Category Archives: Baby Pictures

Chocolate-on-the-Face Mousse…Guaranteed to Please

chocolate-on-the-faceWhen our kids were little, we had a secret password. Whenever someone knocked on our bedroom door, Alan would call out, “What’s the password?” If the child answered, “Chocolate on the face,” Alan would tell them they could come in, on the theory that any kid with chocolate on his (or her) face probably belonged to us.enjoying-chocolate-mousse                     Now we’re on to our next generation of chocolate lovers! baby-eating-chocolate-mousseI know I should be passing along healthy recipes for  things that are super nutritious, but given that last Tuesday was Valentine’s Day and today is Alan and my 44th anniversary, I thought it might not be too off side to share my favorite recipe for chocolate mousse, which is actually fairly healthy as far as desserts go, not to mention so elegant that people think it’s difficult to make (although it’s not, at least not the way I do it), and so delicious that kids will definitely end up with chocolate on their faces!

creamy-chocolate-mousseChocolate-on-the-Face Mousse

Boil 1/4 cup white sugar in 1/2 cup water until sugar has dissolved into syrup

Add 18 oz. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate, but dark works well too),
1 stick of butter
, and a pinch of salt. Heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

Beat 4 eggs (yes, I use the whites and the yolks) with an electric mixer until frothy, then add  1 cup heavy whipping cream and whip until soft peaks form.

Slowly add the hot chocolate syrup in a small stream to the whipped mixture, continuing to whip everything together until it’s of one gloriously frothy, consistent texture. Immediately spoon into individual serving dishes and chill thoroughly. You can garnish with more whipping cream and shaved chocolate or fruit, but it’s pretty yummy just by itself! Also, this can be divided into 6-8 servings, depending on how much room you think people will have for dessert.

Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
(Psalm 145:16, speaking of God)

Introducing our Newest Little Miracle from Heaven: Marie

Grandma holds MarieWednesday, I wrote about Miracles from Heaven, but I believe there are miracles happening around us every day if we just stop to think about it. One of those miracles is our fifteenth grandchild, who made her appearance early this month, and this morning I wanted to share just a little bit about her.

Riding the Merry-Go-Round in Spokane WAMarie made her appearance later than anticipated, so I’d already arrived at Jon and Linda’s home, giving me some very special bonding time with their two girls. Making peach pieWe’d taken a motor home trip with them last summer, so Biggest Sister was already excited to see me, but it took Almost Big Sister a bit of time to take me in. Choosing items from a menuFunny how positive you can feel about being accepted as an appropriate mother substitute when it comes time for bathroom toiletries, isn’t it?!  🙂Meeting Baby SisterAt any rate, we had a wonderful time anticipating the arrival,
and meeting little Marie was such a blessing and joy! Newborn sleepingShe’s as pretty as a picture and as sweet as sugar. In the parking lotJonathan brought us over for a first precious visit at the hospital,
and since it was the day before Mama and Marie could really come home, Choosing Donuts with Dadhe then sponsored a birth day party for us, complete with donuts,Birthday Donut one with a candle on top! Watching Doctor check babyWhat a miracle each new child is, don’t you think? Holding Baby sisterWe could never create a baby, and yet, without even knowing how,
babies grow within the womb and come to birth.Back to Sleep It never ceases to amaze me and fill my heart with joy. Life is such a gift! Daddy's girlsWith every child, I think God is saying, “I love you! I love this child.”Taking turns holding new baby“Love this child with me, will you?” Praise God for children!Mother and Newborn BabyLo, children are an heritage of the Lord:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward
” (Psalm 127:3).

Struggling with the Straps

Baby playing with Mother's apron stringsWe had big plans for a double date with Dan and Brianna
to go out for Chicago-style pizza at Crust 54 in Holland (Michigan)
and take Baby Samuel for his first trip to the beach this spring… Baby standing by MamaHowever, Baby Samuel was not on board with the plan!

