Kids Issues

Kids Issues

Moms Need Mom Friends

Moms Need Mom Friends
by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC
When you were in college, you may have gone through a season of your life where you had as many guy friends as girlfriends. It may have been easier, less drama and better parties. But every woman needs a good girlfriend, especially after she has kids. Not only do you need a girlfriend after kids, but you need a mom friend. Moms give other moms what no one else can: emotional support for those days you’re sure you’re losing it; physical support when you need an extra pair of arms, legs or a spare car seat; and spiritual support when you need to hear, “Keep the faith; this too shall pass.”

Mom friends understand when the house smells like dirty diapers, or will talk over a colicky baby without batting an eye. Mom friends understand you crying in the middle of the afternoon because you can’t button your favorite dress, and they listen while you vent about your partner coming home late or being on a business trip leaving you alone with the kids. Mom friends are the backbone of every mom at some time or another.
Throughout every mother’s life–from the birth of her first child to her 80th birthday–she will have friends who have walked the journey with her. Those friends remember her children when they were babies. They become like a tapestry interwoven within the children’s lives. I recall every one of my mother’s dearest mom friends, and although several of them died before my mother, they were as much a part of my family as my brothers and sisters.

With life’s fast pace, it’s easy to get busy and not take time to develop friendships with other moms like our moms did. However, this is a big mistake, because a daycare or babysitter can never fulfill the role our mom friends can.
Here are some simple ways to foster friendships with other moms. You don’t need a group, but you do need a mom friend.
1. Get yourself out there and take your baby for a stroll or go to
the park. Having toys other children can play with will help
draw kids and moms to you. Begin the conversation.
2. After you meet a mom you’re comfortable with, share
contacts on Facebook or phone.
3. Organize play dates at your home.
4. Turn naptimes into coffee times with other moms.
5. Find kid friendly restaurants to meet or other kid activities and
invite another mom and her children.
6. Join an exercise class at the Y. They are inexpensive and
many have babysitting where you’re sure to meet other
7. Sign up for a baby-and-me class and reach out to other
8. Be willing to help another mom when you see a need.
9. Find a church that has activities or baby classes.
10. Send encouraging emails or notes to other moms. This will
make you feel better, and they will be more receptive to
reaching out and contacting you.
My children are grown, and my mom friends have become their surrogate moms. My best mom friend hosted my daughter’s baby shower and so we began again….

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at and more about Rapini at

Back-to-School Wellness

By Pediatric Critical Care of South Florida

As school gets back in session, there are some tips that parents can use to get their kids on the right track to wellness.
Nutrition – Children need a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner in order to thrive in school. Make sure that you are both choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and foods high in protein and limited sugar. Drinking plenty water is crucial to keeping the body well hydrated and helps flush out impurities
Bedtime – Sleep is the way that the body rejuvenates itself. Start setting a bedtime hour 1-2 weeks before the start of school. Stick to it during the school week, and keep it to a similar sleep pattern during the weekends
Immunizations – Your child’s school has a list of required immunizations and physical examinations, make the proper arrangements with your child’s pediatrician so that your child can begin school in time. Meet with your child’s school officials, such as the school nurse, teachers and principal to make sure that they are informed of any health issues, allergies, or diet restrictions
Mood Changes – A new school year, new school, or new classmates can be stressful. Look for changes in your child’s behavior, demeanor, or school grades to determine if they are having any issues. Give your child a few strategies to manage difficult situations on their own, but know when you need to intervene
Germs – Germs can be easily spread, make sure that your child is practicing good health habits throughout the year, especially at the start of a new school year. Have them keep their hands away from their nose and mouth. Good hand-washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of colds, the flu, and viruses. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective
Exercise – Regular exercise is essential for both physical and mental well-being. In addition to maintaining a healthy weight, exercise helps children focus, sleep, and feel better. Help your child choose activities or sports that they enjoy and will stick to
Backpack Weight – Overloaded backpacks can cause back pain and other health problems. Pick a sturdy backpack with padded straps, and show your child how to use it properly by distributing its content weight properly and using both straps

About Pediatric Critical Care of South Florida
Pediatric Critical Care of South Florida (PCCSF) is a group of leading pediatric intensivists and hospitalists who are board-certified and fellowship-trained in pediatrics and pediatric critical care medicine. They currently operate the pediatric critical care unit (PICU) facility at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. For more information, please visit or call (954) 454-5131.

