Making Toys Count by Christine Satterfield

Before I had my son, I knew nothing about children. I never had siblings or cousins to “practice” on and babysitting wasn’t my thing. So the first time I walked into the big baby warehouse with my husband I was floored! Who knew babies needed so much stuff?

Well, I’ve since found out that children don’t need much. Diapers, clothes, a lot of love, and — if you don’t have empty boxes and plastic containers around — a few toys will keep them occupied for hours.

Picking out toys for our children, though, can be quite cumbersome. If you frequent one of the big toy warehouses you may know all too well the temptation to buy every single toy in the store. Even trips to the consignment sale and discount store can tempt you into buying more than needed, because the toys are such a good deal! Toys are tricky. As parents, we want to provide our children with every opportunity to learn, but we don’t want to overwhelm them with so many choices that they don’t even know where to begin.

I’ve decided to be quite choosy with the toys my son has at home. The toybox isn’t overflowing, so we try to be very purposeful with the toys he has to play with. The goal is for each toy to help instill the Word of God in his heart and reinforce the principles and stories of the Bible.

Instead of choosing a cartoon coloring book, I’ll choose one with a Bible story theme. Instead of letting him watch cartoons on TV, I’d rather he watch something like VeggieTales. When he’s learning shapes, we’ll choose the toy pictured here most often so he can hear the story of Noah’s ark.

Being choosy with toys won’t necessarily ensure that our children will grow up to love God with all their heart, soul and strength. But I want to utilize every opportunity to teach my son (and future children) about God and His Word. I want to live out Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and literally repeat His Word to my children, talk about it when we sit in our house, walk along the road, when we lie down, and when we get up.

Christine Satterfield loves Jesus, her family, and the church. She spends as much time as possible playing with her son, and she’s constantly cleaning his toys. You can find out how she cleans them on her blog iDreamofClean as well as learn other household cleaning tips and tricks for the busy mom.

Originally published October 10, 2010.

Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten

Can we have a show of hands for those with children starting kindergarten this year?

Ah yes, there you are, the mom or dad with the shaking hands and nervous twitch. I am there beside you, feeling lost and afraid and just a tiny bit ecstatic.

Whether you have just a few weeks or a few years left to prepare, there are ways to help your child (and yourself!) be ready for that first day of the Big K.

  • Read, read, read! Reading to your child is one of the best ways to prepare for school according to kindergarten teachers (source). As you get closer to actually starting school, books dealing with the topic of school might he helpful. Some your child might enjoy: Peppa Pig and the Busy Day at School, I Am Too Absolutely Small for School, Kindergarten Here I Come!, and Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
  • Don’t Ignore It. Talk about going to school, what the schedule will be like, tour the school, go to orientations. Ignoring the fact that your child is getting older won’t make it go away!
  • Consider Delay. If your child’s birthday is close to the cut-off, consider waiting a year. Teachers say that parents may regret sending a child who isn’t ready to school.
  • Communicate. Talk to other parents, teachers, administration. Familiarize yourself with the kindergarten process if it’s your first year as an elementary-school parent. Calming your own nerves will make it easier for your child.

Any tips from parents more experienced than I?

Summer Spiritual Learning by Brian Dembowczyk

A Simple Way to Build Faith

“Daddy, can we do the questions?” That request is music to my ears. Shortly after our son, Joshua, turned 5, my wife and I began teaching him a catechism, which is a series of questions and answers designed to explain basic biblical doctrine.

Bedtime stories

What We’ve Learned

We began asking Joshua a new question every second or third day as part of the prayer and snuggle time we have with him and his 2-year-old sister. Several things amazed us right away.

  • Joshua was able to answer many of the new questions correctly with little or no help. It is encouraging to see that what we talk about at home and what he hears at church are anchoring firmly in his mind and heart.
  • He was able to quickly and easily learn new questions. Children have an amazing capacity to absorb information. We want to pour the gospel into our children as much as possible to take advantage of this developmental stage.
  • He was eager to “do the questions.” Showing a little encouragement and excitement when he answers questions correctly goes a long way and is helping him have fun as he learns about God.
  • The catechism questions began fueling wonderful spiritual conversations about God, life, heaven, and his unchurched friends. Initiating spiritual conversations has become easier and more natural.
  • Our biggest surprise was that our daughter, Hannah, was learning almost as much as Joshua! Our hearts quickly began to melt when we heard our 2-year-old’s sweet voice articulating biblical truth. It reinforces the principle that you can’t start this process too early.

A Great Opportunity

As a parent, you know that summer is a mixed blessing of free time for your child. Why not invest some of that time into teaching your child a catechism or challenging your child to learn a Bible verse each week until school starts? Or do both and learn a verse with each question. Sweeten the challenge by offering a quality reward at the end of the summer if he succeeds. (God mentions rewards quite often in the Bible; there is nothing wrong with motivating a child similarly!) Let this summer be a life-changing summer for your child. Perhaps you will experience the same change as well!