Baby not happy in car seatIn fact, he’s at that stage where being confined to his baby seat in the car just about tops out his list of least favorite ways to spend a minute, and he spent much of his time during the half-hour trip pulling at his straps, despite Brianna and I trying our best to distract him with songs and games. Baby trying to get straps off in car seatI will say, though, I admire his style! I’ve been with many a toddler who expresses his displeasure by screaming inconsolably at the top of his lungs from onset to offset of any automobile adventure. Samuel never cried at all…just kept pulling at his straps trying to figure out how to get them off. I wondered if his patience was the result of his 97-day stay in the NICU when he was a micro-preemie, or if he’s just blessed with a gentle disposition.

Chicago-style PizzaIn either case, he was eventually rewarded for his longsuffering
with some yummy tastes of pizza Mother with Baby at Holland State Parkand expansive views of more water
than he can probably ever remember seeing before. Baby sleeping in car seatOn the way home, he seemed more content
and let Brianna and me jolly him up much of the time before drifting off to sleep.

Father and Son at Holland State ParkWhat a good boy he is, and I dare say he conserved a lot of energy, since fussing and fuming wouldn’t have gotten him anything but exhausted on the way over to Holland State Park (which is along Lake Michigan; Southwest Michigan was settled largely by devout Dutch, and we are blessed by their faith-based, clean-living, industrious culture), and then he might have slept through all the fun. Baby riding quietly in car seat I would like to be like Samuel…patient in trials. Next time I’m subjected to something that stops my action and forces me to be still for awhile, I will try to remember the example of my grandson, who did everything he knew how to do but was quiet and largely uncomplaining. I’ll try to be content and wait to see what the surprising end of the journey will be.  First trip to Lake Michigan in the spring“Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:5-8).

A Tale of Three Marathoners…from Chicago to Boston…and Back to Home!

Jess and Sam after the Boston MarathonDo you like running? Did you catch any of this week’s Boston Marathon? Boston MarathonI knew someone who was running this year, so I had a keen interest in the race, Baby Cheering her Daddy for the Boston Marathonbut it made me think about three other marathoners whom I admire
even though they weren’t running in the Boston Marathon. Baby with a Hat 1The first one is Jess, whose daughter’s cuteness (Sadie)
has adorned some of my Bless Your Baby entries. Marathon running coupleJess is totally delightful! She’s also a marathoner, and the story goes
that she and her husband, Sam, ran a marathon togetherBride and Bridegroom running a Marathon the morning before they got married. Doesn’t that put a big grin on your face? Baby with a Hat 2 Jess has set aside many of her personal ambitions in order to love her family, Baby on a jet planeand this past week she went with her husband and their little girl to Boston, Ready for the Boston Marathonwhere they cheered Sam on in the Boston Marathon. Way to go, Sam and Jess!! Baby with a Hat 3Life is a marathon, and you’re doing great! Luncheon TableLast week while Alan was at a conference in Chicago, Mom and Baby eatingI spent a blissful afternoon with Jess and Sadie, Sistersalong with two other women who are running a great race in life’s marathon.Green Rice with SaffronThe hostess, Marlene, is an Iranian Christian and always makes the most delectable, exotic meals. Baby with a Hat 4I won’t go into details, Iranean Soupbut the transition from Iran (many years ago) was at great cost to her family, and she still cares for an older brother who was never able to recover emotionally. Baby with Great AuntDespite the trials in her life, Marlene radiates a gentle kindness which makes me (and I suspect everybody else in her life space) feel dearly loved. Baby with her Great AuntShe’s the kind of woman I wish lived next door to me, and I envy her neighbors! Definitely one of those blessed, virtuous woman whose worth is far above rubies.

Lunch PartyMarlene’s sister-in-law is another rare gem. Lillian and her husband are caring for both her brother and her mother…and have been for years (in addition to rearing their own brood, a very demanding medical practice, and being very involved in their Messianic Jewish community, etc!). Baby with a Hat 5Their example of working tirelessly and extending grace to others is mind-boggling to me. I don’t think I had the metal to have lived such a rigorous, unselfish life of putting the needs of others ahead of my own. I know God certainly didn’t test me in that way. Baby with a Hat 6 At any rate, I was deeply touched by the experience of sharing an afternoon of life and love with these precious spiritual kin (same Father and all mothered by my spiritual mentor, Mommu). It was super fun, refreshing, and so encouraging!

