Princess Gabby Girl and the Sparkly Dress

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Like pretty much all 5-year-old girls, my daughter, Libbie, LOVES princesses. Our home echoes with Frozen songs, is coated in glitter and sequins, and Libbie’s bedroom radiates pink. She is a girly-girl all the way.

So when Camilla Battaglia’s team sent us this new book, Princess Gabby Girl and the Sparkly Dress, my daughter had it open and was looking through it before I could even touch it myself. It doesn’t hurt that one of my daughter’s best friends is named Gabby, so Libbie recognized that word.

Princess Gabby Girl is a moral tale about a young princess who finds a gorgeous sparkly gown in a secret wardrobe. She’s told by Miss Marvelous, an only semi-creepy woman in a mirror, that to keep her dress sparkling, she must be kind and do good deeds. Based on Matthew 5:14-16 (You are the light of the world), this very pink tale is a nice alternative to traditional princess paperbacks.

If your child is as obsessed with pink and princesses as mine is, you should grab up a copy of Princess Gabby Girl and the Sparkly Dress. It will incite some good conversations about being the light of the world and shining brightly with kindness.

Summer Beach Reads for Moms and Dads

My husband and I are very much looking forward to spending some time this summer ALONE for our 10th anniversary. We’re hitting up a nice island with a beach and without our kids for a few days. I am excited about spending a lot of time reading.

Are you headed to the beach, too? Or at least a chair by the pool or in your backyard? If you’re looking for a nice, clean book for a summer read, here are some ideas.

 

What would you recommend for a good beach read?

Preparing for Advent

I know, I know. I don’t want to skip over Thanksgiving! I love it! But if you want to make a meaningful experience for your children this December, it might take some prepping.

I wanted to share with you my two favorite Advent activities that I’ve been doing with my (little) kids the past few years.

 

 

My lovely friend Amanda has such a heart for helping parents reach their kids for Christ. A few years ago, she wrote this e-book called Truth in the Tinsel. It’s an Advent experience: a 25-day guide with Scripture, crafts, activities, and application to help you tell your child the whole Christmas story – from Isaiah and the prophecies to the cross.

You can see my personal post about it here. But I just have to tell you how much my daughter enjoys this. I think this year, now that she’s 5, it will be even better. The Bible stories and truths are really starting to sink into her little heart. And I think Truth in the Tinsel is one of the best ways to fight back against secular Christmas. Make your focus Jesus … not presents.

{I love Amanda’s FAQ post if you have any questions about it!}

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Last year I also put together a list of 25 Jesus-centered Christmas books on my own blog. I wrapped each one in Christmas paper. Last year, each night in December the kids picked one book to unwrap and read. They thought this was the BEST THING EVER, and I loved the time reading together and again, reinforcing the true meaning of Christmas.

I would really urge you to take December as yours as a parent. Refuse to go to every party and event if you need to. Spend the holidays impressing Scripture and truth on your child’s heart, so you can emerge from December refreshed and in awe of God’s great work through Christ.

 

Books about Salvation

My daughter is almost 5 now, and she’s getting to the point where she’s starting to “get” Christianity. She is so sweet in her love for Jesus and prayers. We just finished reading the New Testament in the Jesus Storybook Bible, and she asked questions about heaven coming to earth and Jesus returning. How wonderful it is to see her faith and knowledge grow!

As a former English major and book lover, I always look for new books on topics that interest her. So I’m searching out books about salvation for children. Here are some books I found, with thanks to Amanda White of OhAmanda for her suggestions.

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The Answers Book for Kids, Volume 4: Questions from Kids on Sin, Salvation, and the Christian Life by Ken Ham (Master Books, 2009). Ages 3+. Helps kids (and parents!) think through some of the tougher questions of Christianity, like “why does God allow sin?” and “what does being ‘born again’ mean?”

Sammy Experiences God by Tom Blackaby and Rick Osborne (B&H, 2013). Ages 4+. Relating the concepts of the classic Experiencing God for children, this book follows Sammy, who learns that God can be close and involved in his own life.

