Valentine’s Day is a day for love.  But when your family receives so much love every other day of the year, how do you make this day – memorable?

Start a new tradition!

Make Valentine’s Day a Red Day! Everything red, from breakfast to bedtime!

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Breakfast: Mix a few drops of red food color in the pancake batter – okay, they’ll be pink pancakes, but the children will love it. For a substitute of food color, you can boil cranberries and use that liquid; pomegranate juice; or beet juice. Pureed raspberries is another fruit you can use. You can also do this with grits.  If we can eat green grits on St. Patrick’s Day, we can eat red grits for Valentine’s Day!  Add a few red napkins, red plastic cups, and you have yourself a red breakfast!
  2. Toothpaste: There are several red-flavored toothpastes available now.  I am not a mint-flavored person, so cinnamon-flavored toothpaste has always been my favorite, and Crest Cinnamon is, I believe, one of the best. It is not as “hot” as some of the others that left my mouth feeling like I consumed a plate of red chiles.
  3. Red clothing for the day: shirts, scarves, red shoe-laces – will make your attire quite festive.
  4. Lunch: A ham sandwich, an apple, and strawberries will make a great Red Lunch!
  5. Dinner: Spaghetti, and a salad with chopped tomatoes, feta cheese, fresh basil tossed with white wine vinegar and olive oil. Red flowers on the table would be a nice touch!
  6. After Dinner Red Game: Place a deck of playing cards face down on the table in rows of twelve. Everyone chooses one card. The one with the most “red” cards wins the game!
  7. Bedtime: Choose a bedtime story with red in the illustrations!

It may call for a little imagination, but if it could be a new tradition that your children will remember, then it will be well worth it.  The children will love to participate in all the redness, and they’ll contribute ideas, as well.  Maybe they can make red placemats for the Red Dinner (two pieces of red construction paper taped together or color red two pieces of white paper), or color and cut-out red hearts to place all over the dinner table.

Just have fun and enjoy the day!

Please comment to share any Valentine’s Day traditions that you already do with your family.  Family time is the best time!

Happy Valentine’s Day from our family at CRS Ventures International to yours!

–Debbie Caldwell




goalsAnother year! What a blessing to be able to experience it.  Helping children set goals for the new year may help them stay focused, and understand that every action, good or bad, has a consequence.  Goals, regardless of our ages, are the outcome of every action that we put together.

  • Start by asking them what they want to achieve. Children will respond if it’s items they click with, like sports or music. Once you help them decide what they want to achieve, then that sets the motion of what needs to be done to attain them.  Break it up visually on a small poster board, which will make it easier for them to see, and to pat themselves on the back when they do take those steps of accomplishment.
  • Simple questions: What would you like to do this year that would make you feel really good about yourself? What would make you happy?
  • Make the list small, maybe two or three attainable goals, from making new friends to trying harder with homework, to keeping their room clean.

We have to remember that we are the guides, and they are doing the work.  As they accomplish each step, we can praise them, and if they don’t take the action-steps, we can ask appropriate questions or help them see the larger picture, but we can’t nag.  Help them see the positive in what they’ve already accomplished.

At the end of the year sit down and look at all of your achievements together, and make a special dinner or picnic just for that occasion!

Best of luck with your goals, and for a terrific year! What are some 2018 goals you would encourage for your children?

–Debbie Caldwell






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