Favorite #184: America the Beautiful

From sea to shining sea ...

… from sea to shining sea.

Respect, Compassion, Brotherhood

During the years I taught elementary school music, one of my favorite months was November. I loved singing patriotic songs for Veterans Day and later in the month singing songs about turkeys, American history and the first Thanksgiving.

Katherine Lee Bates wrote the words to America the Beautiful after a trip to Pikes Peak in Colorado, near the end of the 19th century. Only one road to the top, it was so narrow the horse and wagon almost fell off the mountain. After she arrived at the top, the view was so inspiring, Katherine thought the risk was worth it. When my students learned what inspired her to write America the Beautiful, they loved visualizing the sights she saw. Phrases such as “amber waves of grain” and “fruited plain” sometimes produced puzzled looks. I kept a book on hand in my classroom with photos to help them understand.

Katherine Lee Bates believed Americans had a fundamental faith in brotherhood.  Speeches dating back to the late 19th century of leaders of that day include quotes that America is great because America is good.  In my opinion that goodness was founded on a moral belief of kindness, compassion and respect for others that we are neglecting to teach our young people today. Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake forgave you. Ephesians 4:32, KJV

My dad was a World War II Veteran, landing on the beaches of Normandy, later marching into France and Germany. He taught me the importance of patriotism and respect. As a teacher, I passed that on to my students. It breaks my heart to see the division within our country. If my dad was alive, it would break his heart, too. Although America is struggling, hopefully we can find our way back. Our children are looking to us for guidance. Let’s not let them down.

America the Beautiful

by Katherine Lee Bates

Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,

For purple mountains majesty above the fruited plain.

America! America! God shed his grace on thee.

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea.

What do you think makes America great? Leave your comments below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com









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Favorite #183: Aspiring Author, Alicia Hartley (Part 2)

Alicia having a great day at West Rowan.

Alicia, having a great day with friends at West Rowan High School.

                         Alicia’s Guest Blog

I met Alicia Hartley a few months ago when she moved from Hiddenite to Mt Ulla, NC. After talking with her, I soon learned she was nervous about leaving Alexander Central High and starting her junior year at West Rowan. When she expressed an interest in creative writing and a desire to be an author someday, I suggested she write a guest blog about moving. Excited about the opportunity, in her first blog she shared about missing her friends and French teacher. She also shared that she had been looking forward to a class trip to France, but would miss it because of the move. Now that she’s had time to adjust, I hope, like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much she likes her new home and West Rowan.

My friends are great and I still get to see them very often. I went out for dinner with them last night and even as I’m typing this we’re working out a way to hang out later today. They haven’t forgotten me- which was one of my major concerns with moving. The internet is a beautiful thing and it allows me to keep in contact with them daily. I’ve even made a few new friends. I sit at a table in psychology, which is my favorite class by far, with two really nice and funny girls. There’s a kid in my math and American History class that watches and reads most of the stuff I do, and more as well. My lunch block overlaps with that of my friends, so we talk to each other then, too. The school doesn’t have French and I was too late to take it online, but I can keep practicing with various websites, and my friends, who I convinced to take French, practice with me frequently. I was also too late for the college course, but it will be available to me next year. I’m also getting into better shape. The school decided to put me into a workout class to make up for the holes in my schedule for what I couldn’t take. It was scary at first because I didn’t know the first thing about lifting weights or working out in general, but it’s not that bad, and it’s good for me. I probably need the exercise, I’m a bit of a couch potato. I’ve also found some excellent opportunities for little peeks into the world of being an author. You see, I want to be a novelist when I’m older. My landlady is an amazing woman who writes children’s books. Another little fact, this is her blog. I’ve given her feedback on some things and now I’m doing this, making a guest blog entry. I never in a million years would have dreamed that I’d have this opportunity at sixteen. This will look spectacular when I have to fill out college applications, and when I go to pitch an idea for a book to publishers, having a published author in my credentials will up my chances significantly.

So yeah. I live farther away from my sister, and I don’t see my friends as often. I’m not going to France, and I have to wait to take higher levels of French. But I made new friends. I explored a few things and broadened my horizons. Who’s to say I can’t go to France on my own one day? I have opportunities to explore the author world before I dedicate my life to it. I’m healthier. My room is cooler. I own more books. I write more. My teachers are really nice. I have more opportunities and things that I can do with my writing here. I live closer to places with things that I can do. I would say that I like my new school, (West Rowan High School). I certainly don’t dislike it. Life is about experience, and I’m experiencing a lot more things here than I ever would have been able to in Alexander County. Moving is hard, that much is true, but it doesn’t have to be bad.