Keep Kids Focused This Summer

Summer is upon us, which means time off from school, moreWrite-Summer-Bucket-Liste
opportunities to play, and lots of free time in which kids say things like, “I’m bored.” How can you keep your kids focused, entertained and still learning this season? To answer hat question, here’s a look at some specific ideas for active learning games that will help your kids expel energy, stay mentally sharp, and avoid dreaded boredom:
1. Make a Summer Dream List. Get your kids dreaming about fun summer
activities by having them write a summer bucket list, suggests Rebecca
Gruber at PopSugar. The ideas they jot down don’t have to be lofty or
ambitious, “but it will be fun to check items off the list and turn to it for ideas
when it feels like you’re in the midst of an endless summer.”
2. Be Artistic. Most kids love coloring because it gives them a creative outlet in
which they can choose colors, draw, decorate and design different pages as
they like. Use this interest to your advantage this season by filling summer
afternoons with artistic time to color, paint, draw and so on. Better yet, plan
special crafts that you can take during an afternoon to work on together,
making mementos from the seashells you bring back from the beach or
special artwork to hang in your kids’ rooms. You might even grab some
sidewalk chalk to let your kids draw on the front driveway or sidewalk.
3. Cook Together. Pick a super simple recipe and break it down into
manageable steps that you can try with your kids. If you’re stumped for
ideas, select a kids’ cookbook from the library or bookstore. Not only will this
be an activity your kids find fun, but also it will set you up with a snack or
meal that you can enjoy together.
4. Visit a Farmers Market. Involve your child in the kitchen-shopping process
by taking him/her to the farmers market with you. As you visit different
vendors, purchase vegetables and explore the area, your little one will get the
chance to learn more about where food comes from and who grows it.
5. Plan a Scavenger Hunt. If you’re willing to do a little prep work ahead of
time, you can set up a fun scavenger hunt for your kids that keeps themimg-article-8-scavenger-hunt-ideas-for-kids
entertained all afternoon, while also stretching their minds and muscles. “Warm or cold weather, there’s nothing more entertaining for kids than taking part in a scavenger hunt,” says Elizabeth SanFilippo at “They’re great activities for babysitters to do with kids and can be fun for birthday parties,” she adds.
6. Work Your Way through Caldecott Books. Just because school’s out
doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with reading all summer — help your kids have some direction in their reading plans by printing a list of children’s books that have won Caldecott Medals and work through the list over the next few months. To keep your child inspired, offer special rewards at the end of goals completed: after you’ve read 12 books, for example, go see a movie or get ice cream.
7. Go Exploring. There are plenty of ways to teach your kids more about the world, from visiting local parks and examining foliage to taking summer road trips and showing them maps of where you are. Look for new ways and places to explore this summer to keep your kids entertained and excited
about learning.
8. Work Learning Games into Daily Life. Find ways to show how math and
science relate to the real world, and you help your kids understand why they
matter. “For example, have your kids add up prices at the grocery store and
challenge them to tally up the final bill,” says Jennifer Peck at Edutopia.
“When going on drives, ask them to look for certain shapes, colors, letters or
words on billboards and signs.”
9. Hit Up All the Local Parks. If you’re like a lot of Americans, you’re
surrounded by parks and forest preserves in yourpeck-summer-loss community where
you can picnic, hike and play. Make it a goal with your kids to visit as many of these places as you can this summer and help your kids find fun beyond watching TV and playing video games. Even when the prospect of an entire summer without school may seem daunting,
takes heart: there are plenty of ways to keep your kids entertained
and energized throughout this season. Use the ideas above as a jumping-off point for keeping your kids busy — and help them to keep learning, stay active and have fun in the process.

the author:
David Reeves is the Marketing Director of Superior Recreational Products (SRP) in
Carrollton, GA. For more than 30 years, Superior Grounds For Play
(, a division of SRP, has been focused on the design
of safe play structures that provide challenging physical and mental exercises for
specific age groups.

Tips For Parents To Help Their Kids Succeed On Test Day

Tips For Parents To Help Their Kids Succeed On Test Day

shutterstock_183147335 As a parent, it’s only natural that you want to do everything you can to help your child reach his/her fullest potential — and that includes doing well on tests. Whether your child is in first grade or middle school, what are the best things you can do to help him/her feel confident and empowered when it’s time to take a test? How can you help your kids perform better and find greater levels of test-taking success? To help answer these questions, here’s a roundup of tips to try next time a test day occurs:

Start Early. Empowering your child to succeed starts well before test day. Even when your kids are very young, work to make learning fun by incorporating exploration opportunities into your everyday routine. Go to the library, read together, talk about the world around you and engage them as they ask questions. This helps their little minds develop an interest in learning that will serve them well throughout their academic lives.

