Archives for June 2013

Friday Links

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Giveaway: A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson

This month we have a great giveaway! One of our favorite ParentLife writers, Sophie Hudson (aka Boomama) just released her first book, and we have 5 copies for you!

saltyThere’s nothing quite like family—for good or bad. But in a world where we sometimes know more about the people on TV than we do the people sleeping right down the hall, it’s easy to forget that walking through life with our family offers all sorts of joy wrapped up in the seemingly mundane. There’s even a little bit of sacred sitting smack-dab in the middle of the ordinary. And since time’s-a-wastin’, we need to be careful that we don’t take our people—and their stories—for granted. Whether it’s a marathon bacon-frying session, a road trip gone hysterically wrong, or a mother-in-law who makes every trip to the grocery store an adventure, author Sophie Hudson reminds us how important it is to slow down and treasure the day-to-day encounters with the people we love the most.

Written in the same witty style as Sophie’s BooMama blog, A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet is a cheerful, funny, and tender account of Sophie’s very Southern family. It’s a look into the real lives of real people—and a real, loving God right in the middle of it all.

To win a copy, fill out the form below. Giveaway starts now and ends June 30th at midnight. (Entries only open to those in the U.S.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hey God, Can I Get Off the Ark? Reimagining the Noah Story.

getofftheark

 

Released in May from B&H Publishing Group and author Troy Schmidt, Hey God, Can You Stop the Rain … helps children see Noah’s story from a different point of view: that of a raven on the ark.

Oh sure, we’ll all heard the story of Noah’s Ark a hundred times. But have we heard it from the perspective of other living creatures who witnessed the history-making event? Hey God, Can You Stop the Rain so I Can Get off Noah’s Stinky, Smelly Ark?  imagines how a certain raven from the story might recount those forty days and nights, helping kids ages 4 to 8 discover Noah’s epic voyage in a whole new way. The “Parent Connection” feature will help moms and dads take the story further with scripture references and tips on how to talk with their children about what really happened. There’s even a free online app to make this bright retelling even more animated and interactive.

Troy Schmidt has writing and video production credits ranging from assignments with Disney (The Mickey Mouse Club) and Nickelodeon to Max Lucado’s Hermie franchise. He is currently the lead writer for The American Bible Challenge hosted by Jeff Foxworthy on the Game Show Network. Troy and his wife have three sons.

You can purchase Hey God … from LifeWay, Amazon, ChristianBook.com, among other book retailers.

Special Needs Parents Need Friends by Ellen Stumbo

Did you know that many parents of kids with special needs feel lonely?

Because of their children’s needs, some special needs parents feel isolated. That birthday party everyone is invited to? Maybe the child has significant sensory processing issues and cannot handle the noise or large crowds. That Bible study at church that takes place during the children’s  program? The special needs mom needs to stay with her child because there isn’t a trained volunteer to help with her child’s needs. That playdate at the park where the moms chatter while the kids play?  Not gonna’ happen! Most likely the child needs help to climb on the special equipment, and there goes the adult interaction.

Parenting a child with special needs can be exhausting. Sometimes, it is easier to stay home. The thing is, special needs parents need friends. They need someone to talk to and someone to laugh with. God created us to be in relationships, we are not meant to do life alone.

What can you do to reach out to a special needs parent?

First, get to know her family and her child with special needs. Can you babysit for an hour or two so mom and dad can go out on a date? Maybe a late-night-date after the kids go to bed?

Initiate the relationship. You can ask, “I would love to get together with you, is there a time or day that works for you?”

Plan playdates around the abilities of the kids with special needs. Maybe a playdate at a park won’t work, but the special needs parent might have some suggestions for fun activities that work for her family.

Call. Just pick up the phone and call. It is amazing how something so simple makes such a big difference. Let your friend know that you are available to talk. And you don’t have to talk about special needs! Just chat about the weather, about the conversation you had with your brother, or about the embarrassing situation you had at the store. Just be a friend and reach out.

ellenstumboEllen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.

Keeping Young Minds Active During the Summer

Summer is a time for relaxation and family fun, but most parents would agree that their children should be actively engaged in educational activities and experiences over the school break. To keep your child productive, consider the following ideas, broken down into each major subject area:

1. Heed the Need to Read: Countless studies show the importance of summer reading: Kids who read in the summer outperform their peers in the fall. Avoid the “summer slide” by making sure your kids read often during the summer.

●Most libraries have a summer reading program with incentives and prizes. Visiting the library once a week can be a fun family escape. Research shows that kids who choose their own books (with parent approval) read more.

●Create a time during the day when no TV or electronics are allowed.

● Read to your child and listen to your child read.

●Listen to books on CD  while traveling.

●Model reading.

2. Do the Math! Few would argue the importance of math. Skills that are not used are often forgotten, so practice is essential. Besides specialized math tutoring facilities, which are gaining popularity and producing increasingly impressive results, there are many ways to keep math skills sharp at home. Consider these fun activities that allow your child to practice math:

● Follow recipes

● Read maps, and calculate mileage on trips.

● Use flashcards to practice facts.

