Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saline Family Chiropractic sets the bar for food donation

Dr. Paquin, his staff and all of his Saline Family Chiropractic clients have set out to make a real difference for area families.  If you follow my blogs at all, you know that about every month or so I write something about the importance of food donation for families in need.  I remind you that food pantries aren't only for the poor and homeless, and that your very own next door neighbor could be utilizing a food bank and you wouldn't even know it.  I also remind you that donating food is a great way to plant the seed of volunteerism in kids, and to teach them the benefits of helping others with a topic they can relate to, like Cheerios and grilled cheese sandwiches, and what it would be like to not have them.

Over one million people in Michigan alone visit food banks annually.  According to the Food Gatherers website in Ann Arbor, a land mark study, Hunger in America 2010, released in February, reports that more than 43,900 people--including more thatn 14,000 children and 6,500 seniors--receive emergency food each year through Food Gatherers' network of emergency food pantries and meal sites.  The findings represent a 138 percent increase since 2006.

This is where Dr. P. comes in.  Right now he and his staff are collecting good food for Food Gatherers and United Way right in his office waiting area.  They've got eight giant barrels filled and want to overflow those before the food drive ends in another week or so.  To add a little incentive to get donations sooner than later, he's having a drawing.  One bag of groceries gets you an entry to win a gigantic, flat screen TV.   It's a beauty!  I've seen it myself during our regular visits for adjustments and my ticket is in that bowl!  The more bags of groceries, the more entries.

If you'd like to donate, the time is now.  Food banks are in short supply, especially over the summer when kids are home from school and unable to benefit from school lunches.

Dr. Paquin and his staff are happy to take your donation in their office located at 144 S. Industrial Drive in Saline, across the street from Country Market.  They are closed from 1pm-3pm for lunch daily, and are closed Tuesday mornings and all day Thursday.  Check out their Facebook page for more details.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pennies For Peace at Pleasant Ridge

Students at Saline's Pleasant Ridge Elementary school are participating in a global initiative to help build schools and educate children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Pennies For Peace Program is a global campaign of the Central Asia Institute (CAI) that teaches students about their capacities as philanthropists, a few cents at a time.
The campaign began in 1994 when author and program founder Greg Mortenson took his story, "Three Cups of Tea" (#1 New York Times best seller), to the students of Westside Elementary School in River Fall, Wis. where his mother was principal.

The CAI Foundation began shortly afterward in 1996 and, to date, has built nearly 100 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, serving more than 28,000 students, over half of which are girls. One penny goes a long way toward eduction in these regions. It buys one pencil and the beginning of an education. When children in these countries learn to read, write and learn, they are less likely to be recruited by terrorist organizations.

Visit the Pennies For Peace Web site for information about the program and how your school can participate.

April Scarlett is a freelance writer. Find her work at,,,, on Facebook search ASW-April scarlett Writes and on Twitter @ajscarlett.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hubble turns 20, kids can be a part of history!

Young Sam in front of one of the Hubble photos at the exhibit last summer.

Happy twentieth birthday to the Hubble Telescope. Our family had the pleasure of seeing
the Hubble exhibit at the Exhibit Museum of Natural History in Ann Arbor last summer. Since then, we have all continued to be fascinated by Hubble, the mirror repair, its gorgeous pictures, the fact that it is been around for twenty years, and that it is expected to keep snapping photographs for at least another five. What was really exciting though, was when we found out what the Hubble people are doing in honor of their twentieth year. Your kids can actually record their thoughts and feelings about Hubble, and have it recorded in the archives, right alongside the full collection of the telescope's scientific data.
You can check out all things Hubble at its very own website, This is where you can record your thoughts about the telescope for all to know for the rest of history.
The Hubblesite also has a step by step process for kids to build their very own hand-held replica of Hubble using everyday items found at your local hardware store. There are three different versions depending on the age or skill level of your child from average to very difficult.
For parents and teachers there is an educator's section, a full gallery of gorgeous photographs taken by Hubble and all of the latest news and updates on its progress.
If you'd like to hear a terrific discussion about Hubble, its history and facts and tidbits, go to NPR's Science Friday's website to listen to an audio file of yesterday's show. They explain so many interesting things, including the colors in the photos, whether they are real colors or filtered.
If you or your child is at all fascinated by space or astronomy, I highly recommend taking some "Hubble time" this weekend. Have fun!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Party
Photo Credit| Courtesy Graphic

