Saturday, December 29, 2012

Composition Tutoring Update

I am so enjoying tutoring at Cornerstone Tutorial Center. I just finished typesetting a newsletter called "Opinions," which features articles my writing students wrote for an opinion piece assignment.  I thought they would enjoy seeing their work "published!"

You can read the newsletter by clicking on this link: Opinions

It has been fun watching them improve in their writing skills. Very rewarding job for me!

Friday, November 16, 2012


It's just around the corner! What are you cooking up for guests? Me? I'm taking the four of us to Michael V's for Thanksgiving Dinner. All we can eat, no cooking and no cleanup!

Since all our relatives are on the coast, we don't make a big deal about holidays. However, a friend of mine posted this cute little goodie on her Facebook page and I thought I'd share it with those of you who are having company. This little treat looks fun to make and yummy to eat!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Carpal Tunnel - 2nd Update

I can say that this new keyboard has been a huge help with my carpal tunnel issues. It took me about a week to get my speed close to my old speed and even yet, I'm not quite as fluent. However, I get faster every day. I'm probably up to 45 wpm now.

As far as pain, it's MUCH BETTER! Not all gone by any means. I still have problems at night with numbness; however, I just learned from my doctor, that thyroid increases problems with carpal tunnel. I had my thyroid removed in January this year. She said that this could be aggravating the issue. We are still working on getting the medicine adjusted. So the good news is, this problem should go away with time. Maybe I will get a full night's sleep sometime in the near future!

Biology Class - Cells

We are just about finished our unit on cells and cell function. It's been a tough one! I don't remember half this stuff from high school - maybe because we hadn't discovered it yet - after all, it's been a few years! LOL!

To help them learn the parts of the cell, I had the students create cell models using icing and candy. We used tootsie rolls for mitochondrion, gummy worms for ER, and icing for for cytoplasm. Here's a photo of our end product:

Cell model made of candy.
I gave the kids a zip bag to carry their "cells" home, but most of them ate them while we were in class. Ooooh - tummy ache!

The vocabulary words for this unit were difficult, so I divided the kids up in teams and had them match the word with the definition using paper strips. That was fun!

Vocabulary matching game.
Today, we're going to review using a jeopardy game; then have our test on the unit. Next up: DNA

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Carpal Tunnel UPdate

I went to the doctor and got some braces for my arms as a temporary fix until my keyboard got here. Yesterday, my keyboard came. Oh wow! It's going to take a while to get used to it. My speed went from 70+ wpm to 10! Today, I think I got it up to 20. I can tell it's going to help once I get used to it. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

National Novel Writing Month for Kids

National Novel Writing Month
Write a novel in a month? That's the idea of the creators of National Novel Writing Month for Kids. The idea is to encourage the kids to write by keeping track of the number of words written and offering a certificate of achievement as incentive.

Each person sets a goal of so many words (depending on age level) that they expect to write for their novel. Then, they keep track of their words on the website. At the end of the month, they are awarded a certificate IF they write the required number of words. Create Space offers all the winners five free copies of their work for free.

I've pitched this idea to the kids in my class. Let's see how many take me up on it!

By the way, if you're interested, there is an adult version (age 13 and up) of this competition: National Novel Writing Month. I haven't read through all the rules yet, but it appears that the word count is set for 50,000 words. That's a lot of words in one month! The website describes it as follows: "National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30." No editing allowed - just write the words! The winners get certificates. No pressure, just fun.

I'm going to try it, but I'm not sure I'll be able to finish because of my carpal tunnel issues. But, hey, I can try! 

Carpal Tunnel Pain - Time for Help!

I broke down and gave up quite a few of my dollars to buy an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. Carpal tunnel is giving me a really hard time lately, but I don't have time for nor do I want to have surgery. In the meantime, I've been doctoring myself with way too much Advil. Not good for the kidneys!

So, I ordered an Kinesis Advantage Pro keyboard and an Evoluent Mouse.

Evoluent Vertical Mouse
Kinesis Advantage Pro Keyboard

From what I've read, these are both highly recommended for Carpal Tunnel pain; however, there is a 2-4 week adjustment period to get used to the new key placement. I figure with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, this should give me some time to practice and not have huge deadlines on me.

I'll keep you posted on my progress, both in adjusting to the new keyboard and pain relief.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Life Changes Things

Life changes. Every year that I get older, it seems as if I have a new adjustment to make. Now that I'm working and being Bill's chauffeur, it seems I am having to adjust my writing schedule to accommodate it. For the past two years, I've enjoyed writing for Oklahoma Living Magazine, but, unfortunately, this type of writing requires me to travel and interview people. I don't have the time to do that now that I'm tutoring, except for in the summer. Because of that, I was forced to give up some of the assignments that I had for the upcoming year - a big disappointment.