Baby with a Hat 7Life is a long, hard marathon, isn’t it?  But, like Sadie, let’s just keep trying,
and in the end, everything will turn out right!    🙂   Baby with a Hat 8“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

P.S.—All the pictures of Jess, Sam, and Sadie (except for the pictures taken on the day of our visit last week) were taken and used by permission of Jess, who is very generous besides being so cool! Thank you!

Bless Your Baby: How to Use this Resource

Bless Your Baby is a resource developed over the years with the hopes of encouraging parents and caregivers to actively seek to bless their children, helping them grow strong physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I have written a prayer, a thought, and a suggestion for interactive play appropriate for each day during an infant’s first year. These ideas were based on my own studies and from keeping diaries during the first year of life for each of my seven children. After my own kids started to grow up and have children of their own, I printed off copies of Bless Your Baby for them, but this past year I updated the thoughts and added pictures, mostly of my grandson Samuel, but including hundreds of pictures from many young friends and family members.

If you’re a new parent—or a caregiver who loves working with infants—I hope you are inspired by perusing Bless Your Baby. If you want ideas for a particular week or month, you can find them by clicking on the following links:

Week 1 (Month 1): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/03/07/bless-your-baby-first-week-first-month/

Week 2: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/bless-your-baby-second-week/

Week 3: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/bless-your-baby-third-week/

Week 4: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/bless-your-baby-fourth-week/

Week 5 (Month 2): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/bless-your-baby-fifth-week-second-month/

Week 6: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/bless-your-baby-sixth-week/

Week 7: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/04/18/bless-your-baby-seventh-week/

Week 8: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/bless-your-baby-eighth-week/

Week 9: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-their-ninth-week/

Week 10 (Month 3): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-10th-week/

Week 11: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-11th-week/

Week 12: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-their-twelfth-week/

Week 13: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-thirteenth-week/

Week 14 (Month 4): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-fourteenth-week/

Week 15: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-fifteenth-week/

Week 16: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-sixteenth-week/

Week 17: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-seventeenth-week/

Week 18 (Month 5): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-eighteenth-week/

Week 19: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-nineteenth-week/

Week 20: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-twentieth-week/

Week 21: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-fifth-month-21st-week/

Week 22 (Month 6): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-22nd-week-sixth-month/

Week 23: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-month-6-week-23/

Week 24: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/08/15/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-month-6-week-24/

Week 25: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-month-6-week-25/

Week 26: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-month-6-week-26/

Week 27 (Month 7): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/09/05/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-month-7-week-27/

Week 28: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/09/12/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-week-28/

Week 29: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/09/19/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-week-29/

Week 30: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-week-30-rolling-grabbing-standing/

Week 31: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-week-31/

Week 32 (Month 8): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-eighth-month-week-32/

Week 33: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-week-33/

Week 34: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-week-34/

Week 35: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-week-35/

Week 36 (Month 9): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-month-nine-week-36/

Week 37: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-week-37/

Week 38: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-the-ninth-month-week-38/

Week 39: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/11/28/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-the-ninth-month-week-39/

Week 40 (Month 10): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-the-tenth-month-week-40/

Week 41: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-the-tenth-month-week-41/

Week 42: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-the-tenth-month-week-42/

Week 43 (Month 11): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-a-ten-month-old-week-43/

Week 44: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-the-ten-month-old-week-44/

Week 45 (Month 11): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/01/23/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-eleventh-month-week-45/

Week 46: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-eleventh-month-week-46/

Week 47: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-eleventh-month-week-47/

Week 48: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-eleventh-month-week-48/

Week 49 (Month 12): https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-twelfth-month-week-49/

Week 50: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-twelfth-month-week-50/

Week 51: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/03/05/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-twelfth-month-week-51/

Week 52: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/bless-your-baby-ideas-for-babys-twelfth-month-week-52/

P.S.—If you enjoy this book and end up taking some cute photographs of yourself and your baby trying out some of the suggested activities, please let me know! If you’d like to have your pictures included in this book, send me copies, and I’ll try to add them in where appropriate.

