Monday, March 28, 2016

23+ Children’s Books Not to Miss and Why

I’ve heard it said that reading together is the single most important thing parents can do for the intellectual development of their child. But let’s face it, it’s good snuggling time too! We try to end each day with a bedtime story at our house. Sometimes we’re successful; sometimes we’re not. We’ve found it completely depends on the energy level of the parents (never the kids, right?)!

The other day I was watching one of my favorite movies, The Blind Side. Sandra Bullock’s portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy never fails to inspire me. In the movie, Leigh Anne’s children prompt her to read The Story of Ferdinand the bull. Not only does the book trigger positive early memories, but it provides the family with a lens through which to better understand a new person in their life.

This example illustrates what separates a good book from books in general; a good book performs more than one function. It’s not simply entertainment. Perhaps it sparks our own creativity, connects to us emotionally, or gives us valuable insight. Picking it up can transport us – whether that’s to another world (like Harry Potter), to a safe place (like our mother’s lap), or to a perspective above our circumstances.

What follows are some favorites from our house to yours. Keep in mind that I have two boys, ages four and seven, though I adore these too.

Books we love that transport us to another world or time:
The Magic Tree House series
Star Wars I Can Read series
The Adventure Bible I Can Read series
Scholastic’s Character Counts series on famous people

Books perfect for memory-making (silly ones included):
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
NO-BOT: The Robot with No Bottom! by Sue Hendra
The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Curious George anthologies
My Truck Is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and other pigeon books by Mo Willems
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
Goodnight, Manger by Laura Sassi
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Books that lift our perspective and teach us something:
One by Kathryn Otoshi – This book empowers children against bullying.
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado – This faith-based book portrays the value of every child.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones – Even adults love this children’s Bible.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss – My children love “What was I Scared of?”
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown

Happy reading!

This post was for the recent TODAY Show Parenting Team challenge on reading to our children. Please take a minute to click here and VOTE for it by clicking the "vote up" button! I'm happy to report that the post has gone viral on Facebook, and Kathie Lee and Hoda shared it too!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Holy Weekend Inspiration

Hi Mamas,

Here's wishing you a very happy Easter weekend! I wanted to share a brief post with some links you might appreciate:

For a moving Good Friday prayer, read this one that was written by a follower of this blog.

For a nifty way to share the Easter message with your children, click here for a cute poem involving - you guessed it - CANDY.

And for my favorite Easter post inspired by my then 2-year-old, read this one about the power we have in Jesus.

Warm blessings from our home to yours,


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Easter Basket WINNER!

I am delighted to announce that the winner of the Easter Basket Giveaway is C. Brewer from AZ! I was in touch with her yesterday, and her resources are already on their way!

Her win means that we've added not only another mama to this blog's honor roll, but another state too! Winners have now come from Maine, New Jersey, Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Illinois, South Carolina, and Arizona. Don't miss your chance to represent your state in the next giveaway!

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Through MONDAY Only - Easter Basket GIVEAWAY!

The Looney Experiment
by Luke Reynolds
Contemporary Fiction

Big Dreams, Big Prayers Bible For Kids

Full Text, Full featured Bible

Lots of Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids
by Whee Winn
Non-Fiction; Humor

The Purpose Driven Life Devotional for Kids
by Rick Warren

365-Day Devotional

London Art Chase
by Natalie Grant
Fiction; Mystery

The Plans I Have for You Devotional and Journal
by Amy Parker
30-Day Devotional with Journal

It is my privilege to be a part of Zondervan's Z Blog Squad, which allows me to receive and review children's faith resources for free, and then pass them along to you! One lucky winner of my Easter Basket giveaway will receive all that is pictured above. The selection is geared for ages 10-13, but all ages will find something they adore here. My seven-year-old will not stop reading the joke book!

I have reviewed Bibles for a younger audience before, but I was intrigued to review one for older children. The Big Dreams, Big Prayers Bible is an NIV Bible that includes break out devotions and color pages that mark important material - like the Ten Commandments (see below). Love it!

The Plans I Have for You set is perfect as a first study for your child to do on their own. My favorite is the journal that accompanies the devotional because of pages like what's pictured here. It asks children to "fill in the empty bubbles with what YOU hope for in your heart" and links that activity to a Bible verse (Romans 8:24-25).

There is one Christian fiction option for a tween girl and boy, and The Purpose Driven Life Devotional for Kids that both will enjoy. I hope your enthusiasm will match mine and that you'll register for this package!

The contest will end on MONDAY to ensure that the winner will have the resources by Easter. As always, I will not share your material with any third parties. Please register through the entry form below or by clicking here.

