Winter Activities For Kids That May Lead to Some “Dough”.

The east coast is going to be hit again with potentially another foot of snow and that means a lot of kids will be  home from school.  What to do to beat the “winter time blues”? Here are some ideas that may result in more than keeping the kids busy on a winter day…

  1. Pillows / empty boxes / blankets over a couch and table make the perfect fort!  Include some flashlights, books and board games to make the perfect “camp”.  If you have a group of budding musicians consider challenging them to write a song with music and lyrics.   Think the song has potential? Check out websites for submission,  such as this one.
  2. Create your own board game.  Kids can be super creative.  Offer them the suggestion to submit to the HASBRO gaming lab their idea. Rules and more can be found here.   As an incentive – they are offering some substantial cash prizes and awesome opportunities to meet them in their lab. HASBRO, of course, is a giant in the board game world. Read the rules and terms carefully, before entering.
  3. Create a recipe – then bake it! Of course, supervision is important in any and all activities that I would suggest. But, especially when it comes to using appliances, such as an oven.  Who knows – you  may actually have a budding chef under your roof! Did you know that offers a way to submit your own creations? Check it out here And, has a multitude of podcasts and recipes for novice and more experienced cooks to try!
  4. Attention Young Authors! Break the winter blahs by inviting your kids to stir their creative writing talents and create a short story for submission. Due diligence is necessary as writing for publication is a tough journey. However, for those who want to venture on this path check  out this article.  

There are many great ways to keep kids who are “stuck” inside busy! Share your ideas below and remember to do your due diligence if submitting to any of the above websites. Good luck and Enjoy!


The Signing Families Mini-Emergency Communication Chart – For When Time Counts! (ASL- English – Spanish – Chinese)



This pocket-sized emergency communication chart has FOUR different languages represented. Photos for a dozen important informational signs are in sign language, English, Spanish and Chinese! There is a space for writing with a washable marker allows for efficient communication during challenging situations, such as medical emergencies or disasters. Also, numbers, common symbols (such as for email) and the alphabet is included. This card has a special coating for easy cleaning. This emergency mini – chart has been used by thousands of First Responders and Community Emergency Responder Teams (CERT). Also, valuable for those who work in schools, are involved with service related industries (such as bus drivers, flight attendants, etc.). Restauranteurs and hospitality workers are also using this chart to help customers who are in need of assistance. We offer this chart for those who reside in the United States. Price includes shipping within the USA. Don't want to order via PayPal or don't see a button to order? EMAIL US at the LINK BELOW! Bulk orders needed? EMAIL US! Shipping included, but note: we only ship within the United States. For outside the USA orders – please send an email. Thank you.







mini chart chinese 2


To learn more about emergency sign language please go to





Gifts with Heart ❤️

2017 has seen more than its’ share of tragedy.  Mother Nature was angry this year – very, very, very angry. Our world experienced  multiple devastating earthquakes, hurricanes that tore apart whole islands and deadly fires that also ravaged homes and businesses.  Then there was the broken hearts caused by recent acts of violence and rage – Las Vegas, Barcelona, London, throughout Africa and the mid-east and of course, New York City.

Despite the tragedy and profound sense of losses, we can still hope and seek a silver lining this holiday season by giving from the heart to heal hearts.

I have compiled a list of organizations or companies that want to help the greater good by doing good.  Please consider their efforts when you are gifting others’ during the holidays or just “any day”.


One Hope Wines. Annually this company features worthwhile organizations that deserve our love. Whether to help fight against breast cancer or drive attention about Autism, this company always is about the giving through gifts.  Discover their lovely gift bags here that nourish the soul.

This year the grape crops of Northern California were nearly obliterated due to numerous fires of unprecedented magnitude.  One Hope has pledged to help the farmers and wineries and sent a note from their CEO with their vow for assistance.

Read about the ONE HOPE wine GoFund Me campaign


Screenshot 2017-11-01 16.39.18


The statistics are staggering as to how many animals are destroyed annually. That is a polite way to say killed.  That’s right – thousands upon thousands of dogs, cats, bunnies, etc. are euthanized because of bad luck.  They were throw-aways. BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL RESCUE works tirelessly to save animal lives and educate humans.

Adopt a pet either for “real” or  sponsor a pet virtually here.

Sponsoring a pet is the perfect gift to give someone who is allergic or unable to care for a furry family member due to living circumstances.  Last year I adopted a dog and horse to gift someone!



