Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Elementary Teachers: Take this Ship
A Raffle Just Might Get Free Bus Travel for Students to the Maritime Museum; Parents Tell Your Teachers!

Maritime Museum Director Marifrances Trivelli bemoaned the fact with a friend recently that not as many teachers were bringing their students in for business – a sore disappointment when the museum has so much to offer.
Her friend, a retired teacher, easily hit the sail on the head.
They don’t come, the teacher explained, because buses are so costly – and so hard to get – that they’ll tend to use them for major field trips – meaning those not so nearby.
That’s how the museum in part launched it’s “teacher outreach,” program. An open house will be held for educators from 1st to fifth grades from 3 to 4:30 p.m., Monday Oct. 15, to explain all the school tours the museum offers – but even better: a raffle that will include a oceanic-sized prize.
Three teachers will each receive a bus ride for their students to the museum and back – quite an enticement for teachers always eager for transportation to take their students on field trips.
Each educator attending will receive a packet all about the museum and the tours that are offered. Light refreshments will be served. Museum staff will explain how the maritime museum – a wealth of information when it comes to maritime history locally and throughout the state – meets the state’s education standards, the director said.
For more information, contact Amy Harroff, the museum’s educator, at (310) 548-7618 (ext. 202).

Monday, September 24, 2007


By Diana L. Chapman

The teacher at Dana Middle School approached me in the hallway and pulled me quietly aside. He needed to talk to me about Ryan. He indicated it was extremely important – and whenever a teacher wants to talk to me about my son, I drop everything.

His 6th grade algebra teacher, Sal DiConstanzo, explained that Ryan had not been acting himself the past two weeks. He was snippy, not paying attention, basically languishing in his class – and not caring what happened. He wasn’t even doing his homework or participating! These thoughts immediately shot into my brain; It had to be a bully or a girlfriend who dumped him at school.

I asked Ryan what was going on and he said: “Mom. Look. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s not life-threatening or anything.”

Failing to coax anything him out of him, I dropped the conversation.

But thank God for the warning. A few days later, during parent conferences, two teachers practically leaped out of their chairs and begged me to tell them what was going on with Ryan. It was the same story the math teacher had revealed.

This time, I told Ryan: “You have to tell me, your dad or what’s going on,” because by now, I’m just sure we’ll be marching onto the school grounds asking the school to solve the problem.

Ryan finally spit it out -- and I got quite the education.

“I’m scared,” he explained. “I’m scared about our remodel. I don’t know where we are going to live. I don’t know where our animals are going. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me.”

Wham! What a wake-up call for us as parents. We’d been sitting around discussing incessantly about our remodel woes – and we hadn’t even started yet – and yes, we didn’t know where we were going to live, and no, we didn’t have any idea what we were going to do with our animals. And it spelled out the one certain thing: We have to remember our kids listen and they listen intently. Whenever we feel uncomfortable, they feel uncomfortable. When we are afraid, they are afraid. Ryan basically was a carbon-copy of our own feelings – and he most certainly didn’t know where he fit in the maelstrom of plans with architects, engineers and a whirlwind of bodies coming in-and-out of our doors.

And I have to remind you – that was before we even really started. We had unknowingly transferred all our troubles to our son, and worse – it was his teachers who had to tell us so. But perhaps that was better, because it was then I realized what a life line our teachers can be to our kids – if – and only if – we listen and become involved in their education -- however, that may be from writing teachers notes to helping on field trips.

Because of these teachers, we were able to avoid a catastrophe as Ryan’s grades were spiraling down and his attitude had become horrifically scary – and hah, I was just sure it was the fault of the school! And believe me, we had absolutely no idea. We were blindsided and surprised by our own inability during that time to connect with our own child.
Afterward, I discussed the situation with those in the business. When I told one architect the story, he said he was taken aback and would now include children in the planning stages of home design.

Another general contractor in town, Tommy Reavey, president of Thomas Towne Reavy Inc., said he learned quickly to include children the hard way. It happened after he was redesigning a house and had demolished all but two rooms.

When the family came to visit their home, the little girl in the family, about 5-to-7 years old, vanished. The girl's disappearance launched a search and when they finally found her she was -- in “her old bedroom in her old bed in a quasi fetal position,” he wrote me via email. She was sucking on her thumb, a habit she hadn’t done in years, and it shocked everyone.

