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Copy of Simple Steps to De-Stress Your Morning Routine

Here is our final guest article we are celebrating for the month of February, brought to us by Daniel Sherwin at ! We could ALL use a little morning de-stress and are grateful for a dad who is on the ball!!!

For some reason, mornings tend to be busy and maybe even a little bit chaotic. You can make them easier by creating a morning routine that gets everyone up and out with as little chaos as possible. When you’re ready for the day, you’re ready to take on whatever life throws your way, including a temper tantrum or two. Here are tips to help you:




Making the Most of Rainy Days

To continue kicking off the month of February with guest posts and parenting resources, here is another amazing article about how to keep our kids' screen time productive during this rainy, cold season! Visit Jenny Wise at for more creative ways to parent!

Do you find yourself pulling your hair out every time a storm rolls in? Between sports, trips to the park, and running around the neighborhood with friends, we’re pretty good at keeping our kids active and busy when the weather is nice. But despite their treasure trove of toys and gadgets, our kids inevitably end up driving us crazy with complaints of boredom every time it’s too cold or rainy to go outside — or worse, they spend their day in front of the TV or latest video game console, and we get major parental guilt.

There’s no reason that rainy days need to be a waste or put your sanity at risk. But if you’re going to keep everyone happy when they’re stuck indoors, you’ll need to plan ahead. These are some favorite activities for rainy, snowy or otherwise blah days.

Coding games

Today’s kids seem to come out of the womb knowing how to use smartphones, tablets, computers and every other tech innovation that hits the market. And as parents, we’re in a constant battle to limit screen time and persuade our kids to do something other than play video games. But what if computer games could teach our kids valuable skills?

That’s the idea behind Scratch and ScratchJr, a pair of free apps that introduce kids to computer programming by letting them create interactive animations, stories, and games. Created by MIT, Scratch is more than fun  — it’s a way to foster creativity, logical thinking and basic programming concepts in children.

Online music lessons

Nothing beats the way kids’ faces light up when they’ve learned to play a new song. But playing an instrument isn’t just great for kids’ self-esteem, according to Time magazine, it also boosts their brain power and improves school performance. Rather than chauffeur your kids to yet another extracurricular, sign them up for online music lessons so they can learn and practice from the comfort of home. The only downside is that you have to listen to their trials, so you might want to skip the big brass instruments and drum sets in favor of something quieter.

Of course, you’ll need to buy an instrument before signing up for lessons. While there are a lot of cheap student models on the market, many are of such low quality that they never sound quite right. Rather than buying the cheapest instrument you can find, consider renting or buying a higher-quality instrument secondhand to give your child a chance to fall in love with the hobby. Music & Arts points out, “If you buy an instrument, you’ll have to decide whether to go new or used. Either way, the instrument needs to be easy to play, durable, repairable, and have a warranty.”

Geography Games

Your kids can become world travelers from the comfort of home with some creative geography games. You can make up your own game by letting kids choose a country on the map and then sending them on a quest to answer a list of questions you’ve devised. Depending on your children’s ages, you might ask them to look up basic details like the capital city, spoken languages, and greetings. Or, for older kids, have them uncover details of the country’s founding and explore its roadsides using GeoGuessr. If you don’t have the time to devise your own geography scavenger hunt, you can find a list of great geography-themed games online at Kid World Citizen.

It’s not easy to avoid screen time on dreary days, especially when you have things to get done. But screen time doesn’t have to mean wasted time. With a little legwork on your end, you can keep your kids’ brains growing with fun and educational online activities like these.



(Image via Unsplash )



Building Words

     When our son first came to us, we basically didn't understand anything he said. What we had lovingly referred to as "Mush Mouth" turned into issues that made it nearly impossible to decipher his limited words, leading to several years of speech therapy. However, 6 years later and we are still struggling to understand what our child is talking about... but this time we found out that it is because of limited vocabulary, poor reading comprehension, and struggles with his working memory. Language therapy is now the new prescription, on top of the numerous other therapies and techniques we've been told to work into his weekly routine.

