“When we had taken our leave one of another, we…returned home again.”
PRAYER: Dear Jehovah Shalom—God of our peace—please protect us when we travel!
THOUGHT: Here’s a great “special” for the car (or home), although it’s something you have to put a lot of time and energy into making beforehand, and it’s a gift that you’ll have to supervise so there are no choking hazards.
ACTIVITY: Make your own “pop-up” activity book for Baby. Use a three-ring binder with photo pages and cardboard pages. Photo pages can have pictures of your family and Baby’s favorite friends, places, and toys labeled with one or two word descriptions (to teach vocabulary later). The cardboard pages can have special “to do” things. For example, several could have pretty greeting cards with the backside glued down, so Baby can practice opening and closing a card. One page could have a ribbon securely fastened at one end but left free at the other end with a plastic rattle attached (lower than the bottom of the album…almost like a book mark) so that Baby could play with the ribbon and shake the rattle. Other pages could have bold splashes of a single color (with the name of the color listed), geometric designs such as stripes, plaids, or prints from magazines or off the net, or drawings of your own making. One page could be covered with bubble wrap glued down for Baby to feel. One page could have a square of sandpaper or other intriguing surface. You could have a page of assorted stamps re-glued from old letters, or a page of addresses highlighting the varied handwriting of loved ones who’ve written you…postcards from far and near, or a big envelope with an open flap and a cardboard paper doll (or any other flat picture) that you can take out and put back inside the envelope. Use your imagination and create a learning treasure book for Baby!
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19
PRAYER: Oh Father, I am humbled that you have taken me in as your child and made me a joint-heir with Jesus and part of the family of God. Thank you for Jesus, who is my Messiah—my Savior—and the LORD of my righteousness. Help me to have a humble and contrite heart so that your Spirit will dwell content in me. Please bless Baby, dear Lord. From earliest days, may he also have a contrite heart over sin and faith to believe in our precious Lord so he’s no longer a stranger but a member of the household of God.
THOUGHT: Here’s a game so engaging that after you’ve taught it to Baby, you can teach it to your family as well, and they can use it as an icebreaker to warm Baby up to the idea of playing with them if he makes shy at this stage.
ACTIVITY: Facing Baby, smile, then puff out your cheeks. While Baby is watching, touch your cheeks with your two fingers, and when they touch, immediately suck in your cheeks and stick out your tongue. Then, start to touch your tongue with your finger, but before you actually make contact, stick your tongue back in and puff out your cheeks again. After a couple of rounds, if Baby doesn’t spontaneously reach out and touch your cheeks, help him until he gets the hang of the game. After he’s got the hang of that game and enjoys it, other close friends who know how to play will find Baby willing to be close and interactive very quickly, especially if Baby is securely in your arms or sitting on your lap while the friendly “somebody big” is trying to win his trust.
“And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15 (NKJV)
PRAYER: LORD, you are merciful! Please deliver us from trouble, and help us to glorify you in all we do. No matter what happens, may we understand by faith that you are Love!
THOUGHT: Dependence on television is brain numbing, and active learning always beats passive learning. However, reviewing Baby’s life, especially with an enthusiastic, running commentary by mom and dad, can actually help Baby remember his own early life experiences. Few people have memories of their early childhood. This is called “infantile amnesia” and is thought to come from not knowing speech or having opportunities to review. You can help your child develop “autobiographical memory” by reviewing family videos with him. When you’re watching with Baby, even tell him what you can remember about pregnancy and the early months of his life. Babies are captivated by watching babies, so even before he understands that he is the superstar on the big screen, he’ll give you rave reviews!ACTIVITY: If you have video equipment, consider making a video of Baby doing some special things…maybe visiting his grandparents or the whole family while camping or visiting a zoo or park, or celebrating some special occasions. If you include friends and family in the video, they will especially enjoy watching the video with you, and it could make a truly precious gift to give your relatives. Most of our earliest videos were destroyed, and the only ones we were able to recover were the ones we’d copied and sent to friends. “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy” (Hosea 10:12).
“Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”
PRAYER: Oh, Father, thank you for being like a mother hen to us. Thank you that we can hide under your huge, protective wings, and that when we are falling and need help, you soar under us like an eagle rescuing her baby eaglets! Please bless Baby. Keep us both safely under your wings and as the apple of your eye. Give me supernatural wisdom to protect and care for my child just like you care for me.
THOUGHT: All of us crave affection and attention, and if there’s anybody in the household who’s not afraid to make his needs known, it’s usually Baby! Even if your child is unusually quiet or willing to entertain himself, know that affectionate interaction is always good, so when he does find his way over to you, give him some love!
