Family Life

Dear Santa - All I want for Christmas is a Peaceful Home

Dear Santa,

It’s been a rough year. That’s not your fault, I know – stuff happens. Still, it seems like a lot of stuff is happening to a lot of people. And that makes the Christmas spirit seem as elusive as a leprechaun’s pot of gold. The tinsel, the music and the bustle of the season are there – but it feels like I’m just going through the motions, not really feeling the joy, you know?

I’ve heard that the best way to make yourself feel better is to do something nice for somebody else.  So I’ve helped out at the food bank and donated clothing and toys and even visit the senior center every week. It does help me feel better for a while – but the feeling never lasts.

You see Santa, no matter how great I feel when I’m out doing good deeds – I eventually have to go home.  Sometimes home is warm and wonderful – and sometimes it just hurts to be there.  Not that I’m being physically hurt, Santa. I just feel like I can’t do anything right, sometimes. That no matter how hard I try – or what I physically accomplish – it’s not enough. No one’s screaming at me, no one’s calling me stupid – it’s more subtle than that.

I feel like I’m walking on eggshells – and I never know when one will suddenly spear me in the foot, causing the blood to spurt. Sometimes I wish words could inflict visible wounds, like a knife. They pierce me like a knife – but I have nothing to show for it. I’m “over-reacting” or “too sensitive”. My favorite (NOT) line…. “I was just kidding. Can’t you take a joke?”.

You know Santa, if it hurts – it’s NOT funny. Why can’t people understand that?

There’s all kinds of rules and regulations now about verbal abuse in the workplace and in the classroom. I can understand that – but I don’t think it’s the most important thing. It’s verbal/psychological abuse in the home that really hurts.  Home is supposed to be safe – it’s not supposed to make your stomach hurt and your chest feel tight.

It’s not like I can just leave, Santa. Sometimes I sleep more than I need to – but that gets me in trouble, too. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to tell them that they’re hurting me. Well, I’ve tried – but that always makes it worse – and I’m sorry I brought anything up. 

Anyway, Santa, what I want most for Christmas is a peaceful home – filled with people who listen and love and help each other be the best they can be.  Can you do that? I guess it won’t fit into a stocking. Maybe you could help them be happier? If they were happier, maybe they wouldn’t try so hard to make me feel bad about ….everything. Maybe then they’d see everything I do well, rather than the few things that need improvement.  Maybe then they’d love me for who I am today – not who they want me to be.

A Fun, Educational Gift - Postcards from Mr. Pish

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I love children's books that educate as well as entertain! We homeschoolers are always trying to "sneak in" educational moments. "Postcards from Mr. Pish" by K.S Brooks delivers the punch!

This enchanting book uses both pictures and story to tell of the adventures of Mr. Pish, a real-life Jack Russell terrier, as he travels to Canada and through the northern United States. Mr. Pish's adventure begins in Cambridge, MD - and that it where the book is published. Maps and photos help everyone learn about the different states and provinces - and the story highlights aspects of the same!

Kids will love the feisty terrier - they'll follow his adventures and won't even realize they're learning geography at the same time! You can also sign up for the Mr. Pish newsletter and download the accompanying companion learning worksheet for further exploration!

Best of all, sales from this made in the U.S.A. book benefit the Arbor Day Foundation!

"Postcards from Mr. Pish" is priced at $14.95 and can be ordered from www.MrPish.com or Amazon.com. A great gift for the kids in your life!

Short Story Contest - Caroline County

CCCA’s Ninth Annual Short Story Contest

Enter now for the Caroline County Council of Art’s 9th Annual Short Story Contest.  The contest invites experienced and beginning writers who reside in Caroline County to submit entries to this exciting annual contest. Cash prizes will be awarded for first and second place in each of the six categories: Grades K, Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12 and Adult.

Winners will be notified as soon as judging is complete. All entrants will be invited to attend an April reception in their honor at the Central Branch of the Caroline County Public Library in Denton. First prize winners will be asked to read their stories to the audience. Full details and rules are available with each entry form. 

