Archives for November 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.

He Sets the Lonely in Families


My family moved to Richmond, Virginia, when I was 8 years old – quite far away from where my parents grew up and where all of our extended family lived. Dayton, Ohio, was a LONG trek now, and with two little kids my parents decided we’d go for Thanksgiving OR Christmas.

One of those first Christmases we were in Virginia alone, I remember a strange guest around our Christmas tree: my dad’s work friend, who had recently had a broken engagement and was suffering heartbreak. We loved having him among us, and he gifted me with my very first (and only) Paula Abdul cassette tape, for which I will be forever grateful to him.

Fast forward a good deal of years, and I am 22. It is my first married Christmas, and I live in Nashville, Tennessee, far away from my own parents and even my husband’s. I started a job in customer service on November 1, leaving me with no vacation time and the inability to take any even if I had it, due to the nature of service jobs.

I cried in my office one day over the injustice of it all. Christmas had always been steeped in tradition for my little family unit and the thought of those traditions continuing without me was enough to make me physically ill. I wanted my mommy.

Lo and behold, one of my motherly co-workers invited me and my new husband into her home for Christmas Day. They made us feel like family, let us hold the new babies and pet the dogs and call Miss Sheila’s elderly mama “Grandmother” like they did. It wasn’t my family … but it was enough. And it was a blessing.

So here is my holiday advice: don’t get so wrapped up in your own family unit that you don’t see the hurting, lonely people around you during the holidays. What’s one more mouth to feed at your  buffet? Bless others by taking them into your family and loving them. It will set a wonderful example for your children and who knows … you might be entertaining angels (Hebrews 13:2).

When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after three little ones (ages 5, almost 3, and 8 months). 


This post originally published December 13, 2011. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here at ParentLife, we are so thankful for each and every one of you. This year, we want you to share with us what you are thankful for. Leave a comment here, or come visit us at our Facebook page.

Make a Difference

Are you looking for more ways your family can make a difference?

Check out this great post by ParentLife write Kristen Welch at her blog, We Are THAT Family.

“100+ Ways for Your Family to Make a Difference

1. Babysit for a single mom
2. Teach compassion with a Family Giving Box
3. Write a Family Mission Statement
4. Bake cookies for your local fire dept.
5. Pick up trash at local park as a family field trip…”

Read the rest at We Are THAT Family.

Becoming Others Focused

Because kids are naturally concerned about receiving approval and admiration, they’re tempted to be self-promoting, wanting to look better than others. This self-promotion sometimes translates into greediness, gossip, and griping. The good news is, most kids are also naturally compassionate and empathetic when they understand that someone else is suffering. They are eager to help and give.
Talk with your child about the reasons selfishness is so tempting—and so empty in its aims. Tell about times you have seen selfishness hurt a friendship or a group of people. Your child may not even realize what her lack of thankfulness looks like.

Then discuss how thankfulness and generosity can make a difference. A person’s life can be transformed with the kindness of another person. Schools and communities benefit, too. Expose your child to the stories of lives changed through a Christmas shoebox, a child sponsorship, or the help of a Southern Baptist missionary to reinforce that we were created to live with a concern for others, not just ourselves.

To practice becoming other-focused, make a “Thankful Notebook.” At the top of each page, write a person’s name or category, like physical, emotional, mental, educational, or spiritual. On the page, write specific ways God blesses you with that person or in that area. For example, on a sibling’s page, a child may write: “She plays with me,” or “He tells funny jokes.” Periodically practice thankfulness by writing in the notebook—especially as part of correction for wrong attitudes.

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.

15 Unique Advent Calendars

15 advent calendars

December is creeping closer. I’ve already told you about two favorite Advent activities we try to do around here. But I also love Advent calendars, don’t you! We have a sweet little one with drawers now that my mom made. But here are some fun ones you could make, buy, or download to be prepared for December 1!


  1. Free Printable Bible Verse Advent Calendar
  2. DIY Toilet Paper Roll Advent Calendar
  3. Felt Christmas Tree Kit (buy it here)
  4. Paper Bag Advent Calendar
  5. Chalkboard Countown – buy it from Etsy or draw your own on a chalkboard decal or regular chalkboard
  6. Chinese Take-out Box Advent Calendar
  7. CHRISTmas Tree ($5 download)
  8. 25 5×7 prints ($35)
  9. Button Cone Advent Calendar
  10. Print a Nativity picture and color in one star each night (free printable).
  11. Love Came Down Pocket Calendar
  12. Basic Chocolates and Little Doors Calendars
  13. Coffee Cups with Gifts Inside
  14. Glitter Tape Advent Bags
  15. Stenciled Muslin Bag Advent Calendar

Do you use an Advent calendar? What kind?

Mawmaw’s Apple Cake Recipe

MawMaw’s Apple Cake
2 cups peeled, chopped apples
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all-spice or nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Place flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and all-spice in a bowl. Stir with a whisk until the ingredients are mixed into a fine powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Begin stirring together wet and dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Add in apples and nuts and stir until just mixed. Spread the batter into a 9 x 13-inch cake pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Apple Dumplings Recipe

Apple Dumplings
2 apples
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
6 tablespoons salted butter (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces Mountain Dew® (1/2 can)
1-3 teaspoons cinnamon sugar

Peel and core the apples. Cut the apples into quarters. Spray an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Roll each piece of apple inside a crescent roll triangle and place in two rows in the pan. Melt the butter, sugar, and water in a sauce pan over medium heat until the butter is just melted. Do not bring this mixture to a boil; the sugar should remain grainy. Stir in the vanilla. Pour this sweet butter sauce over the dumplings in the baking dish. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on each dumpling. Pour Mountain Dew® around the outside and down the middle of the pan. Cover the pan loosely with foil. Bake the dumplings in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil after the first 15 minutes.

She Gives Me Courage by Ellen Stumbo

As soon as we walked into the dental office I knew we would be in for quite the experience. My youngest daughter -who has Down syndrome – also has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). While there are many kids that struggle at the dentist, take a kid with SPD and you take “difficult” to a new level.

She had two cavities. We also recognized getting those cavities taken care of at the dentist’s office wasn’t going to happen. The solution? Dental work under general anesthesia at the hospital.

Think about that for a minute, a surgical protocol just to get teeth cleaned, X-rays redone, and her cavities fixed.

The morning of the appointment, the anesthesiologist came to talk to us about procedure. We discussed the sedative they give so that kids get drowsy and don’t remember. I brought up the fact that at the Children’s hospital they wouldn’t give that to her, because kids with Down syndrome have low muscle tone, and it can compromise their airway. He said he wasn’t concerned about it, I asked how many kids with Down syndrome they see on a regular basis. I also asked him what steps he would take if her airway did indeed collapse, and I asked about her neck positioning.

I’ve come a long way. When my daughter was first born, I was bullied by a nurse. She’d given me false information, she treated me like I knew nothing about Down syndrome or my daughter. That experience changed me. The nice pastor’s wife was going to raise her voice once in a while. Just don’t mess with my kids. So I learned to come in with research to back up everything I brought up, and soon I was educating the nurse, and teaching her a thing or two about Down syndrome.

And here I was, six years later, asking questions about my child’s safety and emotional well being. The anesthesiologist looked at me like I had two heads, but he answered my questions, and I felt comfortable with a decision we reached together.

And that is when I realized that my daughter has changed me. She’s turned me into this woman that has courage she never knew was there. Willing to stand up to medical professionals, and hold her ground. And maybe that is who we become as mothers, we become courageous, because we realized that we have to stand up for someone else, and we lay down our lives for them.

Ellen Stumbo Head ShotEllen 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. Visit her at