However, as I sat thinking about it and feeling sorry for myself, I said, "Self, what other kind of writing could you do at home in the middle of the night and in between your other responsibilities?" I realized that I could write on spec about topics that I can research at home - no travel or interviewing. I could also work on my mystery and/or children's books that have been sitting in my files. So, that's what I've decided to do.

First, I sent off some queries for magazine articles I could write at home in the middle of the night. I got four assignments!

Next, I pitched an idea to the kids in my writing class about an extra assignment - writing the novel. If any of them take me up on it, we'll form an online critique group and work on our stories together. We're going to use the book, "Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write" by Victoria Hanley. We'll work through this chapter by chapter throughout the school year. We'll critique each other and I'll help them learn about the publishing business (as much as I know) and maybe even take them to some writer's workshops.

So, the bottom line is this:

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” -Maria Robinson

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I found the perfect tote for my school supplies!

Now that I'm teaching in a classroom setting, I'm having to haul a variety of heavy textbooks, a projector, a MacBook and an iPad to haul to school. I have been using a computer bag, a extra large Vera Bradley bag, a large purse and what I could carry in my hands to get all this in at one time. Very cumbersome and hard on my back!

I just received the Crop In Style Rolling Tote that I ordered from and I'm happy to report that it's perfect! I use the front and side pockets for electric cords and miscellaneous papers and school supples. There are several padded slots inside where I can place my projector and my laptop, and there is STILL ROOM for textbooks and a notebook or two. 

It appears to be made well and should hold up for my use. I'll let you know if I change my mind about that over time. In the meantime, all I can say about this tote is an old,cheesy expression: Absolutely the best invention since sliced bread!

I know this was made for scrapbookers, but teachers will love this tote even more. 100 stars!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Teaching Again, Part II

The first three weeks of school was interesting! It's been a challenge to get back into teaching mode; but, I have a great bunch of students, so that has been helpful. `

The biggest challenge has been the time it takes to create the lesson plans. I am doing my biology class in PowerPoint slides with videos for added interest. It's been fun finding the resources, but time consuming.

The other challenge is my composition class. I have students of all writing levels, so I'm trying to find ways to help the ones who need additional help while challenging the ones who are more proficient. I have been reading through textbooks and other resources trying to find a solution, but I am ending up having to create my lessons from scratch. This, too, is time consuming!

Another challenge is my hearing. I have been ignoring the fact that I have to have closed captioning to watch TV and that I can't always understand what people say. I simply ignore it. Now, however, I realize it's affecting me in the classroom. I can't always understand what my students are saying. So now, I'm going to make that appointment I've needed to make - the audiologist. I can't continue to ignore this. That makes me feel old. Sigh! :(

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tulsa Council of the Blind

Logo of person with white cane.
As many of you know, my husband Bill is legally blind. He began losing his vision in 2006 after a visit to get contacts. We visited eye specialists from here to the East coast in search of answer to why he was losing his vision, but no one seems to know. The specialists at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD, finally decided it was probably genetic or an autoimmune disease. He said this is the standard answer when they can't figure it out.

We were both hoping the vision loss was temporary; but, after consultation with doctors from Dean McGee, John Hopkins and Mayo Clinic, we finally had to accept the fact that, barring a miracle from God, he would probably not regain his sight.

In the meantime, we were both struggling to adapt to these changes. Bill was struggling with his lost of independence. No more could he get in the car and go somewhere. He has to depend on me to drive him. I was struggling with a change of roles. Bill had always been the one who went out to work. He loves being with people and want to go, go, go. In contrast, I enjoy working at home alone and only like to go out on special occasions. It was the perfect marriage. He enjoyed going out and I enjoyed staying home. We were both happy. But now, our roles had reversed. How would I be able to take care of all the things that Bill used to take care of? How would Bill be able to adjust to staying home and being dependent on others? This was a scary time for both of us and we didn't know where to turn for help. The doctors only worked on a diagnosis; they gave no advice on where to get emotional support.

In desperation, I began searching the Internet for blind support groups and only found one: National Federation of the Blind. We went to a meeting and quickly wished we hadn't gone. The leader of the group told us in no uncertain terms that if we came there because "Oh, I'm a poor little blind person and I need help, you've come to the wrong place." Both of us wanted to slide under the table and disappear. We stayed for the meeting, but were so glad to go home. That was definitely not the help we were looking for. We went home and prayed for help from somewhere else.

