Fireflies: April 2013         

Apr 26, 2013

CLIP Review: Bear Says Thanks

Author:  Karma Wilson
Illustrator:  Jane Chapman

Bear is lonely and bored. He misses his friends.

       "I could make a big dinner!
       A feast I could share.
       But he looks through his cupboard,
       and the cupboard is bare."

But his friends know just what to do.  Soon Mouse shows up with a huckleberry pie, the hare with a big batch of muffins, Badger with a string of fish from the old fishin' hole and on it goes...  Each friend is most gratefully thanked by Bear, but he soon begins to "mutter and stutter and wear a big frown",  because he has brought nothing to share.  Well, perhaps in his mind, but not in the hearts and minds of Bear's friends.  His friends hug him tight, telling him that what he has to share is every bit as special and important as the food they have brought. Can you guess what it could be?   

Even young children will understand that it's okay for friends to have different gifts and we can say "Thanks" to each other for sharing many different things.

Mary Byrne Kline

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Apr 24, 2013

The "Art" of Gratitude - Jean Francois Millet

Jean Francois Millet painted gratitude, if ever I dare to say such a thing!  I have often thought to myself, "How would you paint gratitude, Laura?"  And my "self" answered and did paint one painting entitled "Gratitude," which you can find here, but it is not an easy task I found.  I guess most of what I paint is that which I am grateful for, but to actually paint the meaning of the word is another story.  To really convey the topic of gratitude, one must really put on one's thinking cap.  This might be a great activity for your child.  Ask him/her to paint gratitude after they understand what it means, and see what they come up with.  Please share with us; we would love to see their inspired artwork! 

The French realist painter, Millet, (1814 -1875) painted three paintings I want to share with you that speak to our hearts on this topic.  Let these paintings speak louder than words and enjoy.  Here are some questions to ponder over this first famous painting above entitled, "The Angelus:"

1.  What are these people doing in the painting?  (Praying.)
2.  What is in the basket and laying near the man's feet and the pitchfork?  (Potatoes.)
3.  Why do you think they are praying?  (They are probably thanking God for the crop of potatoes they are digging up and perhaps asking God to bless it and multiply it.)

Here is another painting of gratitude entitled "The Gleaners:"
 A "gleaner" is a person, generally a poor person, who is allowed to pick up the wheat that was missed from a field after it is harvested.  Ruth, from the Bible was a gleaner.  She gleaned from Boaz's field.  God blessed Ruth, and her attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude for being able to glean from Boaz, gave her favor in his sight.  After explaining what a "gleaner" is to your child and sharing the children's Bible story of Ruth and Boaz with them, share this painting and ask these questions:

1.  What are the women doing in this painting?  (Gleaning the leftover wheat.)
2.  How did God bless Ruth when she gleaned wheat in Boaz's field?  (Boaz asked the men to drop extra wheat for her because he noticed her heart of gratitude.  He also eventually asked to marry her.)
3.  Do you think the women in the painting thought this leftover wheat was a gift?  (Yes.)  Why?  (Because they did not plant it or get paid to harvest it; it was a blessing to their family.)
4.  Do you think the harvesters thought this leftover wheat was a gift?  (No.)  Why?  (Because they already harvested most of the grain and this was "waste" or "leftover" to them.)

Here is another famous Millet painting, "The Sower:"

1.  What is the man doing?  (Planting or "sowing" seed.  See the seeds falling from his extended hand?)
2.  Do you think he will pray for a harvest over these seeds?  (Yes!)
3.  What does he need to do to in order for God to bless his seed?  (Water the seed, take care of it, be grateful for it, and continue to pray for it.)

I hope you have enjoyed these gratitude paintings by Jean Francois Millet!  I love the heart of gratitude they represent and that your children will understand more deeply what gratitude means through this master artist's work.  

Love and infinite blessings,

Laura Bird Miller, artist/art instructor

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Apr 21, 2013

The Backstory of Chasing Fireflies" [Podcast]

Chasing Fireflies is a series of podcasts that expand on thoughts and ideas expressed on The Fireflies Blog [].  In our first episode, we begin the discussion of why we decided to launch a blog and what beliefs inspired us to want to "create family legacy moments that encourage children to communicate with confidence and view the world with a sense of wonder." 


Apr 18, 2013

CLIP Review: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Author & Illustrator:  William Steig

I wonder if any of the myriad of wishes I have wished have ever come true! I have wished on the first star of evening, four-leaf clovers, the wishbone in a turkey and more birthday candles than I care to remember. But whether or not I've seen some miraculous event follow any of my wishes - well, I'm afraid that hasn't yet happened.

