How to Avoid Holiday Stress:

  1. Advise all guests to park grudges outside the door
  2. List foods to be served on the refrigerator door
  3. Plan a family game
  4. Make seating arrangements in advance & note with place cards
  5. Have take home containers available for leftovers.

Thanksgiving is a time to share with family and be thankful for all we have. This year in particular, with all the unrest throughout the world, we should join hands with family, friends and neighbors to give thanks for this day we have to share together.


Every family has an “Uncle Fred” who doesn’t speak with “Aunt Mable” over something that happened years ago. Probably neither even remembers the cause of the argument. But family gatherings, especially at a time where we give thanks for all we have, is the time to put disputes aside and a time to recognize the fortune of family.

As the guests start pouring in and the kitchen starts filling up with 442107-royalty-free-rf-clip-art-illustration-of-a-cartoon-woman-writing-a-long-list-of-resolutionscasseroles, turkeys, cranberry relish and sweet potato pies, the tumult can easily lead to forgetting to serve a painstakingly prepared food. To avoid any regrets, make a list of all the foods to be served and post it where it can’t be missed. Be sure to check it before sitting down to eat.

Family gatherings can be noisy and joyful. Adults like to catch up and children playing in the basement can sometimes be forgotten. Make time for a family game that includes everyone. Fam18539898-young-kid-playing-american-footballily football and kickball are favorites at my house. Guess Who You Are is always a winner when the weather prohibits outdoor play. Simply tape a name on everyone’s back. Throughout the celebration they must figure out who they are by asking yes and no questions.

Choosing where to sit can make guests uncomfortable. It is best to eliminate this discomfort by planning ahead. Set place cards at the table(s) where guests are to be seated. Of course this is family and nothing is set in stone. In my family seats will undoubtedly change throughout the course of the meal.

One of the great joys of Thanksgiving is the leftovers to be eaten the next day. Be sure to have containers for guests to take home their share.


Set the table in advance

Take out all the serving platters and utensils in advance

Plan to take the turkey from oven at least 90 minutes before serving – leaving an hour to rest before carving.

Accept offers to help with cleanup




Be sure to check out the my great holiday “stay-cassion” read and gift. I guarantee an exciting trip to the warm, sunny South Pacific without ever having to leave home.







A  student has 20 vocabulary words to learn for homework before each weekly test. Each week the student struggles to memorize the words, but has yet to receive a passing grade on the tests. What can students do to be more successful, and better yet, own the words for their comfortable vocabulary usage? After all, what is the sense of learning these new vocabulary words if they are not to be implemented into their writing and speech?

Studies have shown the use of sensory cues aids memorization. (i.e. When introduced to a new person (Mark) repeat the name aloud (Nice to meet you, Mark) and try to draw a mental image of his name (maybe a check mark  ✔︎) as a memory tool. Below are some simple tips to help aid in memorization and add new words to daily usage.

Step 1:  Review the list and check off  the words you already confidently know. Then divide the remaining number of words to learn by the number of days to learn them leaving at least one day at the end of the week to practice and review all 20 words. (i.e. 20 words divided by 5 days equals approximately 4 words a day)

Step 2:  I’m a big fan of homemade flashcards using index cards. I know many students prefer to use their electronic devices rather than handwriting almost anything. To them I say, go for it. Whatever works for you as long as distractions are turned off while working. (i.e. text messaging, FaceBook, etc.)


  1. If using the index cards or your device, set up the card or page as shown above. Write the vocabulary word big and bold in the center of the blank side of the card. (i.e. Hypothesis)
  2. In the bottom right quarter write the definition IN YOU OWN WORDS! (i.e. A guess before testing)
  3. In the bottom left section write a synonym or word with similar meaning (i.e. guess) and an antonym or word with the opposite meaning. (i.e. proven answer)
  4. In the upper right section write a sentence using the definition of the word. (i.e. The trainer made a guess that with the use of treats the teaching-sitdog would learn to sit.)
  5. In the upper left quadrant draw or paste a picture illustrating the sentence.
  6. Review the four new words, reading the information on the cards aloud.
  7. Repeat the process until cards are made for all the new words.

STEP 3: Store your work in an easy to find place for the next day. If cards, place them in a plastic baggie or wrap a rubber band around them and put them in your homework tool box (see Homework Space blog) If you have used an electronic device, save the work in a folder under Vocabulary and the Date. Add your new words each day to the collection.