That’s when he learned that while adults could peer into the future and see a final outcome, obviously children could not.

“It was alarming to all of us and left a lasting impression on me,” Tommy wrote. “Now I warn parents that it can be very disruptive and disturbing to a child to have their home torn a sunder. This can be shocking to adults too, but children can't envision the end result and have no knowledge of how a house is built and remodeled in the first place.
"For them it could be like Katrina was to the people of New Orleans. The child for good reasons will associate the stability of the home with the stability of the family, which is pretty much their whole world at this time in their lives.”

Parents using Tommy’s design team are now coached to prepare their children and to look for any signs they might be disturbed by the events circling around them. “We are there for them and want them to feel safe,” Tommy explained.

For children, our world is their world. How we feel, think and believe will be stamped on them and impact their every day lives.

I love the concept of including children in the "thought process" of designing a home.
From all of this, my husband I learned that life lessons are never over -- and that even though we graduated -- it will sometimes be teachers who are still teaching us.

Monday, September 17, 2007

What Adults Want from Kids & A Series of GREAT Happenings in Town; A Spiritual Festival, An Amazing Teacher’s Retirement and Don’t Forget Bark & Boo

What Adults Want From Kids

For about eight years now, I’ve worked closely with students of all ages. Elementary, junior high and high school. Adults tell me constantly what they need and want from kids.
The list goes something like this:

  • Kids should give adults respect.

  • Kids should be polite and cordial.

  • Kids should listen.

What Kids Want From Adults:

  • Adults should give kids respect.

  • Adults should be polite and cordial.

  • Adults should listen.

  • A Tearful Goodbye to a Longtime Educator Who Helped Hundreds of Students Stretching Across the Generations; She Celebrates her Retirement Friday at Bandini Elementary School

    A goodbye celebration for Jackie Terry – a longtime educator who led an endless array of tiny tots in education and marched them off on a sound path to kindergarten – will be hosted at Bandini Elementary School Friday.
    Hundreds of children grew through Jackie’s doors where she taught them both academics and social skills while preparing them to sit down in kindergarten classes and learn how to learn in a federally funded program, which included parenting classes.
    She decided to retire at the end of the last school year -- but not in time for employess there to celebrate her years of dedication..
    Jackie's known for teaching two generations of families for more than three decades, coming from a wide section of the Harbor Area. Parents and students alike honor her to this day for what she did for children.
    Her retirement celebration will be held at 4 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 21) in Bandini’s Cafeteria. Meals will cost $8 per person and will include three tacos, rice, beans, chips and a drink. Please RSVP to Gabriel or Julie Martinez at Bandini elementary school (310) 832-4593.
    As my son was one of the lucky kids to go through Jackie’s program, I’ll be there – and I hope I will see you there too! Bring your kids. – Diana Chapman

  • Don’t Forget the Light at the Lighthouse Music Festival: A Christian Festival For Families – and Kids -- and Anyone Who Wants to Join

  • By Christine Fisch
    This Saturday, September 22nd will be one day your kids will be unable to say, "”I'm bored . There's nothing for us to do.”"
    With the efforts of about fifteen local churches, business owners, volunteers and Councilwoman Janice Hahn, Point Fermin Park will host the third annual Light at the Lighthouse Music Festival. There will literally be entertainment and activities planned for not only adult , but for children at every age level.
    Music is the main focus of the festival which takes place from10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is provided on three separate stages. The main stage being the park's band shell hosts well-polished worship (rock) bands from local churches, four nationally known Christian rock groups and the coveted Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Choir.
    We will also be treated to The Cambodian Children's Choir, a group of orphans on an international tour. The second stage is dedicated to the youth in the park.
    Christian music comes in more forms than you can imagine, most of which you can witness at the second stage. There's rock, rap, punk, gospel and combinations of all of the above. It's a high energy situation which can likely end in a mosh pit configuration (albeit a very well mannered mosh pit.) With names like Church of Rock, Civilian Noise and Munk Funk you can imagine what kind of positive energy these kids are emitting. It is really incredible to watch these pre-teens and teens as they groove to so many different music genres and display a genuine enjoyment and respect for each other.
    The third stage located in the "kids area" is directed towards young children and families. There will be acts by children's choirs and dance groups, puppet shows and even a mime team. In the kids area you will also find a jumper, face painting, crafts, story time, temporary tattoos and games.
    Booths and vendors will include food, crafts and jewelry for sell. Churches and many not-for profit agencies will be there with information on their organization and to answer any questions you may have.
    The event is free.
    It's a day for all of San Pedro families to hang out at one the most beautiful locations in San Pedro while listening to some top-notch musical performances, and perhaps for once avoid the comment "there's nothing for us to do." For more information on the event visit http://www.lightatthelighthouse.org/