Entries must be received at a branch of the Caroline Public Library no later than 8:00 pm on Thursday, January 13, 2011.  Educators are encouraged to submit student work for the contest. Entry forms are available at your local Caroline County Public Library, on www.carolinearts.org or by calling the CCCA office at 410-479-1009.


REINS Fall Session

Hello REINS Friends!
There is a chill in the air, and the leaves are turning bright colors!  We are holding the REINS (Riders in the Environment Improving Native Shorelines) Fall Session on Saturday, November 6th from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm at Timber Grove Farm (owned by Kim Hopkins) in Preston, Maryland.
We anticipate many riders that day, so if you are able to volunteer we would truly appreciate it.  For more information on this fall's program, go to http://www.timbergrovefarm.com/TGF/Welcome.html and scroll down to the "2010 Fall REINS Session".  You will find links to volunteer information, participant registration forms, photos from past sessions, and directions to the farm.
Returning riders do not need to fill out the registration or health forms, unless any information has changed.  The cost is still $35 (scholarships are available).  Simply reply to me at this email, or let Kim Hopkins know you will be there.
New riders should fill out the registration and health forms (found on the website as above) and return to either Kim or myself.  Teachers - please help us identify developmentally disabled children (ages 7 - 21 years) who would benefit from this experience.
As always, you may contact me if you have questions.
Looking forward to seeing you all - Happy Trails!  LeeAnn
LeeAnn Hutchison, Division of Instruction
Environmental Education Specialist
Maryland State Department of Education

Explore the Shore with Kids – and Dogs!

By Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Hate seeing those sad puppy eyes when you leave the house for some well-deserved fun and adventure? Take heart! There are a ton of dog-friendly places and activities on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay!

Let’s start with every four-legged friend’s definition of a doggone good time: off leash adventures with other dogs!

                                              Western Shore

Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis offers canine heaven. Leashed dogs are welcome all over the park, including the playgrounds and trails. Two fenced parks offer a safe off-leash play area for small or geriatric dogs that don’t enjoy the occasional rough play of the larger, younger versions. There are benches in shaded corners and two refillable kiddie pools for cooling off. Children younger than 6 are not permitted in the larger park – a very sensible precaution given the speed of these energetic pups.

The best feature of Quiet Waters – an off leash doggie beach! It’s not fenced in, but is isolated and the dogs are having too much fun with each other to plot escape routes. There’s no way you could use a leash safely – at least not with weekend crowds. Dogs hurled back and forth on the sandy beach and raced each other to fetch sticks, balls and toys from the water. Several dogs would join together to retrieve a large branch, while another barked instructions: “Get that end, it’s going to sink!” “Don’t swim that way!” “Over HERE – don’t you SEE me???” HBO has nothing on the doggie beach. Older children joined in the fun – wee ones watched from a safe distance.

The park offers real bathrooms for two-legged visitors, and a hand held outdoor shower to de-sand the dogs and kids. The park costs $6.00 per carload to enter, and is closed every Tuesday. Take your bikes – paved trails cover the large park. Their website is: 아메리칸 룰렛http://www.aacounty.org/RecParks/parks/quietwaters/.

Downs Park in Pasadena offers another secluded dog beach, along with playgrounds, trails, handball and basketball courts. Like Quiet Waters, it costs $6.00 per carload to enter and is closed on Tuesdays.

The a-MAZE-ing River Plantation Family Corn Maze

The theme for this year’s maze is “Birds of Maryland, The Baltimore Orioles & Ravens” and will open Friday, October 1st and remain open every weekend during the month of October 2010. The maze will offer a variety of games within the maze that are designed to add fun and challenge to the maze experience. In addition to the games featuring Baltimore Ravens & Orioles trivia, families can enjoy a putting green, pumpkin patch to pick your own pumpkin and special events throughout the month.

