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  1. Select an age-appropriate book.
  2. Curl up together on the couch, bed, or another comfy spot.
  3. Open the book and read.

I will be honest and admit that I don't remember reading to my daughter much when she was small. I was busy. I worked all day, and I came home tired. By bedtime, I just wanted to be quiet and go to sleep; so if I read a book at all, it was one quick bedtime story and then lights-out and good-night.

But as I pursued my degree in Elementary Education, I learned there are many good reasons to spend time reading books to our children. If I had those years to do over, I would make more time to read to my daughter, and I would make more effort to enjoy and appreciate reading to her when she was young.baby-316214_1280

Why we should read to children:

  1. Children learn language by hearing language. Small children who are read to develop greater vocabularies, learn to read more easily, and generally do better in school. Children who are read to develop an appreciation for reading and are more likely to enjoy reading later in life. Children learn how books and words work by turning pages and following text. They learn to process ideas, explore, ask questions, and find the answers to their questions by thinking about the words they hear.
  2. Children learn about relationships by spending time with adults. Reading together can be a special, cozy time of sitting close and being the center of another's attention. Spending time with adults makes children feel safe and secure and helps maintain those close relationships for the future. Reading together is a time to appreciate being a family and being present with each other. It is time to have fun, laugh, talk, ask questions and share ideas.
  3. Children learn about the world through books. Television channels and computer screens don't teach children to think critically, form opinions, ask questions, or consider possibilities. Reading encourages children to use their own imaginations and question information. Children learn how to talk with adults through active conversations, and they learn about the world from adults who share their experiences.

Moms can make a few preparations to help make reading together part of the regular routine.

Build a library. Children's books are inexpensive at thrift stores, yard sales, and library book sales. Buy as many as your house will hold.

Use the public library for greater variety. Help children get their own library cards and select their own books from the children's section.

Don't stop when they're too big to sit on your lap. Older children can enjoy reading chapter books with their parents, too. Continue spending reading time together and talk about the stories you read.

img_0705When I ask my daughter now, she remembers reading Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. In this classic, Max learns that exploring the world alone is not much fun, and he is happy to be home where he is loved and dinner is waiting on the table.

 

I have also learned to appreciate the home and love that are waiting for me at the end of a busy day.

Other favorite books include:img_0707

 

 

 

 

 

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How do you enjoy reading with your children? What are your favorite books to read together?

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Sometimes single moms need to be reminded how awesome they really are. Here are ten reasons single moms are amazing:

#10. Single moms have a sense of humor. We can laugh at ourselves and find joy in small happy moments and the funny things our children say.

#9. Awesome single moms are role models. We want to set a good example for our children, so we take responsibility for our choices and work hard to choose the right path for our future.

#8. Single moms are selfish (sometimes). We know we have to take care of ourselves to have the energy to take care of others, so we need to maintain good health, adequate rest, and strong faith.

#7. Single moms are curious. We want to know more about the world and our place in it, so we are always questioning, always seeking, always exploring, and always learning.

#6. Single moms are creative. We know we have to find original solutions to our problems, so we use our imaginations to find new approaches and new ideas.

#5. Great single moms are resourceful. We use our intuition to look at the world in new ways, try new things, and find new ways to succeed.

#4. Single moms are resilient. We may face disappointments and set-backs, but we get up and try again because we know we have to keep moving forward for our families.

#3. Single moms are honest. We tell ourselves and others the truth about our needs, our expectations, and our dreams for the future.

#2. Inspiring single moms are grateful. We feel privileged to be raising such amazing, awesome children, so we are thankful for all the wonderful gifts God provides.

And the #1 trait of amazing single moms is:

We love our children and always want to do what is best for our families.

Keep being an amazing single mom!

What qualities would you add to the list? How do you know you are an amazing single mom?

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I said good-bye at the door of my daughter's kindergarten classroom and headed for the parking lot; but when I looked back, my daughter came running after me, shrieking down the hallway. Her dad and I had just divorced, and my daughter and I were both going through a period of separation anxiety.

The school counselor suggested I allow my daughter to bring something from home, something small and unobtrusive she could wear or keep in a pocket, something to remind her of the loving adults who would still be there for her at the end of the day.

locket-1141737_1920-1In my dresser drawer, I found an old, gold-tone locket necklace, and I put tiny pictures of her dad and me inside. My daughter wore that locket every day of kindergarten, and she stopped chasing me, crying, through the hallways when I dropped her off at school.

Some kids carry teddy bears or old blankets to remind them of home and help them feel secure. Most kids outgrow carrying their security objects around all day.

But many adults still have security objects that we keep near to see and touch. Sometimes we all need a physical connection to our invisible sources of strength and love. img_0503

When I was feeling particularly anxious and insecure, I found my old Cowardly Lion doll and stood him on my dresser to remind me to have courage and keep moving. I hoard quilts that hold memories of special people. I will never part with the Taz doll my husband won for me at the amusement park game stall. And lately, I've started carrying this smooth river stone to remind me of the strength and solidity of God's presence.

img_0640I know all these lockets, dolls, and stones don't hold any special powers. They are not lucky charms, and they possess no magic spells. Our touchstones are merely tangible reminders of the love and safety available to us and the special people who give us comfort and peace.

