Seeds Family Worship Winner!

August 7, 2009 by kristen  
Filed under Grace for Life, Loving, Teaching, Worship

RANDOM.ORG spoke, and the winner is comment #41, Megan.   She wins a full set of CDs from Seeds Family Worship.

If you didn’t win, and you want some Seeds CDs of your own, use the coupon code KSTEWART09 – that will take 20% off your order until January 10th, 2010.   Each CD comes with two copies, one to keep and one to share.   You can also access the songs online through their website and start using them right away with your children.

Thank you, Seeds, for sponsoring this giveaway and for sharing great scripture songs with us!

MbG Giveaway! Seeds Family Worship

August 2, 2009 by kristen  
Filed under Grace for Life, Loving, Teaching, Worship

Have you heard about Seeds Family Worship?   It’s a ministry that provides God’s word set to music that is catchy and fun.  You can listen online to see for yourself.  When we received a set in the mail, I chose a verse that addressed an issue one of my children was struggling with: anxiety.  She loved the song and has been singing it with frequency, and I know she has even mentioned it when she was worried about something.  For that alone, I’m thankful to Seeds.


We have a full set of CDs to giveaway to one lucky mom.  Enter by leaving a comment on this post with your email address in the appropriate field (it won’t show) by Friday at 3 p.m. EST.  If you’d like to share the contest via twitter, facebook, your blog, etc. you can earn one extra entry, just leave a second comment telling where you spread the word.

When I announce the winner, I’ll also have a coupon code for everyone else to use to order their own copies, too.   Seeds wants their music to spread and ingeniously package each CD with a second copy to give to a friend, which I think is an awesome idea.

Best of luck to you!

Arts and Culture: For a Four Year Old

July 23, 2009 by diber  
Filed under Grace for Life, Teaching

I wanted to share some of our current favorite books.

This first is my favorite, and the kids just get to reap the benefits. If you have young children, this book is a must-have, in my opinion. It will get you through some dark, long, lonely, crabby afternoons. Mary Ann Kohl’s First Art : Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos. I love Kohl’s philosophy of art for young children, that it is a process, without so much the finished “product” in mind. It’s about learning, experimenting, doing, touching.

Kohl says:

During the process, toddlers and twos discover their own independence, as well as the mystery of combinations, the joy of exploration, the delight of creating, and the frustration of challenges–all important pieces in the puzzle of learning… The art process allows toddlers and twos to explore, discover, and manipulate their worlds…Art process can be a way to ‘get the wiggles out’ or to smash a ball of clay instead of another child. The adult’s job is simply to allow this process to happen!

There are six chapters full of activities (and recipes!!) divided under the categories:

  • paint activities,
  • dough and clay activities
  • making marks in various ways
  • sticking on and gluing things
  • making prints
  • activities for adults to enhance their children’s explorations

There’s a great variety of activities which are specific enough to help you figure out what to do, but general enough to act as a launching for further creativity. There’s also a helpful key with each project so that you’ll have an idea how long it may take and what the mess level might be.

I know the book is listed for toddlers and twos, but my four-year-old and one-year-old are both having a great time. In fact, I even used some of the ideas for our church’s VBS crafts–all the way to 5th grade, so don’t let the title scare you. (Though Mary Ann Kohl has many other tantalizing books.)

Other books we’ve been enjoying this summer (now that I’ve finally paid the, ahem, library fine) are the “Small” books by children’s author Lois Lenski (1893-1974). When I was kid, I read her Strawberry Girl
over and over, so I was tickled to find this other series of books for my son. There’s Fireman Small, The Little Train, The Little Auto, The Little Sailboat, etc. Each book features the main character, Mr. Small, as he goes about his day on whichever adventure. Brief explanations of trains, sailboats, autos, etc are woven into the story. And since these books were written around the 1930s, it’s a fun little history lesson, too, because traffic laws for Policeman Small are much different than what we know today.  The illustrations are simple and charming. We have been enjoying these books immensely, and I’m tucking them away as Christmas present ideas.



