the blogger. That will encourage them to come back.

 If you would like to blog on our site, send an email to customerservice@excitingread.com. Include the name of your organization (if you want to do it as an individual, just give us your name.), the address, phone number, the topic you would like to blog about, and the email you will be blogging from. If appropriate, we will invite you to blog through WordPress, which is the blogging site we are using. When you get your invitation, you will be asked to sign up for your own blog or for a blog name only. Sign up for a blog name and then let us know when you have completed the setup. We will then include you on our site as a contributor. Our blog administrator is notified of all blogs and posts them.

 Do you have blogging tips that you think should be added to this list?

By: Terrie Goldstein, Publisher  Orig. Date: 12/20/2007

Do you ever fly off the handle when you get frustrated?

I remember when my kids were younger and I took my first job. I thought I had everything perfectly arranged for my kids after school care. Then the first snow came early and it came with a vengeance. Schools closed early. Buses were late. Nothing worked right. When I got home I stomped up and down the stairs in frustration not sure where to turn.

Luckily I had two older neighbors who lived close, one across the street, the other behind our house. Their grandchildren lived far away so they adopted my kids. I could call them and they would be there when the boys came home, whether it was early or late.

Now that my boys are grown with their own children, I look at the young parents in the supermarket checkout line. They are rushing to pick up their kids from school and then they are off to the supermarket for food for dinner. The kids want candy, cookies and everything that will ruin their appetite. Mom screams, “No. You can’t have that” and her child cries.

I often say to myself, “What should I do?” I usually keep life savers and silly erasers in my pocketbook for when I take care of my grandkids, but I know kids are taught not to take anything from strangers.

Now I try a simple solution. I turn to the mom and say, “Sometimes it’s just a bad day. Is there anything I can do to help?” Most times, it breaks the tension in the air and things calm down.

With our severe slump in the housing market resulting in a credit crisis, Wall Street is trying to determine if we are in a recession, where it costs more to buy less. According to Alan Greenspan, who headed the central bank for 19 years, growth in the current October through December period is expected to have slowed to a feeble pace of just 1.5 percent, or less.

If things get tougher, you will see more frustration on the supermarket checkout line. Just remember a few simple lines: “Sometimes it’s just a bad day. Is there anything I can do to help?”

By: Terrie Goldstein, Publisher  Orig. Date: 12/13/2007

My husband and I love going to the movies. In fact, for the past year we designated Friday as movie date night. We look at the newspaper or go online and review what’s fun and what’s not.

We saw Enchanted. I loved it. My husband slept. I happen to enjoy the fantasy of a good Disney story. There is a great scene in Central Park with dancing, singing and a cast of 1,000s. (Well maybe not that many.) It left me feeling good about the world.

This morning I spoke to my grandson on the phone. We talked about his view of Enchanted. “I really like the movie, grandma,” he said. I reminded him that he didn’t like the witch. “She wasn’t a witch, grandma. She was the queen.” “And what about the serpent,” I asked. “That wasn’t a serpent. It was a dragon.” So I guess I stand corrected.

Last week we saw the Golden Compass. I never read Phillip Pullman’s trilogy and didn’t realize the controversy it stirs. Many catholic clergy are so incensed by the Pullman’s books that they warned parents not to take their children to see this movie. I actually agree with them but not because of Pullman’s atheistic view of the world, but it really is not a children’s movie although it is about children. It tells the story about a world that is blocked off from other worlds that exist and how a young girl will make a difference. The script was fair. The animation graphics were great. The young heroine is a starlet to watch. I enjoyed the movie enough that I took the first book out of the library. It’s an interesting read.

I am waiting for a holiday blockbuster but it hasn’t arrived yet

I met some friends for lunch and, of course, I’m late. I am in the second car stopped for a stop sign and the guy in front of me is just not moving. OK, so there is some traffic coming but give me a break. He could have made the turn. I sit. And then sit some more. It is only then I realize that my friendly car in front of me is on his cell phone. Apparently, we are not moving until he has finished his Gettysburg Address. In the holiday spirit, I sit patiently and wait. We finally move.

I wish more of us realized that driving requires our full time attention. I use to commute to Albany three days a week. I loved the time alone to listen to books on tape. After a while, I realized that I became so mesmerized by the story I was no longer truly concentrating on driving. At one point I actually passed my exit. I no longer listen to tapes. I do resort to singing rousing good tunes. In fact, now if you pass me on the road you may hear my rendition of “Georgia On My Mind.”

So please reserve your cell phone talk for non-driving time because the results of not doing that can be deadly.

Why when there is a line out the door for the bathroom at the local restaurant or theater it is always a women’s bathroom? I understand that closed bathroom stalls take up more room than urinals, but maybe there is more going on.

I remember that when I was pregnant with my boys, knowing where the location of the closest bathroom was a clear priority. Many years later, as a runner, I always brought several sets of underwear with me because I was concerned about urine leakage when I ran. It’s not something we talked about but I imagine it was a concern for many of my friends as well.

I remember when Bob Dole came out of the closet admitting he used Viagra, I wondered if women would finally feel comfortable talking about this problem of urinary incontinence that many of us have experienced throughout our lives.

