Summer’s coming, and it’s time for some fun!

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy….” So begins one of the George Gershwin’s greatest songs, an aria in “Porgy and Bess” reproduced by scores of musicians ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Willie Nelson to Norah Jones.

Sponsored: Teaching Kids & Teens Healthy Financial Habits

It is never too early to teach children and adolescents about budgeting and finance. Even the youngest of kids can learn how to manage money in a healthy way. The goal is for them to create habits that move with them into adulthood and ensure they make wise financial decision throughout their lives.

Take the edge off winter with story hour

It’s late Saturday afternoon, February, that hour before supper when the little ones go bananas, and the 5-year-old and his sister are driving you bonkers, to the point where you want to plop them down in front of the television watching “Arthur” while you slosh some red wine into a glass and smoke a cigarette, though you only drink wine with supper or in the evenings, and you gave up the cigs years ago in college. 

Learning from the young to protect our planet

My 12-year-old son is extraordinarily inquisitive. Since he was a little boy, he’s inquired about everything from politics and finances to sports and geography to space and the environment to all topics in between. He loves to learn and fully absorbs all the knowledge he acquires, to the point where he’s often concerned about the outcome or implications of what’s going on in this big, confusing world of ours. 

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Dr. Diana Messer, a forensic anthropology professor at Western Carolina University, is working on groundbreaking research that could drastically improve the methods used to estimate the timeframe of a child’s injury, which is essential evidence needed to identify and prosecute child abuse cases.

First reported case of MIS-C in North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting its first case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19.

Helping kids keep out some of the noise

I’m a child of the 1980s. 

With side ponytails on full hairsprayed display, my big sister and I kept busy making mixed tapes, riding banana seat bicycles and collecting plastic charms for our charm necklaces. We stayed up late watching “Dirty Dancing” and “Indiana Jones,” swooning over Patrick Swayze and Harrison Ford. We heated our food in BPA-laden plastic, drank from hoses and ran around our neighborhood for hours before returning home happy and spent and ready to hurriedly eat dinner so we could be in front of the TV by 8 p.m. to watch “Who’s the Boss” or “Growing Pains.” 

Children’s books and thoughts for the holidays

Time to head off to Santa’s workshop and see what Christmas books he and the elves have in mind for the kids.

First up is Carol Matney’s St. Nick’s Clique (Page Publishing, Inc. 2019, 25 pages). Matney, a North Carolinian I’ve known for nearly 30 years, whisks us off to the North Pole for a look at how Santa Claus teaches his reindeer to fly and how he names them for their personalities. Cupid, for example, receives his name because “I am happy when we all get along and are kind to each other, and we help one another.” The largest and strongest reindeer is “lightning fast” and so named Blitzen, from the German word for “fast.” At the end of this charming tale, we meet a little reindeer with a glowing red nose, and Santa wonders “if … somehow, someday, there might be some way to include him in St. Nick’s clique.” Watch for the sequel.

A winding plot to a published children’s book

Tattoos often follow times of darkness or transition. When my mom’s cancer got to a point of no return, I realized how brief and fleeting life could be. Why was this happening to us? She was too young. I was too young. Woven into my grief and anger was an epiphany, a heightened sense of what it means to fully live. Around this time, I had “One Life, One Story” tattooed on the inside of my left forearm. It’s a constant reminder. We’re offered a single chance to craft the narrative of our lives, and we’re not always in control of the ending. 

Western North Carolina’s children are increasingly poor and hungry

For most, childhood is a time of growth, learning and stability nurtured by fertile environmental and economic conditions that ultimately prepare young people to become the leaders of tomorrow. 

In much of North Carolina, the future’s not nearly that bright. 

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