DISPLAYING CHILDREN’S ARTWORK… and the importance of why we should do it

There are many reasons in child development why children’s artwork should be displayed, but the one I treasure the most is…  VALUE.

Whether at home on the front of the refrigerator, taped to a bathroom mirror, over a workbench in the garage, the dashboard of a car, inside a pantry door, or if you’re a teacher, rotating often the students’ artwork on the bulletin board, the feeling is the same – “I am valued for who I am.”

They are accepted for who they are.  They are visible.  They are creative.  They are cherished.  They are individuals.  They are important.  They are competent – they completed something.  Their imagination is there for all to see, and it’s valued.  They are valued, appreciated, and respected.

A child is never too young or never too old to have their artwork displayed.  You’re encouraging a list of good things when you encourage a child to do art, and even more good things when it’s displayed.   And, you are encouraging decision-making skills when you hold-up two pieces of art and ask, “Which one would you like to put on the front of the refrigerator?”  As time passes, comparing their growth in art also builds great confidence and self-esteem.

Asking questions about the art stimulates the imagination, too.  Purple leaves on a palm tree, how cool is that? What made you color it purple? (maybe the sun was going down).  Is that gorgeous red lipstick on your alligator? I love it! (she was going to a big birthday party).

Whether purple leaves or red lipstick, your little Picasso will be thrilled to see her or his artwork in a place where others can enjoy it, too!

If you wish to send Harry Pierre & PeTunia a picture of your child’s artwork, they would love to see it, and will respond with encouraging words and lots of hugs! As Harry Pierre says, “Art doesn’t have to be a certain way, it just has to be your way!”  Send pictures to info@harrypierre.com.

–Debbie Caldwell



Some of the most successful people in the world have said that the first hour upon arising, and their breakfast, is the most important hour of their day.  It starts them off right mentally and physically.

But what do you do when you have a sleepy, little bundle of joy that doesn’t want to wake-up and go to school, much less eat breakfast? 

You make a creative breakfast! Children are not the only ones that must use their imaginations, we do, too!

The following pictures, and some adorable ones, I may add, was found on Pinterest.com, creative breakfast ideas for children.  How exciting to be a child, and see these for breakfast.  Eating any of these first thing would make my day a lot more fun!

Let your culinary imagination soar, and please send us your creative breakfast photos at HPPPuddlesworth@gmail.com so we can share them, as well.   Have a fun breakfast and an exciting day!

Photo from Pinterest/Creative Breakfast Ideas for Children/itunes.apple.com
































Bon appetit!

–Debbie Caldwell





Life is busy.  After school is busy.  Keeping up with activities after school is busy.  Coming home after work is busy.  Having a routine after school can help ease the day, and stay organize.

When my children started Preschool, I had a colorful note on the front of the refrigerator that read:

  • A Mommy hug and kiss
  • Wash hands
  • Snack time (I loved snack time! It was a great way to talk and cuddle)
  • Empty backpack
  • Give Mommy all important papers
  • Lunchbox (place it beside the sink)
  • Homework
  • Place backpack by the backdoor
  • Let’s go play!

It stayed for Preschool and Kindergarten, and the beginning of the year in First Grade.  Everyone’s schedule is different, so you would have to write your list to suit your lifestyle, but helping them establish a routine early in the game – especially with giving you papers to sign – helps everyone.  I know that being so young they don’t usually have homework, but I thought giving a page of age appropriate work from a workbook, something to get them in the groove of doing a few minutes of “homework” a few times a week would be beneficial for them, because I knew in due time that it was coming!

Many times, my oldest daughter wasn’t keen on going outside to play after homework, but she loved cuddling and reading an after school story.  And my youngest daughter, she loved to watch a show and just relax by herself for a little while.  Then they would go outside to play!

Many people add items on their list all the way to bedtime.  Whatever brings peace, joy, and happiness to your family, that’s the list to make!

Good luck to another school year! Every year is a little stressful at the beginning, but the older they get, the faster it flies by.  Before long, they’ll be teenagers and you’ll have a Senior on your hands!