The Prayer That Makes God Smile by Stormie Omartian (Harvest House, 2009). Ages 3-7. “Reassuring little ones that God’s love is a forever love, Stormie shows kids how to give thanks for family and friends, give their wants and needs to their heavenly Father, and trust Him to do what is right for their lives. She then explains what it means to pray the best prayer of all–asking Jesus to come into your heart.”

If Jesus Lived Inside My Heart by Jill Roman Lord (CandyCane, 2007). Ages 2-5. This board book is the only one we actually own. It’s a sweet, rhyming book that helps a child’s first exploration of salvation.

Mrs. Rosey Posey at the Yum Yummy Birthday Cake by Robin Jones Gunn (Zonderkidz, 2008). Ages 4-7. Your child can learn to read while learning about forgiveness. While this book doesn’t deal directly with salvation, it mirrors Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden and shows the power of mercy.

Do you have any children’s books about salvation you love and would like to share?

 

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

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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.

Intentional Parenting with David Thomas – Q&A and Giveaway!

Q&A with David Thomas, author of Intentional Parenting: Autopilot is for Planes (Thomas Nelson, March 2013).

David wrote Intentional Parenting with Sissy Goff and Melissa Trevathan, who all three are on staff of Daystar Counseling Ministries in Nashville, TN. Daystar is a not-for-profit ministry offering both individual and group counseling for children, adolescents, families, and young adults.

Q: How would you define being an intentional parent?

First, let us tell you what intentional parenting is not. Reactive. It is essential to parent out of love instead of parenting out of fear. When we parent out of fear, our kids never get the best of us, the most of us, or even what they really need from us. Parenting out of fear is a reactive form of parenting.

We’d love to invite you into more proactive parenting—thoughtful, intentional, strategic, and wise parenting. Or more active parenting—responsive, engaged, invested, connected parenting. It’s difficult to parent out of love when we are simply reacting to everything going on around us. We are postured to react rather than respond.

We always have options. Sometimes we choose fear over love. Sometimes we choose love over fear. You will continue to hear us invite you to extend grace to yourself in the journey of parenting. You are going to make mistakes. God can redeem the mistakes we make in parenting. He extends grace to us so that we can then extend grace and mercy to our children. Receive the grace and mercy that is available to you. And then do that thing we teach our kids to do when they fall off their bikes while learning to ride: get back up, dust yourself off, and try again.

Being an intentional parent means I get back on the bike and learn from the mistake I made last time around.

 

Q: What does play have to do with parenting?

Play has purpose for you and your kids. When we speak to parents, we talk about the need for every child to feel enjoyed by their parents. Every child needs time with their mom and dad that is not spent instructing, coaching, teaching, or even exhorting … just plain play together. It helps build a child’s confidence and increases the bond between you.

As a side note, we’re not only talking about watching your children play, although that’s important too. Kids want an audience, and it’s easy to think (especially after a hard day’s work) that by watching them play, you are entering in. You can watch them play tennis and dive off diving boards, but they also want you to jump in and get a little wet right alongside them.

At camp, the kids will beg the adult counselors to get in the lake with them. I cannot even begin to count the number of kids who have said to me, “My mom won’t swim with us. She doesn’t like to get her hair wet. Or, my dad comes to the lake with us, but he spends a lot of time on his phone because it’s hard for him to get away from work.”

Dive in. Get your hair wet. Get on the floor and play a board game. Laugh. Enjoy your children by playing with them. And then save a little time to play without them, as well.

kid / vancouver, BC, CANADA
source: Ces’t June

Q: What role does hope play in parenting?

Your child will place his or her hope in a lot of things over the years—new friends, parts in plays, winning football teams, homecoming dates, SAT scores. And when those things fall through, discouragement will follow. Your encouragement, in those times, is invaluable. A middle school girl said that her mom puts a new Scripture on her mirror every day … just to encourage her. A high schooler said recently how much it means when she knows her mom is praying specifically for her and for what she’s facing that day. The encouragement of these moms is a genuine expression of their hope. When your encouragement rises out of that place, it has more impact than you can imagine.

