Dec 03 2008

Let’s Get Ready for a Countdown to an Educational Christmas! Book Recommendation #3

Published by under Great Gift Ideas

Let’s Get Ready for First Grade

Finally a book that’s geared to the First Grader that’s easy to read and comprehensive! Learn about everything in the First Grade curriculum from the three branches of government, the solar system, addition, subtraction, and punctuation to vowel sounds. A first-rate book for every First Grader! Let”s Get Ready For First Grade, written by and for parents, kids and teachers, features 40 pages of wonderfully illustrated core First Grade curriculum. Intended for use by small children, the book is easy to hold, interactive and very durable   Meet Ms. Best and the delightful Cedar Valley Kids.   For more information about ordering for schools or fundraisers, please call 920-994-9906 or e-mail us.

 Click Here to Purchase this Educational book

134 responses so far

Dec 02 2008

Let’s Get Ready for a Countdown to an Educational Christmas! Book Recommendation #2

Published by under Great Gift Ideas

Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten!

A brightly illustrated, interactive Kindergarten book that features the core curriculum.

We’re proud to be chosen as an outstanding quality product that supports family values by Parent to Parent . Look for us in their Adding Wisdom Award winners circle. Read the praise from Midwest Book Review. Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten, written by and for parents, kids and teachers, features 32 pages of wonderfully illustrated core Kindergarten curriculum. Intended for use by small children, the book is easy to hold, interactive and very durable

Meet Mrs. Good and the delightful Cedar Valley Kids.

Click Here to Purchase this Educational book 

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Nov 24 2008

Let’s Get Ready to Help a Friend Adopt!

This letter is from a dear friend of mine – and I am proud to say that I donated to such a worthy cause.  One more opportunity for a forever family for a child that will be loved beyond words:

Eric and I have been presented with the opportunity to adopt a baby boy that no one wants because of his racial heritage and because he has been exposed to drugs in utero.  He is due in 3 months.  The adoption fee and birthmother expenses add up to $25,000 and we need help in order to adopt this child.  We are asking our community to support us in our “One Dollar for One Life” campaign.  If 25,000 people would donate just $1 to this cause then this child would have a forever family at last.  We have until January 15, 2009 to raise the funds.  We would like to ask for your help by spreading the word about this campaign.  If you, or anyone you know, would like to donate to this adoption, we are asking that all donations be sent directly to ABBA Adoption at 4608 Colvert Road, Little Rock, Arkansas 72223.  Please include “Eric and Leslie Hutsler” in a note or on the memo line (if sending a check) so the agency knows which account it’s for.  You are welcome to call me at 479-799-9484 or my husband, Eric, at 479-283-7182 for more information about this adoption.  You are also welcome to contact Kandi Cox, the director at ABBA Adoption to verify this information.  We are standing in faith and believing that if we all do a little, we can accomplish a lot.  With God ALL things are possible.  God bless you and thank you for your support.

Just wanted to take a moment to let you know that the word about this adoption campaign is getting out!  We have people from Maine to California (literally) working to help us spread the word.  We even have people in Australia helping us!  So, to everyone who has forwarded emails and passed out flyers – THANK YOU!!!  Our accounts at ABBA Adoption and Grace Haven are officially open.  We also have a new PayPal account set up at our new website.  Please feel free to forward this website to your friends and family.  The web address is
In Christ’s Love,  
Leslie Hutsler

13 responses so far

Nov 19 2008

Let’s Get Ready to Inspire Me Today!

Guest Post, Used with Permission, from Gail Godwin of

InspireMeToday Brings Inspiration to Iraq

Inspiration has always been a very special part of my life. For many years I’ve listened to upbeat music on my iPod when I worked out aerobically at the gym. But, on the mornings that I did weight training, I would listen to books on tape- inspirational messages from people like Jack Canfield, Wayne Dyer or one of many others. Those morning inspirational messages shifted my whole attitude, increased my creativity, productivity and overall attitude throughout the day. It didn’t take long to realize that the quality of my day was directly tied to the quality of my morning inspiration. Just like we feed our bodies in the morning, I believe that it is necessary to feed our soul too.