Ask the Teacher. One of the best resources for helping your child do better on tests is the teacher, the person who is with your child every day and watching learning take place. “Teachers often offer a study guide for the test,” says Lora Shinn at Parents Magazine, “outlining the format and the featured information. If you haven’t received a study guide through your child or in an email, visit or call the teacher.” You might also want to ask about specific things your child is struggling with, ideas the teacher has for better test prep, etc.

Make Studying Fun. Especially when your child is young, he/she will likely study more and longer when the studying process feels fun. Whether you engage the whole family in a game about state capitals or get outside to practice something your son/daughter is learning in science class, when you find ways to make the curriculum that will be tested more interesting and engaging, you help your child pay attention and remember information more easily.

Verbally Encourage Them. Almost all children respond positively to verbal affirmation and a sense that their parents think they can succeed, so make it your goal to support your kids’ confidence with kind words that tell them you know they can do well. “Providing positive feedback for effort, celebrating successes and encouraging them to keep trying will help your children to feel confident in approaching assessments,” says Fiona Baker at the Kidspot Mums’ School Zone. A key point is to celebrate genuine effort above numerical grades — if your kids feel afraid of disappointing you, their stress and nervousness can lead to adverse outcomes on test day.

Work with Them. Let your child know that you’re available to help with studying or homework, and give him/her a sense that you’re on the same team. Kids who feel supported and helped in the learning process are often able to do better than kids who feel alone.

Provide a Healthy Breakfast That Morning. To help your kid have energy, mental clarity and fewer distractions at test time; provide a well-balanced breakfast especially on the morning of the test. “A balanced breakfast, consisting of complex carbohydrates, protein and fat gives energy and prevents a drop in blood sugar for several hours, until snack or lunch time,” says the San Francisco Unified School District.

Encourage a Good Night’s Sleep. Right along with a good breakfast, a good night’s sleep makes a huge difference in a child’s ability to stay focused and alert in the classroom. Don’t let your child stay up super late the night before a test, and take steps to make sure he/she gets appropriate rest.

From your children’s earliest days in school, tests are always a big part of the learning process — and they’re a part that you can encourage and empower them to do well on through a little help and support. Use the tips above to set your kids up with the kind of knowledge, energy and confidence they need to do their best when test day comes, and you’ll help them foster skills that can come in handy the rest of their lives.

Author Bio

David Serwitz is the Founder & CEO of the National Leader for In-Home Tutoring for grades K-12 and college students, Grade Potential. For 13 years, Grade Potential Tutoring has worked with thousands of families across the U.S. to help them achieve academic success.

Peter Max interview, November 2013 for December issue.