In all of the complexities of growing up today, children and teens need hope. They need life and healing and relationship with you, as their parent. And they need you to offer these things out of the overflow of your heart. Encouragement is not just the words you say. It’s not just the truth and hope that you offer. It’s the way you live His truth and His hope out. Sensitivity to your child’s heart and confidence in God as your protector, provider, and redeemer is what truly encourages. You offer hope as you point your children toward Christ.

Want to win a copy of Intentional Parenting? We have 5 copies to give away to readers this week! Just enter using Rafflecopter below. 

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Early Autism Detection: What Do Parents Need to Know?

Most doctors believe that autism can’t be detected until around age two and a half or three when the obvious withdrawn or delayed symptoms are visible. However, researchers and experts are beginning to observe symptoms at an earlier age, and possibly even as early as six months of age. Autism expert and co-founder of the Brain Balance Achievement Centers, Dr. Robert Melillo, believes there is much that can be done to stop and correct the problem when spotted at an earlier age.

Researchers have found developmental milestones to be very critical to neurological disorders. “Milestones signal that the brain is developing normally. If an infant or toddler is having a problem with motor progression, then they most likely are developing other issues, including digestion problems and immune and hormone imbalances,” says Dr. Melillo. “The best and earliest way to spot if something might be amiss is by tracking your baby’s primitive reflexes.”

As the basic necessities a newborn needs for survival, primitive reflexes give babies the instinct to breathe, feed when hungry, and squirm and cry when uncomfortable. They pave the way for early development and milestones, including rolling over at three to five months. Primitive reflexes develop in the womb and if they are faulty may result in a difficult birth, in such cases, an early brain imbalance may be present.

In babies, muscle movement prompts genes to build the brain and grow the neurons and connections that advance a newborn from one milestone to the next. The new connections inhibit primitive reflexes and set the stage for more complex movements.

“If a child doesn’t stimulate genes to build the brain, primitive reflexes remain and the brain doesn’t develop in an orderly fashion,” continues Dr. Melillo. “Children cannot leapfrog milestones, it results in the missed construction of an important skill and you can’t activate it later on.” According to Dr. Melillo, depending on how the imbalance unfolds – if step after step is missed – it could result in autism or any other neurological condition.

In his newly available book Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders and What Parents Can Do Now, Dr. Melillo discusses ways for parents to test for primitive reflexes in babies and how to monitor to make sure development is on track.

Do You Have Sparkly Green Earrings? (GIVEAWAY)

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Melanie Shankle, author of the Big Mama Blog, has been much-beloved by LifeWay for quite some time. She has written for the women’s All Access blog as well as worked many women’s events. I’ve been a personal fan of her blog for quite some time, too, where she writes about life, parenting, TV, and fashion with a humorous touch.

Shankle’s first book, Sparkly Green Earrings, releases this week, and we’re thrilled to help her celebrate! Written in the same witty fashion as her popular blog, Sparkly Green Earrings is a memoir of motherhood that you’re sure to enjoy.

“It really is one of those books that you want all of your girlfriends to read so that you can talk about it and quote your favorite lines and tell your own versions of similar stories.” -Sophie Hudson, BooMama

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We’re thrilled to have 5 copies of Sparkly Green Earrings to give away this month at ParentLife Online thanks to Tyndale House! Simply use the Rafflecopter below to enter. (Subscribers may need to click through to the post.) Winners will be selected February 13, 2013. Please see terms.

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Captain Underpants Speaks to Parents! An Interview with Dav Pilkey {Trends and Truth Online with Mike Nappa}

 

Dav Pilkey is the creator of the New York Times bestselling kids’ series, Captain Underpants. Recently, he took a little time away from his Captainly duties to answer a few questions for ParentLife readers:

T&TO: What should every parent know about Captain Underpants?

Pilkey: I purposely designed each [Captain Underpants] book so they would not only be fun to read, they’d be easy to read. Each story has short chapters and pictures on every page, but the humor is aimed squarely at third and fourth graders (and above). My goal was to present kids with a series that would give even the most reluctant readers a feeling of success.