● Utilize online math practice sites for kids, such as the following:

Funbrain.com

AAA math.com

Coolmath.com

3. Invite ‘em to Write! Good writing skills provide evidence of learning and understanding. Writing makes thoughts and ideas visible and gives children a clear way to express themselves. Encourage your children to write using these ideas:

● Keep a journal on trips and at home.

●Write letters and emails, requiring correct capitalization, punctuation and grammar.

●Let your child record her voice telling a story, then dictate that story onto paper.

●Encourage your child to write one short story a week. Keep them in a folder as a keepsake from the summer.

4. Smart Summer Science:  Science helps us to understand the world around us. Besides being educational, science can be lots of fun! The following activities reinforce important science concepts:

●Visit science museums, zoos, and aquariums.

●Dig for fossils.

●Gaze at stars, find constellations and track the moon’s phases.

●There are many fun experiments that can be done at home. Visit the following web sites for ideas:

National Geographic Kids

PBS Kids-Dragonfly TV

Funology

 

5. Make History with Social Studies Activities-Summer provides an escape from  that sometimes-boring history class. Use the summer months to strengthen your child’s interest in things of the past. History teaches helps us learn from our past and prepares us for the future. Geography knowledge is vital, but often over-looked. There are many activities that can encourage your child’s social studies understanding:

● Visit history museums and historical places.

●Research your family tree.

●Make a map of your neighborhood using a GPS .

●Research and report upon the locations (states/countries) that you visit on vacation.

 

Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and fifth grade teacher living in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a master’s degree in elementary education.

Friday Links

 

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Being a Shepherd

In 1 Peter 5, Peter writes to the elders:

Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s ⌊will⌋; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory (vv.2-4).

Yes, he’s writing to the elders of the church. And I think church leaders should take that pretty seriously. But this also speaks to me so much as a parent!

While reading these few verses, I couldn’t help but consider:

  • … how much am I “lording over” my children, using stronger language than necessary, just because I am older?
  • … how often do I ask them to do things I don’t do? What kind of example am I being?
  • … do I see my children as nuisances sometimes, or as sweet sheep “entrusted” to me to provide for and love?

These three sweet miracles have been entrusted to me by God. They’re not always going to be good. I’m not always going to behave perfectly. But can I step back for one minute when I am angry and think … these are my sheep. Am I a tender shepherd?

Scripture Chair

Surround your child with God’s Word in a unique way. Have her help you paint an old wooden chair with several colors of paint. Use a paint pen to write favorite verses on the chair. Offer a reward if your child memorizes all the verses on the chair.

scripturechair6_13

Kristen White loves playing and praying with her husband and four kids in Shelbyville, Ky., where they attend First Baptist Church. Catch some encouragement on her blog at www.womenwithroots.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Be a Father by Carey Casey

In ParentLife this month, I wrote about dads who deserve to be honored, and the idea of making “sacrifices” for our children. It occurs to me that another great point to make is that there are dads out there who pretty much define that word “sacrifice.” So I want to add a salute to dads who are committed to meeting the needs of their kids—no matter what.

This is expressed by dads in many different challenging situations, but I have one group in mind specifically.

Some years ago, my bride Melanie and I came face-to-face with the difficult truth that our son had a mild learning challenge. It wasn’t anything major, and he has nearly overcome it in the years since. But at the time it set me back for a while. Our family is not perfect by any means. Still, it seemed like the kind of thing that just didn’t happen to us. My three other children have their unique strengths and weaknesses, but they didn’t have this specific challenge.

So I started asking questions I’m sure are normal for these kinds of situations: What caused this? Was it something I did—or didn’t do? Did we miss something that could have made a difference?

But it wasn’t long before those more self-centered thoughts turned to love and concern for my son. No matter what happened in the past, what can I do now to help him? My consuming thought was, Hey, this is my time to step up. I have to be a father. I need to be there for my son.

If any of you dads listening today have children with even more challenging issues—like autism, Down’s Syndrome, or something else—I know you’re very familiar with those thoughts and emotions. It’s often dads like you who set the mark and help us to define what it means to be a committed dad. When the needs of your child required some extra sacrifices, you stepped up. You put your child’s needs before your own, and you’ve never regretted it.

Those dads deserve more recognition for what they do.

And this message may be more for the rest of us who face the routine rigors of being a dad, but aren’t facing the overwhelming exhaustion of raising a child with extreme disabilities. I would say, “Dad, take a page from the playbook of the most committed dads you know. Make the radical decision to sacrifice your own desires and goals for the sake of your children.”

And then my other thought would be this: no matter what your children’s gifts, abilities, and weaknesses may be, cherish them for who they are. Be flexible, and grow with them. Let them teach you what it means to be a committed father.

 

careycaseycasual2007Carey Casey is Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas City-based National Center for Fathering and author of the book Championship Fathering: How to Win at Being a Dad.

Through his work across the country, Casey has earned a reputation as a dynamic communicator, especially on the topic of men being good fathers. He’s known as a compassionate ambassador, particularly within the American sports community.

Friday Links

 

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.