July 6, 2009 by ponderer  
Filed under Grace for Life, Positive Parenting, Teaching


On Mothers’ Day earlier this year I heard Colin Buchanan, singer/songwriter and one-time Play School presenter, pay tribute to his mum. He described a carefree childhood in which all his needs were met, and said that it was only when he became an adult and parent himself that it dawned on him just how much his mum had been doing and how hard and constantly she had worked to give him the happy, healthy and secure childhood he’d enjoyed. He likened being a kid to being on a holiday cruise, in which food automatically appears at regular intervals, as do clean clothes every day, and a warm bed each night. Entertainment too, and activities were organised for him, so he remained oblivious to the fact that there was a very busy Engineer, his mum, powering the cruise, making it all happen, and putting heaps of energy into maintaining the voyage.

Kids are supposed to enjoy childhood. I’m glad Colin recognised the efforts expended for his sake. But I wonder whether many C21st mums and dads would be entirely happy with that model? Do I really want to be Captain, Engineer, Cook, Launderer, Cleaner and Entertainment Officer rolled into one, and is it even possible? It would take the skill of a Cirque de Soleil juggler to keep all those balls in the air. And where is the enjoyment for the parent?

I prefer the analogy of the Wheel of Parenting, where the spokes are all those functions and facets of what you do, but where there is a central role that keeps it all going. The Hub is the single most important job you have – to develop a loving, connected relationship with your kid. All your other roles are secondary, but they radiate out from this Hub of Connection, and depend upon it, really. It won’t matter if some of the spokes get damaged, or go missing – the Wheel will still roll.

Kath Kvols, writer of  the Redirecting Children’s Behaviour parenting course suggested a daily mechanism to keep the Hub in good order. With a nod to Dorothy L Briggs’ idea of Genuine Encounter she has coined the anagram GEM,  Genunie Encounter Moment. GEMs are short interactions of authentic connection – precious indeed, because they almost magically infuse a parent/child relationship with joy and wonder and solidarity.

Some parents already use this mechanism without having been taught, and find that the resulting closeness makes everything easier as a parent.

But let me tell you how it works. Your child rushes up to you wanting you to respond to something he’s just gotten excited about. Normally you are on auto-pilot, smile briefly, say “That’s great!” and get on with what you’re doing. A GEM is a bit different. This is what you do:

  1. You get on your child’s physical level by crouching down, or sitting together or lifting him up to your lap. Take his hand, or stroke his arm or back gently.
  2. You make good eye-contact with your child, and soften your face into a friendly, loving gaze.
  3. You listen intently to whatever he is saying. Push out of your mind your internal “To Do” list, adult agenda or preoccupying anxieties and tune yourself into what is going on for your little one. What is the expression on his face? Amazement? Wonder? Okay, imagine what that feels like, and let yourself share it a little.
  4. Now that you are interested, and can see how important it is to your child, express your shared enthusiasm, or ask a couple of interested questions. But you don’t want to put on your teaching hat too quickly and take over the conversation with a lot of information. It’s your child’s moment – and you are there to enjoy it with him.
  5. Enjoy the glow of mutual love and connection!

Yes, it takes some more energy initially, but this is a FAST way of making your child feel loved, valued and secure. GEMs help your kids feel affirmed and noticed, so their need to get your attention in negative ways decreases. Your energy levels will rise as you enjoy your child and remember what it’s all about. By focusing on your child and meeting their emotional needs for connection you are actually taking care of yourself at the same time. It takes only a few minutes to have a GEM, yet the positive effects last for ages.

Best of all, GEMs help create the kind of connected relationship we parents want with our kids. It ennobles your role as a parent. You are not just an Engineer, constantly busy fulfilling a relentlessly repeating set of tasks. You are a person developing an ongoing relationship with another unique person – your child. No-one else can connect with your little one in a more significant way than you.

So, several GEMs a day keeps the parenting blues away, and keeps the Wheel of Parenting rolling on track. Oh, and they work just as beautifully with partners too!