Tag Archives: kids

How to Get Your Kids Involved…In Anything!

What is your passionI am very excited to introduce Angie Dixon, author of The Leonardo Trait: How to Stop Trying to Be “Normal” and Start Being Who You Really Are. This extraordinary Leonardo has wonderful insight on how to engage your kids in… well, just about anything!

As the parent of a 16- and an 18-year-old, I often wonder what super-human parenting skills are involved with kids who are self-motivated to excel at school, sports, and life. While I’m grateful my kids are honest, respectful, and caring I have worried about my daughter, now 16, finding something to get involved in and care about. I mean, of course, besides music, boys and friends, which are all important.

A few years ago my husband, Jim, returned to his old hobby of birding. At first my daughter Sam went along to hang out with her dad, but something snagged her attention. Before long she was learning about birds and asked for a bird guide and binoculars. We gladly got them, with hopes but not expectations.

Birding was the thing for Sam. She gets up early on weekend mornings to go birding, went to ecology camp three years in a row, and is now on the board of the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas.

I don’t think there’s a magic formula to get kids engaged in something. I also don’t think we can make the blanket statement that their generation just “doesn’t engage.”

Kids these days have a lot more options than we did, not only in entertainment and hobbies, but in how and when they spend time with their friends. That doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t get interested in school or a hobby. It does mean they may need more inspiration and encouragement.

Here are three recommendations for engaging your kids beyond their immediate social circle.

  1. Suggestion. I’ll be the first to admit that none of the things I suggested to Sam struck her fancy enough to be permanent hobbies, but because I suggested things she also looked around for ideas. She stayed interested in finding something to spend good time on.
  2. Opportunity. Let your kids try stuff, even if you don’t think they’re going to stick with it. Sam tried didn’t stick with guitar and she’s off-and-on with photography. But after trying birding she’s in love. We let her take choir as an elective and now she wants to join the competition choir next year. Opportunity is key.
  3. Encouragement. I know it can be hard to encourage your child in the tenth hobby in as many months. In terms of money, we let her start with one of our cameras when she tried photography. We bought a new bird book but her dad handed down her first pair of binoculars for birding. Kids need to discover their interests along the way and that’s easier if they know you’re behind them.

Some kids just aren’t going to find something right away, but I’m certain there is something for every kid. The key to helping them find that lies in encouraging and helping, but not pushing.

Learn more about Angie Dixon, take her quiz, and get her free Leonardo Nation creativity toolkit at http://www.LeonardoTrait.com.

Teen image courtesy of StockImages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When Life Happens All at Once

From the series: Life on Dog Hill

Cutest little Shi-Tzu ever!

Cutest little Shi-Tzu ever!

Life on Dog Hill is never slow or quiet but the past seven days evidenced the culmination of lots of things at the same time — funny how that works.

In the last week, my youngest son graduated from elementary school; my twin sons graduated from high school; I entertained family who came into town for the special occasions; I fostered and placed the cutest little five pound Shi-Tzu ever; I provided emergency care to one of our hens that was attacked in the middle of the night by a raccoon or opossum; and I attended a two-day parent orientation at Appalachian State University at the same time one of my sons attended the student orientation to learn about his new home for the next four years.

Needless to say, the last week has been a little emotional for me and I didn’t even mention PMS… oops, just did.

IMG_1680Tears welled my eyes when I watched Ryan proudly march into his elementary school graduation. Wasn’t it just yesterday that he started kindergarten down the hall?

Tears streamed as I listened one of Ryan’s classmates describe how a brain aneurism changed his life and taught him the importance of community. Yes, elementary graduations have class speakers and these kids are impressive beyond belief. Mature, self-composed, articulate — all the things that took me well into my adult years to experience with any level of confidence.

I hid in the garage and choked back tears after my lovable Sadie rode away with her new momma, proudly standing in her lap and looking out the window, tongue hanging out beneath her smushed little pug face. It was the first time I had ever successfully fostered a dog (all the others ended up as family). My son Serg brought her into our life and though we resisted, how could I not be proud of the fact that he demonstrated care and concern for a displaced animal? After all, Serg was following in my animal rescue footsteps!


Serg (left) and Alex with their proud Grandma, Joyce Bishop

Lately tears frequently find their way into my eyes whenever I think about my twin sons, Serg and Alex. After all, I adopted them when they were six years old from the other side of the world. Most mommas have 18 years with their children before the time to send them out into the world. I’ve only had 12 so I feel a little unprepared. But they are ready, the young men that they are. They are excited for the future ahead of them and so am I. Just as they worked hard to set and achieve academic and athletic goals in middle school and high school, they’ll do the same for college. The future is bright, a beacon of light for whatever they dare to dream. I hope their dreams are big. I hope their dreams are audacious. I hope their dreams represent the best of who they are and who they intend to become as they experience life.