May God bless you as you bless your baby!

Bless Your Baby: Celebrating the End of Baby’s First Year…And Photo Credits

Mother and Baby365. Celebrating Baby’s Specialness

“In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge.”
Psalm 62:7

PRAYER: Oh, Lord, thank you for being my salvation, my glory, my strength, and my refuge. Truly you are all I need and want…and more than I can even imagine! I love you!

THOUGHT: As you end this year, I want to share something I learned from Jim Turner’s wonderful seminar on Creating Intimacy in Marriage. It’s the AWE principle: keep a spirit of awe in your home. In all you do, may you shower your spouse and children with Affection, Warmth, and Encouragement. Isn’t this just what our precious Lord does for us? He is our haven of salvation, our glory, strength, and refuge. Try to be like him. Try it…you’ll like it. Try it, and your family will love it!

How they've grown!ACTIVITY: Almost one year old! Are you planning a special outing or birthday party for Baby? How about a special event called “Queen (or King) for a Day”? This can be done either by yourself, with your husband too, or with a good friend. Over the course of a relaxed day, try videotaping a minute of each of Baby’s normal activities (or snapping pictures). Ideally, you could include such things sleeping, waking from sleep, being rocked back to sleep, nursing, eating, playing alone or various games with a parent, bathing, walking, swinging, exercising, reading, or whatever routines are part of Baby’s normal day. Be sure to include shots of all family members, favorite toys, views of your home, yard, and car (if you own one), what it looks like out in your neighborhood, your church or other places where you go each week, etc. If you own your own video camera, and Daddy is game, you could take a free day and work on it as a couple. That would be ideal, because then both Mom and Dad could be featured with Baby in your keepsake.

Judah eating cake366. Happy Birthday to Baby!

“Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” Isaiah 44:24

PRAYER: Dear Father, after an entire year of cherishing my new baby, I have such a deeper appreciation for what it means to be able to call you “Father.” Having a child of my own to love and care for makes me understand your perfection…your love, your patience, your protection, your unending desire for my growth and goodness. Thank you for being my father! Thank you for loving me and my family. May each member of our family experience Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith, so that we, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height… and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God! (Ephesians 3:17-19)

THOUGHT: I see that as the book ends, I’m wanting to stuff in all the last minutes bits of wisdom I can think of! When I edited this last piece, my husband and I were attending the Internal Medicine Review and Update at Harvard, and in one of the lectures, the point was made that “Happy moms make for happy children.” This is so simple, but so profound, and I can’t emphasis enough the importance of the mother’s happiness in providing for a stable home environment and being a blessing to your Baby! Marriage is tremendously hard work, and relationships are extremely challenging, but always remember that God created us as social beings and the “messes are worth making!” Never give up working on your marriage and home.

ACTIVITY: Wondering what to get Baby for a birthday present? What about a bird feeder? There are few things any more exciting to babies than little creatures that move and make interesting noises, and birds are among the most graceful and melodious of creatures, so of course they are thrilling to watch! Also, birds outside are relatively carefree…almost “pets without problems.” Consider buying a book with pictures of birds or setting up a bird feeder outside your favorite picture window. Learn about birds yourself, and share Baby’s excitement over these delicate marvels of God’s creativity!

Birthday balloon and Baby367. Now He is One

“O magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together!” Psalm. 34:3

PRAYER: Oh, Father, what can we say? Thank you for this amazing, crazy, impossibly hard and impossibly wonderful year! Life will never be the same. Thank you for all we’ve learned, for all the times you’ve rescued us, for everything…both the pains and the joys. Thank you for your faithfulness. Truly, you are the beginning and the ending. Thank you that with every ending, there is a new beginning. Baby will never be an infant again, but now he will enter the Wonderful World of One and a new chapter in our family’s life. Thank you for giving us this incredible privilege. Truly, you are good. We worship you because you are the great “Amen.” Amen, and amen!