    BOO & BARK AT White Point Nature Preserve; Let’s Have a Haunting Celebration and BARK Along With the Dogs

    Get out those skeleton pens. Bring out your pumpkin calendars! And start marking the date to celebrate at the Bark & Boo Halloween Party at White Point Nature Preserve.
    The party will be held Sunday, Oct.28 from 2 to 5 p.m. and will include such scary screeches as a costume parade, kids’ crafts , game booths and a Halloween raffle. Best of all, there will be prizes for those dogs dressed as the funniest, scariest and “the best look alike” spooky costumes. Entry per dog is $10 . All dogs must be on a leash and judging will begin at 3 p.m.
    Look for more information about this on the blog. Hosted by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, call for more information at (310) 541-7613 or visit www.pvplc.org.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

See the Stanley Cup at Discovery Science Center Thursday

The world’s most famous sports trophy, the Stanley Cup, will be at Taco Bell Discovery Science Center on Thursday, Sept. 13, from 3 to 5 p.m.

For the price of admission, children and families can take a photo with the Stanley Cup, currently held by the 2007 National Hockey League Champions the Anaheim Ducks.

The special, two-hour event kicks off a partnership between the Science Center and the Anaheim Ducks, which will bring “super-sized” field trips and hockey-themed exhibits to the Southern California. For more information, visit the Science Center’s Web site: http://www.discoverycube.org/

Chill Facts on hockey and the Stanley Cup:
The standard puck weighs between 5 ½ and 6 ounces. Pucks are frozen before a game to make them bounce resistant.
The Stanley Cup is 110 years old, weighs 35 pounds and is just less than three feet tall.
The Anaheim Ducks are the first California team to win the Stanley Cup!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Colors of a Rainbow, a Few Ants, a Little Kid and a Blue Stone Necklace Curves into One Big Wave of a Family Surfing Tale

One Little Book, One Wave at a Time

“Surf big. Dream big. – Jimmy Daos

By Diana L. Chapman

He wrote it on newspapers. He jotted down ideas on napkins in local diners. He spewed his story out on bits of scrap paper. He wrote it despite he had struggled to learn to read and write. He wrote it despite his wife’s diagnosis with multiple sclerosis. He wrote it despite his limited writing skills.

He wrote it because he always remembered one thing his third grade teacher would say – there’s not one student, she reminded him that could tell a tale like Jimmy. Of all her students, she said, he was the biggest, baddest kahuna of a “storyteller” -- meaning he was the best!

By the time James Daos, 38, was finished, he had a manuscript as thick as a Bible, several children’s stories – and a parade of ants that surf through his stories, each named after family members. With his children’s book, “Ants on the Rainbow…You’ll Never Know,” published and doing many Hang 5s in the sales world, James plans to soon launch his next book lining up an agreement with 260 Ralph’s stores to carry his first and second book. So far, he’s sold 3,000 books to date within the year of publishing; more of his books will be sold Sunday at the Filipino Festival at Point Fermin Park and by early October or November, he hopes to have his second book launched as he dares to ride the publishing curl.

His books can be purchased for $14.99 at his website: www.antsontherainbow.com. This Saturday, James will be book signing at Karen Carpenter Center in Long Beach from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and then in Ventura Sunday Sept. 16 at the Aloha Festival from 10 to 5 p.m. For further information on his book signings which will include one at Borders in RollingHills Estates this month and another in October at Williams Book Store in SanPedro, visit his website.
Currently a manager at Ralph’s Market in Redondo Beach, the San Pedro resident- surfer of Filipino descent, told his four children hundreds and hundreds of stories over the years before they fell asleep. He has three step children, Amoreena, 27, Dom, 26, Mark, 23, and his two daughters, Brooke, 15 and Hannah, 14. Since he decided to publish –he’s been overwhelmed with the scores of calls he’s received from book stores all over wanting him to do book signings – and he was invited to the UCLA Festival of Books.