Yes, the last week on Dog Hill has been a little crazy, but that’s typical for the Hill. The twins misplacing one of their graduation caps and tassels and then fighting over the one they could find when they were already running late for the ceremony. Typical. Jumping out of bed at one o’clock in the morning and calling for the dogs to rush the chicken house to chase off whatever caused the scream of the hens (if you’ve ever heard a hen scream, you know what I’m talking about). Not the first time, probably not the last either. Throwing things into bags at four o’clock in the morning as I’m heading out on a trip because I didn’t have time to pack until the moment of departure. Sigh…

Although these moments are stressful, I try to relish them. After all, it won’t be long until Dog Hill is slow and quiet. When the last of our seven children moves on and Tom and I are left with a big house on the Hill, a dog or two, and one hen (if we’re lucky) to lay our breakfast. All that we’ll hear is the breeze through the trees, water rushing from the stream, the frogs croaking, birds singing, crickets chirping. Actually, that doesn’t sound bad… so, why are there tears in my eyes?

Sheila Callaham is an author, motivational speaker and success coach. She lives and writes in Chapel Hill, NC.

Social Media: A Love Trap

Social-Media-iconFrom the series: Life on Dog Hill

I’ve fallen into a love trap called social media. Yes, I’ve tried to hold myself back, tell myself just one minute more… but it’s not working. I’m in love with the access, the knowledge and the convenience of having so much at my fingertips.

In honor of mi amour on this Valentine’s Day, I offer you the top ten reasons why I LOVE social media.

10. Social media makes it easy for me to dream… for example, of Spring. Just last week, I spent an hour putting together a board on Pintrest called Things I love about Spring. You can check it out here!

9. I learn all sorts of secrets about people that inspire my writing. PostSecret is a community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. Some of them are rather macabre…. Is this weird of me?

8. Speaking of writing, I get to follow some really inspirational indie writers like the one everyone should know — JA Konrath!

7. I can get my dog fix anytime since there are a gazillion dog videos on the internet to make me smile! Check out this cute little puppy pinwheel! Cutest thing ever from The Daily Muse blog.

6. And kids… yep, I love them too and when my own kids aren’t nearly entertaining enough, there’s Niecy Nash. She made me laugh in this cute interview she did with kids about love and marriage. “You think marriage is fun? Who told you that! I don’t want to shatter your little dreams…(laughs madly) By the time you get some stretch marks, you’ll know what I mean.” Enjoy!

5. Inspiration is a click away. Two of my favorite inspirational sites are Marc and Angel Hack Life and The Miracle Journal with Leah Carey. Every time I read a blog posting from either of these sites I feel miraculously inspired!

4. I can read books for FREE! For starters, there are tons of free books on Amazon and other book sites. You’ll want to bookmark the link I provided because Amazon doesn’t make it easy to find! Just know that some authors invest more than others to insure a well-written book. If an author hires an editor before publishing (like I do), that’s a good sign. Also, look for ratings from other readers as an indication of the quality of the book. Even if books aren’t free, if they are listed on Amazon I can “borrow” them for free because we have an Amazon Prime account. Sweet! Don’t worry, authors get paid even when the book is borrowed. :-)

3. I’ve made new friends. You want to know where I’ve made the most friends? Twitter! Oh, how I love thee! Okay, so maybe new friends should be number 1 but…

2. I am a subject matter expert of EVERYTHING! When I was writing my first book, Truth Runs Deep, I searched the internet and found Dr. D.P. Lyle, a cardiologist and forensics expert who helps writers ensure their gory murder details are accurate — for FREE! When I emailed Dr. Lyle in October of 2008, I was concerned about the dead bodies I had lying around. Five of them, to be exact. Timing was critical for everything to be believable. Dr. Lyle was already an award-winning author, lecturer and story consultant on television shows such as Westside Medical, Law and Order, Monk, House, CSI: Miami and others. Bottom line: this dude was BIG time. I sent my query in the exact format required and hoped I might hear back in a month or two. Within twenty minutes I had a response with the information I needed. I was momentarily shocked, then elated! Dr. Lyle’s response resulted in a day’s worth of rewrite, but it was well worth it. You can learn more about Dr. Lyle here.

My current area of expertise? Egyptology! Stay tuned….

Finally, the Number 1 reason why I love social media:

I can fix anything!  Like this, or this, or this. Yep, if someone’s posted a how-to video on YouTube, I’m there! Just call me, Ms. know-it, fix-it all!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net