Once I realized the impact quality inspiration was having on my life, I searched for new information continually. My personal need to be inspired became a part-time job. I didn’t want to listen to the same information or even the same person over and over again, so I expanded my search to include a wide variety of amazing luminaries. Friends and family started borrowing my library and I watched as their lives improved as a result of this inspiration. From that experience and my passionate desire to share inspiration with others, I booked the name in 2004.

But it’s funny how sometimes God seems to have different plans for us or our timing just isn’t right. My daughter, Carly, has always been incredibly talented musically, being offered a role in Les Miserable on Broadway at 7 years old, to acting in commercials for Hallmark, Kodak and others. She was even on the Wonder Years as a child. However, her great talent, love and passion was singing. She has the crystal clear voice of an angel. I’ve always promised her that when the time was right, if it was something she wanted, I would move mountains to help her achieve her dream of being a top recording artist. As she graduated from college in 2004, the time was right. She moved to Nashville and asked for my help.

Financially as a single mom, things were tight at times, even though I had real estate assets. Knowing how rare her talent was and believing wholeheartedly in her commitment, I sold my dream piece of real estate, Dreaming Bear Ranch, in Montana, to fund my daughter’s music career. I started working as her manager and formed a record label in Nashville to promote her, called Dreaming Bear Music. Billboard Magazine wrote a story where they talked about the Goodwin family literally “bet the farm”, or in this case the ranch, on Carly’s success.

In the fall of 2004 I woke from a dream in which Carly, by then a rising Nashville recording artist, was performing on stage, singing a song I’d never heard before, repeating it over and over. I scribbled the song in my journal while half asleep at 2am. In the morning I found the almost illegible song, called my daughter, and shared it with her. She was less than interested in hearing it, but despite her constant reminder of, “Mom, you’re not a songwriter… I live in Nashville and hang out with songwriters: keep your day job, I flew to Nashville and met with Carly and #1 hit songwriter, Gerald Smith. In 15 minutes our song, Baby Come Back Home, was complete.

Within days the song was recorded by Carly and with the help of Mark Victor Hansen and Alex Mandossian, was released as an audio postcard on the Internet. The song, sung from the perspective of a soldier’s wife to her husband in Iraq, honors the unrecognized, often unnoticed, sacrifices of a soldier’s wife. Baby Come Back Home became an “anthem” embraced by military families around the world. Within a month there were more than half a million web hits on Carly’s site. Invitations started pouring in from troops and their families for Carly to perform all over the country.

After many visits to military bases throughout the country, we were invited to Guantanamo Bay. During the first trip there, a young Marine named Chris shared with me how he felt unappreciated by the average American. This was during the prison trials at Gitmo, when the Marines in Cuba were on trial in the court of American opinion. President Bush and his administration were losing the support of the American people more each day. Chris was doing a difficult job and felt unappreciated and unloved by America. As hard as I tried to convince him otherwise, he didn’t believe that the average American could differentiate between support for the Bush Administration and our policy in Iraq, versus support for the troops. Chris felt like America didn’t support him personally.

Determined to show Chris and his fellow troops the love and support of a grateful nation, I came back to Nashville with a plan. The Baby Come Back Home Soldier Scrolls were launched in Nashville at the Country Music Festival. We unrolled the tail end of an unprinted newspaper scroll, spread it across a table, tossed out a handful of colorful Sharpies and invited the public to write their own personal message of love and support. In just 4 days of continually rolling scrolls and multiple trips to get more paper, the scrolls grew to an astounding SEVEN MILES long. I was beyond impressed, surprised and very inspired! I also realized we were on to something. By looking to be of service, magic was happening.

