Summer, Day 1

Phineas and Ferb lied. There are only 62 days in my kids’ summer vacation as opposed to their 104.


Still, it’s a long time and many days to fill. We have already planned a camping trip, a Vegas road trip, and our typical 3 weeks in Connecticut to visit family.

Yesterday was the last day of school. I looked forward to spending today in my office in my pajamas, catching up on work while the kids max out on TV and video games. I figured if they got their fill and then some, they’d eventually get bored enough to…oh I don’t know. Play outside? Like children do?

But they are brothers, and they fight like stereotypical ones. So I had to turn off the TV. Then I had to turn off the video games. “Nobody does anything fun unless you can get along.”

One picked up a book. The other started playing with LEGO’s.

And then one started whining that he wanted a friend to come over, so I texted around and found him a playdate. But a threesome always makes for one whiny brother who usually ends up in tears, so I found another friend who was willing to host him. Now we’ve got games spread all over the house. Inventory: 2 happy kids, one off site playing with friends.

So far so good. Wish me luck.

On My Way To School by Sarah Maizes (Children’s Book Review)


We’ve been back at it for a month now, and the bloom is off the rose. Every weekday morning there are groans and whining instead of bounces and enthusiasm like there were during the first few days of school.

While Sarah Maizes’ latest book in the On My Way To… series came out before school started, I am finding that it is useful now that school is a daily reality that has sunk in, however unwelcome.


It seems funny to review a children’s book, but our kids have preferences for certain things just like we do, right? The best way I have figured out how to discover my own boys’ tastes is just to to put piles of books under their noses and see which ones they pick up again and again. It was easy when they were babies and I read them Goodnight Moon every single day and night. They had no choice. But once they got older and actually started learning how to read, well, let’s just say they expressed their opinions with no reasonable doubt.

That’s why I hoped and prayed that they would love the series by Sarah Maizes. She is my friend and colleague, and she has persevered against all odds (i.e. the intimidating world of book publishing) to publish not one but now three children’s books inspired by her own daughter Livi who stalls and hems and haws when forced to go to things like bed, a bath, and now school.

On My Way To School is the fantastical journey of a little girl who doesn’t want to go to school. “School is for people who need to learn stuff. I have gone to school and hundred times and I already know lots of stuff,” declares Livi. Boy, have I heard that one before.

Turning the mundane, routine task of getting out of bed and getting dressed for school into an adventure filled with snails, pirates, kangaroos, a red carpet, and more, Maizes channels Livi into a story that can help kids wrap their little minds around going to school. Michael Paraskevas’ colorful and imaginative illustrations will hopefully inspire them to create their own adventures out of otherwise ordinary days.

This book is perfect for my 7-year-old who is just getting a handle on reading, and loves the pictures and the story. He creates fantasy worlds for himself all the time, and can, no doubt, relate.

I think I’ll put it under his pillow and hope he awakes with a sense of adventure for school that he receives by osmosis during the night.

On My Way To School
by Sarah Maizes
$14.29 on Amazon

Resources For Parents From Las Virgenes Unified Superintendent



As the horrible tragedy continues to unfold in Connecticut I wanted to provide resources and support to you.  As our children are hearing about this tragedy, several questions may arise for you at home.  As parents you not only have to deal with their questions but also your own emotions.   I would like to take this opportunity to help you in that process with some suggestions.  The following are some strategies from our school psychologists and the National Association of School Psychologists to help you and your family.

  1. Minimize television viewing of this event.
  2. Encourage your children to talk and share their feelings.
  3. Remain calm as you discuss these events with them and with others.
  4. Let your children know it’s ok to feel upset
  5. Assure your children that they are safe and are taken care of at home and at school
  6. Keep in perspective that these events are extremely rare
  7. Maintain a normal routine at home
  8. Be a good listener
  1. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
    1. Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that the daily structures of their lives will not change.
    2. Upper elementary and early middle schoolchildren will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school.  They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy.
    3. Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence and threats to safety in schools and society.  They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. They will be more committed to doing something to help the victims and affected community.
    4. For all children, encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Be a good listener!

Give them a hug and reassure them that they are loved

We hope that you find these suggestions of value.  If you want additional information, please refer to the following link.


Dr. Dan Stepenosky


Las Virgenes Unified School District