Archives for August 2009


We heard such positive things about our August Back to School issue that we wanted to share the article from ParentLife‘s former Editor in Chief Joy Emery for any of you who missed it. We thought it might encourage those of you who are homeschooling to see Joy’s story.

We had no problems with our public school. What led us to consider the homeschool option was our family’s unique situation. While we live in Tennessee, Chris works with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) which is located in Alpharetta, Georgia. He is a regional team leader for the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Because much of his work involves travel to his assigned states, along with a week on-site in Atlanta each month, we decided to pray about whether or not to venture into the homeschool arena in order to travel with him.


Considering Each Child’s Needs
When making any family decision, consider how each person may be impacted. Our three children vary in need and personality. Our oldest, 12-year-old Jackson, is a high achiever and people pleaser. He pushes himself and aims high. Kristen, our 11-year-old, is an average student who enjoys the social part of school. She is our practical child — the one who is best at problem solving and organization. Our 7-year-old is Brandon — our ball of energy. He is very bright and loves sports, drama, and the outdoors. He is a confident child and is not scared of new adventures.

When considering our children’s needs, there was one in particular who seemed to be best-suited for the homeschool environment. Kristen had always struggled with reading and comprehension as well as in mastering math concepts. I always had wondered if she might find greater success with a homeschool program. Jackson was at a transition time into middle school. It would be a year of transition for him regardless of whether we homeschooled or not. Brandon would lack the daily social contact with peers but would continue to have that interaction at church.

Gathering Information
To make the decision to homeschool, we had to gather information. One of our most useful resources came through conversations with experienced homeschool families. We learned that each family has to find what fits the family and that what fits one child might not fit the others.

Conversations with homeschool families helped us better evaluate our options and gave us direction. We also gained the confidence that we could be successful in homeschooling our children.

Homeschool Support
We made our decision to homeschool and enrolled with an umbrella school which keeps our school records, serves as our parent/teacher advisor, and operates as a testing facility to measure the children’s progress. The umbrella school also coordinates events and field trips for the children to meet other homeschoolers.

School at Home and on the Road
We have enjoyed many different on-the-road learning experiences. My contribution as the primary teacher of three varied students means a lot of preparation on my part, but I truly believe that my children are getting a well-rounded and personal education plan as we learn together at home and on the road. We are thankful we listened when God began to lead us in this direction. It makes each day a new adventure and broadens each child’s life experiences in a way a typical classroom never could.

To view the entire article, download this pdf document: My Homeschool Story.pdf


Fun Friday Photo — August 28, 2009


Friends Olivia and Benjamin take a break from feeding the ducks.

Thanks to Heather H. for this great photo!

Photos wanted! Send us your funny, cute, or just plain fun pictures for our Fun Friday Photos. Each Friday we will post a new "Fun Friday Photo." E-mail your photo and a suggested caption describing the photo to Visit the blog each Friday to see if your photo was chosen!

From Bottle to Cup

I can honestly say that my little boy, Jack, has been an easy baby so far. He may be busy all the time and in constant motion, but he is fairly laidback when it comes to changes in routine and environment. He made the move to baby food without any complaint. He gave up his pacifier completely on his own around 9 months. The swtich from formula to milk was a breeze. And now baby food is history and he is eating table food. That’s why I assumed that moving him from a bottle to a sippy cup would be a piece of cake.

Well … I was terribly wrong. We tried for one weekend to offer him milk in a sippy cup to see how it went. Each time, he got excited when he would see his milk but he took one drink and pushed it away. He had no desire to drink his milk in anything but a bottle. More concerned with the amount of milk he was getting then the cup, I caved each time after about 10 minutes of trying and moved the milk to a bottle.

Many of my friends told me they made the switch cold turkey. If their babies didn’t take milk from the cup, they just didn’t get their milk. It worked really well for them, and they made the transition within days. But I’m just not sure I’m ready for that yet. I’m not sure I can be that strong!

I am encouraged that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends making the switch to a cup by 18 months. That means that we have a little over 4 months to make the transition. We have at least made the switch to bottles with soft, sippy-cup style spouts. It’s at least a step in the right direction.