Sylvester, however, DOES find that magic pebble that changes everything for him!  As an avid collector of pebbles of unusual shape and color, he is always on a quest for one that is extraordinary.  One rainy Saturday afternoon he finds a flaming red, shiny and perfectly round pebble.  Examining it, Sylvester wishes it would stop raining and immediately the rain stops. His newfound power continues to be quite an adventure, until he mistakenly wishes himself to turn into a rock. With no way to touch the magic pebble and reverse his wish, Sylvester is helpless while his parents have no idea what or where he is.

What will happen to Sylvester? How will his parents possibly find him? Will the magic pebble be able to help them?  I will tell you that something as simple, yet wonderful as a picnic lunch will be the happy ending to Sylvester's story!

Often we make wishes for things that really aren't important at all. Sylvester learned he was truly grateful, not for things he could wish for, but for what he had all along.

Mary Byrne Kline
"What a lucky day this is!" thought Sylvester.
 From now on I can have anything I want.

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Apr 15, 2013

April Moments: Content & Grateful

When I was young both of my parents had a love for music and a love of singing.  They even traveled around the world in an evangelistic singing group when they were in college.  At times, I found their passion embarrassing as they wouldn't just sing the songs during worship, they would sing loudly, and with what seemed to me to be dramatic inflection in their voices, sing harmonies and runs.  Mostly though, I loved that we would sing in the car as a family and I loved to sit on the piano bench next to my mom and sing with her.  One of my favorite songs to sing with her was Jehovah-Jireh. The lyrics are simple. "Jehovah Jireh, my provider, His grace is sufficient for me, my God shall supply all my needs, according to His riches and glory, He will give His angels charge over me, Jehovah Jireh cares for me.

I have found myself singing this often through the years even though I haven't heard it in church or on the radio in a very long time.  Now as I reflect on these lyrics they have been some of the most impacting theology I've ever known.  My life wasn't and isn't all "sing-along’s" and "Sundays."  There have been many times where the circumstances of my life have told me I'm alone, I don't have enough, it won't be okay, or this situation won't get better. But standing on the truth that God is my provider and He is full of riches and glory, He cares about me, He watches over me and His grace is sufficient for me, has made the difference between a life of "if onlys" and a life of trusting Him in all things. Choosing to be grateful in all circumstances and finding true contentment. 

As a mother in today's society, teaching our kids to be grateful and content can only happen if we ourselves have learned to be. God is good, He is able, and He loves to take care of His kids. 
Lanise Santala

Philippians 4:19

King James Version (KJV)

But my God shall supply all your need
according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

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Apr 12, 2013

CLIP Review: Thank You Bear

Author & Illustrator:  Greg Foley

Ever hear the words, "Look at the treasures in my pocket!" from a child?  And then out spills a shiny rock, a feather, a broken plastic toy or similar items of seemingly useless value.  But the joy with which these items are lined up, fondled, and stuffed so carefully back into a pocket makes us realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Thank You Bear is a story for anyone who ever thought they had a great treasure.

Little Bear is sure he indeed does have something great. It is a little box - and he cannot wait to share it with his friends.  Convinced that they also will be in awe with his box, he sets out.  His encounter with Monkey leaves him with, "That's not so great." Fox tells him he's holding it the wrong way. With each meeting Bear becomes more discouraged until he begins to wonder if his treasured box is a treasure after all. By the time his dear friend Mouse comes along and finds Bear sitting mournfully staring at his little box, Mouse reacts as a true and faithful friend always does.

If you have a true friend that you would like to say "Thank You" to, this book is the perfect gratitude book to send.  C'mon, this book is WAY better than giving them a shiny rock, a feather or a broken plastic toy!  (It also comes in a miniature paperback version all ready to mail with an envelope flap for about $5.00.)

Mary Byrne Kline

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Apr 9, 2013

Storybox: Being Grateful for a Person, Place & Thing

LOVE LOVE LOVE how this Fireflies Verbal Comm idea turned out!  
This idea began with the purchase of Rory's Story Cubes which I love with two exceptions: size and images.   Wanting  a larger size for little hands and the ability to control the story prompts (images), I decided to create my own.

Last November's post:
Magnetic Family Personalities  is also a favorite of mine, and since we are focusing on GRATITUDE this month, I combined both ideas and came up with our second "Tell Me a Story" Box.

