How Do We Raise Successful Humans?

What is your measure of success?

My hope is that my children will grow into confident adults with a sense of well being. I imagine them in a career that feels fulfilling.  I imagine a life with healthy relationships. Health, happiness, independence, financial freedom… all these things are part of success.

But how do we as parents help our children get there?

Just yesterday, I attended an all day conference with guest speaker Dr Vanessa LaPointe, a psychologist from Vancouver, B.C. She spent 6 hours answering this very question and I must say that she had the ability to keep my interest for an entire day! Here’s her book:


I will try to give a quick summary of her ideas here.

Basically the ability to achieve success comes from our ability to adapt. And our ability to adapt is based on brain function.

So how to you help your child grow a healthy brain?


Love. And Play.

Of course there is more to it than just that but in a way it really is just that simple. 

As parents, we need to focus more on the relationship than on getting them to behave.  If we see behaviour we don’t like, it is best to think of that child as struggling and consider how best to support the child through that struggle.

Significant adults in children’s lives need to be in charge, they need to be loving, they need to be present.  Firmness and kindness is needed at just the right balance.  We need to give children time to play. And that play needs to come from within the child and be focused on the journey rather than the end result.

Want to read more? Get the book!  I have not read it yet but by listening to the author speak, I know it is worth the money you will spend.

Do you have a highly sensitive child? There’s a section in the book devoted to sensitive children too.

So what does it mean to be successful?

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Finally, I’d be interested to know… how do you define success?

12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge

As  new author, I hold out hope that someday I can have one of my manuscripts traditionally published.  I’ve almost completed the self-publishing process and I now have a huge appreciation for all the unseen work that goes into writing and publishing a book.  Having a publishing company means a whole team of people devoted to the success of your book.  That sounds very appealing to me right now as I work so hard to do this myself and recognize that there is still a lot of work ahead with marketing my new book, Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker.


I’m super excited, humbled and a little daunted by the fact that this week I have joined an online community of authors in the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge.  The goal is for each writer to complete 12 drafts of picture books over the course of a year.  My first impressions of the experience are pretty positive.  There is a huge amount of support with this group and lots of sharing of resources.  For me as an emerging author, I really appreciate all the support.  It is amazing.  I hope to join a critique group and that I can complete all 12 manuscripts this year.  Even if I don’t get them all done, I will say it should be a great motivator to keep me writing which is wonderful as it is easy to get distracted or make excuses as to why there’s no time to write.

So if my blog posts are a little fewer, then you know why.  I’m working on some new picture books, that’s why.  So, wish me luck and when I get the chance, I will let you know how I’m progressing with the challenge!

Thanks for stopping by!


On Gardens and Boats



This boat is named Jennie B. after Jennifer Butchart, creator of the Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia.  The Gardens receives visits from tourists all over the world every year.  This boat provides a little tour of the beautiful Tod Inlet.  If you’d like to be inspired for your own gardening projects, this is a great place to go with your camera. Can’t afford the admission fee?  Look for Gowland-Tod Provincial park off Wallace Drive and take a walk along the trail at no charge.  You will not see Jennie’s beautiful gardens but you may see the boat tour passing by. The trail is lovely and you can access the beach and view Tod inlet from the shore.


Seven Picture Books To Inspire Cooking With Your Kids

Hello Readers! (and anyone else who happened to stumble upon simply.cindy by mistake)

Winter is here and in my mind, winter means time to get kids in the kitchen! Cooking is a great way to introduce children to practical life skills plus a little science as well.  My love for literacy means that I always like cooking to be inspired by a good picture book so here are seven picture books that can be specifically used to inspire cooking activities with young children!