While moving to a new community and school can be difficult, especially for teens, as we can see with Alicia it can be rewarding. Not only did she make new friends, but she tapped into interests she hadn’t explored before. Someday when Alicia’s a famous writer I hope she’ll look back and remember this time in her life with a smile. If you’d like to read the first part of Alicia’s blog, click here.

What has been your experience with moving? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.








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Favorite #182: Aspiring creative writer, Alicia Hartley

Aspiring creative writer and author, Alicia, enjoying a moment at home.

Aspiring creative writer and author, Alicia Hartley, enjoying a moment at home.

Alicia’s Guest Blog

Earlier this summer I met a young lady named Alicia Hartley. Alicia moved from Hiddenite to Mt Ulla, NC and is now attending West Rowan High School. An aspiring writer, she reminds me of another West student who chose that same career path. Jacki Huntington graduated  from high school in 2007, planning to pursue a degree in journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill. She received that degree in 2011. As any writer knows, journalism is not an easy career choice, but after many twists and turns, Jacki moved to New York City and is now a video producer.

I shared Jacki’s story hoping to give Alicia encouragement. When I asked her if she would like to be a guest blogger, exploring what it’s like to leave behind friends and start over at a new school, she was excited. She thought this was the perfect chance to get experience as a writer on a national platform. Following are her thoughts on the transition.

Moving is hard. It’s hard for a million different reasons. It’s especially hard if you’ve lived in the same small town for nearly as long as you can remember. Not long after I turned five, my mom moved my sister and I to Hiddenite, NC. It’s a tiny town in a tiny county. Alexander County is a small place located in the foothills of North Carolina. I lived there, with some minor moves, from kindergarten to my sophomore year of high school at Alexander Central. For those of you unfamiliar with high schools and what their years are called, that’s tenth grade. Long time, right? There was one high school in the entire county. Everyone knows everyone. I was established as a good student and I had good friends and an excellent church family. Granted, I didn’t have many friends, but I’ve always preferred quality over quantity. I’ve always loved to learn, but I never really had anything that totally clicked with me until I hit the high school, either. I had a wonderful theater family, and my French class was organizing a trip to France that I was dying to go on. I saw my friends every day. My sister and nephew lived next door and I saw them very often. I’d babysit my nephew when she needed me to. I had it made in this tiny town. I was even signed up to take college level courses. But it didn’t last.

Due to unforeseen circumstances this year, Alicia’s mom had to move. To keep Alicia from changing schools in the middle of her sophomore year, she let Alicia stay at her older sister’s house. This is how Alicia describes that time.

My sister came to my rescue. I had a play coming up in a matter of weeks, I had my friends, my cat, my nephew and my sister. I had so many things that needed me in Alexander County. I lived with my sister from the end of December to the middle of summer. The original plan had been for Mom to get a place in Alexander County so that I wouldn’t have to change schools, and everything I had established would stay established. Well, the plan changed. Mom, instead found a place in Rowan County.

 I went to visit her one weekend, and we went and explored Salisbury a bit.  I told her that I liked the area. She took that as me saying that I loved Salisbury and wanted to stay there until my dying days. So, she started planning for us to live in Rowan County, nearly an hour away from everything I knew and loved.  I was leaving behind my friends, my church, my theater family, my opportunities for college courses and a chance to go to France. My French teacher nearly cried when I told her I was moving, and so did I. I didn’t want to leave everything behind. I may have been more than a bit bitter about the whole ordeal, but I’m sixteen and that’s understandable, I think.

As you can see, Alicia went through a lot of changes this past year. If you’d like to see how Alicia adapted to her new environment, what lessons she’s learned, and if she’s made friends at West Rowan, check out her guest blog in a few weeks.

Did you ever have to move during a developmental time in your life? What lessons did you learn? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.








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Favorite #181: Disneyworld

Excited to be at Magic Kingdom. Can't wait to see Mickey Mouse.

Wearing our matching shirts, we were excited to visit Disneyworld and couldn’t wait to see Mickey and Minnie.

The Best Day Ever

This past Labor Day weekend, I took a much anticipated trip to Disneyworld with my family and a few friends.  In anticipation, we obtained fast passes for our favorite Disney rides and events, and made sure we had plenty of sunscreen, snacks, and money. Our reservations were at Orange Lake Resort in Kissimmee, Fla., only ten minutes from Disney, so we were pumped and excited.

