Friday, August 29, 2014

9 Parent Coaching Tips for Battling Math Anxiety

The following article, written by Dr. Margaret M. Desjardins, encourages parents to become involved in their child's educational challenges. This particular article examines Math Anxiety. Dr. Desjardins has a history in education from elementary to college level. She has written several books and is now in the process of writing another. 

Remember this formula:  Confidence +Solid Preparation= SUCCESS
Parents, with high stakes testing here to stay, math is more challenging than it’s ever been before.  Follow these 9 Parent Coaching Tips, and you will have a confident and well prepared child who is more confident of his or her math abilities.

1.       Coach your child to develop a positive Attitude!
One of the most important ways that your child can do better is simply by having a positive attitude.  Don’t let your child sell themselves short by saying things like, “I can’t do math; I am no good at math.” If they believe they can do it, they WILL be able to do math!

2.       Coach your child to ask a lot of questions!
There is nothing embarrassing about asking questions. Your child will not look like a “nerd” to their classmates.  In fact, their classmates  probably want to ask the same questions, but they are afraid to ask! It could be that the teacher is not explaining the math concept fully.  Maybe the teacher can explain the concept in a different way. ASK!

3.       Make sure your child doesn’t fall behind!
Your child is building on a base of math skills and concepts.  If they miss something early on, it gets harder to catch up later.  Also, to take the next level of math courses, your child needs to master the linear concepts to be successful.

Try tutor services-- professional ones, or try a high school student in advanced classes, recommended by the local high school guidance department.  Do not wait until the child is failing. Consider tutoring an investment, and sign them up as an additional booster for math. And keep them in the tutor program.  If they“get it”, the tutors will enrich them. Tutors can keep up by talking to your child’s teacher, and sometimes they will be able to get a copy of their math textbook.  Falling behind can lead to feelings of “why bother?”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Baked Clams

Baked clams do not have to be difficult to make. If you have a Cosco or Sam's in the area, you may find large cans of chopped clams. They are perfect for this recipe and many other recipes like pasta with clam sauce or clam chowder (recipe coming up next week). 
I save the clam shells. After each use, I was them as though I were washing dishes and then freeze them when they are thoroughly dry. They are so easy, I can whip up a batch for appetizer any time!

1          dozen large clams  (chopped in food processor) -  Save shells
1          cup seasoned bread crumb
2          stems & leaves of parsley, chopped
1          tsp. oregano
1          tbs. grated cheese
pepper to taste
½         cup olive oil
1/2       cup clam juice (add as needed for taste and texture).
¼         cup of lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a bowl beginning with chopped clams and then proceed to breadcrumbs and remainder of ingredients (should be moist but not saturated with liquid), and place one tablespoon, loosely, on each clean clam shell.  Spray cookie sheet with olive oil and bake in 375º preheated oven for six minutes.  Adjust oven to broil and leave at broil till golden on top (keep an eye on this). Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An Educated People

I have a dream of an educated population
Who open a book and smile with exhilaration.
Where every race regardless of color or creed
Is able to speak with knowledge on topics of need.

My vision includes the hungry, the rich, and the poor
Promoting education in the home and at the pulpit door.
I see an awakening about the power words can wield 
An understanding of the hunger Words can relieve.

The image is peaceful when discussions arise
Where knives and rifles are placed aside
And issues are debated and no one dies.

In this dream, every individual believes what is true
That the learned mind is fruitful and success will ensue.
They realize that the import of past mistakes
is that they are catalysts for future greats.

A country will not prosper if its people do not understand
That nothing is mightier than the confident, fluent pen.
And that nothing troubles world leaders more
 than the powerful intellect of women and of men.

Mothers must raise their children with a keen understanding
That many of life’s challenges can be explained
As long as intellect is chosen and reason rules the land.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Baby Boomers Still Very Active!