–Debbie Caldwell



My husband recently accepted a position in Florida.  After having lived in the Los Angeles area for the last 20 years – raising children, building a life, deep friendships, a company – it wasn’t as easy to leave as I thought it was going to be.  But the thought of living on the beach, something that I’ve always desired, and the opportunities that surrounded the relocation, we welcomed the new adventure.

Welcoming the move, and ignoring the anxiety of moving, are two different things.  My fabulous Italian Language Teacher – or ex-teacher, I sadly say – told me that in Italy, the land of many proverbs, they have a saying to some people that annoy them for you don’t want to wish them harm… you just say, “We wish you to move on a rainy day!”

Like if moving isn’t torturous enough!

When I first found out that yes, we were going to do this, other than grabbing a glass of wine, I realized I had to start DE-CLUTTERING.  I had always tossed out things here and there to make room for the new, but my Spring Cleaning is really dusting.  Maybe rearranging a few sweaters, washing a couple pair of sneakers, possibly cleaning out my china hutch or under the bathroom sinks.  Other than that, I really ignored over the years what needed to be cleaned out – drawers!  Starting in the kitchen.  I had kitchen cooking gadgets that I had no idea what they were! I’ve had friends that sold kitchen “helpers,” so I guess I was thinking of them when I purchased these oddly shaped pieces of plastic, but they still left me dumbfounded.  But after learning I was moving, every time I opened a drawer, I would not shut it without saying, “What have I not used this year?”  or “What do I love and what do I like?”   

 Next is, LOVE.  You see, with this move, I’ve realized something – I don’t want anything around me except the things that I love… really, really love.  I want things that make my heart sing a glorious melody.  I don’t want any substitutes because I don’t want a corner to be bare, or a cabinet empty.  LOVE everything in your life – around you, beside you, whether a shirt or a serving tray or a picture frame.  Let looking at it make you breath in joy, and exhale peace.  Just love it!

Next… RELEASE THE OLD.  I’ve had to take a good look at things I was keeping of my mother’s and her mother’s, maybe even her mother’s, and there were items that I had memories of them loving, but many were dilapidated, shredded, broken, or crumbly.  And I had to ask myself, “Is it time to let go?”  You see, memories we can take from one state to another.  From one side of the world to another.  Do we need to take up the space with non-fixable items that causes clutter in our lives? Would they really be upset with us to know that we discarded an old shredded book, or a hair net, or a razor, or a smelly bedspread, or stained dishtowels, or even a piece of furniture? No, I don’t think they would.  A friend once said that she had to ‘release’ her mother’s dining room table, her grandmother’s bed frame, and her grandfather’s credenza, because she simply after decades of storing them – not using them, but storing them – that she had nowhere to put them in her new downsized condo. “The guilt with releasing family items makes you stay up all night, and the next night, and the next,” she sadly said.  They wouldn’t want us to feel guilty.  So, RELEASE if needed.

STAY ORGANIZE.  A spiral notebook with built-in folders will become your best asset during a move.  Every page for every phone call you must make to all gas and utility companies, phone, electric, and water companies, waste collections, landscapers, exterminators, insurance, moving, mortgage, and escrow companies, pet transporter, pet hotels, veterinarians, post office, doctor’s and opticians, DMV’s – take notes.  Lots and lots of notes with your new address being on the first page.   Don’t try remembering all you must do and all that you have done.  That notebook will become your best friend! Also, do not forget to take with you – in your possession, not in your menagerie of boxes – your Social Security Card, Birth Certificate, Marriage License, and Car Insurance and Title, (might as well keep your home insurance papers with you, as well) so you can apply for your driver’s license and tags.  Most states only allow a short amount of time before requiring such duty, forgetting the stress that you are under as you try to rummage through countless boxes to find these items.  If moving out of state, or out of country, keeping them with you will alleviate a lot of headaches.

KNOW THAT THE BOXES WILL BE THERE TOMORROW.   My youngest daughter, who came with us and transferred to a great, and local, university that offered her specialized degree, politely told me those words.  I am one that wants it all done yesterday.  And I will work from sunrise to almost the next sunrise to make it happen.  That’s not the case with moving, especially across country.  “You just got to take it in chunks,” as a friend suggested.  They both are right.  Take time to go to a local festival and meet the local people, or go on a Date-Night to a movie, or go to a popular Happy Hour! Just know that all is well, and it will be better than yesterday.  