Two dates to remember: Saturday, Oct. 16th Meet & Greet two of the Baltimore Ravens’ Cheerleaders and Saturday, October 30th for Halloween in the Maze. Every October weekend, Flashlight Friday & Bonfire Saturday will provide a great opportunities for scout meetings, birthday parties or your own special event.

At The River Plantation, Queenstown. Flashlight Friday, 5-8 p.m.; Sat., Noon-6 p.m.; Sunday Bonfire, 6-8 p.m.; Sun., Noon-6 p.m.; Weekdays Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Reservations required for school trips, Mom's groups, clubs, and other group organizations. 800-697-1777.


History Comes Alive returns to La Grange

With the new school year, History Comes Alive returns to La Grange Plantation and Museums with the first offering on Saturday, October 9, 2010 from 9:30 – 11:30 with Harvest on the Farm.  This program is open to children from ages 6 – 12 years old.  They will experience how and what food items are harvested on the farm including fruits and vegetables.  The group will also learn how foods historically have been prepared for storage from canning, pickling and drying.  The kids will be encouraged to “taste” some of these types of foods.  In addition, the students will work together to craft scarecrows. It promises to be action packed.

These programs are free and open to the public.  The program has recently received funding from the B. P. O. Elks Lodge 1272 to pay for the supplies necessary to run it.

There are six monthly programs scheduled from October of 2010 through March 2011.  November’s program “Native American Decorative Arts”  promises to be interesting and very interactive with pottery and beading being highlighted.  December’s offering “Victorian Christmas” will focus on making Victorian Christmas decorations and the origins of some of our traditions. 

To reserve a spot for your child or grandchild, call 410.228.7953 or email dchs@verizon.net.  The programs are held at La Grange Plantation off of Greenway Drive at the end of Maryland Avenue East. 

Visit Dominics Farm in Queenstown

 The Eastern Shore’s best kept secret.


Birthday Parties

Horse Play

Farm Fun

Group Visits


Free Smiles


Dominic’s Farm welcomes everyone to come and experience the

farm charm. The most wonderful four legged animals await

your visits including horses, cows, donkey’s, goats, chickens, rabbits

and much, much more.



410-827-8555 or 301-674-3616


Bark In The Park

Bark In The Park With Talbot Humane October 16

Talbot Humane will hold its first annual Bark in the Park Dog Walk and Family Festival on Saturday, October 16, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Idlewild Park in Easton. Volunteers have been working for months to make this fundraising event a success for the organization.

“The outpouring of community support for Bark in the Park has been tremendous,” said John Barron, chairman of the event and Talbot Humane Board Member. More than fifty sponsors have signed on to date, including major sponsorships from Annapolis Volvo, What’s Up Media and WCEI/WPIX.

Bark in the Park will feature the Grand Dog Walk. Walkers and fundraisers can register online at www.tinyurl.com/Bark-in-the-Park. Using online fundraising tools, Talbot Humane has enlisted friends of the organization to create their own personal pages from which they can encourage donations from friends, family and associates.


Adkins Arboretum will waive admission fees on Sat., Sept. 25 in recognition of Smithsonian magazine’s sixth annual Museum Day. A celebration of culture, learning and the dissemination of knowledge, Museum Day reflects the free-admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums in Washington, D.C. Doors of museums and cultural institutions nationwide will be open free of charge.

The public is invited on Museum Day to explore the Arboretum’s 400 acres of native woodlands, wetlands, gardens and meadows along four miles of maintained paths; join a guided walk at 11 a.m.; and view the artwork of Kelly Adams. Visitors can also enjoy an audio tour that provides lessons about the Arboretum’s plant communities and ecology. A variety of native perennials, trees, shrubs and grasses will be available for fall planting. Arboretum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visitors can gain free admission by mentioning Museum Day or by printing tickets at http://microsite.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/.


Admission will also be waived on Sun., Oct. 3 for the Arboretum’s quarterly Free Admission Sunday.

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