On first grade picture day, I pulled from the dresser drawer that old, golden locket, now tarnished and tangled. I asked, "Do you want to wear this today?"

My daughter shrugged.

Lockets and stones can never take the place of the love they represent, and once we become secure in that love, the reminders become merely reminders again.

My daughter moved on to wearing necklaces she and her friends made out of safety pins. But I still have that Cowardly Lion doll.

What security objects do your children treasure? What are your own tangible reminders of love?

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The morning was still fairly dark when I walked my daughter to the school bus stop outside our apartment building. All the kids from the apartment complex milled around the parking lot, next to dumpsters and discarded furniture. We shivered in the autumn air. The rising sun glared brilliantly off the frost on the car windshields. When my daughter climbed on board and the bus pulled away, I walked to work through the morning chill with my hands in my pockets and my nose sniffling.

Fall is the foreshadowing of winter. The early darkness and cooling air warn us of the chill and stillness to come. Every fall I feel a sense of drawing in and settling down. I want to feel cozy, to curl up and cocoon; not to avoid the dark and cold, but to enjoy the promise of comfort and warmth.

In preparing for the icy days and nights ahead, I've found a few ways to enjoy and appreciate the changing season:

baby-1331996_1920Make the most of the last nice days by wearing sweatshirts and jackets to play at the park.

Look for free and low-cost indoor entertainment. My daughter and I enjoyed the warm and humid Botanical Center where we stood under the banana trees and counted the geckos clinging to the leaves.

Dig the warm pajamas out of storage, put sleeping bags on the living room floor, and enjoy a slumber party movie night. Make popcorn and use flashlights for lighting.

Buy extra flashlight batteries for possible winter power outages. Check and change batteries in all home smoke detectors.

Bake cookies. Let children help. child-221042_1920

Buy extra shelf-stable food so we're not traipsing to the grocery store during winter storms. I stock up on condensed milk, peanut butter, dry cereal, cans of chili and soup.

Make homemade chili and soup. Try this taco soup recipe.

Buy extra over-the-counter pain reliever and cough medicine so I'm not dragging a kid with a cold to the store in frigid weather.

Have the car's oil changed. Check and rotate tires. Replace wiper blades and fill washer fluid.

Buy extra socks for everyone in the household. Save a couple of pairs to make sock snowmen, following a Youtube tutorial.

Trace fallen leaves onto red, orange, and yellow construction paper. Cut out the shapes to decorate the apartment windows and walls.

Then curl up on the couch together, pull up the blanket or quilt, and snuggle in luxurious warmth. Talk about the autumns and winters, springs and summers of our childhoods. Appreciate this gift of time to connect, be present, and talk quietly.

I hope you all enjoy a cozy, comfortable evening together before resting through the long, cold night and then seeing them off to school in the morning.

How do you enjoy the changing season? How do you prepare for the cold weather ahead?

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The stroller felt heavier with every turn. I paused at the curb, hauled the stroller around in a U-turn, and headed back toward the fence and the trees. Four toddlers in coats and stocking caps looked where I pointed and listened to my constant chatter.

"Look at the pretty trees. The leaves are turning orange and red."

"Watch the rabbit run under the fence. Rabbits run fast."

"Wow, this stroller is heavy, and the world is so big."

Back and forth, push and pull, I propelled the stroller up and down the sidewalk because my training in early childhood education had taught me that all children learn from experiences like this. The four toddlers were learning language from hearing my voice describe the trees, rabbits, and the great, wide world. They learned about the sensations of the cool breeze and the sound of cars passing on the street. As an early childhood teacher, I wanted the kids in my care to be always learning.

parents-sons-966044_1920Choosing a daycare provider for your child is an important decision. Every mom wants to know her baby is safe, learning, and loved. Look for childcare center teachers and in-home care providers who:

 

  1. Answer all your questions, understand your concerns, and encourage parents to visit the home or facility at unplanned and various times throughout the day.
  2. Maintain good communication with daily reports about how children ate, slept, and played.
  3. Do not confine infants and toddlers to cribs or bouncy seats; but instead allow infants and toddlers space to move freely, play on the floor, and explore the environment. baby-84552_1920
  4. Provide outdoor play spaces and scheduled play times so toddlers and older children can run, jump, swing, and climb in safe and supervised areas.
  5. Do not stand around gossiping or checking their cell phones; but instead understand that children learn from being actively engaged with adults and their peers.
  6. Plan rewarding learning opportunities: read stories, sing songs, lead art and craft projects, and encourage children to question and explore.
  7. Take infants outdoors in strollers or wagons to describe the scenery and enjoy the blue sky. child-953703_1920

Most importantly, always trust your instincts when selecting a childcare provider. Choose the center or provider that feels the most loving and interested in your child. Look for teachers and providers who enjoy spending time with children, seem happy to see your child every morning, and express a willingness to work with parents as part of a childcare team.

Check out these websites for more suggestions on choosing a quality childcare provider: Parents.com, and Healthychildren.org.

I remember those years I spent pushing that stroller as a time of learning for me, too. I learned that children hear and remember much more than we realize. I learned that fall trees look beautiful in the early morning sun, sidewalks are wide and uneven, the world is enormous and awesome, and I am never too old to feel small.

What do you look for when choosing a childcare provider? How did you know when you found the right one?

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