If you have ANIMALS, please know that they, too, show signs of stress.  Our dogs and cats did.  Especially our cats.  So be sure to give them lots of extra love, and be patient.  Also, keep with you their shot records.

Last, know that saying goodbye to your friends, and especially your all-grown-up child is as hard as it sounds.  Excruciatingly hard.  My oldest daughter is recently married to a wonderful young man, she’s on her career path, and doing great, but that didn’t make it any easier.  Regardless of their age they are always your babies.  BUT, thanks to modern day technology, it makes it a lot easier.  Not as good as a hug, but easier.

So, if you have to move, just stop and breath.  It is very overwhelming, you do not have to be unpacked and settled overnight, and your friends, and children, and family, will always be your friends, children, and family, regardless of where you live.

Love doesn’t disappear because of the miles between us – it widens the road.

–Debbie Caldwell


IF TEACHERS COULD TALK… what they really may say

I used to love helping out in my daughters’ classrooms when they were elementary age.  I think many parents do enjoy it.  I loved watching the teachers work and I loved helping the children.  I also probably overextended my welcome on some occasions, too! But throughout the years I developed close relationships with many of their teachers, and I have had the opportunity to speak with many that weren’t their teachers over the years.   Speaking one-on-one with them gave me an idea of what each would possibly say if they could really talk to parents! 

  •  I am going to love and protect and teach your child, but it is impossible to love him or her as much as you do.  He or she is very special, but you have one or two children, I have 20 – 30, but I promise I’m going to do the best I can, and from past experience, you may be impressed by the end of the year.  And, you really don’t have to critique my every move or offer your constant advice for improvement.  Though I appreciate your input when needed, it is a valuable trait that I did go to school to learn how to teach children.
  • I know your children loves playing with his or her favorite toy when he or she is at home, but this is school. Toys must be kept at home, because just think – if every child brought their favorite toy to school every day, how much time would that take out of their educational hours for me to tell them to put it away?  And please, I’m already considered a bad guy most of the time, it’s okay for you to be the bad guy, too.  Don’t always put it on me to tell your child, “No toys allowed in the classroom, other than on designated sharing days.”
  • Please talk to me. Help me understand why all of a sudden your child is misbehaving or not doing his or her homework.  Without sharing too much intimate details, it’s okay to tell me in confidence that you and your spouse are having marital difficulties and one has moved out of the home.  That you’re expecting a new baby or an aging relative that snores loudly has moved into your home.  That you have returned to work or changed jobs or the other parent is working longer shifts.  Help me not only read between the lines, but see between the lines, as well, so I can be the best teacher I can to your child.
  • An apple a day does make me feel better! Being acknowledged, even with a homemade card brings a smile to my face.  A few cookies given to me after school means the world to me.  Just thinking of me, the person that spends so many hours a week with your child, in such a kind way makes my heart smile.  I do deeply appreciate it.
  • We can work together to help build common courtesy manners with your child. Encourage them to say thank-you, please, and you’re welcome, not only to adults, but to other children, also.  Help them see that bullying and rudeness is wrong.  But please don’t yell at me if I try to do this.  My classroom runs more smoothly when the children are kind to each other, and kind to me.  So it does help to know you are encouraging them, too, because it won’t work if only I am encouraging kindness and respect.  You and I, we’re a team!
  • Figure out a way to label all your children’s items she or he brings to school – pencils, crayons, markers, backpacks, and notebooks. It makes it easier for the child to spot what is his or hers.
  • It’s okay to say goodbye to your child, and leave. I know it’s hard when they’re upset you are leaving them, especially in Preschool and Kindergarten, and even First Grade, but it really is easier and less confusing if you will give them a goodbye kiss, and leave – not linger.  I promise they will be okay, and if not, I will call you.