Bill:  Hello.
Peter:  Hey, is this Bob Edmonds?
Bill:  It’s Bill, but yes, it is.
Peter: Good, I’m calling from the Lincoln Tunnel. Is it alright, can you
hear me okay?
Bill:  Absolutely, I like the Lincoln Tunnel.
Peter:  You like it? I like it too. So, we can talk. We’re heading to the
airport, got a few minutes with you. How are you my friend?
Bill:  Pretty good, how about yourself?
Peter:  Very good, I’ve been traveling all weekend long so it’s like my third
trip. I came back from Houston and Wisconsin and arrived here
two or three hours ago and back to the airport.
Bill:  Wisconsin must be nice right now, all the colors.
Peter:  It was nice. It’s great. I’m excited we’re going to be talking about
the book too, right?
Bill:  I don’t know about the book, but I’d love to hear about it. Nobody
told me about a book.
Peter:  Are we talking about the book
You were doing the exhibition in Fort Lauderdale.
Peter:  Yeah, let me just flip the light. Okay, I got it. Hi there.
Bill:  What’s the book you’re doing?
Peter:  This book, it’s called the Universe of Peter Max. It just came out
two days ago. It’s beyond belief. I can’t believe it. I’m so excited.
Bill: I’ll put that in the article. I’d like to I’m
going to check that out.
Peter:  Yeah, it’s come out by it’s
been published by Harper Collins. You
know who they are, right?
Bill:  Absolutely.
Peter:  The big publisher.
Bill:  That sounds great.
Peter:  And it’s a biography, and I worked on it with a good friend of mine,
Victor, for about a year and got it done. They just published it, and
I’ve been carrying this book around for three days now.
[laughter] Bill:  I’m looking forward to that.
Peter:  So I’m going to my first I’m
going to a big thing today. I’m flying
to, where
are we flying to?
Peter:  To Detroit.
Peter:  To Detroit and we’re having a very big, the
first book thing at……
Bill: That’s a book signing, right?
Peter:  It’s a book fair. I wouldn’t have gone, but I hear thousands of
people RSVP’d, so it’s like otherwise.
[cross-talk] Bill:  You’ll sell more books.
Peter:  Yeah, I’m going to have a book sent to you tomorrow. Then you’ll
have it, you can talk about it. Maybe you could show the book in
the article.
Bill:  Absolutely, I will. I definitely will because it’s something that’s
really relevant. I
first heard of you when I was probably seven
or eight in the ’60s and I remember your 7 Up commercials and
boy, I can remember a lot of your stuff, you did an exhibition. I
don’t remember when it was, I was still five. But I’ve always know
about you, but I found that a lot of people still know who you are,
quite a bit of people. And I think that’s great. Because you’ve
really struck a chord with America.
Peter: It’s unbelievable. When I have a show in a gallery, even if they
barely advertise, thousands of people show up. It’s unbelievable. I
look at the people that travel
Bill: I know a lot of people in Florida really look forward to this, that’s
coming up in December. Well, I have a couple of questions I’d like
to ask before I lose you. One of the questions I had is about your
colors, your colors are so vibrant and full of life. The combination of color’s just makes me happy. So I’m wondering
Peter: Yeah, you know what? Yeah, go ahead.
Bill: I’m wondering what inspired you to use such colors, and did you
use these colors in the 50’s when you were relatively young when
you first came to America?
Peter: Well, first of all, in the 50’s, I went to art school. In the middle late
50’s, I went to art school. And I studied with a man who was a
student at the school where he now is a teacher. But when he
was a student, maybe 30 years before I got there, the kid that sat
next to him, for seven years, drawing models. You know the
models who take poses? It was another artist by a name that we all know Norman Rockwell.
Bill: Right. I like his stuff.
Peter: Can you hold a second? Let me tell my son I’m on an interview,
can you hold a second?
Bill: Sure. No problem.
We were then cut off and Peter called back
Bill: Hello?
Peter: Hi, it’s me. I some how lost you. You know cell phones.
Bill: I figured. [laughter] Peter: How are you, my buddy?
Bill: Oh, not bad. [laughs] Peter: How far are you from New York, by the way? You must live on Long Island, right?
Bill: No, I’m in Florida.
Peter: Oh, 561 is Florida, right. I thought it was
Bill: Yes, 561 is Florida. I’m in West Palm Beach. So, I’m right up the road from Fort Lauderdale.
Peter: Do you ever come to New York? You do, right, from time to time?
Bill: Once in a while. Once in a while.
Peter: If you do, make sure you come by the studio. It would be nice to see you there. But let’s keep on topic.
Bill: I would really like that. I’ve heard about your studio. [laughs] Peter: Good. I would love to have you there.
Bill: Oh, that would be great. Okay, now I have another question about Cinci Freedom. Do you remember who that is?
Peter: Cinci Freedom. That’s the cow, right?
Bill: Yes, that’s the cow. [laughs] Peter: Right. That’s the cow. [crosstalk] Bill: I want to ask you about it.
Peter: Okay. I’ll tell you. You know, being into yoga, my whole life I was
into yoga. I brought a swami to America. So, I’m a full time yogi.
And when you become a yogi you meditate and everything, you
start really having a very sincere love for all animals, you know?
Just my knowledge developed beyond belief. I love little animals,
they are like little people. Anything that’s living deserve a lot of
respect from us. You know what I mean?
Bill: I do.
Peter: Because we may not know them, as we may not know what they
feel like, but when you think they are living, we are living. It’s most
important that we respect them a lot. So I have been always
adopting animals. Right now, I have six kitty cats in my house.
Three independent ones and three little sisters, and they are so
beautiful. I love them and they sleep with us. One day, as it was, I
found out that a cow escapes from a slaughterhouse, this is maybe you
probably have the date there, right? Roughly ten years ago, right?
Bill: The year 2002.
Peter: That’s 2002, it’s almost 10 years, right? And it just touched me so
deeply. Then when I heard something on the TV about it, that they
just captured her and they’re going down there to bring her back
to the slaughter house, all of this. I don’t know what the instinct
was with me. But even now talking about it, I instantly, instantly
wanted 5 seconds to be in the car to go up and get her. So, I
called a driver friend of mine who works for me and I called him
up with another friend. And within five minutes, we were
downstairs in the street getting in the car. And while we’re driving
upstate, sort of up north, right on the West Side Highway, we
found out where she is. Because that somebody she was
captured after she ran away and she ran through the woods and
through land. She finally wound up on somebody else’s land and