Sponsor a Classroom!

Organizations are abundant to help teachers get the essentials (and occasional perks) funded for their classroom.  Don’t believe that school districts in 2017 are flush with money to help our student’s learn. Many have shoes-string budgets and can hardly cover the basics, like textbooks or science equipment.  I would love to think that we don’t need a bake sale each time our students need uniforms or basic science equipment. But, that is the reality.

Here are some alternate ways to help without having to crack an egg for cookie-dough.

Click on the links below to learn more about each organization.

Donors Choose – Help a specific teacher / classroom request

Adopt a Classroom (including a special section for Hurricane Relief)

Go Fund Me Educational Campaigns



Last but not least,  one of my favorite charities is the SANDY HOOK PROMISE foundation.  They do AMAZING work – year ’round. Their goal – to stop senseless violence, especially from guns,  and increase tolerance and compassion in this world.

Their store has items that would make groovy gifts! Shop here

Watch their powerful array of videos here.





In closing, please the gift of sharing and caring this holiday season.  Imagine the impact your $5, $25 or more donation could have on your community and other communities’ around the world.

Thank you.







Six Years Later

I am a lucky person. Very.  Rarely a week goes by that you don’t hear about someone being diagnosed with cancer and about others’ who don’t survive. But, I was. And, I did. That makes me a very lucky person and I don’t take being a survivor for granted. Ever.

Now I know I had the “good cancer” – thyroid.  But, let me tell you there is no good cancer.  No sentence that has cancer as one of the words will ever be “good”.  (Correction: The only acceptation would be if the sentence read: Scientists have a 100% cure for ALL cancers.)

As many of you know, I am a consummate educator. That means I like to share life lessons.  Let me tell you what I have learned six years and seven months after my 7-plus hour surgery for papillary thyroid cancer.

  1. Don’t get lax with taking care of yourself.  Go to your regular scheduled medical tests. Listen to your body and seek help when you feel that “something isn’t quite right”.
  2. Delete the toxic things in your life.  That may mean bags of chips, soda or some people. All can make your life challenging and your health compromised.
  3. Keep a journal or a blog.  The big “C” is too hard to keep to yourself.  You can’t do this journey alone. So, don’t.  Moreover, you shouldn’t  rely solely on friends and families. Some of the heavy lifting with improving your health has to come from within yourself. It is amazing how strong one becomes when it comes to doing this kind of “lifting”.
  4. A sense of humor is as important as anything else that keeps you going. Laughter may be your second weapon in your arsenal of getting healthy.  Or at least a key “player”.
  5. Pay it forward.  Your path with cancer will never be the same as another person’s. However, your experiences may be helpful with the education of another. So, share what you have learned and be willing to sometimes switch roles and be a student.  I for one freely share that Johns Hopkins Hospital and Drs. Ralph Tufano and David Cooper were KEY to my diagnosis, survival and continued health.  I will be forever grateful the them and their respective teams at JHH.
  6. Reward yourself.  Each year when I leave JHH after my annual tests I stop at the hospital gift shop. If my tests are negative (good news) then I get to buy myself a gift.  After six years of prodding from tests and lots of “negative”, I have amassed a number of JHH t-shirts, hoodies, bags and this year a birthstone ring.  (One can only have so many shirts and hoodies!)
  7. Celebrate. In the last six years I have learned to celebrate the small and large milestones of life.  Every completion of a treatment, an anniversary, birthday, family event, milestone – they all get celebrated!


Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below!

HALFLING, a New YA Novel with Bonus Features: Book Club, Virtual and Homeschool Curriculum Options

Halfling (2016) by debut author, Donna Marie Robb

Donna Marie Robb is a writer who has a dream … actually, a whole lot of dreams! Her debut young adult fantasy novel, Halfling, chronicles the story of Remmi, a young girl who is vacillates between Dreamearth and Realearth.   As her story unfolds you realize that Robb wrote Remmi to be a strong protagonist who has experienced more in her few short years than most do in a lifetime.

As the story commences you learn that Remmi was orphaned as a child, so she thought. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she ends up in an unusual living situation where she is among “drones” who have been voided of thoughts.  Her life in slavery ends when she realizes that her skill-set includes a touch of magic.  As a clever and precocious teen, Remmi uses her new found abilities to escape and go forth to help others. Her story of survivorship grabbed me within the first two chapters. (And, robbed me of precious hours of sleep as I couldn’t put the book down!)