As everyone knows things don’t always go as planned on vacation, but little did we expect what happened the first day. In the midst of pouring down rain, without warning, our friend’s car broke down just north of Savannah, Georgia on I-95. Fortunately for us, we were able to get another car and by 10:00 the next morning we were on our way to see Mickey.

My first visit to Disneyworld was in 1972 when I was in college. The Magic Kingdom was the only theme park open at the time, but even with just one park, I was amazed and in awe, especially of Cinderella’s Castle. Of course, I don’t want to take anything away from seeing Disneyworld through the eyes of my grandchildren. I loved seeing their faces when a character walked by, or shook their hand, or gave them a kiss. One of the most delightful experiences was with Ariel. She was really sweet and patient as my grandkids posed for pictures with her.

One of my favorite events of the week was the breakfast at the Polynesian Hotel. Not only was the food amazing, but many of the characters were there, including Mickey and Minnie. They signed autographs and spent time talking to the children, even including them in a march around the room. In the eyes of the children, Mickey and Minnie were the stars, but, why not? After all there wouldn’t be a Disneyworld without Mickey and Minnie and their creator, Walt Disney.   

A big hit for everyone (big and small) was the Safari Ride in an open-air vehicle at Animal Kingdom. A rough path/road through jungle, rocks and waterfalls with wild and not so wild animals in their natural habitat, made the adventure feel just like a real African safari. The giraffes came right up to the vehicle and seemed to pose for pictures with the silliest of expressions.

We stayed until closing at Magic Kingdom, and although tired at the end of the day, our experience was so worth it. We saw the parade in the afternoon and the 2016 Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks that night. My son-in-law said the fireworks were the best he had ever seen.

Our week came to a close on Thursday night with Mickey’s Backyard Bar-b-que. Set in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, the bar-b-que took place at an outdoor pavilion, with plenty of food and entertainment, such as line dancing, live music and a cowboy doing rope tricks.

Thanks, Disneyworld for a wonderful week with friends and family we won’t soon forget.

Disneyworld is known far and wide as a place where dreams come true. Congratulations to Baylie Hain. Her dream came true this week after being accepted into the Disney College Program for the upcoming semester. Way to go, Baylie.

What’s your favorite thing to do or see at Disneyworld? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com







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Favorite #180: Bounce City, Salisbury, NC

Bounce City lights up the night sky.

Bounce City lights up the night sky. Photo used with permission.

A Fun Place to Play

Bounce City, located at 120 N. Church St., in Salisbury, NC, is a magical place that consists of wall-to-wall inflatables children can bounce on, climb on and slide down to their heart’s content. I learned of Bounce City when my daughter, Kristin Saine, booked one of the rooms for a birthday party for my two grandsons. Their birthdays are only days apart, so that seemed like an easy way to celebrate. Just show up with cookies, cake and snacks and let the kids have fun.

The owners, Guanah and Jehan Davis opened this indoor playground two years ago. After graduating from North Rowan High School in Spencer, only a few miles from Salisbury, Guanah went off to college, graduating with a Masters Degree. It was while pursuing a business career as an executive in places like Boston and Washington, DC, that he met his wife, Jehan. She was practicing law in California at the time. Once they married and had children, Guanah felt it time to move back home. While most of Jehan’s family is in California, she has grandparents close by in Augusta, Ga.

Guanah said before the move to NC, he and Jehan lived in Philadelphia, often taking their children to a place similar to Bounce City. Once in Salisbury they began looking around, discovering they had to drive to the next town for that kind of play. After giving it some thought and consideration, they decided to go into business and Bounce City was born.

Bounce City not only has wall-to-wall inflatables for kids 14 and under, but also has arcade games, a separate area for toys and rooms for birthday parties, sporting events, and family reunions, including both large and small groups. Fundraising opportunities are available for schools and organizations.

I recently spent an afternoon with my youngest daughter, Kelly Key, and my two granddaughters at this indoor playground. Kelly said she loves Bounce City because it brings out the best in children. Not only can children enjoy simple play in climbing and using their imagination, but they are learning social skills by taking turns and interacting with others. She also likes Bounce City because of the friendly staff and the variety of activities.

If you’re looking for a great time for your children in the Salisbury area, try Bounce City. My grandkids love it and I’m sure your children and grandchildren will, too.