they caught her. And probably, maybe within 30, 40 minutes from
getting in the car, I was on that land. They brought me over to the
fencing area where she was temporarily captured, and then
probably they’re going to take her back to the slaughterhouse. And
I went out there, and she was like a beautiful, beige, brown kittycat
almost, a sweet little cow, and her eyes were so
adorable, and I looked at her. I stood maybe two feet, and we
looked at each other’s eyes, and I stroked her hair, and I just got
such an adrenaline rush. I walked up to the owners of this new
farm, and I made them a deal that I would buy a cow, if they have
let me have her. And then they said to me, “Well, it’s not our cow.
It belongs to the other farm,” which is four or five miles away. I
called these people, and when they knew it was Peter Max and I
was going to give them a piece of my art. I paid for the cow on top
of it, a present, and a payment. I got the cow, and we had her. We
brought her to a place called Farm Sanctuary. That’s an
organization that has a lot of cattle and various other animals on
it. They are like an animal rights organization. They never kill
animals, they save them. You know, if somebody finds some
animal, you heard about them, right?
Bill: Yes.
Peter: And I was so afraid for her and [inaudible] Farm Sanctuary on the
phone, and they said, “Of course, Peter. We’ll take her,
absolutely. There will be a lot of friends for her there.” On my
behalf, they hired a truck, met me at the farm where the cow was,
and I made a deal with the people who owned the cow, I think I
paid for her I forgot what it was, it was quite a few years ago.
And we brought there called her Cindy Woo, and then some of
them called her Cinci Freedom, but Cindy was the name I gave
her. And I don’t know why I called her Cindy Woo, maybe for the
emotional part of it, because she’s a cute little girl. And she
stayed at the new farm Sanctuary for several
years, two to three years. And I went up to visit her in the
beginning every few weeks, and then I went every month or two,
then every few weeks. I used to go all the time, and sometimes
she would be at the fence and she came close to me, I would pet
her little head. They have such beautiful, big necks, right?
Bill: Right. And [?] Peter: And she had big, beautiful brown eyes, and a couple of times I
was on the other side with her, on the fence. And I remember
once I gave her a beautiful little kiss on the side of the cheek. I’ve
done that two times. And then after another year or so, one day I
got a call that she passed away.
Bill: Oh, that’s too bad.
Peter: I was at my studio and I cried a little bit. I had such an attachment
to her and I loved her. And I wish sometimes I could of had her at my country
place, but I don’t live there. I just go there once in a while, so she
couldn’t stay there. Where I kept her is where they take care of
animals like that. So I had a beautiful, loving relationship with her
and I felt really good in my heart that I did that. And because of the
relationship I had with her, I’ve been supporting animals like
beyond belief.
Bill: Well, I think that’s great.
Peter: You can’t imagine. One day I don’t say no to anybody. I always
do something. We send money. We send art for auctions,
everything, to help these sweet little animals. They live here on
Earth like we do, and unfortunately in this time in the evolution of
our species, it seems the animals aren’t that recognized yet, in a
big way. They’re recognized some better way than maybe 23
years ago. People have dogs and kitties. People have all kinds of
birds and things. And, I admit a lot of people who have cows and
other large animals. You know, and some people love them a lot,
and I can understand it now.
Bill: Well you know, I think one of your biggest accomplishments are
with animals. I think you do a lot of things in this world, and do a
lot of great things in this world, but the simple things are the
important things. So I like that story.
Peter: It takes me back to her. As I’m talking to you, I envision her right now, I
completely see her, i can see her as though she is at the farm right
now, in my mind.
Bill: I think that’s great. I really do.
Peter: So you brought me back into it. [laughter] Bill: Well now, that’s going to tie me into another question. If you never
became a painter, what would you have done?
Peter: I probably would have been an astronomer. I had such an intense
appreciation and interest in the universe, you can’t imagine. When
I was a young boy living in Shanghai. You know that I lived in
Shanghai for close to 10 years?
Bill: Yes. I have questions about that too, so let’s put them together.
Peter: We lived in a beautiful pagoda house. We were about 100 feet
from…we had a big piece of land and one side of the land was
next to a big park. My house nanny took me to the park when I
was about five or six years old. We would always sit on the
bench. There was always an elderly man sitting there. One day
we sat on the bench and he came and sat next to me. He said,
“Hi” I was shy. It was one of those moons you see sometimes through
the day you’ve seen those, right? When the full moon is out in the daytime;
and he’s just talking to me about it, and he’s pointing at
the moon and he says, “Do you know what that is?” And I go, “It’s
the moon.” He goes, “Do you know what it is?” And I said, “No.” I
didn’t really know what it is, I just knew it was the moon. And he
must have been an astronomer because every time I went to see
him at the park we talked. He always talked about the moon, the
stars, the universe. He was fascinated with the subject. He filled
me up with fascination about it. It was such a mystery that half my
fantasies is what I made up about. It was an enormous interest,
and all my life I thought I would become an astronomer. And when
I started drawing and painting, I drew a lot of stars and celestial
objects, never thinking I would become an artist. And then I
became an artist, and it became one of my subjects that I love to
paint and draw. Mostly draw and it’s something even today. I love
subjects on television when they have someone talking about the
universe. When Carl Sagan used to be on television, I saw every
show three, four times in one day [inaudible].
Bill: Yes, me too.
Peter: You too, right? Can you imagine? It’s such an amazing thing like
Carl Sagan in a such an amazing person
Bill: I loved his show. He had a great show.
Peter: Yeah and one day I come into my building where I’m now and as I
walk in, there is a guy in the elevator that’s must have gotten in
the elevator like thirty seconds before I did and I look up [inaudible] in the building, right? And then I said to myself, “Oh my God, this
is Carl Sagan in my building.” I said, “Excuse me, you’re Carl
Sagan?” He goes “Yeah” and then he looked at me close and