The story ebbs and flows between one “earth” to another – similar to other YA books such as The Giver or Harry Potter, where alternate realms help enhance the intrigue. While Halfling was written for the tween and teen audience, my husband and friends also became fast fans and thoroughly enjoyed this page-turner!

Plus, the animated video, created by the very talented Dara Blaker, gives Remmi a voice and makes reading Halfling even more enticing!


Meet the author, Donna Marie Robb

I have had the pleasure of knowing the author for many years.  Her ability to have insight in to the psyche of young adults’ is clearly evidenced by her writing of Halfling.  She also is a librarian who cares about the youth of our country and their education and attainment of literacy skills. That is why she decided to introduce a book club and a homeschool / virtual school curriculum as adjunct features to Halfling. 


View the Halfling Book Club page!

The book club allows students to expand the discussion regarding Halfling with fun and thought-provoking questions.  Also, they can engage with the author by using the contact form or comment section on the Book Club page. Check out the book club feature here.

About the Homeschool / Virtual School Curriculum

Coming soon will be a curriculum for home educated  / virtual schooled students. This will be a four to six -week literacy based guide to instruction with Halfling as the featured text.  Students will be able to delve in to the book, explore their own “dreams”, keep a journal and compare and contrast the themes of the book with current events.

Let the author know you are interested in the Homeschool Curriculum by filling out this contact form.  (And, ask in the comment section how you can get the book and curriculum for FREE – an offer that is time limited.)

Why Halfling is needed in OUR world

On a closing note,  as a School Psychologist I believe we need books like Halfling.  The character, Remmi, is likable but also a role model for tweens and teens.  She exemplifies what it is like to be a resilient child with a will to overcome all obstacles in her way – including evil and persecution.  I won’t give away the ending – but know that it is not predictable.

Halfling and the adventures of Remmi are easy on the budget. Kindle version is free for unlimited prime members, $2.99 for basic Kindle and $11.99 for paperback. All can be found here: AMAZON.

And, my hashtags for this book would be … #MustRead #FreshOriginalPremise






I am part of the social media team helping to promote this amazing author and Halfling. Trust me when I say it is my pleasure to represent such an amazing talent!




Reflections and Lessons: #NeverForget is the hashtag – but have we?

I write this with a heart that is still so heavy with sadness for those who have lost their loved ones as a result of the terrorist acts on September 11th.  Yet, I wonder if others are thinking of today more as “football Sunday” vs. a day of remembrance?    Have we forgotten about how we all promised to “come together”, “help each other” and #NeverForget the lessons of September 11, 2001?

photo credit: L. Sattler

I  hope not.

As the collateral damage still unfolds as those continue to die – even indirectly.  We forget that many brave people (and animals) risked their lives trying to help others.  Our First Responders worked tirelessly to help find survivors.  Many of those are suffering from Post -traumatic stress disorder and ill health – even 15 years later.

And, directly due to 9/11 we lost scores of brave men and women in combat.  Lives forever gone and families forever heartbroken.

Related read about increased risk of cancer among 9/11 First Responders and other impacts  (Huffington Post)

Also, as an oddity to many we have hit a juncture where there are now college aged people who have only a “faint memory” of the events  that unfolded on September 11, 2001. Their only recollection are the stories passed down to them from those who “remember when…” or memories of media images they saw when young.   Some are even saying that 9/11 is now more “historical” than “relevant” news.

 How can the events of September 11th be “historical” when for many it still feels like yesterday?

And ….

… there is another observation I have made and feel compelled to write about – one that hits me in the pit of my stomach.  We are making making of the same mistakes – again! We have not learned the lessons of our ancestors or even one generation ago.  We are in a place that may be all too familiar for those who experienced the Holocaust or Cold War.  Our educational curve is going downward  instead of upward when it comes to learning from the past about how minds can be “twisted” during times of economic and emotional turmoil.  Adolph Hitler banked on people wanting – needing – more and different. He placed blame on niche groups.  This scenario is happening again- NOW – like a Greek tragedy only with different people at the helm.

Related: A comparison of the Holocaust and 9/11   (

Sadly, many are forgetting.  We aren’t living up to the pledges and promises we made on the days, weeks and months following Sept 11th.  In social media “hashtag” terms  our ability to honor the fallen and learn from the past may seem like we will #NeverForget but in many ways the reality is we are leaning towards an #EpicFail, as too many are still suffering and we are not as cohesive a nation or world as we once had promised, had hoped.