THOUGHT: Have you had a wonderful year? One of the best and hardest in your life? May you be blessed as you go on in your adventure of “training up your child in the way he should go,” and may you find that as a result, when your baby grows up he will not depart from God’s way of truth and goodness! May he be a blessed child and a blessing to all those around him! Amen.

ACTIVITY: Have you given Baby a punch ball yet? A punch ball attached by a sturdy rubber band to Baby’s arm (not too tightly…recheck every little bit) can make a great toy that can’t escape during outdoor play. A helium balloon serves much of the same purpose, but a punch ball is sturdier and can withstand hitting the ground or being rolled upon. But…say…I’m getting ahead of myself. Are you ready for the next book, or are you ready for a break?                                                                        Love to you from me!

Baby Feet“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14

Suggested Reading and Resource List:

Baby Minds: Brain-Building Games Your Baby Will Love, by Linda Acredolo, Ph.D., and Susan Goodwyn, Ph.D.

Baby Play:100 Fun-Filled Activities to Maximize Your Baby’s Potential, by Dr. Wendy S. Masi and Dr. Roni Cohen Leiderman

EnchantedLearning.com

How to Have a Smarter Baby, by Dr. Susan Ludington-Hoe

Teach Your Baby, by Dr. Genevieve Painter

What’s Going on in There?, by Lise Eliot, Ph.D.

What to Expect the First Year, by Arlene Eisenbery, Heidi E. Murkoff, and Sandee E. Hathaway

 

Babies starring in these daily devotional are from the hearts of:
Daniel and Brianna
Seth and Bethany
Daniel and Melissa
Paul and Andrea
Gene and Andrea
Aaron and Carleen
Michael and Grace
Jonathan and Gerlinde
Jessica and Samuel
Jonathan and Juli
Lara and Andrew
Chris and Phil
Lydia and Zack
Marissa Rose and

Thank you, thank you, to each of you for your help and contributions, especially Daniel and Brianna, who never grew impatient and were always ready to help!

Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Baby’s Twelfth Month, Week 52)

Dad reading Bible with Baby358. Establishing a Devotional Habit

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” 1 Timothy 2:8

PRAYER: Oh, Father, please build up our family so that we are steadfast in praying.

THOUGHT: Someone has said that familiarity breeds comfort rather than contempt, and there’s definitely some truth in that. The more positive experiences Baby has at a young age, the more likely she is to enjoy new experiences as she grows up. Also, the more good habits you can establish with Baby in the first year, the better chance she has for establishing and maintaining good habits as an adult. Some of the most important habits you can establish for Baby are regular eating and sleeping patterns, daily cleansing, a sincere faith and trust in God, and regular social outlets. Are you developing all these things in Baby’s life? If so, then rejoice! Your child has great hope for a happy life. If not, please consider evaluating what you need to change in order to make this happen, and pray that God will provide the grace for you to meet this challenge.

Devotional TimeACTIVITY: Are you reading God’s Word and praying with Baby every day? Even if you read her the Scripture verses that come with this devotional and lead him in a short prayer, you are establishing the basis for one of the best habits Baby could ever have! Prayer is an exercise of the soul and spirit and can have a calming effect on the youngest child. In the Christian psychiatric hospital where my husband works, I have seen severely mentally handicapped people become wonderfully peaceful during times of prayer, which convinces me that the Holy Spirit can be powerfully active in the lives of even very young children also.