What activities do you recommend for children in your area? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #179: West Rowan Farm Home and Garden Store

Something for everyone at West Rowan Farm, Home and Garden Store.

Something for everyone at the West Rowan Farm Home and Garden Store.

         Hometown Pride

Imagine an atmosphere with friendly conversation, a game of checkers and a warm brownie smothered in ice cream. If you can imagine that you have imagined the West Rowan Farm Home and Garden Store at the corner of Hwy 801 and Graham Rd. in Bear Poplar, NC. The owners, Brian and Elsie Bennett, have made this is a favorite place to stop and relax.

When Elsie and Brian bought the store three years ago, they wanted a place where customers could come, shop and sit a spell. From corn hole bean bags to decorative flags to candles and farm items, whatever you’re looking for you probably can find it here. Cozy sitting areas invite customers to come in and stay awhile.

My grandsons, Carson and Garrett, love going to the store. Not only do they love the ice cream, but they also enjoy seeing friends.  My daughter, Kristin Saine, said, “We love to go to West Rowan Farm Home and Garden as much as we can. The ice cream and deserts are amazing. They treat us like family and the boys love it. It has such a hometown atmosphere and one that always welcomes us. I’m especially appreciative they have dairy- free options for our son Garrett who has diet restrictions. It’s a blessing to have a local place that accommodates him.”

Brian Bennett explained, “When we heard there was a young boy in the community who couldn’t have dairy, we decided to carry dairy-free ice cream so he could have the same experience like everyone else.” 

Kristin believes that says a lot about Brian and Elsie and their servant hearts.

One of Elsie’s favorite things is to see families come to the store together. She said not long ago an entire family came in with the great-grandmother and the great-grandchildren.  After eating ice cream they enjoyed an afternoon of fellowship and a game of checkers.

Recently, I stopped by to chat and while there had conversations with several members of the community. One mother of four shared how her family always stops by on their way home from ball practice to get a treat. The practice is at Mt Ulla Elementary School, which is only a few miles away.

I was a music teacher at Mt Ulla for nineteen years, so I was happy when I saw one of my past students, Wyatt Martin, in the store.  Wyatt shared that his dad, Darin, and brother, Ethan, sometimes play and sing country/bluegrass music on weekends at West Rowan Farm Home and Garden. Wyatt said he plays guitar.

Others that also play on weekends include Dale Mills on banjo, Colton Sherrill, guitar, The Back Creek Boys and Steve Dixon, guitar. Elsie never knows who’s going to show up, but when they do she posts a message on Facebook to let everyone know the music has arrived.

Like the sign on the wall says, “West Rowan Farm Home and Garden isn’t just an old store … it’s a community.” What a great place to relax and forget the cares of the day.

Is there a special place in your community that incorporates the spirit of the people like the West Rowan Farm Home and Garden Store? Leave a message below, comment on Facebook or email me at dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #178: Vacation Bible School

Learning new songs at Vacation Bible School. Sandi is far left and her daughter, Kathi, far right.

Having fun at VBS. Sandi is far left and her daughter, Kathi, far right. Photo by Taylor Williams, used with permission.


A Time of Learning

As a child one of my favorite things to do in the summer was to go to Vacation Bible School.  I still remember standing in a line outside Trading Ford Baptist Church waiting to hear the music so we could march in. Memories of teachers like Mrs. Barker, Mrs. Queen, Mrs. Alley, Mrs. Gobble, Mrs. Massey and Mrs. Mullis will forever be etched in my mind. I loved listening to the Bible stories and then doing the related activities. I’m happy to see that tradition being passed down to my grandkids.

My grandsons, Carson and Garrett, go to Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cleveland, NC. Their mom and dad, Kristin and Brian Saine, volunteered to help with VBS this year. When I asked what they did, Kristin said they were guides for the fifth grade Cave Quest. I’m not sure exactly what that is, but it sounds like fun. Kelly Fero, the director, always works hard to make sure the children have fun through games and activities as they learn about Jesus and his love. 

When I asked Carson what he liked best, he said, “Making flashlights.” I suppose the flashlights were for the cave. 

When I asked Garrett what he liked best, he said, “Singing.” Then, he added, “My favorite song was “This Little Light of Mine”. 

While my grandsons went to VBS at Cornerstone, my granddaughters went to Franklin Baptist Church in Salisbury. The theme at their Bible School was “Submerged”. As you might guess, all the children loved this theme because they had plenty of chances to play in the water.