ACTIVITY: Here’s a variation on the icebreaker I mentioned two days ago. I call it “Robot,” since robots are big in our family! Start by playing the puffing cheeks game, and then when Baby’s comfy with that trick, try changing the contingencies from time to time just to liven things up, such as having your head rock back and forth when he reaches for your tongue, and then stop only when he (or you) touches your face. Or, try having your shoulders move up and down when he touches your head. Try to repeat each contingency until he knows what he needs to do in order to make something happen. Touching your hand can make your arm come up, or touching your chest can make you laugh. If you are consistent, he will have a ball “operating his robot.” When you are ready for the game to be over, you can shake all over like the robot has the jitters and is falling apart, and then tickle him and give him a big hug to signify the end!
“The counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” Proverbs 19:21
PRAYER: Dear Lord, you are our counselor and guide…a friend to sinners and a friend to me! Please bless Baby and me. Help me to listen to your counsel and obey you in all things. May I be a wise counselor to teach Baby the ways of truth and love.
THOUGHT: If you can keep Baby feeling special and channeled even in the midst of a host of strange people, places, and the inevitably upset routines that are part of traveling, most babies will eventually adjust to new surroundings and become happy again. Not only are babies naturally flexible, expanding their life experiences makes them more so. ACTIVITY: Grandma Alma had a tiny rocking horse at her house, that our kids dearly loved to ride. If you can afford a rocking horse (or find one at a garage sale), Baby will definitely be ready to ride! Also, babies who are learning to walk can also learn to enjoy pushing themselves along on tiny cars or other conveyances. Joel had a little train engine with a compartment in the back where he stashed his “silky” (blanket) and Mr. Bun, his plush rabbit. For his first birthday, Aaron got a little riding push car, his “Tomy Car,” with a seat for carrying his favorite blanket. If Baby has a beloved push-along toy, consider bringing it with you the next time you visit family (if you’ve got the room)! Or, if the relatives have such a toy to share, so much the better! A rocking horse or riding toy gives Baby lots of freedom and opportunities for approval, although it will also put a burden on you to become her angelic guardian, since no house is baby-proofed like your own.
“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.”
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for joying over me with singing. May Baby and I make melodies in our hearts and sing of our joy in you too!
THOUGHT: If you are blessed with a piano, keyboard, or other musical instrument in your home, be sure to let Baby hear you play it, and let him play some with you. Not only are most of the greats (in any field) exposed from earliest childhood to that which later made them great (Mozart made court appearances to perform on the harpsichord by age three), there is also a proven correspondence between music and math skills!
ACTIVITY: How about giving Baby his very own toy xylophone? Xylophones for babies come with brightly colored keys and a plastic drumstick (a wooden spoon from the kitchen works as well). The toy is extremely sturdy, and Baby can make music immediately just by hitting the keys. If you have some time to play with Baby, have a little singing lesson at the same time. When he hits a note, sing that note with him. Pick a verbalization you know he already knows, such as “Ba.” See if you can get him to hit the same pitch. This game can also by played (without the xylophone) in the car when he’s looking for some entertainment. Try singing a note and then going up and down the scale, singing the same syllable: “Ba, ba, ba, ba…” See if you can get Baby to sing the same pitch. If he’s really good, he may at some point develop his own little song, such as Aaron did when he was two: “Angels are internal!” Since his daddy was an internal medicine resident at the time, I liked Aaron’s version almost as well as the version I suspect he intended. Internal and eternal do, after all, sound very much alike!
“You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried out to you.”
Psalm 31:22 (NKJV)
PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for being our deliverer and the “consolation of Israel.” You are my consolation as well! Thank you for hearing me when I cry out to you. Please bless Baby. May your spirit brood over him and bless him with peace and a supernatural awareness of your wonderful omnipresence, even though he’s too little to really understand you. Truly, I am too little as well! Please help both Baby and me to rest quietly in your care, just like King David: “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother; my soul is even as a weaned child” (Psalm 131:2).
THOUGHT: Sometimes the especially loved baby can get over-handled and overtired, because even loving attention can sometimes be “too much of a good thing.” Aaron was extremely extroverted and really enjoyed people generally, but no baby is a match for the affections of an entire family of doting relatives on a vacation. Keep your heart and ears always tuned to hear Baby and help him when he needs you!
ACTIVITY: Although T.V. shouldn’t be used as a babysitter, there are a few worthwhile videos available that are great quiet time, hands off sorts of activities. If Baby and parents are both worn out, try one of the beautiful nature videos with delightful visuals and good music that will captivate Baby’s attention and take his mind off his troubles. Five or ten minutes in a walker in front of the television with soothing music and pictures could be a great way to relax and refresh a sick or tired tyke. (I’ve since been told that children under a year old simply should not be exposed to videos of any kind. None of my older kids were. Check the most recent theory with your pediatrician.)