So I’m curious … how did you transition your child from a bottle to a sippy cup? What worked? What didn’t work? Are their other transitions that you struggled with … such as moving from a crib to a toddler bed? Share your tips with us and other ParentLife readers by leaving a comment!

Get a Head Start on Reading by Joy Fisher

Reading to and with your child prepares him for a lifetime of curiosity and learning. For preschoolers, choose books with bright, colorful illustrations and minimal text. Beginning readers like repetitive language and humorous rhymes. Don’t forget to read to your older child too! Select books on topics of his interest, and use them as a starting place for great conversations. And remember, enjoying books is free when you visit the library!

New Books


Always by Ann Stott: “No matter what you do,” says Mom, “I’ll always love you.” For babies and preschoolers.


ImYourBus.jpg I’m Your Bus by Marilyn Singer: Back-to-schoolers will enjoy this rhyming story told from the perspective of a yellow school bus. For ages 4-8.


OliversGame.jpg Oliver’s Game by Matt Tavares: Treat your baseball fan to a story abouthow World War II interrupted one young man’s dream. For ages 6-10.


 Oldies But Goodies


The Napping House by Don and Audrey Wood: A snoring granny and a dreaming child share a bed with an assortment of household creatures. For ages birth to 3.


If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff: Give a mouse a cookie, and a whole adventure unravels and comes full circle again. For ages 4 to 8.


FrogandToad.jpgFrog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel: Lessons in friendship abound in the first of a timeless series. For ages 4 to 8.



ThreeLittlePigs.jpgThe True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka: Get the wolf’s side of the story! For ages 4 to 8.




Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.: Each page leads to the next with rhythm and cadence kids adore. Illustrated by Eric Carle. For ages 4 to 8.



Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan: In 1910, Sarah comes to be a new mother for Anna and Caleb. For ages 9 to 12.



The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner: A story from another era describes how four orphans survive on their own. For ages 9 to 12.


Joy Fisher is editor of LifeWay’s Bible Teaching for Kids Special Buddies, a Bible study curriculum for school-age children who have special needs. She is a former editor and frequent contributor to ParentLife.

Do you know all the benefits of reading to your child? Be sure to check out the article "A Head Start" in the August 2009 issue of ParentLife.

Free Girls’ Ministry Webcast

When?: Today at 12:00 PM Central

What?: Get into Their Heads: Understanding the Struggles of Today’s Girls
Wondering what is going on in girl world? What they are thinking about? What their fears are? What stresses them out? New issues they are facing? Join us for this Webinar as we identify and discuss some of the latest struggles our teen girls are facing. We will also discuss how we as girls’ ministry leaders can meet those needs.


Dr. Mintle Answers Your Questions

mintle03(2).jpgEvery month in ParentLife, Dr. Linda Mintle answers your parenting questions in her "Real Life Solutions" department. Each month, we will have an additional Q & A specifically for the blog. This month’s question is about parenting styles.

Q: My husband and I have very different parenting styles. How can we work on being united in our parenting?

A: A team approach to parenting is something most parents have to work out because they were raised in different  families. When you leave your original family, you bring to marriage the patterns you learned growing up. Patterns of parenting are learned from watching your own parents. Different families parent differently. Some are more rigid, more permissive, or more critical than others. These differences can cause parenting conflicts if not negotiated. When you disagree, take a short break, talk through your strategies, and come to an agreement. You can say: “Mommy and Daddy are going to talk about this and come back.” Remember you are probably responding how you learned growing up. If you cannot pause before reacting, then talk about the conflict after the fact and agree on how you could both handle this in the future.

The important things are to be in agreement, be consistent, and realize this is an ongoing conversation. As children grow, the issues change and trigger issues from your childhood. Kids also tend to divide parents, so present a unified front to your child even if you disagree at the moment. Evaluate whether or not your approach to a problem was helpful and appropriate. Not all family patterns are healthy, so you may decide to make changes based on what you have learned.

If you cannot come to an agreement on how to parent as a couple, talk to another couple who can serve as your mentor or a family therapist or pastor.

Send us questions you would like to ask Dr. Mintle!