Finally, after searching the Internet some more, I ran across a small posting from a person who ran a support group in Tulsa called the Tulsa Council of the Blind. We went to the meeting and found just what we were looking for. They were helpful, supportive and caring. They told us where to go for more help and who to contact. This was the breakthrough we had been looking for. From there, Bill has been able to get help from the VA, the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation, and more. Emotionally, we have both learned to adapt and are making progress in getting back to a new normal.

I said all that to say this: I have just finished creating a website for Tulsa Council of the Blind. My goal is that this website will not only make easier for someone to find this organization, but that it also will help others get the help they need when going through a transition such as ours.

With the help of the staff, I have including information about the organization and its services, as well as links to other websites with helpful information for both the visually impaired as well as for the family and friends of the visually impaired. While on the site, you'll learn interesting facts about the blind, gain knowledge about the causes of blindness, discover resources for helping the blind gain confidence and independence, and even find educational resources for parents of school-age children who are blind or visually impaired.

If you know anyone who is losing their vision, please send them to the Tulsa Council of the Blind website.  And if you have a website or blog or Facebook page, please link to the website so that others can find it. Don't let them go through this alone!

UPDATE: Sept 21, 2012. I just received a nice note from the new president of NFB apologizing for the treatment we received at the NFB meeting. It's nice to know that someone cares enough to reach out and make it right.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Review of We the People Game

Attention Liberals – Do NOT buy this game. You will hate it!

On the other hand, if you’re a conservative or Libertarian, you’ll absolutely love it. We the People plays like any other board game – throw the dice, move around the board, draw a card and do what the card says. The difference is that this game takes a satirical look at our government and liberal policies in particular. For instance, you might land on a Social Justice card like this one: The Federal government sues Microsoft demanding the “bullets” feature be removed from their local tool bar because the word may provoke violence. A compromise is found and the word “bullet” is replaced with the more politically correct term, “happy dot.” All players pay $1,000 for each computer they own (in real life) to buy non-offensive software.

But don’t think that it’s all laughs and no learning. There are five categories of trivia cards including Portraits in Time, Stubborn Facts, We the People, Spoken Identity, and In God We Trust. As you play the game, you’ll learn about America’s spiritual heritage, the Constitution, famous people in America, and historical facts from American history.

As players go around the board, they gain and lose money, as well as stars depending on where they land. Stars are earned by knowing the answers to the trivia cards. The winner is the one who has the most stars at the end of the game. It’s easy to learn to play – no complicated directions.

The game is promoted as being for 3-8 players and for ages 15 - adult. Perhaps some kids younger than 15 could play it, but they probably wouldn’t get the satire.

I don’t think this game is available anywhere but on their website. The price is a huge - $54.99! I thought that was really out of sight, so I checked other trivia games on Trivia Pursuit games range from $17 up to $100 or more. I had no idea! The game is very well made – sturdy box, cards, and game board with lots of bright colors. It’s definitely not made out of cheap materials, so I suppose that justifies the price. (Note from manufacturer: They chose to have it made in America instead of in China; therefore they had to charge a higher price. Support American companies!) 

I definitely got more than a few laughs from playing the game and learned something as well. However, I will warn you. It is controversial; and, if you don’t all have the same political leanings, you might end up in an argument with your friends!

To buy or for more information, see their website.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to School!

I'm doing my last-minute preparation to begin teaching at Cornerstone Tutorial Center this year. In the process, I'm relearning how to create PowerPoint presentations! I haven't done one since college in 2010. This makes the perfect resource for teaching - it's auditory and visual. It's takes a bit longer to put together than simply writing it down, but it's worth it.

I'm also creating a unit study to go along with my biology class for parents to use with their younger children. It's actually just a list of resources to use, but I think it will be fun for them.

I think this is going to be a fun year, but very busy. Between driving Bill around and tutoring, keeping up with three classes at the Tutorial Center will be a challenge. I'll also continue writing and reviewing products. No boredom this year!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Kidnapping, Murder, Hidden Caves, and Family Secrets - It's all this and more!

Tidewater Inn is like a good restaurant: after you enjoy the meal, you want to tell everyone you know about it. But, what can I say that other reviewers haven’t said?

Colleen Coble is one of my favorite inspirational writers. I’ve read almost all of the twenty-one books she’s written. My favorite series up until now has been the Mercy Falls series (The Lightkeeper’s Daughter, The Lightkeeper’s Bride and The Lightkeeper’s Ball); however, I think the Hope Beach series might be a contender.