then he points his finger at me with a questionable face and he
says, “Peter Max?” I said, “Yes.” “Oh, my God.” I said, “Do you
have a studio here?” He said yes. “Oh, my God, I love your work.”
I said, “I love what you do.” So I dragged him up to the seventh
floor where my studio is and we spent time. I brought out posters
and I gave him maybe five six posters with stars and planet on it.
And I must have told him 100 times how much I love his show,
100 times. I am not exaggerating. And he must have told me at
least I want to be a little modest but at least five, ten times how
much he loves my work. So it was like a love affair.
Bill: So you would be known to go out at night and go and look at a
constellation every once in a while, wouldn’t you?
Peter: Yeah. And once in a while I had friends, they’d love the stuff and
they look at me and tell me this is that, this is that. And all that we
could do is imagine, if you have a great imagination, which I have.
You know I made more out of it than maybe meets the eye, you
know what I mean?
Bill: Did you influence your kids with the stars at all? Did you take your
kids out to view the stars.
Peter: Maybe to some degree. Yeah, I did but they are not as interested
in it as I am today, but then they’ve gotten a lot of it from me
already. So they know a lot about it, but it’s unbelievable. I was like
I’ve been with so many people who are in the astronomy
world and its mind boggling. You know what I just heard a few
days ago? That there are some things in our galaxy,
the Milky Way. That hold over forty billion habitable planets.
Bill: Did you just read that a couple of days ago?
Peter I was just told this a couple of days ago. Everybody has been
telling me because they know I love this stuff
Bill: Yeah, because I just read this.
Peter: The Kepler story. About the Kepler in NY Times, just now, two
days ago.
Bill: Yeah, I think that’s where I read it.
Peter: Can you imagine? Isn’t it mind boggling?
Bill: That really is something. I mean if you think about it for a second.
Peter: 40 billion planets like us. And we only have a maybe I don’t
know how many billion people live on the planet. Six, seven billion?
Bill: Kind of too many. [chuckles] Peter: 40 billion planets like ours. And let’s say if 40 billion planets even
all had a half a million people or a million people. Five, ten
species, my God, right? Mind boggling.
Bill: Right. And you wouldn’t even know what species they were. You
don’t even know what these people look like. So it really does boggle the mind.
Peter: Can you hold a second, my friend? I’m just getting out of the car.
Bill: Absolutely.
Peter: We’re at the airport.
Bill: Sure. Sure.
Peter If I lose you I’ll call you right back. But I’m not going to lose you. Hold on.
[silence] Peter Now I’m going follow my friends. Today four of us are flying to
Detroit. I think it’s just
Bill: I’m not going to keep you very much longer. I…
Peter Please write my number down, because I’ll be at the airport and
meeting a private plane, so if you want to call me and have a
question…it’s (XXX)-XXX-XXXX.
Bill: Okay. That would be great. I have one last question.
Peter: Go ahead, my friend. You can ask me now. I’m walking. Don’t
worry, ask. I’m completely free here. Go ahead.
Bill: The Bearsville Cafe, that’s in New York. I wanted to ask about
Peter: Bearsville Cafe Hold on a second. Bearsville Cafe is where? [inaudible] Peter: Yeah, Bearsville Cafe in Woodstock, New York, where I have a
Bill: I had read that you had breakfast with Jimmy Hendrix three or four
times a week.
Peter: I used to see Jimmy all the time. We were friends. I was in
disbelief in the beginning because I loved him and loved his
music. He was a very kind, sweet guy. I loved his music. He used
to play for me in his room. The different bass lines. When he
became a star, he was 10 times further out. He was
mind boggling.
Bill: He was unbelievable.
Peter: We can’t say that there aren’t unbelievable musicians in the
world, because I’m a big music fan, and I can tell you are, too.
Bill: I am.
Peter: I loved Jimmy. Suddenly, he started making albums and, oh my
god, it was beyond belief. When he died, I cried like a little baby.
Bill: My kids play Jimmy Hendrix now on their guitars. It’s such a, it’s
really a treat I think he would love the fact that so many kid’s love
his music.
Peter: How old are your kids?
Bill: The fact that everybody loved him. My kids are in their twenties
Peter: Wow, and do they play any instruments? How many kids do you have?
Bill: I have four.
Peter: Are they boys, girls?
Bill: All girls.
Peter: And they all play guitar?
Bill: Well, they all play something. Two play guitar, two are piano
Peter: So, they love rock and roll, right? They love music.
Bill: Oh yes. Do you play any instruments?
Peter: Well, I can dabble in the piano. When I was much younger I
played the harmonica. But, you’ve never met anyone that loves
music more than me. I have around me, friends and friends and
friends, all musicians. And sometimes, I’ll hire people because
they’re music lovers and then I have them in my studio they play
my music for me, but they also do other work.
Bill: I think that’s really cool. [chuckles] Peter: Yeah.
Bill: I read you have your own DJ in your studio
Peter: He trails me. He’s like 50 feet away from me right now.
Bill: Oh, that’s great. That’s just what an art studio should have
Peter: Giving out tickets.
Bill [laughs] I love it. Well, I’ve got your phone number, and if I have
any other questions could I call you? I might have a question about the book.
Peter: I would love you to call me. The book is by Abrams. Right?
Abrams is the name of the publisher. It’s called “The Universe of Peter Max.”
Bill: Okay.
Peter: Is the book called “The Universe of Peter Max,” or “The Peter Max
Universe”? It’s “The Universe of Peter Max.”
Bill: I’m going to find out exactly, because it’s got to go in the article,
so I have to have it exact. [laughs] So, I’ll find out.
Peter: If you can get them to send you or get a copy, maybe your art
director could put the cover of it right in the book.
Bill: Oh, that would be a really good idea, too.
Peter: And it’s a gorgeous cover. The guy who designed the cover with
me is eating an apple about a hundred feet away. All my people
are with me at the airport, four of us.
Bill: Oh, I like that. Close group. Well, I would like to put the cover of
the book in the magazine. That would be good. I would like that in the article.
Peter: Okay, my buddy. And call me if you need anything else. Call me, okay? You have my number, right?
Bill: I do. I really appreciate your time.
Peter: Did I give you my cell?
Bill: It’s (XXX)-XXX-XXXX
Peter: You got it. I loved talking to you, and let’s do it again. Okay?
Bill: Great. Thank you very much, Peter. I really appreciate you talking to me.
Peter: Okay. Thank you so much. Bye bye.
Bill: See you. Bye bye.