     Quite frankly, it can be daunting to look at his schedule of doctor's appointments, medications, evaluations, and therapies... and if I'm daunted, I can only imagine how my son feels at age 12! So when I was contacted by a sweet woman from and she presented me with a way to practice his language and verbal skills in a fun, less intimidating way, I was all in! And that's why I wanted to share this activity with you, too. Maybe you have a youngster with learning disabilities, speech/language therapy, reading difficulties, etc. Maybe you're looking for a way to spend quality time connecting to your child by using a bit of education (because who doesn't like to kill two birds with one stone, right?) If this is you, I encourage you to try this activity and take a look at some of the other game-based learning lessons their website has to offer.

    You never know when a little bit of learning could turn into a little bit of fun as well!


Building Words


Building Words.jpg

It’s a game . . . it’s phonics practice – no, it’s Building Words! If your youngster has a hard time remembering key vocabulary words, help him learn in style with a game that is as fun as it is educational. Change up the themes to accommodate holidays and family events to create a game that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

What You Need:

  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Colored pencils
  • Scratch paper
  • White board
  • Timer

What You Do:

  1. Help your child cut out squares from the construction paper. The squares should all be about the same size, but the actual dimensions don’t matter. Just make sure that the squares are at least bigger than a square inch.
  2. Use a pen to write one consonant letter on every paper square. Each consonant in the alphabet should be written at least once.
  3. Decide if this round of Building Words will have a theme. Themes can be inspired by the current season or an upcoming holiday -- even a favorite movie!
  4. Encourage your child to decorate the paper squares with the colored pencils. Remind him to keep the theme in mind as he colors.
  5. Shuffle the squares together.
  6. Give your child five of the squares, a sheet of scratch paper and a pencil.
  7. Write down one vowel.
  8. Start the timer. Your child has one minute to write down as many words as possible using the consonants on his squares and the vowel on the board.
  9. When the timer goes off, tell your child to set his pencil down.
  10. Look over the words he wrote down and correct any possible spelling issues. Ask him to tell you what each word means.
  11. Count up his score, awarding one point per word. He also gets a point for each correct definition.
  12. For themed rounds, award an extra point for words that relate to the theme. That means he can earn up to three points from a single word.
  13. To play another round, hand out five new squares and write down a new vowel.

Building Words is even more fun as a group game! Invite the whole family to take part in a round. For bigger groups, just create more consonant squares.




An Everlasting Fugue

I’m currently sitting at my computer, fluffiest cat in my lap chewing on a hole in my jeans, while I pick my nails and rigorously assess my hair for split ends. This is what my writing process has come to. The dos and don’ts of what can and cannot be shared, the ever-increasing desire for privacy from my children as they age, legalities regarding Isaac and the child welfare system… these are the things that paralyze my writing – my very need to release has been hushed. There are so many thoughts swirling about my mind, preventing me from putting pen to paper, that I fear I will be bald and fingernail-less within the hour! So please, bear with me.

My husband said it best yesterday when he referred to our oldest two as the Mozart and Beethoven of nonsensical arguments. I’ll forgive him for the misquote due to his lack of composer knowledge… because obviously my kids are more like Bach. A schizophrenic Bach who got stuck in an endless loop of fugues, creating chaos while feeding off the other’s energy. Their composition is entitled Cameron and Taylor – An Everlasting Fugue. These two children are, in a sense, The Song That Never Ends. (At least Shari Lewis gets to rest in peace, unlike those of us living in my home.)

It’s to the point that even the three-year-old recognizes the disparities, both social and intellectual, between himself and his siblings. He regularly tells them to stop arguing and to “Quit acting like babies!” He reiterates that he already told them something ten times and, because I know he is my child, when they continue to ignore his directions he puts his arms in the air with a flourish and yells “I’m done!” before stomping away. (I swear it’s like looking in a mirror!)

