Category Archives: Children

PJ’s Pantry and More Fun Stuff

Hey Scriblings,

It feels like ages since I’ve posted here. I missed last month entirely! That’s because I’ve been working diligently on finishing my non-fiction book, OVERCOME your SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE (A Practical Guide to Improving Health, Fitness, and Well-being for Desk Dwellers and Couch Potatoes). I’m finally done with the first draft and working on revisions…yayyy! The book should be available for preorder in November and will release in January, 2016. PJSharon_OvercomeYourSedentaryLifestyle_eCover_800[1]Although writing non-fiction is easier in some ways than novel writing, it still requires a tremendous amount of research to get the facts straight. After all, I’m not just making it up as I go along and people are counting on me to get it right.

Another hold up was that I had written several sections and then decided afterwards that they weren’t quite right for this particular book. One such section was a chapter at the end of the book I was going to call PJ’s Pantry, listing all the healthy foods I stock in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. But once I started researching all of these “healthy” foods, I was shocked–and more than a little disappointed–that some of them were not as healthy as I had thought. With “hidden” chemicals and unhealthy additives, my list quickly grew shorter and shorter! In good conscience, I couldn’t put them in the book without adding all the research I’d done as well.

Since information about which foods are healthy and which are not seems to change daily, I decided instead, to put PJ’s Pantry on my website rather than have it in the book where it would be more difficult to update and change as new information arose. Feel free to stop by and check it out. I’m sure you’ll find some helpful tips on stocking a “healthy” pantry and you may find some interesting tidbits on foods you thought were good for you, and why they may not be.

Eat your heart out, Headless Horseman!
Eat your heart out, Headless Horseman!

In other fun news, I’ll be signing books at the Granville Harvest Fair again this year. If you’re in the New England area and looking for a fun place to hang out with the kids Columbus Day weekend, I hope you’ll stop by. There will be the usual yummy food vendors, pies, crafts, face painting and scarecrow contest, as well as the magnificent quilt display at the old meeting house. And you’ll definitely want to visit the Noble and Cooley Drum factory museum, built in 1854 and still making drums for today’s musicians. I’ll be down next to the library where they’ll be having a huge book sale (all the books you can fit into a bag for $5). You can swing by my tent and grab a book mark and say hi on your way out, LOL. We had wonderful weather last year, so hopefully the sunshine and warmth will be in our favor again.

I’ll leave you all with one of my favorite smoothie recipes.

Green Choco Monkey Smoothie

Inspired by my addiction to the Coco Monkey Smoothie from the Granby Village Health Food Store in Granby, CT., I’ve adapted their recipe and added a few twists.Choco monkey smoothie


1 cup Silk Chocolate Almond Milk

1 tbsp. Almond butter (or organic peanut butter)

1 frozen banana (peeled and cut into pieces)

1 scoop Green’s Organics Superfood (Amazonian Chocolate) powder. (According to the label, 1 scoop has the nutrients equal to 7 servings of fruits and veggies!)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

(I also add a tsp. of Maca powder for an extra energy burst)


Blend all ingredients on high (Smoothie setting on Blendtec) for 45-60 seconds until smooth. Drink and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe you’d care to share?

A Mom’s Prayers for Her Son Book Review


Have you ever wondered what exactly you should be praying for when it comes to your children?  A Mom’s Prayers for Her Son will take the worry away.  In fact, when I received this book to review, I made the decision to not just pray the prayers alone, but I included my son in the process.  It’s wonderful to know someone is praying for you, but to know the details of those prayers brings a peace to that person.  Many of the topics covered included bits and pieces my son couldn’t even voice that he needed.  We would read and pray the prayers, and my son would say, “That’s it! That’s what I’ve been feeling.”

To help you know what some of these topics are in the book, here is a short list of some of my son’s favorite and most useful during this time in his life:

1) When he needs to stand up for what is right.

2) When he’s angry.

3) When he’s looking for God.

4) When he’s rejected.

5) When he’s bored.

6) When he’s holding a grudge.

7) When we need time together.

8) When he needs a good example.

9) When he feels pressure to succeed.

10)When I don’t know what to pray.

And about 70 more!

About the authors: Rob and Joanna Teigen are the authors of 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates and Dad’s Prayers for His Daughter.  They now bring you A Mom’s Prayers for Her Son and show you how to pray for every area of your son’s life. They will show you a strong foundation to build a lifelong habit of prayer for your son with a collection of specific prayers you can use to get started right now.

Remember: you may not always understand your son, but God does! Start asking for his guidance, protection, and blessings today.

Pete the Katniss or One Book, One School

Hi there!   J Monkeys coming to you from a Monday morning.  Woot!   For any who don’t know,  I’m a parent who studied literature in college and writes children’s books.  I’m excited to put those experiences together as a member of the One Book One School selection committee for my children’s school.

One Book One School is a program where a school selects one book and assigns it to every student with projects and activities that cover a variety of disciplines.   Now depending on the age range of students at the school, selecting a title can be tough.  Is there a book that is appropriate to both a kindergartener and a sixth grader?   Even in my children’s primary school (kindergarten to 2nd grade) it’s wicked hard. 

Kindergartners are only just learning to read.  They are memorizing sight words and beginning to understand phonetic pronunciation.  By the end of second grade, most students can read pretty well.  Finding a book that is challenging, interesting and appropriate for these disparate needs is tough.  

pete the catTrust me.  I’ve read a dozen books over the past week looking for something to recommend.  I’m calling it my quest for Pete the Katniss. 