Earth Day turns forty today. A perfect excuse for you and your kids to
throw Mother Earth a party. Whether you plan it for this weekend, or throw a surprise after-school bash, here are some ideas to make your theme greener. Invitations: Cut up a paper grocery bag and let your kids go to town decorating. One paper bag is enough for your entire guest list!
Cake: Organic, of course. There are a ton of recipes on the web for all-natural and organic goodies. Even better, try some "no-bake" brownies and save energy too! Or have your crowd decorate round sugar cookies with blue and green frosting to make little "earths" to pack in their lunches. A tasty reminder to take care of our planet!
Activities: There are a million! Make bird feeders out of recycled milk containers, plant an herb garden in egg cartons, or how about a field trip to the Scrap Box, or other location where you can get your hands on some un-used goodies to create whatever the imagination can come up with. Want something not so cliche? Check out the web for a ton of green action items.
Music: Love this list of Eco-ABC's...have the kids learn it karaoke style.
Party favors: Send everyone home with a seedling to plant a tree or a treat in a reusable container like a shovel and spade.
Thank you cards: Have the kids paint an Earth Day mural as one of their activities. After the party, cut out pieces of it to make unique cards with a modern-art feel. Send your guests a piece of the masterpiece they created at the party...another reminder of why they were celebrating in the first place.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe's first detective anniversary, mystery picks for kids

Posted: Apr 19, 2010 at 9:47 AM [Today]
Edgar Allan Poe
Public Archives

April 19, 1841, the first fictional detective ever, Auguste C. Dupin, came to life in "The Murder in the Rue Morgue" by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe became famous for his poem "The Raven", but became known for his mysteries.

Today's anniversary of the first great detective story had me thinking about what my kids read. I for one, was never a huge fan of mysteries, but my husband and both my son's really enjoy them. I found some good websites for kids to read short story mysteries, and thought I might list for you some great mystery books and series for kids.

For good reads and lists of more good reads, visit and

Here are some others I highly recommend, or have had recommended for my kids:

A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy--Age 9-12
Amelia Bedelia Series by Peggy and Herman Parish--Age 4-8
The Boxcar Mysteries by Gertrude Chandler Warner--Ages 7-12
Cam Janson Series by David A. Adler--Ages 6-9
Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobel--Ages 9-12
Nate The Great Series by Marjorie Sharmat--Ages 6-9
Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene--Ages 4-8, 9-12
Red Rock Mysteries by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry

Saturday, April 10, 2010

ASPCA anniversary has me thinking locally...


Posted: Apr 9, 2010 at 4:19 PM [Yesterday]
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was founded 144 years this week, in 1866. I had no idea they've been
around so long! In honor of this monumental achievement, I wanted to let families know what they can do on a local level, and what to expect when adopting a pet from Ann Arbor's own Humane Society of Huron Valley (

I hear many families considering adopting pets before summer, in hopes that their children will have the entire summer vacation to acquaint themselves and/or train their new pets. After checking out the Humane Society of Huron Valley's website, I learned there is a lot more to adopting a pet than one would think.
We've all seen the movies where a young girl or boy peruses countless cages of wagging tales and sad eyes, only to end up saying "I want that one!" and off they go into a furry and forevermore sunset.

Not so fast. These are some things the Humane Society wants you to know before your visit:

1. You must be 21 years of age.
2. If you currently have a dog and are looking for another, a "dog-to-dog interaction" is required for approval.
3. You must fill out an adoption survey before you visit with the animals. They are available at the desk or you can download them online.
4. There is an entire list of documentation you need to bring, everything from vet records to apartment leases proving pets are allowed.
5. Expect to pay $25 to $100 for cats, and $100 to $250 for dogs.