Fun Friday Photo — August 21, 2009

29_FunFridayPhoto_August21.jpgWilliam is enjoying the last few days of summer by having a water fight with his sister, Caroline!

Thanks to Julie L. for this great photo!

Photos wanted! Send us your funny, cute, or just plain fun pictures for our Fun Friday Photos. Each Friday we will post a new "Fun Friday Photo." E-mail your photo and a suggested caption describing the photo to Visit the blog each Friday to see if your photo was chosen!


First Day of School

My boys had their first day of school on Monday — Jonathan his first day of 5th grade, and Christopher his first day of Kindergarten. And who was most nervous leading up to the first day? Why their parents of course! Although the boys were nervous Monday morning too. 

First day of school.jpg

We got there early enough to lug the school supplies in to school and all went straight to Christopher’s classroom. I don’t think there are many things in parenting like the first day of kindergarten. So exciting! We hugged Mrs. Nickels and went about the work of separating all our school supplies into the classroom supply bins. These bins were spread out all over the classroom, so as we walked across the room to put the crayons away, it was a great way to get acquainted to the classroom.

After a family photo, we spoke to a few of the parents, and Christopher was already hard at work putting together Legos® with some friends when it was time for us to leave. No worries about an anxious good-bye — he barely looked up as we kissed his cotton-top good-bye!

And Jonathan? He was an old pro at this. He walked into his classroom, found his locker, and immediately sat down at his desk to start the "Who Am I?" worksheet the teacher had provided. And perhaps for the last time on the first day of school (mind you, he is an 11-year-old preteen), he didn’t even act embarrassed when I kissed his cotton-top good-bye!

How was your first day of school? Tell us about it!



Parents as Teachers

No matter what your schooling choice, back to school is an exciting time. It is also a great time to reflect on how parents should be the primary teachers of their children, even if you choose to share some of your child’s education with your church or local school.

I always find that books are a great way to enter discussions with your children. I wanted to share a couple books that I have read recently — both old and new — that make great discussion starters with kids. In fact, these books were so engaging, that I could not put them down until I turned every page!

jesus from a to z.jpg

Jesus From A to Z by Kevin Graham and Illustrated by Jennifer Yoswa (Windom) — Graham captures 26 key stories and truths from the life of Jesus in this A-to-Z style book, complete with engaging illustrations that will draw kids into each two-page spread. A great starter for family devotion times might be to pick a letter of the alphabet, look at the illustration and synopsis, then read the biblical passage with the story. Begin now at the pace of 2 stories a week, and it will lead you right into Advent season.

hundred dresses.jpg

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes and Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) — I was engaged from the first page and could not put down this book for children. This story is a powerful teaching tool to talk about bullying, friendship, racism, cliques, and sensitivity to others who are different. This book may have been written specifically for girls in mind, but I think it is engaging for all kids. Use it to talk about the new school year and new friends at school and church.


Holes by Louis Sachar (Random House) — Quirky, mysterious, and exciting — and probably written primarily for preteen boys — it gives subtle insights into some of these same themes mentioned above for The Hundred Dresses, except about boys. Ditto about using to talk about the new people God brings into our lives and how we treat them.

No matter your reading choice, research shows the more you read with your kids, the better they do in school! What are some of your favorite books to read with your kids?

A Healthy Lunch Option

This week is a busy week for most families as the kids head back to school. One source of stress for many families is knowing what to pack for lunch! Is it hard for you to find quick, easy, healthy options for your child’s lunch?

The Lunchables team hopes to relieve some of this stress by introducing a whole new line of Oscar Mayer Lunchables Lunch Combinations! 


75_Lunchable.jpgSome highlights of the new line include:

  • The introduction of the first sandwiches in the Lunchables Lunch Combination line
  • Turkey made with 100% turkey breast
  • Bread made with whole grain
  • Spring water as the drink
  • And, for the first time ever, Lunchables Lunch Combinations will feature applesauce!

While these nutritional advances are great, Lunchables has also extended its new changes from the inside out. The new packaging features a clear, snap-close container with an easy-to-read menu bar and recyclable packaging.

Lunchables Lunch Combinations are available in the refrigerated section of grocery stores and retail for $3.49.  To view the complete line of Lunchables Lunch Combinations visit