MOST IMPORTANT: Don’t over work yourself. Studies have proven it is far better to learn smaller amounts over several days rather than trying to commit everything to memory at once.

Good luck!

Please share with your friends and family and let me know how this works for you. I welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions of topics you would like me to address in future blog posts.

Check out my novel: Pandu. An exciting story set in the sunny, warm South Pacific makes it a wonderful holiday stay-cassion read.



This time of year high school seniors are well into the college application process. And underclassmen are feeling the pressure to build good resumes in preparation for their turn through this process. After reading the article in Monday’s, November 9, Washington Post, “Hey, colleges: Care about my grades, not my after school activities” by Audrey Rappaport,  I felt compelled to address this issue in this week’s blog.

Poor Amy and her family have struggled to balance their schedules and finances to support her extra curricular activities in the hopes of proving her to be a well-rounded applicant for the colleges of her choice. I’m sorry to inform them, they may have struggled unnecessarily.

While commitment to after and outside of school interests are tools to revealing a full profile of the applicant, these activities need to be well selected. Note, colleges look to form well-rounded student bodies, not such well-rounded individual students who show no area of direct interest or excellence. Colleges are looking for focused students—those that have built a package proving their interest in a particular area.

According to the author of Getting Accepted: What Colleges Look For in Applicants, “There is a growing preference, especially at the most selective schools, for high achievers who are also “angular” or “focused” candidates. These successful students typically possess a special activity or unusual characteristic that sets them apart from other applicants.”

Students interested in pursuing a degree in business need not be playing soccer and participating in expensive robotics clubs unless they are looking to pursue an education in technological business on a soccer scholarship.

You want to be a teacher? Volunteer to tutor needy students, help young children learn to read, start a tutoring support club in your own school. Want to go into business? Show your interest by working in a local business, build a little business of your own, run the school store. Considering a legal career? Get on the school governance committee, join the debate team, volunteer at legal aid even if you’re  just handing out forms.

By now you get the picture. It’s not how much you do, but the focus of your participation. “Depth, not breadth, of experience is most important as most colleges now prefer to see fewer activities that really interest you and where you are involved in a significant way. Evidence of passion, leadership, initiative, commitment and making a real difference is critical.”

US News & World Report stresses the importance of  doing your research homework before beginning the college application process. Thoroughly investigate the schools of potential interest. Know what they offer you and what you can offer them. While the Common Application may be the easiest route tcommon-app-3637hough this arduous process, it may not be the best way to stress what makes you the best fit for the school of your choice. Colleges pride themselves on their selective process. Showing your desire and fit into their community is essential.

Research and plan ahead so you can prepare the best you to offer when applying to colleges.

Best of luck.

Please send me your comments, questions and suggestions of topics you’d like addressed in future blogs.


Too often students complain about the unfair loss of points on tests and papers because of failure to follow directions. While oral directions may be more difficult to remember than written, ALL directions must be followed. Here are a few tricks to assure all directions are followed and full credit is earned for your hard work.


imagesBe sure to have a pen and paper (tablet) ready when directions are given. The back of the last page of a test or handout is the best place to always record those oral directions. A consistent place helps reinforce memory. (Like parking in the same area each time you go to the shopping mall.)

  1. DO NOT RELY ON MEMORY! Too often memory fails us just when we need it the most. If when handing out a test, the teacher says put your name, date, and section, in the upper right hand corner of every page, be sure to write that on the back of the last page.
  2. When reading written directions, use your pen to underline key words.                                  For example: Directions: Use ten of new the vocabulary words listed below in a creative short story. Underline each word. Be sure to spell and grammar check.
  3. ASSUME NOTHING! Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t
    understand. More than likely there are others who will be glad you images


  1. Before getting up to turn in your paper, REREAD THE DIRECTIONS. Check to see that you have followed ALL the directions.  
  2. Turn over your last page to review any oral directions you noted. Check to see that you have followed those as well. (Name, date, section in upper right-hand corner of EVERY page.)


Feel confident you will earn the grade you deserve!


Good Luck!

Next Post: November 12, 2015

Please leave your comments, questions and suggestions of topics you would like me to address.  I’ld love to hear from you.