Sample Questions

Q. Who made you?

A. God.

Q. What else did God make?

A. Everything.

Q. Why did God make you?

A. For His own glory.

Q. How can you glorify God?

A. By loving Him and doing what He says.

Q. Why should you glorify God?

A. Because He loves me and takes care of me.

Ways to Impact Your Child Spiritually

  • Find a church with Saturday evening services and attend a few during the summer. Attending a different church’s worship service may further energize your family’s walk with Christ.
  • Find different ministry opportunities in which to participate as a family (soup kitchens, clothes closets, etc).
  • Make it a goal to invite a friend to church each Sunday during the summer.
  • Encourage your child to keep a prayer journal during the summer.

 

Brian Dembowczyk is Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Assimilation at FBC Tampa, Florida. He is married to Tara and is father of Joshua (5) and Hannah (3). You can follow Brian on Twitter at @BrianDembo or check out his blog at missionaldiscipleship.blogspot.com.

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Are You Ready for Summer?

Believe it or not, summer is right around the corner. Have you planned your summer adventures yet? Check out these helpful products to help you and your family stay safe (and have fun) this summer!

  • BabyBanzBaby Banz Sunscreen Lotion Spray — Baby Banz has made it easier than ever to protect your little one’s skin from the harmful rays of the sun. They have created an amazing sunscreen perfect for young ones ranging from crawling toddlers to growing teens! The sunscreen is formulated with SPF 50 UVA/UVB protection and is PABA free for peace of mind! Simply point and press and the convenient spray emits a continuous, angled spray for maximum coverage. It’s never too early to establish good skin care habits!
  • Baby B’Air — The FAA-approved Baby B’Air Flight Vest is a safe solution for lap-held children while traveling in an airplane. The Baby B’Air is the perfect solution for all babies, securing them safely to their parent so that both the baby and parent are comfortable and there is no squirming or potential for baby falling. The Baby B’Air is worn by the infant like a vest. Constructed of 100% cotton and comfortable to wear for baby, the Baby B’Air is used by simply connecting it to the seat belt of the adult. The baby can then be held, fed, and even changed while both parent and child remain securely fastened in their seat. For more information, visit babybair.com.
  • PuddleJumperPuddle Jumper Life Jackets — The fun lasts longer for kids in the water with a Stearns® Puddle Jumper® Life Jacket. The comfortable design allows children 30 to 50 lbs. to move and swim freely in pools and lakes and at the beach, without the life jacket riding up around their necks. Each PFD is Coast Guard-approved and can be used as a learn-to-swim aid. They come in lots of different colors and styles.

What are your family’s must-have summer products?

Real Life Solutions with Dr. Linda Mintle

Q: My husband is very anxious about the birth of our second child. He is feeling the economic pressure of our expanding family and worries about everything. He is making me anxious because of his state of distress. What can I tell him to calm him down? I know God will provide if we are faithful.

A: You are so right. God is faithful and promises to provide for our needs. Maybe this study published in Pediatrics will help him realize he needs to trust and let go of worry. The study included 32,000 children and found that the psychological distress of Dad during pregnancy did impact child development. Specifically, fathers were given a screening questionnaire regarding their mental health status during their partner’s pregnancy. Later, mothers were asked to also fill out questionnaires regarding their child’s development. Controlling for a number of variables, a link was found between the fathers’ mental health and their children’s later developmental problems. Dads who scored high on anxiety and distress when the mom was 17 to 18 weeks pregnant had children who were more disruptive and anxious at age 3! We don’t know exactly why this is, but maybe the mental health of the father later impacts his parenting, or maybe his mental health impacts the mother’s mental health, or maybe there is a genetic link. The point here is that the mental health of the dad, not just the mother, impacts the developing child. So let your husband know that his anxiety and distress could be affecting your child. It is time to trust God to meet your needs and let go of worry. Your new baby is too important and you want to give him or her the best start possible.

Dr. Linda Mintle is a licensed therapist and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics. She is a national speaker and bestselling author with 18 book titles currently published. Visit her website at drlindahelps.com.

Real Life Solutions With Dr. Linda Mintle

Q: My sister tells me I am too uptight about getting my toddler to sleep every night. She allows her three-year-old to stay up late, sleep in the next day and take naps if he is tired. She does not have him on any sleep routine. What do you think of this?

A: When you talk to sleep experts, they will tell you that a consistent sleep routine is important for a toddler. Sleep actually helps a baby’s brain grow! A study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that inconsistent sleep may contribute to obesity later in life. The study also noted that napping does not replace the benefits of nighttime sleep. According to the CDC, three to five-year-olds need 11-13 hours of nighttime sleep. So, yes, a toddler needs a regular bedtime. Since a lack of sleep can create problems opt for the regular bedtime routine and be patience. A toddler may need help to wind down by reading a book, taking a warm bath or doing something quiet before bedtime. Of course, parents need to avoid chocolate, sodas and even juices before bedtime. A warm cup of milk is calming. Then, make sure there is a consistent wake up time as well, as oversleeping and prolonged napping can create sleep problems. The atmosphere should be quiet and peaceful. Some toddlers like a little music to relax them as well. Even small things like keeping the room temperature comfortable and the house quiet can aid a good night’s sleep. And you are setting habits for the future. Most of us do best with a regular sleep routine as well.