T&TO: What makes writing Captain Underpants worthwhile for you?

Pilkey: I feel very motivated by all of the positive feedback I get from parents and teachers and librarians. They tell similar stories, always about a kid who refused to read until they were introduced to Captain Underpants—then everything changed…I just heard from a grandmother the other day who had to yell at her granddaughter to STOP reading (apparently it was way past her bedtime, and she was under the covers with a flashlight).

T&TO: According to ALA, Captain Underpants books are among the “most-challenged” books by parents and librarians. Why?

Pilkey: The reason the Captain Underpants books have been challenged by a small handful of “concerned grown-ups” is usually because of the humor. These books do tend to involve villainous toilets and booger monsters and things like that. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for most kids, but I understand that there are some grown-ups out there who are not amused by such things.

One angry lady in California complained to her local newspaper that certain characters in my books had engaged in name-calling and had “no moral value.” Oddly, she was referring to the villains. I remember thinking, “Aren’t bad guys supposed to behave badly?”

I actually think kids are smart enough to get the point of these silly books of mine. They realize that the bad guys are evil and the heroes are loyal, brave, and good-hearted. Kids totally get it, and fortunately most adults do too.

T&TO: Any last thoughts for our readers?

Pilkey: Every month I get hundreds of original hand-drawn comic book adventures written and illustrated by kids all over the world. Just last week I got two 16-page full color comics written and illustrated by a twelve-year-old from Australia. Earlier this year, I got some comics from a kid in Thailand. I couldn’t read them, but the illustrations were beautiful.

The amazing thing to me is that these comic books aren’t assignments. Nobody forced those kids to make an original comic book. These are things that kids have decided to do on their own—for fun!

It’s going to be exciting to see what happens when these kids grow up!

Mike Nappa is an author of more than 50 books. He is also the founder of Nappaland Literary Agency and a former book acquisitions editor. He is featured each month in ParentLife magazine and in Trends and Truth Online on the ParentLife blog.

Cure the Summertime Blues at the Library by Darla Brantley

Going along with our reading theme from yesterday, here are some tips from Darla Brantley on beating boredom at the library. - Jessie

Summertime blues? Head to your local library. Here are some interesting ways to cure boredom and maybe sneak in some educational opportunities.

Courtright Memorial Library  

Pick a theme. Have everyone check out books about animals. Read mysteries together. For giggles, check out only humorous books such as joke books, cartoon books, or books with silly rhymes or stories.
 
Read your favorite author. Re-read an old favorite or look for new releases.
 
Pick a letter of the alphabet and check out book titles that start with the chosen letter.
 
Try a non-fiction day. Check out biographies of favorite celebrities or historical figures. Check out magazines with informative articles about everything from cooking to rock climbing.
 
Have an information hunt using reference materials such as encyclopedias, the Internet, or old newspapers. Look up information about each family member’s birth year. Find out how you favorite snack was created. Discover how hurricanes are formed.
 
Check out videos. Look for favorite movie releases or documentaries about historical topics.
 
Read a friend’s favorite. Find out what authors are treasured by your friends. You may discover a new favorite writer.
 
Ask the librarian for recommendations. She will know which topics and titles are currently popular.
 
Read the classics. These books are timeless for a reason. If your children are younger, consider reading to them from any available abridged titles.
 
Check out a book of plays. Pick a production, assign roles to each family member, and “act” out the entire script at home. If you don’t have enough family members, favorite dolls, toys, or action figures can fill in!
 
Do not forget your church library. Be sure to look for books about your favorite biblical figures or topics that teach your family more about Jesus.

Darla Brantley lives in Winfield, Alabama where she works as a special education aide and has the summers off. She visits her city and church libraries often with her husband, son, and daughter.

Have you discovered any amazing reads lately for your kids? My daughter (3 in October) is currently obsessed with Miss Fannie’s Hat and How to Be a Baby. She loves coming home with a big stack of books from the library! – Jessie

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