In my opinion, the fee is truly worth it when you see all of the veterinary services that are included, and the humane society is a non-profit, so they have to stay afloat somehow.

One thing I learned that I thought was terrific, is sometimes there will be two dogs listed as "Perfect Pairs", which means they will only be adopted-out together. This could be at the request of the previous owner who was unable to keep them, or just that they've never been apart so it would be too upsetting to them to be separated.

There may be a lot to go through when adopting a pet. The good news is you know exactly what your are getting, and the organization knows exactly what the animal is getting too. They are in the business of finding the perfect family-animal match so you end up adopting a very healthy, happy, tail-wagging or purring addition to your family.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rainy Day Activities for Kids

"It's raining, it's pouring, your kids think life is boring..."
Photo by Weiling
Just because it is raining outside, doesn't mean the fun needs to take a break like the sun has for the day. On a quest to keep my youngest busy on a drippy day during Spring Break, I went looking on the internet for ideas. I found some really great websites with neat activities to keep kids creative, and maybe give them a break from the tv and video game remotes...
If you worry about your kids not getting enough exercise when the weather isn't perfect, then is for you. It lists a boatload of busy activities to keep kids having fun while moving and grooving.
If you are looking for a way to keep things green, is a website full of environmentally friendly activities, both using recycled materials you have hanging around your house, or creating items to help the environment outside your house. One thing I loved about this site is it has an art gallery where kids can submit their nature-based art for display on the site. It is a very cool place for a budding artist to see their work on an official website.
Finally, if you just want some new game ideas, puzzles and activities that boost brain power, head to Here you'll find a plethora of science projects, writing games and brain teasers.
Rainy days can also be a great excuse to get friends together and have a party. Any theme will work, have a bug party and go worm hunting, or invite guests to come dressed as their favorite super-hero and save the day with a mystery for them to solve. Have a cookie baking party with plenty of frosting and sprinkles to decorate.
If the weather is less then cooperative for outdoor play, make the day an opportunity to be creative and enjoy something different inside. Before you know it, your kids may actually look forward to those rain-cloudy days, and that is what I call a silver lining.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hans Christian Anderson stories public domain

If you've happened by the Google homepage today you have undoubtedly seen the beautiful illustration banners depicting the stories of Hans Christian Anderson. What a great way to recognize the 205th birthday of one of history's greatest storytellers. More importantly, that banner inspired me to look up some of my favorite childhood Anderson stories, and I found a treasure trove in the public domain, that I can now share with my kids. My very first encounter with one of Anderson's stories was when I was five years old. I was given a "recorded book" of The Ugly Duckling. A recorded story book was a paper back picture book with a sleeve in the back. Inside the sleeve was a 45 record with the story on it. I would play stories like this on my little kid turntable (in a case!) over and over again while I followed along with the pictures. A chime would ring when it was time to turn the page.

As a parent, to my delight, I have found a website listing all of Anderson's stories. It provides the text with the original illustrations by Vilhelm Pedersen and Lorenz Frolich. I found myself deluging into a plethora of fairytale and folklore goodness with The Ugly Duckling, The Princess and the Pea, Thumbelina and countless others I had never heard of. Did you know The Little Mermaid is one of Hans Christian Anderson's most popular? I found myself surprised, and a little embarrassed that I thought this was a Disney creation! ( Yikes! And I'm supposed to be a little bit more up on children's literature!)

Now i want to learn a bit more about Mr. Anderson. What kind of person was he? Did he have children of his own to whom he read his stories? Perhaps they were his inspiration to write them? The truth is, I know nothing about this great literary artist of our past, but now I am anxious to learn more. Let the research begin. In the meantime, I will take great joy in meeting all of the unknown characters dancing among Anderson's literary index and sharing them with my kids.