  1. Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig Not only can you make pizzas with children after reading this book but  parents and teachers can have a lot of fun pretending to make children into pizzas just as Pete’s Dad does in the story.  If you’d like to keep it really simple, use english muffins for the pizza crust and then let the children add the tomato sauce, cheese and other toppings.  Other crust options: make your own pizza dough or buy pre-made pizza dough from the bakery.  You can also use pita bread or tortillas; they work for pizza crust too.unknown-1
  2. The Little Red Hen a Little Gold Book Classic  This is such a great classic story and making bread is an equally great activity to try whether you use a bread maker machine or just do it the old fashioned way using the oven.  Make sure your children know how to make something many of us eat daily.  If you make bread then you can use it to for the next story as well. unknown-2
  3. The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord  This is such a fun story and an entertaining way to cope with a swarm of bees!  What could be more fun than making a long baguette and spreading it with jam to create a giant sandwich just as the people in the village do in the story.  unknown-3
  4. Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth  Invite each child in your class to bring an ingredient for the soup. Or if you are a parent, then read the story and then have a look in your garden or fridge for some soup ingredients.  Do this together with your child. Then have fun chopping and peeling vegetables and adding them to the soup.  Use a real stone as they do in the story. unknown
  5. Plain Noodles by Betty Waterton Rosie and a bunch of babies change the life of Sofia whose children have grown up and left home long ago. Here’s a really ambitious cooking activity:  Make your own pasta dough and then run it through a pasta maker to make fresh noodles.  Children will love cranking the handle to flatten the pasta dough and make it into noodles. a5a6f67798b7e097c8d2ad10814105a4
  6. Blueberries for Sal  by Robert McCloskey This is a fun story with Sal and her mother picking blueberries at the same time as a mother bear and her cub are eating blueberries.  Read this and make some blueberry muffins or better yet, blueberry pie. unknown-4
  7. Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker by Cynthia Mackey  It’s not available yet but soon, I hope.  This story about is about a girl who is too young to use the stove and uses a little magic plus her own creativity to make pancakes in her own special way.  Making pancakes with children is simple and getting the opportunity to flip the pancakes, well that is just tons of fun.  img_2822

So if the winter weather is keeping you indoors, then why not read a few picture books and do a little cooking.  And when the cooking is done, remember… kids love bubbles so washing up the dishes is something they will enjoy.  And don’t forget that the empty pots, pans and spoons are great fun for pretend cooking when you’re all done with the real stuff.

How Do You Measure a Year?

Love, love love this song!  Whether you wish to look backwards to 2016 or forwards to 2017, this song is a great way to do it 🙂  Hope you enjoy…

Okay, now for a rare moment of personal sharing.  For a few years, I sang mezzo soprano with a group of six lovely ladies and this song was part of our repertoire.  How I miss those Wednesday nights singing together.  What fun we had!

How do you measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. Measure in love.

This song is a great reminder that no year is all good or all bad.  It is a mixture of every day moments and highlights and disappointments.  I’ll take it all since without the sadness, there would be no joy.

Thank you to everyone who has followed and stopped by my blog in 2016.  You are hugely appreciated. May your 2017 be 525,600 minutes of appreciation for living measured in love.

Teacher Talk: Words With Weight

Note:  I have no photos in this post.  This is because I am hopeful you will actually read the words here.  Please read as this does not just apply to teachers; this applies to every relationship.  Teachers are in the business of building relationships.  That’s where the real learning begins. 

Reflecting on Teacher Talk and How to Make Our Words Carry More Weight

Sometimes I hear the catch phrase “Good job!” and it makes me think.  What does that really mean?  How will a child feel if constantly told “good job!”.  I will admit, I’ve heard myself saying it too.  That’s when I give my head a shake! Have I forgotten how clever children really are?  Repeated phrases can begin to sound disingenuous after awhile.  Maybe the problem with “good job” is that it is too automatic, coming from a distracted disengaged place.  Maybe it is too easy to say.

So what kind of teacher talk really matters?

It is the kind of talk that really seeks to understand. It is the kind of talk that comes from a place of mindfulness, from a place that really values the individual child. It happens with one child at a time, one conversation at a time, one relationship at a time.

I encourage you to watch this TED talk Every Kid Needs a Champion by Rita Pierson.  Teachers need to care.  Teachers need to invest in children.  Teachers need to stay positive.  And for me, genuine caring means teachers need to avoid empty words and catch phrases that are easy to say.  Teachers need to listen, seek to understand and ask thought provoking questions. Teachers need to build relationships with each and every child.

So, here are my teacher goals for 2017:  Be mindful of teacher talk.  Work on individual relationships with each child.  Listen. Seek to understand.  Become their champion. Provide thoughtful responses.  Celebrate learning together.

Afterwards: I wrote my first draft of this post just a few days ago.  There must be something in the water because I later discovered this link in my Facebook feed (thank you, Diane Cameron!) This video shows exactly what I’m talking about.  The difference between meaningful one to one interactions and automatic, distracted impersonal interactions.  Please watch! Reconsider the way you speak to children.

Enjoyed reading this post? I don’t get paid for any of my writing on this blog; it is all done during my free time. If you’d like to show your appreciation for what you’re reading here then please like my Facebook page. That would be just awesome. Thank you.