Libby, the heroine, is a young woman who travels to the Outer Banks to claim an inheritance from a father she never knew, but there are people there who are trying to stop that from happening. In the process, her business partner gets kidnapped, she discovers a sister she never knew she had, and she falls in love with a guy who thinks she might be the kidnapper, or worse yet, a murderer.

If you enjoy inspiration romance with mysterious plots, hidden caves, and family secrets, you’ll love Tidewater Inn. Another winner from Colleen Coble – I can’t wait for the 2nd book in the series! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review of SwissCurve Peeler

I just received a SwissCurve peeler to review for Amazon.
If you're looking for a peeler that's sharp, check this one out. But don't give it to kids!  You can read more of my review on Amazon.

Monday, July 30, 2012

New Classes

I'm really going to have a busy year! I'm teaching five classes at Cornerstone Tutorial Center: Biology, Physical Science, Beginning Composition, Creative Writing, and Guerrilla Marketing for Entrepreneurs. My students will be in grades 7-12. It's been a while since I've taught this age group, but I'm excited about doing it. If you know any homeschool families looking for individual classes in the Tulsa, OK, area, send them to the CTC website. We're having OPEN HOUSE this weekend on August 4, 2012. Come meet the teachers and check out the school. If you like what you see, you can register at that time.

One of my previous students, Shandra Wilson Pinion, has started her own business called Line Eleven. She creates custom jewelry and sells it on Etsy. She is so clever and talented! She created a necklace for me that goes with a special outfit. She matched the color of the stones and gave me a choice of stones for the centerpiece. Awesome! And she's not expensive. Check out her line on Etsy at Line Eleven.
Here's a sample of her work:


Saturday, July 21, 2012

What's Next? Tidewater Inn

Anxiously awaiting: Tidewater Inn by Coleen Coble, the first in her new series, Hope Beach. This series takes place on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Can't wait!

Review of End of the Trail

I also just finished End of the Trail by Vickie McDonough. Vickie is one of my favorite inspirational romance writers (see my review of Finally a Bride.

End of the Trail is book 6 of the Morgan Family series; however, you don't have to read the entire series to enjoy this one. (I haven't read any of the others yet.)

Although I didn't enjoy End of the Trail as much as the Finally a Bride series, I did like this book very much. The story is about a girl who thinks she has inherited her uncle's ranch only to discover that some gambling cowpoke has won it in a poker game. The uncle, knowing he was going to die, lost it on purpose and gave Brooks the stipulation that he was to take care of "Keri" as part of the deal. He doesn't know who Keri is until he rides to the Ranch and is greeted by a cute girl with a rifle pointed at his chest!

This is another winner by Vickie McDonough. Don't miss it!

Review of The Inn at Rose Harbor

I finished The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber and posted my review on Amazon.

Bottom line: I'm glad I read the book, and anyone who likes Debbie Macomber will enjoy reading it. However, I wouldn't recommend it to new readers of Macomber as it's not her best work. You can read my full review on Amazon.

Tutoring Services

I have just updated my website with information about my tutoring services and classes. Please check it out and pass it on to anyone you know who may be interested. Thank you! Cindy

Teaching again!

I'll be teaching three, high-school level classes at Cornerstone Tutorial Center, a private co-op for home schooled students, in Tulsa, OK, for the 2012-2013 school year.

Physical Science: Exploring Creation with Physical Science is the study of the non-living world taught from a Christian perspective. 

Biology: Exploring Creation with Biology is the study of the living world taught from a Christian perspective. 

Guerilla Marketing for Entrepreneurs:  Whether you attend college or not, creating a home business can help you succeed financially. In Guerilla Marketing for Entrepreneurs, students will examine various careers and entrepreneur opportunities, take a job interest and skills assessment, brainstorm ideas for a home business, learn how to target the best market for their product or service, review Biblical principals for running a home business, and learn how to manage time. Students will write a business plan, a marketing plan, and a financial plan, as well as create both print and online tools necessary to market their product or service. Participation is through discussion, lectures, in-class activities, homework assignments, conducting surveys and interviews, Internet research, and an end-of-year project. 

Registration information is on the CTC website!  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Rose State Short Course with William Bernhardt!

Rose State College is offering a two-day short course on writing September 15 to 16 at a remarkably low rate.  This weekend conference will feature more than twenty speakers from all across the nation, including major bestselling authors like Phillip Margolin.  The people at Rose know that times are tough for those in the artistic community, so they've made the short course available for only only $99, the lowest conference registration fee I've seen anywhere.  And for teachers and students, it's only $39.  (For students at Rose State, it's free.)

That price includes programming for the serious professional writer, one-on-one meetings with agents, editors, and writers, the Saturday night program/awards ceremony, food/drink at the Saturday evening reception/booksigning, and all contest entries.

