Castles of the Swamp

We just got back yesterday from a three day camping trip. We stayed in Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring. It was beautiful and a delightful exchange for the busy pace we have kept around here lately. We had such a great time just hanging out together. I couldn't resist sharing a few pictures with you. This particular spot just seemed to provoke my sense of whimsy. I could almost see fairies and gnomes peeking out from behind those cypress knees and ferns! You can view the rest of the photos on my flickr account.

The Plate

Wow! What a whirlwind I've been in. We had a great Christmas. The girls and I got together with my mom a few days before to make Christmas goodies. It has been our tradition for many years now and is something we all look forward to. Both my family and my husband's family live in the area, so Christmas

day is always full of adventure, food, and gifts. My most treasured gift this year was the antique plate my husband bought me. I collect antiques and one of my plates had broken beyond repair earlier this year. I guess part of the reason this gift is my favorite is because I know the amount of time and effort it took him to find just the right one to replace it. I'm curious. What was your favorite gift this Christmas?
For those of you who like to listen to music while on the radio, here's an interesting site I found on Molly's blog site. You can tailor the music you want to listen to. I hope you all had a great time with your family this Christmas. I'll be posting about what I've been up to soon!

Merry Christmas!

My family is getting ready for the Chrsitmas season. Go here to see what we've been up to! Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

I was sent an email today about an incredible opportunity for children here in Hillsborough County. United Way and the Imagination Library Hillsborough County Partnership launched an early literacy initiative to put books in the hands of young children, helping prepare them for kindergarten. Hillsborough County’s kindergarten class of 2011 – infants born on or after September 1, 2006 are eligible to participate in the program. All you have to do is register your child and they will receive one free hardback book per month till age five! Parents can call 813-272-5017 to register their child.

Put your best foot forward!

It has become a frequent joke in class about who I rank higher than. To date, I have moved up the ladder past Mary Poppins, Minnie Mouse, and even Santa. It's funny to me to be compared to fictional characters by my students, but it is also an honor to be in such good company on the list! :-)
I will never forget when my oldest daughter was about 2 years old. It was the first time that I really could see that I had achieved "hero" status in her eyes. I wished I could have bottled that moment and drank it up over and over again. Ironically, it was all because of some silly finger play I had just done with her. Yet, so often that is how it is. The simple or silly things in life, that may go unnoticed by everyone else, have somehow transformed you in the eyes of that one person.
Children will grow, and, as they do, their heroes will change. I may not always rank as high on their list, but I know one thing for sure. I have left my mark and helped to shape a life, and so will you! So put your best foot forward. You never know who might be watching or where you are on their list.


I was in Wal-Mart the other day and observed an encounter between a mother and an older gentleman in one of the aisles. She had a toddler with her, and he had commented on how cute her daughter was. As she thanked him, she began coaxing her child to "tell him what a cow says!" "What does a cat say?" I chuckled at this all to familiar scene. I guess I found it amusing because I have done it with my own children a million times. But why? Why do we feel compelled to make our children "perform" for people?
A toddler will develop a natural sense of pride in his accomplishments. This sense of pride is an important part of emotional development and helps him develop a healthy self-esteem as he gains independence. I loved watching my children grow and learn things, and I loved sharing that with other people. Children really do say and do the funniest things. However, I do think we have to be careful that our celebration of their accomplishments is not perceived as pressure for perfection. This will only lead to unhealthy self-esteem and feelings of perfectionism.
That's one of the things I love about my Kindermusik classroom. There's no pressure to perform the task a certain way. Children are free to explore at their own pace and celebrate the rich diversity in ability and creativity.