Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Gramma Travels

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope
                                  -- Maya Angelou

Near Somerset, PA

Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Laural Highlands Hiking Trail

Farm and sky for as far as the eye can see in Northwestern Ohio

The joy of crossing that last state line

Awake and on the road many hours before dawn's first light.  Walked the dog, got gas, and watched the sunrise near Somerset, PA. Drove out of Maryland, the length of both Pennsylvania and Ohio, and most of Indiana, in order to reach my destination of love.

My precious, precious grandbabies. Nothing but love. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Author Dawn Lesley Stewart

I enjoy books. I enjoy reading good books.  It is always a bonus when I find good books in unexpected places.

I found good books, and their author, unexpectedly on a writing site that is described as "macro-blogging" and a "social-ecosystem".  To me, that translates to posts that consist of socializing, blurbs about people's lives and daily living, and opinion pieces.  I don't really read that site to find published books to add to my to-read list.

On that site, I follow the posts of a woman who quilts. I enjoy reading about her quilting activities because it reminds me of my grandmother who was an avid quilter.  I was surprised when I followed the link in her profile to a site that lists her published books. It was exciting to find that I've been trading comments with someone who is published.

Dawn Lesley Stewart has published a children's book and a fantasy novel. I have now read them both.

photo courtesy of Amazon
Harriet's Horrible Hair Day.  This is a tale of Harriet's unruly hair. The adventures that her brother and sister take her on in order to tame the wild curls made me laugh. The vocabulary and sibling dynamics were age appropriate. A child's focus on bothersome hair is something we probably all could tell a story about. I kept waiting for the scissors to come out.  Fortunately, the hair problem came to an end without a pair of shears. The illustrations by Michael P White are imaginative and beautiful. 

photo courtesy of Amazon
Mist-Seer. This is a well-written and fast-moving fantasy novel. Fantasy is not typically my favorite genre as some authors have trouble tying up all of the loose ends in a way that makes sense to me. But this story about Lacee, Tyler, and Maddox rang true to me even though it was fantasy.  Lacee can see into the past via touch.  Tyler has ownership of a tar-tung. And Maddox, he has his own unique set of problems.  

It was unclear what time period the story was set in.  The mode of transportation were wagons drawn by beasts and apprentice stable boys cared for these beasts. I felt as though the story occurred centuries ago. And yet, precious gems and time travel give the story a futuristic flavor.  The author does a great job of creating this world that draws you in so deeply that you don't question it.  I felt as though I've always known what a tar-tung is. And as though I've ridden in a wagon drawn by a willa beast. 

If you are looking for a whimsical children's book or an entertaining fantasy novel for yourself, I recommend these books to you.  Thank you Dawn Lesley Stewart for entertaining me.

Disclaimer: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Amazon products. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Review of McElligot's Pool

"Oh, the sea is so full of a number of fish, 
If a fellow is patient, he might get his wish" -- Dr. Seuss
McElligot's Pool photo by Amazon
McElligot’s Pool is a wonderful story that was written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss in 1947. While I love everything I know about Seuss and his books, I especially love this story. The magnificently optimistic Marco takes me with him on his fishing adventure.

The Facts
  • Theodor Geisel was born on March 2, 1904.
  • Dr. Seuss is his pen name.
  • And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street was his first book published, in 1937
  • A character named Marco appeared in that first book
  • Marco made his second appearance in 1947, in McElligot’s Pool.
  • McElligot’s Pool is dedicated to Theodor’s father “The World’s Greatest Authority on Blackfish, Fiddler Crabs and Deeged Trout.”
McElligot’s Pool was written in 1947 and was the sixth book written and published by Seuss. I learned today that this is the first book that Seuss used watercolors to create the illustrations. Due to concerns about cost, Random House decided to publish the book half in black and white, and half in these watercolor illustrations.
The Feelings
I have always enjoyed this book. Marco sits on the bank of the pond, hopeful, with his fishing pole. I feel warm, comfy, and dreamy when I read the story of the little boy informing the naysayer that there just might be...
I can remember times fishing with my father, at a very early age, hanging my head over the side of the row boat, imagining the things that may be lurking under the surface. At times I imagined fun and fantastical things, other times I imagined things that made me fearful. But I always imagined.
I loved the times my dad let me go with him fishing. It was an interest we shared. And it was the thing that children crave so much, not necessarily the fishing but the time given from an adult.
As an adult, I realize I have learned a few lessons.
I have learned that it is important to give my time to a child. I know that imagination is a beautiful thing, and I attempt to nurture creativity. Finally, and most importantly, I have learned that although it has become more difficult to ignore the naysayers, I should continue to ignore them, because it just might be...