As parents, we all want our child to be at the top of the teacher’s list, but where we want that list to come down in a column with our child’s name near the top, the teacher must keep that list in a long horizontal row, treating all children the same.  And, I heard that they deeply appreciate parents making an after-school appointment with them to share any concerns you may have with them or their teaching style.  Many were sad when parents would run to the Principal’s office or discuss what they deemed wrong to other teachers and parents before speaking to them first.  After meeting, if you still see fit to speak to the Principal, then so be it.  As a parent, that is certainly is your right to do so.

These are just tidbits of advice.  We, as parents, know that parenting is a learning process, and when parents and teachers, and Harry Pierre & PeTunia 🙂  come together with the same goal – encouraging children to love themselves and others while learning new things and using their imagination – it’s a beautiful thing!

–Debbie Caldwell




Traveling with children is an adventure, and traveling with a child requires a creative imagination!  I had four children: three boys and one daughter.  Overtime, I figured out how to entertain each one of my children.  My oldest son, I would give him a pillow and a blanket, and he immediately fell asleep; he was definitely my easy traveler.  My second son, he we would cry on every trip.  He disliked being in his car seat, which forced us to take more breaks.  This was definitely a challenge! My third son, he talked the entire trip.  Falling asleep was far and few.  He always had the “What-if…” questions and scenarios.  My daughter was an easy traveler – she entertained herself with anything.

I would like to share some of my travel tips that were helpful on my trips. 

Traveling in the car was definitely easier; I had more control of stops and potty breaks when needed.  I mapped out our destination with the best route and travel time, and went to my local auto club to pick up maps and entertainment books for the location to where we were traveling.  We used travel games that the whole family could play on the trip.  One of the greatest inventions was the mobile DVD player, with headphones! It certainly made our trips easier and quieter.

Flying required more planning.  I needed more time and certainly more patience.  When booking the flight I preferred the Red-Eye and made sure the kids did not nap the day we traveled, which made sleep easier on the flight.  And, they were dressed in warm comfortable clothing.  Another option was finding flights that had one layover.  I know it sounds crazy, but it was a break in the flight.  Each of the kids would have their own backpack with its contents being snacks, a book or two, a drawing book, pencils, crayons, and a card game like Uno.  We also packed extra clothes, toothbrush, toothpaste, gum and lollipops.  The gum or lollipops were for take off and landing, and of course my kids always needed to chew and suck on the lollipops! The second greatest invention was the Game Boy.  They had to share the game; each one had thirty minutes to play.  This was a great way to teach them time, time limits, and sharing.

They each carried a journal; I would have them write daily about their vacation.  My kids were not happy about this because they were on vacation, not school! But I still have their journals today.  Whenever they would say, “Are we lost?” My answer was, “Of course not, we are on an adventure!”

My children are now adults and when they travel they pack their own backpacks exactly how I taught them when they were small.  They are never lost, and always on an adventure.

Children remember what you teach them so remember to make your trips fun and memorable!  Here at Puddlesworth Café, we welcome your travel tips, too!

Gladys Vargas-Ruiz


TO WORK OR NOT TO WORK? Battling the Criticism of Stay-At-Home-Parents vs. Working Parents

Shall I continue working and put my children in daycare at six-weeks-old? Can we make ends meet on one income? If I stay at home, what will my working friends think of me? If I return to work, will my child care option hold my newborn as much as I will? Will I lose my identity if I stay at home? Will my partner not look at me the same? Can I still work 40-plus hours a week and feel like I’m a hands-on parent?

The questions are endless, if not gut-wrenching.  It is fearful waters, but we must tread them or we will sink.

I recently heard a parent say some things about another parent who opted to take a different parenting lifestyle road than the first parent.  There was zero respect for that other parent, which made me think of the long ago road I took during those important years.  It was sad to see that after all this time that the road is still bumpy, and the respect that each deserves, is still missing.

Many years ago, with a supportive husband, I made the decision to step away from the workforce and stay at home when my oldest daughter was born.  Three years later, my second daughter arrived.  I wish I could say that there were no struggles, but there were plenty.

There are many emotions that a stay-at-home parent must endure that no one else understands, not even your supportive partner, except for other parents that choose to experience what you are doing.  I remember the first time I was asked what I did for a living since I made this decision.  I had worked from the time I was 13-years-old – from babysitting to my then last employment in outside sales – but I didn’t know what to say.  I looked at my young daughter and said, “Domestic Engineer.”