Has the Dining Room Become a Relic of Modern Culture

As I go about my everyday wanderings throughout my home I can’t help but notice how little my formal dining room is used for its intended purpose. Instead it seems to be used more as a temporary storage area for school books, and folded laundry that is destined for the upstairs bedrooms.

Over the years I have questioned whether or not it was my lack of social skills that have led to infrequent formal dinners with guests, or was I just like the average American today who didn’t have the time for them. As time has passed, I have come to the conclusion that the latter was more the case. And I have proof!

As I watch today’s various home shows on television about selling homes or building homes, I can’t help but notice the complete lack of discussion on the need for formal dining rooms. Instead the needs and lexicon for modern homeowners now includes media rooms, home offices, and man rooms. Yes, man rooms. From what I can conclude they are effectively home sports bars. Kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms are also still important to today’s homeowners, but the need for a formal dining room has appeared to have faded away into Americana. One reason for the dining room becoming a relic of modern home culture is the change in lifestyle of Americans. I heard a report recently that indicated that only 35% of families say they gather regularly for dinner every evening.

The rest grab quick snacks or go out to restaurants per their individual family members’ schedules. This is not surprising when you reflect on the after-school activities we have signed our children up for. Today’s American family is constantly on the run and has little time for being a total family unit, including at the dining room table. To conclude, if you are in the process of building a new custom home, think twice about your lifestyle, as well as the lifestyles of future buyers of your home.