Rose State sponsors five contest categories: fiction (short stories or novel segments), nonfiction, memoir, poetry, and writing for children. You can enter every category, if you want, at no additional cost. This is the first year Rose has held this program, so there may be a chance to get into a contest that isn't inundated with entries yet.  The winners in each category will receive cash prizes that start at $100 for first place, so you could walk away with more money in your pocket than you paid for the conference.

Register for the conference one of three ways: 

By Phone with a credit card by calling 405 733 7392.

In Person at Rose State College, Community Learning Center, 6420 SE 15th Street, Midwest City OK 73110.

By Mail by sending your name, address, phone, and email address with payment to: Rose State College, Community Learning Center, 6420 SE 15th Street, Midwest City OK 73110. Please make checks payable to:  Rose State College.

And after registering, send your contest entries to this address: Contests, Rose State Short Course, Community Learning Center, 6420 SE 15th Street, Midwest City OK 73110.

You can find more details about the short course and the contest submission guidelines at the Rose State website: or at Bernhardt's website: If you have any questions about the seminars, just shoot him an email ( or call (405 683 2881).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Debbie Macomber's New Book . . .

Debbie Macomber has started a brand new series, The Inn at Rose Harbor, which is set in the Pacific Northwest town of Cedar Cove.

Debbie Macomber - Author of
The Inn at Rose Harbor
I'm reading a pre-release copy of the book for an Amazon Review. I'll let you know what I think of it as soon as I am done. The book will be released in bookstores on August 14th.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Manda Panda helps me tutor!

Panda Bear
This week, for my tutoring lesson, I decided to create something special for my student to read. I bought some panda-themed paper and wrote her a letter from "Manda Panda" using words she knew or was learning. I put the letter in an envelope, addressed it to the young lady and placed a pretend stamp on it. She was so amazed that Manda Panda knew her address and couldn't wait to read the letter! This is a fun way to get your reluctant reader to practice reading.

One warning - don't give your child the letter until after the lesson! Once she read the letter, she lost her motivation!

Monday, June 18, 2012


I started tutoring in the month of June and LOVE IT! I've been working with a woman who is re-entering the workforce and needs to learn how to run a computer. We set up her new computer, got her email running, got her on the Internet and Facebook, and now we’re learning about Windows 7.

I’m also working with a young lady on her algebra skills. She needs to pass the EOI test to graduate high school. I’ve had to brush up on algebra, as I haven’t had it for five years, but it’s coming back!

I’m also working with a very young girl who is learning to read. It was so exciting to see her read her very first book! That was special, indeed!

Tomorrow, I’m interviewing for a part-time teaching position at a local homeschool co-op. I am so excited that I’m getting to use my interests and skills to teach instead of working in an office! God is good!

For more information on my classes and tutoring, click
on "Classes" on my website.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

iPad Instruction

Do you have an iPad, but not sure how to use it? I can help! 

This is a great gift idea for your parents or grandparents who want to learn how to use that iPad you gave them! 

For more information, check out the Classroom page on my website. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rob's Ranch is online!

You can read my latest article about Rob's Ranch on the Oklahoma Living magazine website.

Click on the digital magazine and scroll to page 12: Rob's Ranch: Where Hope Begins  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Exchange Students

This month, I'm working on an article about exchange students in Oklahoma. I loved this assignment! I got to interview students from China, Italy, Spain and Montenegro. It was so fun hearing about their adventures in the United States and learning something about their culture at the same time.

They shared some of the fun things they did, what they learned here and how they interacted with their host families. You won't want to miss this one! Look for this article in Oklahoma Living Magazine in August 2012.

April Writing Project

In April, I traveled to Purcell, Oklahoma, to interview the staff and residents of Rob's Ranch for an article that will be published in June issue of Oklahoma Living Magazine.

I was really impressed with this organization. They provide a long-term treatment program for men with alcohol and drug addiction. If you know someone who needs help, I highly recommend this organization.

I'll post a link to the article when it's available.

New Article

My latest article, Retirement: Time to Ham it Up, was published in the May 2012 issue of Oklahoma Living Magazine.

You can read the entire issue on the company's website (May 2012 issue, page 30-31) or just my story on my website

Friday, January 13, 2012

Interested in Creating an E-Book? Try KindleGen

KindleGen is Amazon's new software that makes generating Kindle documents easy, even children's books! Compatible with all Kindle devices.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Learning more about writing picture books

I started a class on picture book writing this week. The eight-week class is given by Anastasia Suen.

I'm hoping to learn how to fix my manuscripts so they will finally get published!