In my humble opinion, we must honor all who lost their lives and those we still grieve as a result of September 11th by being POSITIVE agents of change. So please, make a difference so that our children and children’s children have half a chance to live a  life in the land of free  because we remember the brave.

Thank you.

Photo credit: L. Sattler

Qubits – a unique and creative toy for children and adults! #STEM

About a month ago I spotted on my Twitter-stream a photograph of a young boy who had created a bicycle using a toy called Qubits. (I took the liberty to crop the photo to disguise the identity of the young lad).  At first the boy reminded me of a little boy I worked with more than two decades ago who had developmental delays and significant visual impairments. While it was the boy who caught my interest in the photo, it was the bicycle he made from plastic shapes that piqued my curiosity!  Within minutes I was engaging online with @Qubits_Toy and learning more about this real product for learning that is the brainchild of  Mark and Lisa Burginger.

As a School Psychologist who has worked years within the realm of special education, I asked the creators if they wouldn’t mind sending to me a set of Qubits for closer inspection and review.  So, thank you to the Burgingers for satiating my curiosity and sending to me a lovely pack of Qubits who has made “snap happy” for several days!

The first thing that struck me about Qubits was its’ many educational applications.  For example, the toy itself could help with the development of visual motor planning, organizational and processing skills.  Advocates of STEM  will love that this toy incorporates fundamental concepts necessary for the foundations needed for careers such as engineering or architecture.

Learn about STEM education?

The basic pack I received came with scores of brightly colored shapes that snapped and connected together.  Frankly, I could have played with them for hours! I also couldn’t help but think that Qubits may not be “just for kids” as it could be of great value for occupational therapists working with adults.  Imagine seniors who are having memory / dementia issues being occupied by this stimulating product.  And while this product may be similar to Legos because they both are toys that “connect” and are made of plastic, I truly think they are complimentary and not competitors.

Today, I had the pleasure of talking to one of my favorite toy store owners.  She was searching for any games or toys that a child with visual impairments could play without supervision or help from someone with sight.  I immediately answered, “Qubits!” 

I connected with Mark Burginger and asked him questions about the development, marketing and future of his company.

Q1- What inspired you to start Qubits? 

The California school system cut art/design/music in the 90’s, so Lisa and I would occasionally volunteer at the local elementary school for free to soften the lack of these classes – Well at that time I had already designed this geometric shape that I developed during my college architecture days, anyway we looked at it (the Modular Form Building Element – patented) and we thought it would make a good concept for a creative children’s construction toy. A toy that would introduce kids to art/design while they played at home.

 Q2- What is your background?

 Lisa is a graduate from a Fashion/Design College in NY 

Mark is an architect registered in the State of California

 Q3- How do you envision this toy for children with special needs?

 We have visited autism schools, gifted schools, charter schools with special needs, Christian schools and Chabad schools. We are currently trying to arrange for a presentation at the Florida School for the Blind. Each time we do this we find that the challenges presented by Qubits helps kids focus on problem solving their geometric design. The time spent carefully positioning pieces allows many kids to “chill out” from the activities that over stimulate them such as video games.

 Q4- What is your next project for the company?

Video, we have not captured the essence of Qubits in a video yet. It’s a tough task since we value childrens privacy and rarely bring a camera into the play area while we are working with Qubits.



Q5- How do you market Qubits

We pay for the display of millions those little click ads you see on web sites, via Amazon – thousands of people click on them and hundreds buy each month. We are just now reaching out to the small speciality stores that are just now rebuilding themselves after the severe recession.

Q6- Do you work with educators?

 Yes since 2007 we have visited close to a 70 different schools, libraries, street fairs, after school facilities, childrens day care facilities, hospitals and museums. Have entertained over a 2 thousand of kids in the process. A middle school teacher introduced us to STEM back in 2007 and we have focused on it ever since.

 Q7- Anything else to share?

 We are proud that we were awarded the Chase Bank Mission Main Street Grant during the year 2014, with that award we have been able to spend more quality time on the improvement of our toy. We have worked hard to produce this toy right here in the USA and we hope that we can market it correctly and grow our company and improve our brand.

 BRAVO Mark and Lisa!
Qubits can be purchased direct from the website here
Disclaimer:  I received a free set of Qubits to be reviewed.  It will be donated to a young family who I know will enjoy it immensely!