Tag Archives: children

Four Great Christmas Books for Young Children

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

I have a big red bin full of books I pull out only during Advent and Christmas time. It includes silly ones about melting snowmen, and a couple of those touchy-feely Usborne books for toddlers, but it also includes a few beautiful stories. Of course, like everyone, we love The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but these are a little lesser known. Here are my favorite books I read with my kids during this season.

Song of the Stars. This Sally Lloyd-Jones beauty is one of my favorite books ever. With beautiful illustration by Alison Jay, it is similar to SLJ’s Jesus Storybook Bible (which has a WONDERFUL telling of Jesus’s birth, by the way) on keeping Jesus at the center of the season, and emphasizing his saving of us all, not just his birth. The story begins with the tangible excitement of his coming, rustling through the leaves and being sensed by all of nature, this gift that would change the world.

Room for a Little One. This one is a toddler book, but it’s so sweet. My kids have loved naming the animals as we go through it, and seeing Jesus’s birth from the perspective of those unsuspecting characters. It’s by Martin Waddell.

Birds of Bethlehem. Now THIS is a neat book, by Tomie de Paola. We see the story of Jesus’s birth from some birds in and around Bethlehem. They are chattering away, sharing stories about how a baby has been born, angels sang, shepherds and wise men visited, and what it all means.

The Gift of the Magi. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this story by O. Henry. A beautiful telling of a couple who have nothing to give to each other, but end up showing their love by giving everything. The version I have is illustrated by P. J. Lynch, and is simply stunning. I can’t read it without crying.

What are the most treasured Christmas books in your family?

God Knows Best

This piece originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

My four-year-old just lost his first tooth. At age four. As the second “dentally precocious” child we’ve had, I wasn’t quite as surprised as I might’ve been, but still… I had some feelings of “Already?!”

As an adult, I’ve noticed that there have been SO many milestones – graduations, weddings, births, etc. – that I’ve come across for myself and for family and friends. But there have also been little, seemingly insignificant “milestones” that have almost passed me by. For instance, the loss of a first tooth seems like a big thing, right? Well, what if it’s your second child? You still give the money from the tooth fairy, and you still take a picture of that first hole in his mouth. But does it feel as crazy as your oldest child’s first tooth being gone?

Each and every new little landmark that we pass as a family has been hitting me… HARD. We just stopped using diapers with our youngest. I’ve been crying about how I probably won’t have any more babies but I’m SO FREE without a diaper bag. Our oldest is reading pretty darn well on her own, and while that’s a huge milestone to her first grade teacher, it didn’t feel huge until I realized she was reading bedtime stories to her brothers with no problem. Is my job all done there? Even her homework has been throwing me for a loop – since when do first graders have homework where they need my iPad for half an hour to accomplish it?!

I know, I know… I’m being dramatic, and I don’t even have those postpartum hormones to blame. But some days, every new, however small, display of independence from my kids has me reeling – I want them to need me. Heck, I’m 32 years old and I need someone to guide me. I want to show them that independence is good, and necessary, and we will happily celebrate it! But a little dependence on a parent who has been around the block, cares for you deeply, and can help guide you? This is not to be ignored.

You see, I need a little leading from Holy Spirit sometimes. I need a little nudge here and rebuke there. How else will I grow more and more into a person who looks even a little like Jesus? I need a little boost of courage, of “I’ve got you” as I try out something new. I need a rebuke when I slip into my old ways. I need a guiding presence as I navigate waters I’ve never sailed. How best can I show these weaknesses and strengths to my children as I raise them?

God, only you know how to do this best. Only You can allow me to lead when they need guidance, push when they need propelling forward, let them flourish when they’re walking right where they should, and yes, knock them down a peg when they’re… being stinkers. But with Your guidance, I can guide them. This isn’t the blind leading the blind, you know. This is a mama, doing her best to follow her Father in His footsteps as I lead my littles on their way, too.

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! The pickin’s are a little slim this week, but let’s just say it’s because I’ve been more “in the moment” and not because I’ve been horrible at writing things down. Okay? Okay. Enjoy the ones I’ve got!

D: I went to da docker (doctor).
Me: Oh really? What did he say?
D: My name. My brown name.
Me: …oh…

EK: I’m really smart. I can do a puzzle in one minute or ten.

J, standing still against the wall: I look just like a picture!

D, having unbuttoned his whole shirt: Mama, my shirt is broken!

Me, post-workout: My butt is so sore!
J: That’s because you’re sitting on my foot!
Me: …….

J, telling me something I absolutely already know and probably told him myself: Mom! Did you know that…. (fill in the rest with a fact everyone knows)?!?!?!

What are your kids saying these days?!

They’re getting so big…

Sometimes, just the briefest outpouring of words is worth sharing.

I glimpsed my middle child on the monitor last before I went to bed. He wasn’t making any noise, but I always turn the screen on to take a peek before I fall asleep. I was taken aback by how big he looked, how much of the bed was covered by the body I can still pick up and snuggle so tightly. He still fits in the crook of my arms when he’s still enough to cradle. But he’s getting so big…

My youngest asked me relentlessly to hold him yesterday. I was constantly picking him up, switching him from hip to hip, trying to convince him he was too big to hold for that long. Deep down, I actually loved that he needed me a little more than usual. I know it won’t be long before he’s too busy for me, and too independent to need me. He’s getting so big…

My oldest is smart, brave, and takes care of herself. She can get herself a snack, tie her shoes, and entertain herself for hours if I let her. But last night, she asked me for another song, another snuggle, a longer prayer. I could tell we hadn’t seen each other enough during the day, and she craved a little more attention. I knew she’d be fine if I left her, but I stayed. She’s just getting so big…

Things Toddlers Say 

Happy Tuesday! Summer is almost here! We are preparing for warm weather and sunshine at our house – how about you? Hope the funnies find you well and not too busy as school ends… Enjoy!