The result?
I am thankful for the "People, Places & Things" God has given to me!  Read on...

While visiting our local Michael's store (a must when I begin brainstorming), I found a bin of  2 1/2 inch wooden disks for 29 cents.  

Next, I picked up some paint and a few other supplies and headed home to begin this project - The Fireflies' "Tell Me a Story" Box: Person, Place, & Thing.

Keeping in mind that we are creating these verbal comm projects for young children, I decided to use three colors to distinguish between nouns [person, place, & things].   The idea is for children to pick up one of each and create a story using all three.   Depending on the age of your child, you might use these as simple image recognition circles, vocabulary identification prompts, and/or story starters.   For older children, add a color and introduce verbs (action words).   Obviously this verbal comm project is flexible and will accommodate all developmental stages and communication skills standards.  

The Process

1.  Paint your wooden circles.

2.  Print out 3 inch square images of family members on regular paper or card stock and affix them to one side of the circles using Mod Podge (I seriously love this stuff...)  If you have never used it before, apply some to the back of your image and press it firmly onto your wooden disk, smoothing out any bubbles.  Wait about 20 minutes until basically dry and then apply a top coat to your image.  Mod Podge will dry completely clear.

Crop each image to a 3" X 3"square and print out.
Cut your images into circles.
With a paint brush apply Mod Podge to back of images
and press firmly onto wooden circles working out any air bubbles.
Brush Mod Podge on top of image after waiting about 20 minutes.
3.  Identify nouns with your child during a conversation about gratitude.  "I am thankful for...(name some people, places, & things)."  I am thankful for my family, for my home, and for books, flowers, etc.    Encourage your child to come up with their own list and take pictures so that their storystarters are customized to your family and personal to your child.  

NOTE:  I'm working on my own "I am grateful for..." list, and it's apparent that I'm going to have to make another run to Michaels for more wooden circles!  In the meantime, here is the start of my collection.
4.  Place the finished Person, Place, & Things Circles in your "Tell Me a Story" Box and begin creating family stories.  Turn the disks over and have your child select at least one from each category.  Remember that the stories can make sense or be totally fanciful.  Also, they do not need to end cleanly - just have fun creating a situation, a moment, something that might happen in a complete story.  The creative communication process is what really matters.  Don't forget to keep a journal nearby and document your original family stories.  (Oh, and Mom and Dad must take a turn creating their own stories too!) 

We hope you will enjoy being together as a family "chasing fireflies" while creating memories and stories with your Fireflies' Person, Place, & Thing Storybox!
Create a Fireflies' "Tell Me a Story" Box, LINK.

Don't miss our next "Tell Me a Story" Box Idea
Sidewalks & Shoelaces!
Deni Corbett

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Apr 8, 2013

So "Fortunate" To Have You!

"Fortunate-to-Have-You Cookies"

I simply was wracking my brain trying to think of a way to incorporate gratitude into this month's recipe.  However, my mind kept going to thankfulness and, of course, straight to Thanksgiving related activities.  Then it came to me!  Thankful, gratitude, fortunate, FORTUNE COOKIES!  

So Noah and I sprang into action.  We found a recipe (you can find it here: and Noah went to work on the paper portion of today's recipe.  We decided that his teacher would be the perfect recipient of a batch of "fortunate-to-have-you" cookies.  Noah wrote reasons for which he was grateful for having his teacher in his life.

Most of these were exactly were right on topic but in the end, the slips of paper ranged from "patient" and "kind" to pictures of trucks and special messages written in the "alien's language".  I'm pretty sure that's his standard answer when he can't read his own writing.  Either way, the messages were written with a lot of heart and seriously, isn't that what matters most?  

Next we went to work on our recipe.  We measured and sifted our dry ingredients:

Separated our egg whites:

Added our extracts:

Whisked until frothy:

After mixing in our dry ingredients, we decided on adding some
red food coloring to make things a little more exciting:

After greasing our pans heavily with butter, we spooned a little batter into
thin circles and popped them into the oven.

OK, I won't lie to you.  We had some serious issues at this point.  We ended up having to vary the temperature of the oven, the cookie sheet, the duration of baking, the amount of batter, thickness of the batter and ultimately, ended up with many fortune cookies with burnt edges and undercooked middles.  Finally, what worked for us was to set the temperature at 400, bake for 2 - 3 minutes, flip them and bake for another 2 - 3.  Keep the batter VERY thin so you don't end up with pancake-like centers.  Also, you have to be pretty quick when they come out and have fingers that can take some serious heat.  I just made my husband do it since he has those lovely calloused  hands just perfect for fortune cookie folding.  Put your paper inside, fold them in half, fold them again over the rim of a mug and finally place them in a muffin tin to keep their shape while they cool completely.