Resource: Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens by Owens and Midell (Marlowe & Company, 2005.

Christian Birth and Adoption Announcements

announcement

Having a baby or bringing a child home soon and want to share the news with the world? I love birth announcements – tiny pictures, sweet cheeks, happy news. If you’re looking for one that share Scripture or scriptural truth as well, we’ve got some choices for you!

 

announc1

This beautiful one-photo design has Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made …” You can find it at Photo Card Cafe, and there’s also a blue version.

 

announc2

Another favorite verse for parents of newborns is “For this child I prayed” (1 Sam. 1:27). Here’s a lovely black-and-white card with hints of blue or pink.

announc3

I wish I had seen this design for one of my babies! This one shares, “The Lord has done great things for us!” (Ps. 126:3). You can customize it to be in any font and color you choose. What Joy indeed! (And how perfect for an adoption as well?)

announc4

I love that the Scripture on this one is a little different from what you normally see. It says, “With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations” (Ps. 89:1). And isn’t announcing the birth of a child or an addition to your family just that? The Blessed Family birth announcement comes to you via a digital file, so you can have it printed wherever you want. There is a choice of pink, lavender, green, and blue backgrounds.

Christian birth annoucement

This announcement has a poem, with the words to the poem in one color and font and the announcement information in another color and font. A little more formal. This one is also a digital file purchase.

{We were not asked to blog about any of these companies or compensated in any way. We simply hope this is helpful for you!}

Real Life Solutions With Dr. Linda Mintle

Q. I am a new mom and love to be out in the sun during this time of year. A friend of mine told me to be more careful and cover up my baby from the sun. Is this really a big deal?

A. Absolutely. Most sun damage occurs in childhood. Sun exposure builds over the years and can create problems later in life. Babies can get sunburned and their tender skin can’t handle the harmful UV rays emitted by the sun. A baby under the age of six months should not be exposed to direct sunlight. And even though it is hot, cover your baby with light cotton clothing to protect her skin. Limit her exposure to the sun during the peak hours of ultraviolet rays—10:00a.m to 4:00p.m. Shade her whenever possible. Most baby carriers have sunshades built in, car shades can be use when she is in her car seat and umbrellas, baby tents and other shading devices can be used as added protection. Use sunscreen designed for infants with at least an SPF of 15, even on hazy days. Apply the sunscreen at least an hour before going out and reapply it often. Hats are also a good way to protect the face and they look really cute! Keep in mind that if you live in a high altitude, sun exposure is greater. If your baby gets sunburned and is showing blisters, fever, chills headache or appears ill, contact your pediatrician immediately. Sunburn can lead to dehydration and is treated like a serious burn. So yes, your friend was right. It is a big deal!

Resource: Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice For Your Baby’s First Year by Denise Fields & Ari Brown M.D. Windsor Peak Press; Fifth Edition, Revised, 5th ed. edition (September 1, 2011)

Back to School: Homemade Lunchbox Fare

backtoschool

 

 

For the first time, I am going to have to pack a lunch for my daughter this year where the teachers won’t heat up food for her. (I know, I’ve been spoiled.) So I’m soliciting advice: what are the best thermos-type containers for lunchboxes? She’s just a preschooler, so she doesn’t have a huge appetite. I’m supposed to try to send milk, too! Help!

Meanwhile, here are some great lunchbox ideas in addition to the prepackaged goodies we shared last week.

Homemade Spaghetti-Os with Sliced Franks are a great, homemade alternative to the canned version. This recipe freezes easily, so make a big batch and freeze in small portions. Then heat one portion the morning you’re packing the lunchbox and put in a thermos container to keep warm until lunchtime.

 

Likewise, these Toddler Thai Noodles, with kid-friendly peanut-butter sauce, freeze well. This is an excellent meal for kids with dairy intolerance or allergies. And to make it gluten-free, simply use rice or a gluten-free pasta.

 

If you don’t want to send a hot meal, these Ham and Cheese Muffins might fit the bill! They have protein and dairy all wrapped up in a whole wheat muffin for small hands. I’ve even added a little pureed corn for a vegetable component. My kids won’t eat corn kernels … but I don’t mind hiding a little nutrition now and then.

 

 

Homemade granola bars are a good way to think outside the sandwich box for lunchtime. Some of our favorites are these Crunchy Granola Bars, Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chips bars, and Chocolate Coconut Oat Bars.

 

What do you like to pack in your kids’ lunches?

 

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.