But what Wyatt fails to understand at his young age is that Cameron and Taylor are stunted. Taylor remains under close watch and with limited freedom due to her extreme need to have the adults in her world enforcing moment by moment safety measures over her. This confuses Wyatt, as well as many of those close to us. When others look at her, they see a beautiful, vibrant 10-year-old. What they miss is the overwhelming need my daughter has to love and be loved in the only way she was shown as a young girl – a way that was traumatizing and abusive.

Even with Cameron, Wyatt constantly yells at him to stop being mean. And just like the regressed, overgrown toddler that Cameron is, he continues to instigate and torment, despite the consequences. But this week was a difficult one for him, both physically and emotionally. Not only did he have a kidney relapse after over-exerting himself on a youth group retreat, he also had his neuropsychological testing done. Whereas we haven’t received the results back from the 3.5-hour test, it was evident by the looks on both Cameron’s and the doctor’s faces that our follow-up appointment will be one that is lengthy. If that weren’t enough, on our way home from this exhausting test, we had no choice but to pass the town where Cameron lived before being adopted.

I do my best to avoid certain towns and neighborhoods with my children, but there are times when there is NO other route and the memories just start flooding. This was the case with my son as we drove home in silence from the doctor’s office. It was as if he couldn’t handle the thoughts in his head and they had to come out. As he spouted story after story, feeling after feeling, he made a statement that I’m still trying to process days later. He said that he has these feelings and thoughts that take over and he can’t stop thinking about them until he acts on them – things that make him want to do things that are dangerous, harmful to others, and scary. He admitted to actions that I had no idea about, things that he had previously kept hidden or blamed on others.

Ok, these are the moments that make you question becoming a parent, let’s be honest! There are days where I just sit there and wonder if I’m harboring future predators and serial killers (this increases the nail biting and hair picking by about a million percent) and then there are other days when I remind myself that it is RAD, brain damage, learned behavior – that they have a therapist, mostly sane parents, and a very big God. Those are the days that I remember to breathe as I push thoughts of felonies from my mind.

And then there’s Isaac. The sweet boy who is quickly fading under the perpetual weighty exposure of drugs, abuse, sex, and instability. With each new update on his condition, each failure of the police or CYS to rescue him, each broken Christmas toy and returned birthday gift – I am devastatingly aware that he was the one that was left behind. Cameron and Taylor were saved, even if it may have been too late. But Isaac is just a number – a statistic of gross negligence from society who wants to be helped but is quickly learning that help will not come. At least not for him. However… his smile is still a sight to behold. When I catch a glimpse of a new picture and see a hint of the twinkle that I remember so well, I feel a warmth spread through my soul. He is not a number to me.

So, on those days that my kids are fugueing up my very last nerve, I choose to remember the moments that have been special – like when Cameron thought Wyatt was having hallucinations because he was talking to himself (aka, using his imagination), or when Taylor asked us at kids’ church to pray for all the children who didn’t get cute boots for Christmas like she did, or when Wyatt told me he would be my best friend forever if I gave him some Doritos (followed by screams that I’m a “bad girl” because I didn’t give him Doritos), or when I think of Isaac’s belly laugh, the one that will never leave my mind, even though I’m sure he would wreak just as much havoc as the others if he were here with us today!

Despite the nonsensical arguments, the nail biting, and the split end picking, there is a beautiful and slightly distorted, off-key composition taking place in our home. Whether it’s a day of putting in ear plugs or choosing to sing along to the chaos, I know that our music will continue to grow and change – our everlasting fugue.



Finding Hope: Parenting Children With Trauma


Finding Hope: Parenting Children With Trauma

Ok, so apart from realizing that I stand with my legs too far apart and that my outfit was put together by a blind elephant from the 1990's -- I mean, once we get past all that, some of you may enjoy hearing my break-out session from the Imagine Conference in Pittsburgh. I was blessed to be given the opportunity to speak on raising children with trauma and how that effects our day to day lives as parents.

If anything, I hope you can relate, have a good laugh, cry, and remember that you are not weak because you can't "fix" your kiddos. You are strong because you have survived another day and still get up again to start the day all over. It's conferences like these that remind me how many of us there are and that together, we can move mountains.

God bless and enjoy!