A sample of the scrolls

A sample of the scrolls

On the third day, someone waiting in the long line to sign the scrolls asked Carly and I what we were going to do with the scrolls when they were full. Without missing a beat I answered that we were going to deliver them to Iraq, to the troops that needed to see America’s love and support the most. Surprised by my answer, Carly looked at me with one of her Mom, we should have talked about this first looks. She thought I was crazy. What she didn’t know in that moment was that I was as surprised by my response as she was. Sometimes I wonder where that answer came from. We had no military connection and Iraq was half a world away. Who were we to do something like this? How would we get to and from Iraq safely? I just knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do and that somehow, the answer would show up, even if I didn’t have the foggiest notion as to how.

Over the next month, we partnered with Southwest Airlines to allow more people across America to sign the scrolls. Carly performed concerts in airport terminals around the country while I invited people to share their gratitude with our troops, by writing their own message of love and support. Friends and family joined us and supported our efforts. The scrolls grew and grew. Phone calls were made, momentum increased and an invitation came for us to visit our troops in Iraq and deliver the scrolls.

Just two weeks before we left for a 29-day tour of Iraq and 6 other countries in the Persian Gulf, the scrolls were signed by members of our Congress in the U.S. Capitol building in DC. On that momentous day, lying on a very long table at the foot of a 20′ tall painting of George Washington, the scrolls broke 18 MILES in length! I think George would have been proud of us.

In January 2006 after two years and visits to many US bases, three trips to Guantanamo Bay and regular ongoing visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit with the wounded troops, Carly, her band and I set off on a tour of Iraq and the Persian Gulf. We took our prized scrolls, broke them into 18 sections of at least a mile each and delivered one to each of 18 bases on the 29-day tour. We literally wrapped each base with more than a mile of messages of love and support from America.

As the scrolls were unfurled, troops gathered around to read messages from “I miss you Daddy, Love Scooter”, to “I want to marry a Marine” with a young girl’s email address. The scrolls contained messages from celebrities and regular folks alike, from 2 to 100 years old, from 48 states and more than 13 countries. No matter where they were from, our troops got to experience a little bit of home. As one soldier said, “Wow, that person is from my hometown!” And for that moment in time, even though he was in the middle of the desert of Iraq, he was home. In his mind and in his heart he had something tangible and something familiar. He felt loved and appreciated. He felt “Home”.

Soldier Scrolls in Persian Gulf

Scrolls delivered to the USS Pearl Harbor in the Persian Gulf

What this experience proved to me is that when the dream is big enough, doors will be opened. I had no idea how I was going to keep the promise I spontaneously made to deliver the scrolls to Iraq, but I didn’t need to know how it would happen. It was much more important to know THAT it would happen rather than HOW it would happen. The Universe had it figured out and all I had to do was show up and do my part.

At the most remote base, Al Q’aim, I met a young man named Jesse. Because we volunteered to visit bases that had never had entertainment, we were at a very remote base in northwestern Iraq just 6 miles from the Syrian border. This was so remote that the 3000+ Marines stationed there had never had entertainment in the 3-1/2 years since the base had opened. They literally built a plywood stage the day before Carly’s concert and were still hanging camo nets on the concrete walls trying to create a good acoustic quality.

After Carly’s show a young man named Jesse came up to me in a very shy way and asked me for a “mom hug”. He explained that he’d just turned 19 and that it had been 9 months and 4 days since he’d been touched. He was actually able to tell me the exact date of his last hug. He missed his mom. He missed home. Jesse explained to me that he’d been off base for the last month and had just arrived back on base less than 15 minutes before we met. I was so moved, smiled and reached out to give him a big hug. He stepped back, put his hands up and told me that before I said “Yes”, I needed to know more. He proceeded to explain that his job required him to live in a ditch- alone for 30-40 days at a time. He was one of more than 800 Marines who guard this stretch of desert, coming back to the base for a few days every month or so. Jesse apologized and told me that he hadn’t had a shower in 37 days but asked if he could still have his hug. I pulled him close and gave him the biggest, warmest “Mom hug” that I could. We were both moved to tears. It broke my heart when he told me that I smelled like home.