Monday, March 7, 2016

6 Essential Ways to Support a Friend after a Pregnancy Loss

It's a privilege to repost this article, this time with Power of Moms at their request. Make no mistake, pregnancy loss and how it is handled is a social justice issue for moms. How many women stay silent for fear of further pain? If you know someone who needs this message, please share it. This knowledge was hard won for me, as I learned it talking with real women through real situations as a hospital chaplain. Through these six steps, we can strengthen female community through the care we show each other.

6 essential ways to support a friend after a pregnancy loss
When I worked as a hospital chaplain, I was called into a variety of rooms and circumstances. Some of the most heartbreaking were the phone calls that I received from the labor and delivery ward in the event of pregnancy loss. I saw the broken heart and dreams in the parent’s eyes. Sometimes I saw the baby lying motionless, and I wept tears I believe Jesus would weep in those bitter moments.
I still remember one afternoon when I got a call from the labor and delivery nursing staff. They requested a chaplain because a mother was clutching her stillborn child and refusing to let it go. It had been some time, and the staff was getting concerned. I walked into the room to find the mother nestling her child in a swaddling blanket. The father was bent over the bed.
As I approached the bed, the infant under the blanket came into view. It was neither fully grown nor fully formed. There were hollowed sockets where eyes should have been. While the child did not have skin or a defined skeleton, the mother clung to its weight. She pulsed with an unconditional, fierce, yet tender love for her child. It was a moment of insurmountable love and utter brokenness.
While God is a god of life and wholeness, our world knows death and brokenness too. We have a call as people of faith to come alongside those who are hurting, to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and to plant seeds of hope and light in the blackness of night. When the pain is all too real, there’s a salve that’s all too needed. Brokenness can be mended by intentional community, and a community done in Jesus’ name is that much stronger.
I rested my hand on the blanket and said a prayer for the child. I proclaimed God’s love for the child and listened to the parents share and weep. After a time, we performed a bedside liturgy in which the three of us prayed. Following the liturgy the parents did say goodbye, although I’m sure their child and their grief lives on in their hearts.
While the situation I encountered in the hospital was not typical, pregnancy loss is sadly not uncommon. While stillbirths occur about one in every 160 pregnancies in the United States, the rate of miscarriage is roughly one in every four known pregnancies. That means miscarriage will statistically touch our lives either personally or through someone we know.
Its prevalence demands that we know how to sensitively and effectively handle it. Yet what tends to happen is that it is not mentioned or addressed at all. People who are grieving are wary to share in their vulnerable state. Others are uncomfortable dealing with loss in general.
What’s needed are some simple guidelines for creating a safe place to share and usher in healing. For those of you who are looking to be that safe place, here are six ways that you can support a friend who is grieving pregnancy loss:
Please click here to continue reading and discover those six ways.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

14 Things You Know as a Mom of Little Boys

My boys, ages four and six, watched the Star Wars trilogy for the first time this winter.
They couldn’t wait to reenact the scenes. They became proud owners of matching lightsabers, courtesy of their grandparents.
The sabers glow red and make a sound upon impact. One afternoon after jostling, my older son ran to me in amazement. Apparently, they had just fought with their eyes closed and their lightsabers still met. He proudly announced that they now knew the ways of the Force.
While I knew they needed an outlet for their energy, especially when it was too cold to go outside, I worried the sabers would miss their intended target and leave a welt on someone’s cheek. As I laid down the respective ground rules before their next jostle, like keeping their eyes OPEN, my older son said proudly, “Mommy, you don’t have to worry. We have training.” And there was no doubt in his mind that this was the case.
This experience, among many, has matriculated in the following list. Moms of little boys know the adventure of raising them is often one with distinct markings. Along the path of wanting to raise gentlemen, I’ve had to be an observer of a world that’s very different from my own. I balance everyday the desire to mold them and let go, being respectful of their boyishness. Here is what I’ve learned while maneuvering their dynamic, yet endearing world:
1. What’s cool has nothing to do with conversation or pampering – it’s watching Star Wars and memorizing every line.
2. Sword fighting requires no rules or training, at least in the way you view training. Yoda, can you help here please?
3. Boys often bond through sports and wrestling. Sometimes they remind you of puppies. In a cute way.
4. Hugs and playful punches express equal endearment.
5. The only drama they know is playing until someone gets hurt.
6. Their pockets are always full…of something. Sometimes you’d prefer not to know. But you’d better find out BEFORE doing the wash.
7. Stones really do look prettier after the wash though.
8. Boys need a special place to stash their treasures. These treasures might include: a rock, stick, dead bug, baseball card, or money. All have equivalent value despite your assessment.
To read the remaining 6 points, head on over to Mamapedia and have a laugh with me! Please show my first post on this site some Facebook love, and share it with your friends! Thanks for your support :-)

TODAY Video Clip