Being a stay-at-home parent can be lonely.  It can be scary, not to mention the fear of a now “one income” home.  It is a learning process.  So what do you do? You find that support system with other parents that chose to do what you did.  You also find the time to stay in contact with friends that chose not to do what you did.  You go to playgroups with the children, and you make time to go out with your friends, including evenings with your partner.  You go to child seminars where they usually have daycare available, and you also make time to go to seminars that appeal to your ex-career, or future career.  You take a special interest class that works around your partner’s schedule.  You stay as active as you can in their schools and your community to help prevent being so lonely, because it can be a lonely journey.  But if it is the right one for your family, then never hold your head down that “You’re not doing anything with your life!” 

Little did they know everything I experienced contributed to the woman I am today, and I have no regrets.  I would not have changed those precious years I spent with my daughters, all I’ve learned and accomplished throughout the years, or the relationships I made with other parents – some lasted a couple years, some longer, and some decades.  Throughout those “non-working” years – I laugh at that because I never worked so hard in my life – I met other women with careers in medicine to law to accounting to engineering to a newspaper reporter to a waitress that were doing what I was doing.  We had different backgrounds, but the one thing we all had in common was battling that stigma – that we were not doing anything with our lives.

I did not like the title, “Stay-At-Home-Mom” because my life wasn’t about just being at home: cooking and cleaning and shopping.  I was never home! I had my children in artistic playgroups when they were babies, and starting around 18-months-old they were in museums, at exhibits, on nature trails, science centers, treasure hunts on picnics, and education days at the zoo, and the list goes on and on.

But saying that…

I cannot tell you how much respect I have for the parents that chose not to do what I had done.  There are parents out there that would love to be a stay-at-home-parent, but could not for fiscal reasons.  There are some that chose not to interrupt their careers, knowing their children with their parenting and qualified appropriate childcare would be just fine; that it is not the quantity of time you spend with a child, but the quality.  These are the same people that after the commute from a long day at work, they still have to go shopping, cook, wash clothes, help with homework, clean, take the animals to the vet, and spend quality time with not only their children, but their partner, all before bedtime.

They should not be judged for their choice, as a stay-at-home parent should not be judged for theirs.  

Looking back, I would be lying to you if I said that all was a glorious walk in the park.  It was not.  I had to experience unfamiliar emotions while still putting on the “happy mommy” face.  I was very strong and independent and stepped into a world that was deemed to be the opposite, and nothing could be farther from the truth.  It took my strength and independence to be a stay-at-home-parent and raise the strong and independent women I have raised.  And whatever road they choose, which may not be the road I took, will be the best road for them and their families, and they too, will raise strong, independent children.

I believe our society puts so much on our shoulders that we lose our strength, our identity, and our independence if we choose to leave the workforce.  Even when you choose to work from your home, or part-time, there is still that stigma of “being weak and not power-driven.” If you choose your career “over your children” our society throws verbal stones at you for “being selfish and putting your children second.”

So which is right? Neither. Both are wrong.

You can raise strong, independent children if you choose to be a stay-at-home-parent, and you can raise strong, independent children if you choose to be a working parent.

Both have pros and cons, but the one thing I do know is that with parenting, and I’m repeating myself, that it is not the quantity of time spent with your children, but the quality. 

So instead of criticizing or judging a fellow parent, please know they are probably doing the best they can with the choices they have made.  And it is THEIR CHOICE.  Parenting is a learning process.  We can never assume we know everything about the subject, and none of us should assume our children are better than another child because his/her parents made different choices than you. 

Love your children unconditionally.  Stay active in their lives, hug them, kiss them, ask questions, meet their friends, their friends parents, stay involved with their schoolwork, their play, their passions, and their imagination, and let them know they are the sunshine in your life.

And if you’ve experienced any extra weight on your shoulders for the choices you’ve made, please feel free to share your experience with us.  Parents helping parents’ makes parenting a lot easier!

–Debbie Caldwell