First thing in the morning…
D: Hi!
Hubby: Hi!
D: I poop!
Hubby: You sure did…

J: Look at my robots!
Me: How many eyes do your robots have?
J: This ones got a hundred and this one has two!

EK, giving the above plate of food to me: I know that looks like a regular egg, but it’s actually an Australia egg.

EK: ACHOO!
Me: Who sneezed?
EK: It was just a tree outside.
Me: A tree sneezed?
EK: Yeah! How magical is that?!

J: I can’t reach!
Me: Be there in one second!
J: Okay, I’ll count to one. Five, four, three, two, one!

Overheard from the back of the car…
J: We can’t see Jesus because he’s hiding in our hearts.

EK, running up to me, crying: Mom! I falled while we were playing risbeef!
She meant frisbee. And I was trying so hard not to laugh at her pain.

EK got in our bed at 3:00am and after several minutes of no one sleeping…
Me: It’s time to go back and get in your own bed.
EK: Will you carry me?
Me: *picks her up and heads for the stairs*
EK: I just couldn’t sleep because you and Daddy kept moving your legs around.
Me: You know that we didn’t ask you to get in our bed, right?

EK: Ladies and gentlemen! The dangerous volcano is interrupting five minutes! Please stay away so you do not get hurt! Five, four, three, two, one!

J: I found a microbot (from Big Hero 6) on EK’s purse!

When You Wake, I Will Snuggle You. 

I began this post in the middle of the night one night, up with a cranky baby, who eventually fell asleep on my chest, breathing slow and deep in the nursery. I finished it up, and submitted it to a few places, but it was never published on any site but my own.

Life is fleeting.

Children grow quickly. Things happen fast. When you look back, you’re always surprised to see how much has happened.

So when you wake, little one, in the middle of night, I will snuggle you. I’ll be tired; don’t doubt that. It will be hard, at first, to pull my groggy self out of bed. I’ll complain a little. I’ll stumble into your room.  I’ll scoop you up, sniff right behind your ear, and settle into our chair.

It’s the same chair, you know, that I nestled into with your brother and your sister. I’ve spent hours and hours in this chair. The time probably amounts to days or even weeks, actually. But I’m not sad. I’ve loved those moments. Snuggling, nursing, rocking, booty-patting, back-rubbing and snoozing, all done for long, delicious moments with three gorgeous, cuddly, sleeping (or sleepless) babes in this same chair. I knew even then that the moments were numbered. You would not always need me like this. Want me like this.

But times have changed, and in the best way. You are independent. You are doing many things on your own, playing happily alone, communicating with others, asking for what you want, and showing me you aren’t as helpless as you once were. But in the dark of night, waking from your sleep, you cry out. And I hear you. Unsteady and dazed though I may be, I rouse myself from my warm bed, groaning with effort and sleep, and struggle across the hall to your room. When I open the door, there’s just more darkness, but I know exactly where you are. I reach down, and feel your tiny arms reaching for me. You knew I was coming for you, even before I got there.

That’s how we are made, you and I. We know that we’ll find the other, in dark of night, in the depths of our exhaustion. I will find you, love you, snuggle you. No matter how old you get, when you need me, I will come. Regardless of the reason, or direness of need, I will be there when you need me. And for now, when you wake, I will snuggle you.

This post is part of my NaBloPoMo, where I publish a piece every day in November. I brought this one up from the depths of old drafts, and I hope you enjoyed it!

He Could Be My Son. 

Mahmoud Raslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This boy – five years old – having seen more than many children will see in their entire lives, has shocked our country into realizing and responding to the terror and violence wreaking Syria. It might have been easy to turn away from the information we get via television and the internet, when the headlines are often focused on the latest Trump-ism or Bieber folly.  But this photo, this one viral image of a dusty, bloody boy, tiny and scared, in the back of an ambulance, has been burned into my psyche. 

He could be my son. 

He could be a nephew, a neighbor, a classmate. He is all of those things, even if not my own. He is torn from his home by a futile attempt to force Syrian citizens into submission by the radical government regime. All the effort does is harm, maim, and kill. 

He could be my son. 

He could be one of hundreds, thousands. Displaced, alone, wandering. They might be hungry, thirsty, and tired. They are struggling to take even one more step towards just the possibility of freedom. 

He could be my son. 

He could be my very own boy, ripped from me by an air strike. He could be my son, and I could be torn from him by rescuers who can only save a few. He could be my son, my only possession worth saving, and I would die for him a hundred times over. He could be your son, dirtied, bruised, bloodied, scared to death. 

Silent. 

He could be my son. 

Please consider giving what you can to a local and specific relief effort. Here is a short list (there are many more!) of organizations taking donations of any size:

Karam Foundation 

Hand In Hand for Syria

Mercy Corps

Migrant Offshore Aid Station

If you can’t give, do what we can all do: pray.