     An article written by James Limbach, a reporter for Washington D.C. suggests that over 85 % of Baby Boomers prepared for retirement and are financially comfortable. This sounds like very good news; however, it also implies that a great number of Baby Boomers are not prepared or ready for retirement. For those who are not financially ready, relax. There are other venues toward achieving financial security.
     U.S. Treasuries are a safe way to invest and secure a “risk-free rate of return.” Though the rate of return is not going to be substantial, it is a much less harmful than investing in stock, which may and usually are volatile. Other and safer investments are in Certificates of Deposit and Unit investment Trusts. If interested view: – article, “Top 10 Investments for Baby Boomers,” written by Ryan Barnes. If this article does not help you, read, “Five Ways to Make Retirement More Secure” by Mark Huffman, a consumer news reporter for Consumer Affairs. His article guides and instructs Baby Boomers on how to spend and save wisely.

     Here’s some help for those Baby Boomers who did not save for retirement, you can always continue working. Check out, “What’s Next,” a list of Baby Boomer jobs compiled by Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin. They list not only possible jobs but also annual earnings for those jobs. These particular jobs are not closed to Baby Boomers; as a matter of fact, many of the careers actually, “employ a high percentage of baby boomers on a combination of three criteria: earnings, projected growth and number of openings.

     We baby boomers continue to be influential in society (we didn’t burn our bras for nothing!). We brought about change then and we continue to bring about change today as in the workforce. We spend more money than any other segment of the population, and we are forever trying new ways to define ourselves.

      I encourage those baby boomers reading my posts to write to me of any other topics they would like to see regarding our generation. Continue those Bucket Lists and please stay active!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Educating Our Children

     School started this week for most states with the remainder following after Labor Day. Some students are anxious, some excited, and some are apprehensive. It does not matter whether they are beginning kindergarten or their first year in college. School can be intimidating. As a Professor of English for the past thirty years, I can say that I too lose sleep a few days before the beginning of the semester. I've learned that it is normal. However, what is not acceptable and should not be normal is that children are going to school hungry.
     How is it that this wonderful country of ours is allowing this to happen? The country that goes out of its way to help other impoverished and starving countries is ignoring its own? What are we as citizens of this country doing wrong? According to the Children's Defense Fund, over sixteen million children are poor. America, whose GDP or gross domestic product is nearly sixteen trillion is guilty of ignoring our poorest!
     Poverty and lack of education go hand in hand. So, what these numbers suggest is that Americans are also doing a poor job of educating our children, so they can heave themselves out of poverty. It is obvious that handing out food stamps or welfare checks are not enough. America needs to do more about educating our own citizens. We teach, "education is power," yet we have legislators who have never taught a class design and legislate educational laws.
     I would love to see a panel of teachers (not legislators or administrators)  in each state that direct our educational goals. We need teachers who are still teaching leading the way. I am tired of hearing, "follow the money," when it comes to educational changes. I want to say, "follow the children." Let's find out what they need, what subjects they should be taught and how, what assessments are important and why. What classes or courses are crucial or not. Teachers have a handle on what goes on in classrooms, and they know what our students need. We must educate in order to elevate, or our country is building on sandy ground.
     Pope Francis has said, "A population that does not take care of the elderly and of children and the young has no future, (sic) because it abuses both its memory and its promise.
     Link to article by CDF: Children Defense Fund

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Elbow Pasta With Artichokes

Artichokes are served as side dishes or as part of a meal in most Italian homes. This is my mother's recipe, so it is simple (like many of her dishes), but scrumptious. 

½     lb. elbows
2           large artichokes
1           cup breadcrumb
½     cup grated cheese
1           egg
2           tbs. water
several leaves of parsley
½    onion, chopped
1/3  cup olive oil for frying
1           cup baby peas
1           cup mushrooms (sliced and cooked)
2           chicken bullions (or two cups of chicken broth)
grated cheese for topping

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Take The Abuse

I wrote this poem after having listened to more than my share of stories from abused women. As a student in college, I witnessed my first case of extreme physical abuse. During my internship for my Masters in Psychology, I listened to many abused women. As a teacher, I see abuse every semester. These women have one commonality, they all believe the man loves them and will never do it again. These women "love" their abusers not the abuse, and I place quotes around the word love because few understand that love never means abuse.