Sandi Hache has been the director of VBS at Franklin for a number of years and like Kelly works hard to prepare. One day I overheard her daughter, Kathi Majors, talking about going out to eat with her mom a few weeks before Bible School and telling her not to talk about VBS during the meal.  Knowing how much Sandi loves preparing for VBS, I knew that would be hard for her. I laughed when Kathi said, “Mom reluctantly agreed not to talk about it but as soon as the meal was over she began making plans again.”

That kind of commitment is what it takes to have a successful program because a lot must happen before the children arrive such as preparing materials, decorating the church and lining up teachers to teach. Sandi said, “Every minute of preparation is always worth it. This year eight children made a decision for Christ. That’s what it’s all about.”

My daughter, Kelly Key, taught the preschool class this year at Franklin and agrees with Sandi. She said, “Since our nation was founded on Christian principles it is important as parents to teach our children to walk in the way of the Lord and against the tide of the world.” As a guide to this philosophy, Kelly made reference to Psalm 71:17. O God Thou has taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared Thy wondrous works. (KJV)

When I was seven years old I walked forward during Vacation Bible School at Trading Ford Baptist Church and received Jesus in my heart. I’m grateful for VBS and how it made a difference in my life and I know there are many others both young and old who feel the same way.

Thanks to all the churches, teachers and volunteers who unselfishly give of time, money and effort to make Vacation Bible School a success each year. By giving children a chance to discover there’s more to life than the here and now, you’re giving them the best gift of all.

What does Vacation Bible School mean to you? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.






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Favorite #177: Cosmetologists

A day in the life of a cosmetologist, fixing hair and being a friend. In this photo, Debbie is fixing my mom's hair.

A day in the life of a cosmetologist. In this photo, Debbie is curling Mom’s hair.


The Local Beauty Shop

As we look around our communities we often see people willing to serve. Some are visible, like policemen and firemen, while others are not so visible. Have you ever thought about how much a cosmetologist does for others in their community? 

As a child I often went with my mom to Melda’s Beauty Shop in Salisbury, NC. Her daughter, Diane, remembers those days well. She especially remembers being the guinea pig for new “hairdos” and laughs thinking about what her mom called the magazine game.

While waiting their turn, customers often passed the time reading the latest gossip magazines. Since sometimes they wanted to take the magazines home to finish, Melda developed a system for checking them out, with the understanding the magazines were to be brought back at the next appointment. Diane admits she sometimes slipped and read the articles, saying according to today’s standards they were pretty tame.

Through the years many of Melda’s customers became friends, sharing stories of good times and bad. Mom was one of those customers. When Melda passed away in 1998 from cancer, Mom took it hard. Everyone always appreciated Melda’s fighting spirit, knowing even when she didn’t feel well she was in the shop serving her customers with a smile.

When Melda passed away Mom began going to Mildred Smith in Spencer, NC, at Hair USA. The environment of a beauty shop seems to be a safe place to share hopes, dreams and secrets, so like with Melda, mom began building a relationship with Mildred. 

Last October, due to Mom’s failing health, she moved in with me. Since Mildred’s shop is about 15 miles away, I knew it would be easier if I could find something closer. Debbie Fleming’s shop in Woodleaf is only about two miles, so I called to see if she had any openings.

Seeing the relationship Mom built with each of her hair dressers, even Debbie in this short time, I began thinking about how cosmetologists go the extra mile for their customers. Not only do they shampoo, cut, perm and style hair, but they lend a listening ear. When serving mostly senior citizens, they tend to keep their prices low and rarely increase fees. If one of their customers is sick they check on them through phone calls and cards, sometimes making house calls to fix their hair at home.

Sharing with Debbie I wanted to write a blog about cosmetologists, I asked for her thoughts. She said, “Well, it’s not a glamorous job because you’re on your feet all day sometimes working from early morning into the night. Adapting to different personalities throughout the day can be stressful. Yet, I love it because I enjoy helping others. It’s rewarding to see someone come in who might have had a bad day, and, then, after getting their hair fixed, leave with a smile. I like to think I had a part in making them feel better.”

Cosmetologists do so much behind the scenes most people aren’t aware of, quietly making the world a better place one hairdo at a time.  That should be a lesson for all of us. To make the world a better place right where we are.

In what ways does your cosmetologist go the extra mile? Leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.









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Favorite #176: Sea Paws Pet Store

Sarah, Jeff, Earl and Tooter in front of Sea Paws.

Sarah, Jeff, Earl and Trooper in front of their pet store, Sea Paws.