But none of this – not any of it – would have happened had it not been for his daughter, Hannah, his family, his friends and the overwhelming support he received from customers who came to know him when he was a manager at Hugh’s Market on the Palos Verdes Peninsula – and later in Redondo Beach.

So many folks, he explained, wanted him to do the book that they supported the financial endeavor, sometimes with money and sometimes by just offering him a great network -such as connecting him with the artist, Lonni, who did the book’s illustration. Friends were so adamant that he do the book that they even helped him find printing and publishing companies to assist. To fund the book, he did he did car washes, worked extra hours and was shocked when he received offers of financial help from close friends and family.

As I am one who can never resist a success story and believe that's exactly where James is headed – I asked him how all the help he received from friends “such as the master net worker” who believed so much in his book that she gave him money to publish it—several tears rolled down his face.

“How does it make me feel? I feel overwhelmed,” he said, who explained that he didn’t learn until he reached his 30s that he had ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) which likely contributed to his learning disabilities. “I feel so happy that I can (finally) share my gift of creativity and imagination with the world. I feel elated. I am just so grateful for my friends and family everyday and I thank God for them helping me got so far.”

It’s as though his true life tale holds three stories. As a father who took on three step children who he loves as his own when he married, he said, it was his kids who inspired him -- in particular his youngest, Hannah, who surfs along with her older sister, Brooke. Many of his stories sprung from his kid's adventures.

Ants came about with several events that happened with Hannah -- such as when she found a drab gray rock on the beach when she was six and asked her Dad to make it into a necklace and the second when she began singing a little ditty: “Ants on the Rainbow…You’ll Never Know.”

All his kids begged him for nighttime stories and he’d say: “What do you want tonight: a scary story, a Bible story, an animal story?”

“I can tell a story about anything and I’ll use what’s around me to become my characters,” he explained while we were dining at the Omelette & Waffle Shop. “I can tell you a story about these things right now,” he said grabbing a bottle of steak sauce – Mr. King A-1 – the creamer – the Cream Queen – a glass of water – Wally the Water – and whatever else comes to mind. And then he’ll create a story.

That’s what happened when Hannah saw her grandmother sweeping swells of ants off her porch after an afternoon rain. As she swept, a rainbow filled the sky and the ants looked as though they were “on the rainbow,” which got Hannah to start singing “ants of a rainbow.” Her dad asked what it meant. “You’ll never know,” Hannah sang. For rest of the day, she charged around singing “ants on a rainbow…you’ll never know,” which inspired his first book.

Then came the day he took his kids to the beach (they all have nicknames like DC for Double Curl) which is what he named many of the primary surfing ants in his book after –- family members.

Hannah was also responsible for the magical blue stone necklace – which started out as a gray rock she discovered on the beach at Royal Palms. She asked her Dad to turn it into a necklace. He when he was drilling the stone, it broke. Hannah started crying. James promised to fix it, painted it blue, redid the hole and told her it had special powers to fight evil. (In the book, evil comes in the form of Smasher – a killer who leads the nasty Fire Ants.)

Finally, Hannah begged him – and so did his older kids – to tell the Ants on the Rainbow story. He mixed a pot of ingredients together in the mix – the ants, the blue stone and his kids. When he finished the story, his wife raced in the room. “”Write that down,’’” she reveled.

That’s when the entire family agreed to commit writing and publishing the book, which while he’s hopeful to make money, has paid him back in ways he could never have imagined. He recalled one day at book signing, a literary professor who was about 60, came up and criticized his book, dressing it up and down – and telling the author how he could have done it better.

Just then, a little girl about six stepped to his table and yelped: “Mr. Daos, Mr. Daos. I love your book. I love the Ants on the Rainbow!”

James turned to the professor and said: “I didn’t write this book for you. I wrote it for her and kids like her.”

But the best gift he ever received was from a little girl, about 8, who raced up confidently to the author’s table, told him she loved his books about ants and then announced: “You know I’m very special. Do you know why?” Jimmy looked at her and asked: “How so?”

“Because I have M.S.,” she revealed and Jimmy could feel the bites of tears in the back of his eyes. Her Dad, who looked gruff, wore a bandanna and was covered in tattoos, stood behind his little girl and when his daughter moved away he turned to Jimmy and said with tears in his eyes: “It’s not about making money. It’s about what you’ve done for my daughter. She loves your book. I’ll tell you now; you have already done your job on Earth.”

Proceeds of Jame’s book will go to the MS Society.