Take the Abuse
If I say I’m sorry, will you forgive me?
What if, I call you names like stupid,
Will you forgive me?
What if I call you ugly and good for nothing,
Will you forgive me?
So, let’s say I come home one day
I’m beat, tired, exhausted
And you don’t have dinner ready
I yell, “Where’s dinner, you lazy bitch?”
Will you forgive me?
What if, one day I arrive drunk
I had a bad day at work
You upset me with your nagging
So, I hit you, badly and break your nose,
Will you forgive me?
Will you forgive me when I bend your arm
Punch your jaw, break a rib, and you’re
Black and blue
Will you forgive me then too?
What if I bring you flowers, beg on bended knee
“Stay one more time – just this one last time”
Will you forgive me?
What will it take, do you think?
For you to finally say,
"I do not forgive."
Remember this:
each time I asked you to
Forgive my sorry ass
I was
each and every time
saying, “ f--- you.”

Monday, August 18, 2014

Baby Boomers: Retirement Doesn’t Have to Mean Retired

I recently learned that retiring does not mean one cannot take on another job and still receive social security. I especially did not know that once an individual reaches seventy years of age, he or she may take on a full time job and continue to receive social security. I was not aware of that one! Unfortunately, not all Baby Boomers can afford to stay home, travel, and do all the fun things they promised to do upon retirement. Though many Baby Boomers are in good financial standing, there are also many who need to work to continue living the life to which they are accustomed. Not to worry, there are many options.

According to “What Baby Boomers’ Retirement Means for the U.S. Economy,” written by Ben Casselman, former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Baby Boomers continue to work past sixty-five, and it’s a good thing because their participation in the workforce increases economic growth.  Another positive outcome for Baby Boomers who continue working is a longer and more meaningful life. Research indicates that the older generation enjoys working because working provides meaning to one’s life as well as an increased sense of belonging. I know several individuals at my own work place who continue to work, albeit part time, because they love what they are doing and their job provides them with self esteem, and it motivates them to be active and productive.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cold Seafood Salad

I don't care what anyone says, there's nothing better than fresh seafood salad. My family enjoys this particular dish as an appetizer or as a meal (serve over pasta instead of greens). As usual, the recipe is simple and fast. You can start cooking the pasta at the same time. Everything will be ready simultaneously. 
Ingredients for two:
16 large shrimp – shelled and deveined
16 large mussels – remove beard and wash (throw away mussels that do not open when cooked).
4 tbs. butter
2 tbs. olive oil
4 cloves of garlic – chopped
½ small onion – chopped
1 celery stalk – remove threads, clean, and chop into small pieces
¼ cup white wine
2 tbs. fresh parsley – chopped                       
¼ tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skilled, place butter, oil, garlic, onion, and celery. On low heat, sauté ingredients till translucent, then add remainder of ingredients. Keep heat on low and toss seafood till cooked and infused with broth. There should be enough broth for ¼ lb. of linguini. Or, break of pieces of crispy Italian bread for dunking! That’s the ticket unless you’re looking to lose weight. If that’s the case, serve over salad mix and forget the bread.

If you have any #seafood recipes you would like to share for our Audience Friday, please send recipe to

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Voyage to America

On the ship everyone was ill but
Alone healthy and walking about
barely seven ~ a baby  ~ really.
Where was I going?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Baby Boomers: Travel

     Most Baby Boomers can be expected to live ten more years than their parents. Many of us have heard the phrase, “sixties is the new thirties,” which suggests that baby boomers not only look younger but also feel younger than their predecessors. 
     Again, it is important to understand that living longer doesn’t necessarily mean living happier, but baby boomers are trying. Oh yes, they are trying. They have invented the bucket list and are determined to live out their dreams. In the interim, some baby boomer couples have been together for well over forty years, so their lives may have become less than passionate. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Yoga: The Way to a Healthier You