We talked for a bit and I asked Jesse how he survives a month at a time, living in a ditch with no interaction with other people. I explained that I didn’t think I could live in my house for 30-40 days with no interaction, let alone in a ditch in Iraq. He smiled, reached back into his backpack, pulled out his iPod and said, “I’m always looking for good inspiration, Ma’am”.

I felt like God literally tapped me on the shoulder- big time. Although I’d booked the name in 2004, I hadn’t taken the time to build the site yet, as I was working with my daughter on building her career. Jesse and the 800 others like him inspired me to provide them with quality inspiration. I returned home and set things into motion.

Carly presenting scrolls at Ali Asalim

Carly presenting scrolls at Ali Asalim

Carly was now married, living in Nashville and following her dream. My son Max, although he was still young, was a junior in college in California. When he turned 18, I felt free to live wherever I wanted to live and do whatever I wanted to do. For the first time in my life, it was about me. I could follow MY dream, so I relocated from California to the mountains of Colorado and founded We launched on April 6th, 2008.

From the beginning, in the spirit of giving before receiving, it has been our intention to select a good cause each year and provide free inspiration. Because of Jesse’s simple request which was the motivation I needed, we gave each of our 2.5 million active troops a free Premier Membership to our site. Many days I’m motivated by the thought of Jesse being able to come to and download unlimited inspiration to take back to that lonely ditch. Because of so many that make possible, Jesse isn’t alone in his ditch any longer and that makes me smile.

We’re planning to return to Iraq in the spring of 2009 on an inspirational tour and to deliver more “mom hugs”. This time we’re assembling a roster of inspirational leaders to speak with our troops. “Inspiration is the number one thing our troops need now. With the extended tours, being away from families has taken its toll. We would welcome the Inspire Me Today inspirational tour as soon as they can get to Iraq”, said First Sergeant Anthony Page, former commanding officer at the Al Q’aim base in Iraq.

Each day I bounce out of bed full of energy and joy, knowing that our site is making a difference, not only to Jesse and his buddies in Iraq, but also to the single mom in Iowa, the corporate exec in California or the entrepreneur in Florida. Through the inspiration of our Luminaries, people’s thoughts and attitudes are changing. Lives are changing. And from that, we can change the world- one morning, one person at a time.

Baby Come Back Home

Married you four years ago, became a soldier’s wife.
Knew one day, you’d have to go, and I’d miss you in my life.
In seven weeks, our baby’s due; you’re half-a-world away.
Know our country’s needin’ you, but all I have to say is
Baby, come back home, I need you too.
Baby, come back home, Honey, I love you.

Next-door neighbor’s son was there, fightin’ the same war.
We just heard the news today; he won’t be home no more.
Freedom never has come free, there’s a price to pay.
Lord knows, I’m proud of you, but I miss you more each day.
Baby, come back home, I need you too.
Baby, come back home, Honey, I love you.

Until you’re back home, Darlin’, and in my arms to stay,
I pray God watches over you, every minute you’re away.
Baby, come back home, I need you too.
Baby, come back home, Honey, I love you.

Honey, I love you.

You can listen to Carly’s song at:

p.s. Please feel free to send an email to our troops through our friends at eMail Our Military is a charitable organization supporting our troops through morale boosting email, cards, letters and care packages. Please send email to: Thank you!

119 responses so far

Oct 13 2008

Let’s Get Ready for Homework for Parents

  • Stop, Drop, and Listen,
  • Unload the backpack/ homework folder with your kids daily,
  • Read with your kids every night for 15 minutes,
  • Play repetitive games with your kids,
  • Ask open ended questions to help your kids communicate,
  • Be involved in school activities and join your PTA/PTO!