For more Dr. Seuss 

 The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss was published in 1995. It is a short, coffee table book that displays the previously private artwork of Theodor Geisel. At the time of this writing, this book is rated with 5 stars on Amazon and is highly recommended.

Dr Seuss's Beginner Book Collection contains five of my favorite beginning reader books.  I especially look forward to reading Red Fish, Blue Fish and Hop on Pop to my grandson. The other stories included are: Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and Fox in Socks

Dr. Seuss books will never lose their appeal. What a great way to spend time with children, creating memories and enjoying the fantastical lands of Seuss.

Disclaimer: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Amazon products. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Days You Wish Would Never End

Wordless Wednesday

Linked to ABRACABADRA for Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

Photo by Dawn Rae. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: In affiliation with and, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPoster or Amazon products. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Dawn Rae taken with my Sony a37

Linked to ABRACABADRA for Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

Photo by Dawn Rae. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: In affiliation with and, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPoster or Amazon products. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gifts for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

I work with kids at a special education school, grades K to 8th. I am a therapist. Over the years, I have had quite a few experts tell me what to use in my play and work with the kids, especially the children on the autism spectrum. Sometimes the experts are right and sometimes they are wrong.  As usual, it is really more productive to learn from the true experts: the children.

These kids let me know what the most popular toys are in any given year.  I have noticed that the kids on the Autism Spectrum tend to gravitate toward the same items no matter how they differ in their behaviors and symptoms.  While most any child (and some adults) would like these gifts, I thought I would share with you the things that are preferred by the kids on the spectrum. While other items have been trendy and have come and gone, this list has been unchanged for the past two or three years. 

Fuse Beads

When I worked with older children and families, I had never heard of "fuse beads".  I came to this school to work and fuse beads were the singular most popular item. It is a great activity for children and adults to do together.  I allow the child to do all of the building of the item while I gather the colors of beads they will need. And clearly, I do all of the ironing.

Fuse Beads Kit photo by Amazon
If you aren't familiar, as I wasn't, let me summarize briefly.  Fuse beads come in many brands. The name brand is Perler.  I have had not good experiences with the off brands, so I stick with Perler. These little plastic beads are placed on a sort of pegboard.  When the design is what the child wants, wax paper is used to cover the plastic beads while ironing over the item. The plastic beads melt slightly and glue the item together.  You flip the item over, use another wax paper

Required items:  The beads, the pegboard, the wax paper that is usually included, and an iron (not included)

Suggestion play (especially with spectrum kids):  I use paper plates as trays to hold and sort the beads.  I ask the child to pick a sample of the needed colors, we name that color, and put the sample on a plate. I pick the colors out while the child uses what I've gathered to make the item.  I always do the ironing and never let the child touch the item while it is still warm.  This is one activity that can help kids learn to loosen some of their rigid play. For example, if a child initially allows only one color on the plate at a time, the adult can test those limits over time by putting two colors onto the plate at a time, and so on. 

Fuse Bead Complete Kit photo by Amazon 


MineCraft is an online and computer game that all of the children love.  I find that my kids on the spectrum, young and old, gravitate to this game even more so than the other children.  The kids play every chance they get. Some of the older children spend time drawing the animals from the game and many of the children have me look up Fuse bead patterns of the characters and items so they can make them.

If your child already has access to the game, consider purchasing the handbooks.  Even our non-readers happily crack these books open and spend a lot of time "reading".

Required Item:  The game and matching game system or a computer to play the online version.

Suggestion for play:  Take time to let the kids show you what they've built or how far along they are in the game. I especially love the animals.  