     My daughter practices Yoga and swears by it. She began several months ago and claims it calms and soothes. As an early riser, she begins her day with Yoga, so she is calm and flexible both physically and mentally. I haven’t gotten there yet (we started together), but I tend to enjoy fast paced exercise.
     I have taken Yoga classes on and off for many years. I enjoy the exercises, the stretches, and the various, challenging poses, but my main problem is that I forget to breathe, which can be detrimental in a Yoga class. Also, I figure if I'm not lifting weights or working the Eliptical, then I must not be working my heart. I'm wrong.
     Those who practice Yoga are healthier, happier, and straighter. Yes, their posture is wonderful. And, a straight back actually helps one's head, knees, and a multitude of body parts. These very intelligent people learn the essence of proper posture, proper breathing, and proper attitude. 

Friendships Should Be Simple

Friendships should not be complicated
they should feel as comfortable
as a cushy sofa
with one’s feet up.
Friendships should be like a lean-to
not holding up the walls
but lifting,
Friendships should be honest
where truth can be told
with love.

White Pizza

Ingredients for Dough (2 Pizzas)

6          cups flour
2          cups warm water
2          packets yeast
1          tbs.. olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar

Use mixer with dough hooks for this recipe and all other bread recipes.  Place flour in large mixing bowl.  Dissolve yeast in warm water, add olive oil, salt and sugar.  Add liquid to flour, mixing all the while.  When dough begins to separate from sides of bowl, place in well oiled bread bowl or any bowl that will allow dough to grow twice in size.  place a damp cloth over the bowl and let stand in  warm place for as long as it takes for dough to double (usually one hour). Separate into two even pieces of dough and place in separate bowls. Let stand one more time.  When ready, press dough into pizza trays and prepare for topping.

2      2          cups cooked broccoli florets
1     16 oz. bag of shredded mozzarella (optional)
1     clove garlic – diced
2     tbs. olive oil
½    onion – chopped
1          tsp. chili pepper flakes
4     tbs. ricotta

 Pizza making in a regular oven can be tricky.  Always pre-heat oven to 425º.  Boil broccoli till very tender, drain, and set aside. In frying pan, place olive oil, garlic, onion, and pepper and braise till onion and garlic are tender but not brown. Add broccoli to this mixture and marry the ingredients. Spread ricotta on pizza, add broccoli mixture and then top off with mozzarella. Bake on middle rack for bottom and when golden, move pizza to top rack till crust is a golden color as well, usually about 20 minutes total. But please judge for yourself, since all ovens are different.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Prezi Link: Compare/Contrast

Chicken With Wine

My main focus for a traditional recipe, one that will be repeated over and over again has to be comfort. I am not one to concentrate on how beautiful a meal will look but how wonderful it will feel going down and how comfy my tummy feels after I have eaten it. If the meal doesn’t pass this test, then it’s once and over. For me and my husband, this is a comfort food. Maybe it’s the white wine.

8 pieces legs and thighs
2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 tbs. flour
¼ cup white wine (good drinking wine)
1 can tomato sauce – optional – can substitute with 1 cup chicken broth instead.
8 medium size mushrooms – sliced

In deep pot, place olive oil and chopped onion. Braise till translucent. Add chicken and brown on all sides on medium heat. Sprinkle flour and toss about so chicken is covered. Add sauce or chicken stock to pot as well as mushrooms. You may also include chopped carrots. Simmer for one hour till chicken is very tender and cleanly falls off bone. Serve with noodles or rice. Enjoy with the remainder of white wine.

Memory of Italian Schoolroom

A one room school house
Segregating the rich from the poor.
Poor in back – rich up front.

Poor were sent on errands
Rich stayed to learn.
Poverty earned you sore knuckles
Wealth rewarded with sweet indulgences.

Date Night - Yes, for Married Couples!