Unexpected Treasures at the Beach

There’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting on the shore at the beach listening to the ocean waves with the sand between my toes.

This past May I spent a week with friends and family in Atlantic Beach, NC, at the resort, A Place at the Beach III. We enjoyed an oceanfront condo with onsite activities such as ping pong, putt putt and a water slide.

One morning Charlotte Huntington, Betsy Safrit and I walked about a mile down the beach to the pier. Once there we noticed two surfer dudes surfing. We had a good time watching them, showing our approval with thumbs up.

After about an hour we began walking back down the beach to our condo. On the way we saw two beautiful dogs walking with their owner. They were so cute, I asked if I could pet them. After saying it was okay, Jeff Vaughn, their owner, then explained that Earl and Trooper were rescue dogs. He also shared that he and his wife, Sarah, own a pet store in Morehead City. Morehead City is just across the bridge from Atlantic Beach.  

Jeff went on to explain that he and Sarah recently moved from Greensboro, leaving the world of finance behind. They chose Morehead City because Jeff had fond memories visiting his grandmother as a child in the waterfront community. To him it felt like coming home.

Once the decision was made to move Jeff and Sarah began to think about what they wanted to do. Since Earl has stomach issues they decided to open a pet store that carries healthy choices of dog and cat food.

During our conversation, Jeff invited me to visit Sea Paws and I’m glad I did. In the store I saw not only dog and cat food, but also items made by local patrons with a dog and cat theme. In addition, there were items that are a good fit for animal lovers at the beach and their pets. For example, items such as life jackets for dogs and toys that won’t get waterlogged or sink are part of the inventory.  My children’s books have dogs as the main characters, so I’m happy to say Sea Paws now carries them as well. My latest book, Tired of Being Obedient, has tips for training dogs in the back.

This just goes to show you never know what unexpected treasures you may find at the beach. If you’re ever in Morehead City, stop by the pet store, Sea Paws. I’m sure Earl and Trooper and of course, Jeff and Sarah will be glad to see you. Check out their website at, www.seapaws.org. In addition, Sea Paws Facebook page has daily updates of pets that need adopting in the surrounding area.

Do you have a favorite pet store? What makes it special? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.







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Favorite #175: Robinson Elementary School

Had a great time sharing my books and ideas for writing with the students at Robinson Elementary School.

I enjoyed sharing my books with kindergarten and first grade students at Robinson Elementary School.

     A Day of Reading, Writing and Fun

Earlier this spring I was invited by kindergarten teacher, Lorna Poe to share my books with the kindergarten and first grade classes at Robinson Elementary School in Gastonia, NC.  I had never met Lorna before, but was childhood friends with her mother, Linda Smith. Linda is a retired middle-school teacher who also taught in Gastonia. After Linda shared with her daughter that I was a children’s author, Lorna reached out to me.

On the day of my visit, I was surprised to see both Linda and Lorna standing at the front door to greet me. Once I checked in at the office, they helped me set-up in the library.  As we worked we had a great time talking and sharing memories.

The kindergarten classes were scheduled for the first presentation. Once they arrived, Lorna introduced me and then explained that her mom and I had been childhood friends. It was great fun watching the children’s faces as they processed that bit of information. As I read my books, they were attentive and well-behaved, eager to learn how I developed the story line and characters in the series. This helped them better understand how each book built upon the next.

After the kindergarten presentation, the next group to arrive was first grade. They were well-prepared because the questions they asked were similar to second or third grade classes. For example, they wanted to know where I got my ideas and how long it took to write a book. I answered by saying, “My children’s books generally take about a year to write and I get my ideas from real life.”

In addition to sharing my books, I also gave tips for writing. One of the most important things a writer can do to improve his craft  is to read. Books and stories can transport a person to a different place or time, sparking a thought or idea for a story.

I enjoyed my visit at Robinson Elementary School because not only were the students  well-behaved, but the staff was friendly and even the principal, Mr. Bill Kessler, took time out of his busy schedule to stop by the library for a presentation.

It’s great to see schools willing to reach out into the community for resources that will broaden and enhance a child’s education. That shouldn’t surprise parents of students at Robinson since the theme for the year was helping students explore new learning. Hopefully, I was a part of that new learning.

Thanks, Robinson Elementary School and Miss Poe for inviting me to your school.

If  you could visit with an author, what questions would you ask? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.

If you’d like to schedule an author visit to your preschool, church or organization, check out my homepage.







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