Mincraft Game for Xbox 360 photo by Amazon

Minecraft Handbook photo by Amazon


There are many sites that have great lists of the Lego kits for sale. Legos seem to never lose their appeal. My children had Legos and I still secretly hope that children will choose the Legos when they come to my office for therapy.  The imagination can run wild with Legos.  And the blocks can help with fine motor skills, dexterity, frustration tolerance, and other skills.  While the large kits can get quite expensive, there are Legos in every price and age range needed. 

Lego with Minecraft Kits  as seen on Toy and Game World

Lego Planes and Helicopter Kits as seen on Toy Treasures

Inexpensive Lego Kit photo by Amazon
Lego Basics Kit photo by Amazon 

Hoberman Sphere

The Hoberman Sphere is a ball of sorts that starts at 9.5" tall and expands to 30" tall ball.  There are latches that can easily be operated by any of the children on my caseload.  They love opening and closing it, latching it open and crawling through.  I have been concerned about the moving parts and little fingers, but for some reason, no one has gotten pinched. 

Hoberman Sphere photo by Amazon 
Suggested Play:  Latch it open and identify a section. The child locates that opening and crawls into the ball.  Then identify a different section and the child crawls out of that section.  Our ball has different colored sections, so we call out a color.   You could just point at the sections if you can't identify sections by color.  If you are brave enough, let the child call the colors as you crawl in and out.

Hoberman Sphere photo by Amazon

Tents and Tubes

The children at our school, especially the children on the Autism spectrum, love small places to hide or to hang out.  They love tubes and tents.  These tubes and tents are appropriate for indoors and allow the children to have "fort" type of play in their room or playroom.

Suggested Play and Use:  sit outside of the "tent" and read to them while they are inside.  Let them "hide" inside in order to discuss things.  Use the tent as a safe place for them to go for "time out".  

Play Tubes photo by Amazon

Play Tent photo by Amazon

The Best Gift of All

Of course, your time and attention is the best gift you could give any child.  That is both my opinion and the opinion of the experts; the children.

Written by Dawn Rae 
Disclaimer: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content 
writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Amazon products. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Best Gifts for Jeep Lovers

My Jeep on Assateague Island, MD
Is it wrong for a mature lady to love a Jeep as much as I love my Jeep? I really, really love that gorgeous orange machine. 

I love it in Western Maryland at Green Ridge Forest.  I love it on the beach at Assateague Island. Isn't that the best kite holder you've ever seen in your life?  I even love it parked outside of my window at work.

And while I'm typically a fairly modest kind of gal, all I can think about are topless summer days. 

If you know a Jeep lover and are planning to shop for a gift for them this season, I've made you a shopping list to choose from.  I'm sure you'll find something here.

Jeep Wrangler slush mats photo by Amazon
My birthday came soon after I bought my Jeep.  I was given these Jeep slush mats for a birthday gift.  I loved these as a birthday gift.  That was several years ago and these mats show no wear. Yet they catch all of the sand, dirt, mud, slush, and snow that I drag into the Jeep.  These are awesome front floor mats. I highly recommend them.

My newest Jeep accessory is my kayak. Yes, a kayak.  If you are afraid to haul a kayak with your soft top Jeep, you can see my how-to haul your kayak article.  Some folks haul their kayaks sticking out of the back of the Jeep - over the spare tire and back door.  I load my right on top of the Jeep. It isn't difficult at all.

Speed Griip photo by Amazon
Yes! I want a steering wheel cover. We had one on the truck and I definitely want one for the Jeep.  The Amazon reviews show that people are satisfied with this one. And report that it keeps the steering wheel cool.  How many times have you had to gingerly touch that steering wheel after the Jeep has been parked in the sun with the top down?  Besides that, it just looks good.  Maybe I've been a good girl this year and Santa will bring me one. 

There are about 50 more things I could add to this list of gifts for Jeep lovers. And I'm sure you could share about 50 of your favorite Jeep things, but I think I'll end here.  

We sure love our Jeeps, don't we?  Jeep - the best gift of all.

Written by Dawn Rae 
Disclaimer: In affiliation with Zazzle and, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content 
writer who may earn compensation from the sale of Zazzle or Amazon products. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014