Pete the Cat is a series of picture books that follow the antics of a cat named Pete.  His stories are simple, repetitive and often set to music.  

Katniss (in case you live under a rock) is katnissthe oft-violent heroine of The Hunger Games, a young adult distopian political thriller type romance.

For my school’s One Book One School program, I need to find a title that is as interesting as The Hunger Games, but has material that is age appropriate for five year old kids.   And, of course, it’s top secret.  I can’t disclose the titles I’ve been reading.

“But J, there are thousands of books to choose from,  how hard can it be to pick one?” you ask.   Surprisingly difficult.  After the committee’s first meeting, I stopped at the library to get the five books we had selected.  I read them, all children’s books that I had read decades ago, assuming that they would be good choices.  WRONG!

I read those five, and seven more, looking for books to recommend.  It turns out that books published before 1955, as three of them were, are often sexist, racist, xenophobic, use outdated language that can be considered inappropriate now, and/or often have a heavy handed sentence structure that would be completely over the heads of my kindergartners. 

One was too anti-school.  A couple of others were too short – the committee is looking for a chapter book in the neighborhood of 200 pages long.  Obviously, it’s an assignment for the parents as well as the students. 

Another betrayed the truth about a certain holiday gift-giver in such a way that I’m concerned the parents would set the building on fire.   There was a trio of books that are intended for a slightly older audience (really all of these are for an audience older than our students) and might just be a bit over the heads of these 5-8 years olds. 

I did find two that I wholeheartedly recommend, although one of them is a pretty popular series and might be disqualified for that reason.  The committee is looking for something that would be new to most everybody. 

I’m left with one; one book to recommend out of a dozen Middle Grade books read. 

What would you recommend?  I’m looking for something that would appeal to both boys and girls, is a chapter book, and is not likely to offend the parents with subject matter that they would deem inappropriate for a young child.  Bring ’em on.  I’ve got a follow up meeting this week.   I’ll let you know how it goes.


Who wants a mean Santa? by J Monkeys

Good Morning Scriblers!  J Monkeys here.   I’m so sorry that I’ve missed the last two weeks!  Would you believe that I’ve been so busy, I forgot it was Saturday?  YIKES.

Today, in honor of the upcoming holiday, I wanted to take a moment to talk about a film that used to be a favorite of mine, but which I now loathe.  Yes, I’m talking about the clay-mation classic: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Rudolph the red nosed reindeerHave you watched this movie as an adult?  If you are responsible for the care of children, then you will be even more horrified.  First, Rudolph’s own father basically calls him a freak for having an unusual nose and makes him hide it.  Then Santa, that paragon of kindness and joy, sees it and tells Donner that his son’s not good enough to schlep a ton of toys through the sky.  Then of course the flying coach, their pal, gets all the other children to join him in mocking one of the little yearlings. That’s some really awful bullying.  Only when Rudolph’s nose becomes useful to Santa is he finally accepted onto the team. 

It’s no better for the elves.  Setting aside the terrible treatment of Herbie, watch what happens when the elves perform for Santa.  They sing their little hearts out, only to have the head elf (Santa) grunt at them and dash away.  What a jerk!

Even Yukon Cornelius gets in on the nasty action.  Once he defeats the Bumble, he taunts him, forcibly removes his teeth, then puts that wild beast on a leash and drives him around the north pole. 

I find that whenever my kids watch this movie, I have to stand there commenting how “We would never behave this way, would we!”   It takes something away from the viewing experience, I think.

Both the Year Without a Santa Claus and Santa Claus is Coming to Town are better, although the later has that whole disturbing song about how if you sit on a strange man’s lap and pay the price of a kiss, you’ll get gift. 

But no matter how you like your holiday movies, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Boxing Day, Festive Solstice and Safe New Year.

~ J



Harvest Fair is Here!

PJ Sharon here. After record breaking temps the past week here in New England, followed by a rainy, wet and seasonably chilly weekend, I’m hoping for something in between for next weekend’s Granville Harvest Fair. If you’ve never been, it’s a wonderful time. The leaf peeping is superior this year and will be in full show this coming week. You won’t want to miss it.

Granville, Massachusetts is one of those idyllic little towns in the foothills of the Berkshires, the perfect place to celebrate autumn and harvest time. Granville Country storeCentered in front of the Granville Country Store—world famous for their outstanding homemade cheeses—several hundred vendors set up tents and show their wares. This is one of the best fall fairs in New England in my opinion. There’s everything from crafts and pottery, to hand crafted jewelry and woodworking. They have face painting for the kids, a pumpkin contest, and a free bus ride up to the top of the hill where you can enjoy apple cider and baked goods at the orchard, and see the magnificent quilts hanging up at the Old Town Meeting House. The little ones love the scarecrow and tractor display, and there’s nothing like a piece of warm apple pie with a slice of Granville country cheddar cheese on top and a cup of cider. My mouth is watering already!

As for me, I’ll be sharing a tent with J Monkeys, and signing books down in front of the library, right across from the country store.  You have to try some of their homemade pies and cheese bread…yum! I hope if you’re in the area, you’ll stop by and say hello. I’ll need someone to bring me a piece of pie.

Anyone in the area going? Are there other harvest fairs you’ve been to? Traditions you love this time of year?