451 responses so far

Sep 11 2008

Remembering 9/11

10 responses so far

Sep 02 2008

Please Help a Family in Need

About Nie:

On Saturday, August 16, 2008, Stephanie Nielson was in a plane crash with her husband, Christian Nielson, and his flight instructor, Doug Kinnear, near St. Johns, Arizona. Doug Kinnear passed away soon after arriving at the Maricopa County Hospital.
Christian & Stephanie remain in critical condition at Maricopa Burn Center.  Christian has sustained burns on over 30% of his body.  His wife Stephanie’s body was burned over 80%. 
For the past four years, Stephanie has welcomed us into her charming abode through the NieNie Dialogues.  Far from being a product of creative editing, the Nielson’s don’t just shine through the selective lens of a blog.  They are ingenuous examples of family devotion, eternal romance, and Christ centered faith.  This site is dedicated to their welfare & recovery.

On the right, you’ll see a NIE RECOVERY button, click on that to find ways to help this family through this tragic event.

220 responses so far

Aug 28 2008

Difference is an Artist’s Game

Click Here to see this AMAZING Story – about a sister and a brother and the art of life:

9 responses so far

Aug 27 2008

With Love, Roland

At the beginning of August, I featured a young author and artist, Keenan Dietiker who was making a difference in his world and in the world around him.

Today, I want to talk to you, from my heart, about Roland Ibanda from Uganda.  He is being featured for September on D.B. Pacini’s A Starry Night Productions website, which you can find here.

In August, 2008, D. B. Pacini verified Roland’s school, medical, and church records. He received excellent recommendations from his references. They all say he is a fine young man living in hard circumstances.  Roland’s dream is to someday come to America and attend college.

At the tender age of eight Roland began working numerous jobs to help support his disabled mother and siblings. His mother had sustained extensive injuries from an attack by robbers. In spite of his enormous responsibilities, Roland was a successful student. He completed secondary school and qualified for advanced level high school education in Uganda. Students in Uganda must pay for their high school education. Roland helped pay his tuition by working at the high school doing maintenance cleaning.

Roland recently emailed me, and I’d like to share a little of his email with you:

Thanks so much for all your concern, efforts and the endless love you have towards me and my family, I greatly appreciate you and I always wish you for the best together with your family.  I am still searching for a family, organization, company or an individual to invite me to the States make sales of my Art and Stories & later join College to further my studies but the process is still so hard so please keep me in prayers.

Here is a beautiful piece of Roland’s artwork:

For More information about Roland, his art and writing, please visit

Let’s Get Ready to Help Roland realize his dream of coming to America to attend college – and to be able to grow his art and writing — through love.

418 responses so far

Aug 20 2008

Many Thanks to Those who Helped with the Spanish & English “Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten!” Book

I feel so special, to have so many people who are willing to give me a hand, an ear, their time and sometimes their undying loyalty in the wee hours of the night, to get a project such as we’ve recently undertaken, publishing an Spanish & English version of the award-winning Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten! book published and printed.

I’m sure my college Spanish teacher will be amazed, because, ummm, I had such a challenging time in grasping the concepts of the language.  But, the key to success for me with this project was to hire a translator!

This book would not be possible without the amazing helps from Joyce Babel-Worth, my incredible illustrator and layout expert; Dori Schmitz from Dori Schmitz Creative Design; Sin Fronteras (Without Borders); Languages by Nancy LLC and Hayley Vandenbush and all the fabulous teachers who helped with amazing input!!!

Spanish & English Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten!

As a side note, my girls think it’s hilarious that I have devoted so much time to putting this book together, considering the fact that we do not speak Spanish in our home.  Just goes to show that where there’s a will, there’s a way — and when one mom sets out to set the educational world on fire, she’s going to do it in her native language, and continue to help others through their own languages!

One response so far

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