     Married couples forget that dating is an essential part of staying happily married. Sometimes, couples tend to believe that once they are married the dating game is over. Wrong!! Dating is never more important.
     I have been posting about baby boomers and will continue to do so for the next several weeks, and today’s topic is on dating. This applies not only to baby boomers but also couples who are newly married. Why is dating so important? It is important because dating tends to focus the relationship on the reasons why couples got together in the first place.
     Dating brings back the romance. Couples should decide on where they will go and what they will do. The decisions should be agreeable to both. Here’s what my husband and I decided to do. Each of us made up a list of places we would like to go. He took my list and I took his. We intend to go on a date at least twice a month. That does not mean we won’t go out the other weeks, but it does mean that two of those date nights will be specifically designed to please the other person.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


My mother died the other day -
nothing prepared me
for her loss.

I still think to call her
news of joy or sorrow.

She would have listened
“titsuing” or chuckling as the
news deemed fit.

I picture her
 black phone to her ear
Rosary beads in hand
For saving grace.

Bianco Mangiare

My mother used to make this dessert within a blink of an eye. It is so very easy to make (she never put the ingredients in the blender, but I thought it was much quicker and you get a smoother custard). This custard is unbelievably smooth and light. You can add berries, use as a filling, or eat plain. It's so delicious!!


2 cups milk
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbs. corn starch
2 egg yolks

Place all above ingredients in blender till completely combined. Transfer over to sauce pan and stir with lemon rind (in freezer) till custard is set. Place in individual cups till cool and then refrigerate before serving. You may embellish with lemon rind and mint leaves.

Poison Ivy

Perhaps the most detrimental relationship of all is the toxic one. I call it Poison Ivy because it reminds me of the song “Poison Ivy” by the Coasters. It’s a generational thing. Anyway, I’ve had quite a few toxic relationships in my life, so I know from whence I speak.
     Poison Ivy relationships bring sadness, depression, anxiety, and a bunch of other negative aspects into one’s life. Here are a few examples of a toxic relationship.
     Jane and Sara get together for lunch. Jane begins talking from the beginning of the lunch date about all the trials and tribulations of her life, “Oh, you won’t believe how miserable my life is. I never have enough money to go anywhere, and my grown up son is back home with his girlfriend and now I have more mouths to feed. My health is suffering from all this anxiety and I don’t know what to do about it.” All the while she is smoking and eats like there’s no tomorrow. Meanwhile, Sara has not said a word except to nod and sympathize. The lunch date is over and Sara feels a little depressed that her friend’s life is so terrible and sad that this is what their dates usually sound like. Sara feels trapped.
     Susan and Mary have been friends for a long time. They both work at a local department store. Susan wants to return to school, so she can get a better job and eventually make a better life for herself and her daughter. She tells Mary and Mary immediately begins to tell her all the reasons why going back to school is a terrible idea, “Do you realize how much time you’re going to be away from home? You’re going to have so much work, and you weren’t really that good in school anyway. I would never take the time away from my family for such a selfish reason. What about Emily? Are you thinking about your daughter? What if you fail? Where are you going to get the money from?” On and on goes the negative feedback because Mary is jealous or simply doesn’t want Susan to succeed. Remember, misery loves company? Susan leaves feeling frustrated and doubtful of her decision.
     There are other scenarios where one friend will drag another into drugs, alcohol, excessive shopping or other negative behavior. The problem with toxic friendships is that one does not realize the friendship is toxic until it’s almost too late. Some of my most toxic relationships left me nauseous or with severe migraine headaches.  I wanted to help but felt helpless. I lost some confidence and had to spend hours and in some cases days to restore my self esteem. In one relationship I began questioning my relationship with my husband because she had me so confused about spending and buying.
     I finally realized that Poison Ivy must be avoided at all cost. When you notice yourself feeling depressed or overly upset after a visit with a “friend” ask yourself if this is the norm. Analyze the relationship and think about what is positive and what is negative. Who benefits from the relationship? If the itching is severe and the welts are too red, let it go and take care of yourself.
     Please don’t misunderstand, I realize we all have bad days and our friends need and deserve our attention and love. What I’m talking about is incessant negativity that brings one down repeatedly. Those are the toxic relationships one must avoid.

Link to “Poison Ivy.”