Like me, you may quickly come to the conclusion that an enlarged kitchen capable of supporting your cooking and family eating habits, and social gatherings, maybe a better alternative to a formal dining room. The space, that would have otherwise been used for a dining room, may be better utilized, and have more resale value, if it is instead used for a formal dining room. The space, that would have otherwise been used for a dining room, may be better utilized, and have more resale value, if it is instead used for a home office, media room, or dare I say Article Submission, a man room.

Over the past 20+ years Mark Donovan has been involved with building homes and additions to homes. For more information about DIY Custom Home and Home Addition Building and DIY Home Remodeling and Home Repairs visit and

Can I get a Volunteer?

Can I Get a Volunteer?: How Kids Benefit From Serving Their Community

by Lara Krupicka


Mitchell teaches at-risk youths how to sail a tall ship. Carly interprets the life of a 19th-century child. And Haley walks dogs at an animal shelter. What do these three kids have in common? They’re among the estimated 15.5 million young people who participate in volunteer activities. And like many others, these three kids are finding they get back more than they give through volunteering. Here are some of the benefits they’ve found (and your child could gain too):


Discovery of New Interests

Mitchell Smith hadn’t done any sailing before he joined the Topsail Program at the Los Angeles Maritime Institute at age 12. But now his mom says he loves being aloft aboard the 100-foot brigantines. “He found a passion for sailing,” says Mitchell’s mom, Sandy. “It opened him up to a whole new world.” In fact, Mitchell often volunteers as an excuse to get in more sailing. In a word, he’s hooked.


Volunteering gives kids a chance to try new things. In the process they can uncover talents and interests they hadn’t been aware of. Some may even go on to pursue college studies and careers inspired by their volunteer experiences.


Increased Confidence

Youth volunteers gain valuable exposure to interacting with the public they couldn’t get anywhere else. It requires them to exercise their communication and public speaking skills. In turn, this fosters confidence as students see the positive impact of their interactions. Carly Mulder, a junior interpreter at the Naper Settlement living history museum inNaperville,Illinoislearned early on that part of her role involved greeting museum visitors and fielding questions about the games and other activities she demonstrates. Karin, Carly’s mom, notes she’s seen Carly’s confidence improve from her involvement at the museum. “She’s learning how to interact with the public and how to have confidence in dealing with other people.” Wearing a costume and imagining herself as a person from a different era helped. So did special training provided by the museum.


Even behind-the-scenes roles can instill confidence as kids find success in completing the tasks they’re given. And connecting with fellow volunteers and coordinators can be enough to help reticent youngsters come out of their shells and develop valuable social skills. For some kids, simply the act of sharing their time and being valued for their service can build self-assurance.


Broadened Perspective on Life

Volunteer experiences also give kids a chance to get outside of their neighborhood and have contact with people who are different from them. Whether at a museum or a food pantry, volunteering opens up children’s horizons. It exposes them to more of the world – in a controlled environment where they can feel safe.


Haley McDonald’s mom, Bobbie, has involved her in a variety of volunteering experiences since a young age, including one while on vacation in theDominican Republic. “We went to a farm and helped with a project,” explains Bobbie. “It was a huge, broadening experience – seeing that everyone doesn’t live the way you live.”



While many volunteer opportunities are one-time events, kids can also sign up for regular shifts. Being committed to an ongoing position requires taking responsibility. Mitchell’s mom points out that it makes him prioritize his activities. He has to decide whether he’ll sign up for a sailing shift or do something else. And Carly’s mom sees how it has helped her daughter learn the importance of following through on obligations.


Kids also often get the opportunity to have increased responsibility in the role the play and the tasks they perform in their position as a volunteer. Mitchell has learned not only how to sail a tall ship, but also teaches others. And Carly hopes one day to move up to giving tours in one of the museum’s buildings.



When kids find a volunteer position that fits them well, the common response is, “it doesn’t feel like work”. When the position and the child’s interests match, to them it’s more like a chance to get out and play. This in turn can be a good step in helping them discover their vocation.


Taking along a friend, as Haley frequently does, adds to the experience as well. In fact, group settings can be a good introduction to a volunteer experience, such as through a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop or church youth group. When kids have fun during an initial stint, they’re more likely to sign up again in the future. And after a while they’re signing up because it’s something they enjoy.

 Don’t underestimate what your child might have to offer an organization as a volunteer. And don’t underestimate the positive impact that experience can have on them. As these three young people have found, there’s a lot to be gained by giving your time to a local organization.