And there you have it!  What better way to show someone how incredibly grateful you are that they are in your life than a big plate of mostly cooked through (and some a bit burnt) fortune-to-have-you cookies.

Author: Rachel Skvaril
Sugar Artist

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Apr 5, 2013

CLIP Review: Henry's Life as a Tulip Bulb

Author & Illustrator:  Linda M. Brandt

As a child, I certainly had a lot in common with Henry the Tulip Bulb. Especially in the story when he wails, "Why, oh why does this have to happen to me and what did I ever do to deserve this?"  I'm thinking back to the years of, (deep breath..), piano lessons!

Now don't get me wrong - piano lessons are a wonderful and important thing for most children.  My parents encouraged me to keep practicing, and told me they loved me regardless of my less than perfect skills.

So how does Henry figure into all of this? He too found himself in an awkward and uncomfortable situation. After being plopped into a dark, damp hole in the ground, he finds himself sprouting hairy bunches of legs.  It isn't long until the warm spring rains cause a strange growth to emerge from the top of his head! After all the grumbling and protesting  Henry has done, how will he react once he realizes just what he was made to become?

Mary Byrne Kline
(and tulips...)
I wish I could say that I too emerged a success, but alas, that is not the case. The piano and I have long since parted ways, but I'm grateful for the lessons my parents taught me. They accepted me as I was, allowed me to "bloom" in other ways and loved me always.

Special Offer 

From the Publishers:  Thank you Fireflies, for reviewing Henry's Life As A Tulip Bulb. Please let your readers know that we will offer an exclusive coupon for them as Fireflies readers.  The coupon code is:


and entitles them to $1.00 off of Book One of the Henry the Tulip Bulb series when purchased from the site.   CLICK HERE  

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Apr 3, 2013

Poem: RAIN by Shel Silverstein

[Verbal Communications]
I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can't do a handstand--
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said--
I'm just not the same since there's rain in my head.

                                                    Shel Silverstein

Enjoy reading this fun poem to your child.  Laugh at the silliness of it and encourage your child to finish select lines by remembering the rhyming word(s).   rain-brain   head-bed

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Apr 1, 2013

April Reflections: Grateful or Grouchy?

Being raised by a father who had served in the Army and a mom of five siblings, my sisters and I were not allowed to whine about hand-me-down clothes, chores around the house, left-overs for supper or squeezing the last drop of toothpaste out of the tube.  We were taught to be grateful for having any and all of these.  From my earliest childhood, "Please" and "Thank-you" were expected to be heard from us - frequently.  We also laughed every day, often over the silliest things.  One morning at breakfast we had only a tiny bit of 3 different cereals left, not enough for a whole bowl from any one. I was grouchy. Daddy said to just be grateful and dumped them altogether!  "Cheeriflakes" were invented and became a favorite cereal for us.

Chores became opportunities for races to see who could finish first. Squealing with laughter at who was ahead sure worked better than grumbling about dishes, weeding, dusting or whatever it was that had been written on our Chore Charts. 

Now before you get the wrong idea let me just say I had my share of grouchy days. One of my favorite characters is someone all of you know quite well. His name is Oscar and he's known for being a well, you know...

                 "Always start the day with a smile - that way you get it over with."
                                                     Oscar the Grouch

 A few years ago I was fortunate to meet Caroll Spinney, and visit with both him and Oscar.  They were the perfect pair of "Grateful-Grouchy".  The more Oscar grumbled about having to share with a room full of adoring fans, the sweeter and more enjoyable Mr. Spinney became. I remember him saying Oscar always tells the truth and that although at times he can be rude, Oscar truly does have a heart of gold.

May I, in my truthfulness, remember that those around me need to be shown a bit more gratitude, to always start the day with a smile! (thanks, Oscar),  and that "Cheeriflakes" can be found in places other than cereal bowls. 

Mary Byrne Kline

                   Happy Thought

               The world is so full
                  of a number of things,
               I'm sure we should all
                  be as happy as kings.

              Robert Louis Stevenson

The Fireflies' Theme for April?  Being Grateful.    You won't want to miss a single post.  We will be sharing some great books, ideas, and family activities - all about training our children to be grateful and to express gratitude.  Don't forget to share the Fireflies' Blog with your friends.

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