PASS THE TORCH (old site -- visit new site at

Monday, September 25, 2006

Guess What??

I just launched my new site.
PASS THE TORCH is now located at:

So come on over and visit me for PASS THE TORCH TUESDAY!!

SPARK Peer Tutor Training

I promised I'd give you a rundown on my San Jose SPARK Peer Tutor training, and Delightful Duchess asked for more information, so here it goes!

SPARK Peer Tutoring is a program I initiated as a school guidance counselor, then published when I started my company, Empowering Youth, Inc. Peer tutors provide a valuable service to students, in an era of high academic standards, and low resources. The SPARK Peer Tutor Training Manual gives educators the tools they need to appropriately prepare tutors for their service. Many districts pay for SPARK programming with No Child Left Behind funding.

Tutors learn about the 40 Developmental Assets, student needs, communication, sensitivity and study skills during the four-hour, activity-based training. Sometimes, advisors prefer that I come to train their tutors, and that's what I did this weekend at San Jose's Archbishop Mitty High School. I love these trainings because I'm always so impressed by the youth and educators that invite me.

I promise I'll be around to visit your sites as soon as I catch up. See you for Pass the Torch Tuesday tomorrow and have a great week!

Pass the Torch

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Vote for me!

I'm so honored and humbled to have been nominated for one of Mysterious Lady's blog Emmy awards! But I need your votes, so please go there right away.

There are several categories with excellent nominees. So check it out!

You only have until tonight to vote.


UPDATE: Thank you to all of you who voted for me! The results are in, and although I didn't win an award, I was in excellent company, and it was so affirming to be recognized as a nominee. Please visit Mystery Lady to see all the Blog Emmy winners, including Pink Diary, for overall excellence. Congrats Kailani!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Have a super weekend!

I'm off to sunny San Jose, California to facilitate a SPARK Peer Tutor training. I'll be back next week to give you an update on the excellent youth I meet there.

Have a super weekend!

30 Days of Diminishing Resolve

"Mom! We're going to Wal Mart to buy a remote control monster truck!" Curt squealed as we loaded the car.

"Well that's odd," I glared at my husband, "Since we're supposed to be in the middle of 30 Days of Nothing."

At which point, I launched into a lecture about remote control monster trucks, how we trashed one of them this past summer, how another one languishes in the toy box and how the plastic pieces of garbage are just a ploy to suck consumers in to buying overpriced batteries.

"Curt, you're not getting a monster truck," my husband declared.

We'd already slipped that morning, having traveled to the city to buy my husband's work shoes. We'd put it off as long as we could, but it really was a necessity. We'd also broken down and allowed our kids to spend their newly-set allotment of candy money. We all have our addictions.

Clearly, our resolve is diminishing. We've discovered 30 days is a very long time.

But we have set some financial goals. Both Curtis and Deena have decided to spend no more than $1.50 per week on candy, will deposit $2 per month to the bank, and put $1 per month in the Unicef box on our counter.

My husband and I have committed to paying extra toward our mortgage every month, to work toward paying it off early. We'll add to our giving, by contributing to community drives and sponsorships that would foster our kids' participation, like buying for the food shelf, sponsoring a family's Christmas, etc. And we've learned that by putting off impulse purchases, we often skip them entirely, because it turns out we don't miss the thing we didn't buy. So we'll continue to limit our trips to the city. Period.

What are your financial goals?

More 30 Days posts:
Pre-30 Days
Day 1
Week 1
Week 2
30 Days of Gratitude

For more participants in this project, visit Intent.
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Alibris Secondhand Books Standardsrc="*Y&bids=99238.10000059&type=4&subid=0">

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mommy, Queen of Nags

"I have a genetic predisposition to nag. This, coupled with control freak tendencies, is a recipe for catastrophe..."

My article, Queen of Nags was published today at The Imperfect Parent. Don't you want to know how the story ends?

SIDEBAR BROWNIE POINTS to anyone that goes over there and comments!

Love Thursday


People show it in so many ways. I show it with a hug and a smile, or asking my kids to snuggle in my lap.

But my husband often shows it through play. And he does it better than anyone I know.

I snapped this shot two years ago on a family vacation. And I still remember them playing that day.

Karen and Irene host Love Thursdays. So visit them to get some more love.

But go to the bathroom before reading Chookooloonks. Because, well, her post is really funny;)

How do YOU show love?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Skills for Listening to your Kids

I think it's a natural tendency to believe the most important part of communication is the "talking" part. But that's really not true. The way we receive messages can sometimes play a more valuable role, than the way we send them.

Much of the coursework for my MS in Counseling was related to listening skills. Although I don't always practice these skills, I'm a much more effective parent when I do. We aren't naturally groomed to respond this way as parents (particularly numbers 4-6), so I thought it might be helpful to share a few "active listening" techniques that help to improve communication with kids. (And adults!)

1. Eye contact -- If you're looking into your kids' faces, they know you're "with them".

2. Minimal encouragers -- subtle expressions, verbal or non-verbal, like a nod of the head, or "mmm-hmmm", or "interesting". Minimal encouragers help to keep the conversation continuing, without interrupting the flow.

3. Clarifying -- asking a specific question to encourage your child to expand on their thought, so that you understand completely. "Really? How did..."

4. Paraphrasing -- subtly repeating what they just said. "So math was fun, but you forgot your homework."

5. Reflecting -- guessing at feelings. "Sounds like you were pretty mad at Mr. Johnson..."

6. Silence. Sometimes they don't need anything from you but to listen without interruption.

What helps you listen to your kids??

For more tips on everythingknowntowoman, check out Rocks in my Dryer.

This post is a part of Problogger's always-excellent writing project. Click here for more "how to" posts.


Congratulations to Kallie for being chosen for this week's Pass the Torch Tuesday spotlight post about honesty. Pass the Torch Award winners receive the magnet on the sidebar, the award button to display on their site, as well as front page listing from me for a week.

The Carnival of Education is up at The Median Sib, featuring my post, Email Teachers. Please visit for some thought-provoking reading. My picks this week are What Are Parents Thinking? and Last Regular Day.

And Spunky Homeschool's "Educational Moment" Contest is still open for entries until Friday night at midnight. You could win a digital camera from the Academic Superstore.

Why not to park a bike on the road...

Wordless Wednesday

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