Recently I spoke to Dr. Daniel Katz, at Premier Medical Group. “The biggest misnomer is that it is alright to be incontinent,” says Dr, Katz. “The fact is that there is plenty that can be done to treat it.” According to the doctor this is a medical condition that is under-reported and under-treated even though it affects many women’s quality of life.

During the interview I was impressed with the number of treatments that are available to mitigate or eliminate urinary incontinence, from simple exercises to InterStim, which Dr. Katz calls a pacemaker for the bladder.

The first step toward relief is to see a doctor who is well acquainted with incontinence to learn what type you have. A urologist specializes in the urinary tract, and some urologists further specialize in the female urinary tract. Gynecologists and obstetricians specialize in the female reproductive tract and childbirth. A uro-gynecologist focuses on urological problems in women. Family practitioners and internists see patients for all kinds of complaints.

Have you ever realized that you were going to sneeze and crossed your legs hoping for the best? Maybe it is time to take urinary incontinence out of the closet and begin seeking help.

This continues to be a very hectic time for me, especially in business. A number of employees moved … one went back to school, one moved to another location and one moved to a different company. So we are hiring. And then we are creating a new online community source for you, our current readers of both Hudson Valley Life and Hudson Valley Parent magazines.

Our Hudson Valley Life site will be unveiled at the end of this month. We continue to stretch ourselves, always seeking the best story, finding the greatest places for you to visit and researching what’s hot and what’s new in the region.
But as I sit at my desk on Saturday morning, side-by-side with two of my staff, I get a call. “Hi grandma. It’s me.” That’s my two-year-old granddaughter giving me an early morning hello. My face lights up and I smile.

               “What are you eating?” I ask. 
               “Strawberries.” 
               “How many did you eat?”  
               “One, two, three, four, five, six,” replies Lia.

The world has not changed because of the dialogue between Lia and me, but it means the world to me to listen and watch my son and daughter-in-law bring up another generation that will lead us out of the muck and mire that we find ourselves in.

Recently we learned that our New York governor strayed far from home with a 22-year-old prostitute. My husband and I wondered if he had seen The Bank Job, a true story about a group of amateur thieves who tunneled into the vault of a bank in London’s Baker Street and looted safe deposit boxes of cash and jewelry worth over three million pounds. The story involves murder, corruption and a sex scandal with links to the Royal Family – a story in which the thieves were the most innocent people involved. The sex scandal not only involved the Royal Family but members of Parliament who went to extreme means to keep their names out of the press. It actually worked for the English politicians, but not for our now-ex-governor.

I am not sure why I am so disgusted with this man. It is not like he did anything that others have not done before him. Many political leaders come to mind: Governor Rockefeller, President Kennedy and our very own President Clinton. Maybe I liked Eliot Spitzer’s no nonsense style, his sense of independence. I always hated back room politics and I thought that this new govenor would change some of that. Also his attitude toward the deveopment of upstate New York while supporting the downstate economy make sense. It was time we continued to support downstate and New York City, which is the hub of our state, while not ignoring the needs of our upstate residents. Then he found a call girl more enticing than the needs of those who elected him. When did he lose his focus? Does power always corrupt?

We are at war but not just in Iraq but here at home. We are at war with ouselves. We have lost the true meaning of what life is all about. We are social animals who should remember that each individual is capable of achieving great things. Now let’s get to it.

Find out how kids are getting on track for standardized testing

It was early Saturday morning – one of the coldest days of the year and the school parking lot was filled with cars.

Thanks to the efforts of staff at South Junior High in Newburgh, parents and their kids, teachers, support staff and school administration got together to discuss the upcoming English Language Arts (ELA) standardized testing coming up.

“We want to make sure we are connecting with parents,” says Assistant Principal Mike Ragusa. Ragusa had come up with the idea to bring parents and teachers together in an informal setting to discuss test taking and how their kids are doing. “I thought it important to make a personal connection,” says Ragusa. After discussing the program with Principal Edward Mucci, it was decided to link the program to one of the upcoming standardized tests.

The hook was breakfast for this Books-n-Breakfast event, but much more was going on. Parents and teachers sat around over pancakes, eggs and coffee discussing the upcoming tests and their kids. Who could resist the smell of sweet syrup over pancakes? It helped breaking down any barriers that might inhibit communication. It opened up the dialogue.

Ragusa says that the school makes every effort to let parents know about what’s going on in the classroom. “We send home flyers, have a newsletter and placed articles and announcements in local papers,” say Ragusa. “But some parents still don’t know about the programs we offer.”

Ragusa asked members of his seventh grade teams to identify four to five kids from each team who would benefit from their parents attendance to this program. Once the names were submitted, Ragusa got on the phone to make personal contact. “I was able to get a commitment from half of the parents who guaranteed they would come.”

Ragusa was proud of the effort made by support staff and teachers that made this event a success. Will they do this again? “Maybe close to the end of the year,” says Ragusa. “It’s a lot of volunteer work on behalf of staff.”

Mike Ragusa’s Tips for Parents

  • Know when your kids are taking tests.
  • Follow-up and ask how things went.
  • Check on homework assignments even if done in school.
  • Get a class syllabus so you know what to expect from your child.
  • Make sure your child goes to school prepared: breakfast in the morning, notebooks and pencils, and homework completed.
  • Any questions ask your child’s teacher.
  • Be involved.

 

Terrie Goldstein is publisher of Hudson Valley Parent and Hudson Valley Life magazines.

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