Puzzle359. Puzzling Prowess

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8

PRAYER: Dear Father, help me to always remember that you always very near to us, even when we can’t perceive you. Help us to draw near to you and seek you with our whole hearts. When we feel distant, please help us to be quick to repent. May your Spirit search our hearts and bring our sins to mind so that we can confess them and ask your forgiveness. Thank you for your promise that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

THOUGHT: Jigsaw puzzles are absolutely great for understanding spatial relationships and solving problems, and they are a significant help in preparing for future mathematical prowess. I’m a firm believer in keeping kids in books and puzzles. Has Baby shown any interest in trying a puzzle yet? If he hasn’t been interested on a day when he’s feeling chipper, try him on a day when he’s tired and just wants to be a lap baby!

Puzzle 2ACTIVITY: Invest in a sturdy wooden board puzzle that has only one or two large shapes with big handles on them so that Baby can pick them up and put them right back in place. Show him how, and if he doesn’t understand, help him! When Baby’s already tired, it might be a great time to do something very simple and obvious which he can learn to do and that will make him feel good about his accomplishment. If you have some extra cash, favorite photos can be made into beautiful keepsake cardboard puzzles (although that’s usually more appropriate when Baby is two or three.) Or, you can make your own simple puzzles by gluing a picture from a magazine or computer onto cardboard and cutting the picture into 2-4 pieces. Let your little puzzler dazzle you!

12-months360. “The Good Life”

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Proverbs 13:22

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us lead very productive, integrated, varied, and social lives. (This was my father’s sincere desire for his kids, and all people, and I definitely think these are good values to embrace!)

THOUGHT: The last book my father, Great Grandpa Lou, ever wanted to write was going to be on The Good Life, and it was to have four chapters based on this thought: “The good life is productive, integrated, varied, and social.” So, as part of his inheritance to you, I am passing down the kernel of his book with a prayer for blessing on you, that you will meditate on the ideas and make them realities in your lives. May you practice adding these values into your life so that you and Baby learn to be productive and fulfilled. May your lives be integrated and blessed with variety and a rich social tapestry.

ACTIVITY: Do you remember my telling you about our friend who wanted us to be teaching our baby the alphabet from his first month? We laughed at the time, but by the time Baby is getting to be a year old, you might be able to start exposing him to letters and numbers (although most children are two before they get very far into being able to recite letters and numbers in order). There are all kinds of ways of highlighting letters. For example, you could have a “Letter of the Week,” and over the course of the coming months, you could introduce Baby to each letter of the alphabet. Take an 8×11 paper and draw a large, simple “A” on it, attaching it to a wall near his crib or high chair. Arrange bits of puffed rice into an A shape on his high chair tray, or make him pancakes in the shape of the letter A. You could use refrigerator magnets to help him recognize the shape, or build an A out of dominoes, legos, or wooden blocks. Draw A’s in the sand or with crayons. Shape the letter A from clay or play dough. Find the “A” wooden block and point it out to him. Most importantly, in all your play, have fun!

Family holding Baby361. Building Love for Your Church

“But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.” Psalm 103:17

PRAYER: Dear LORD, thank you for your everlasting mercy to all who fear you. May I always fear to disobey you, knowing that you will chasten me because you love me, but may I experience that perfect love that casts out fear (I John 4:10) so that I never fear your rejection. Please bless my baby too, Lord. Bless him with your righteousness, and please bless with salvation and goodness all the generations of our family down through the ages until you come again.

THOUGHT: How is your fellowship life coming? Are you securely established in a spiritual family? May you and your family be blessed with a strong bond to your church!

ACTIVITY: Here’s a song that my first-born, Aaron, loved. I used to sing it to him a lot, even when I would rock him to sleep at night. Once after visiting in Sault Ste. Marie, on a return trip to Detroit when Aaron was three, he saw the tall spire of a large, brown-brick, inner city church from the freeway. “Look, Mama!” he pointed excitedly, “Is that the little brown church in the wildwood?”

The Little Brown Church in the Wildwood

“There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood, no lovelier spot in the dale;
No place is so dear to my childhood as the little brown church in the vale.

Refrain:
“Oh, come to the church in the wildwood, oh, come to the church in the dale.
No spot is so dear to my childhood as the little brown church in the vale.

“How sweet on a clear, Sabbath morning, to list to the clear ringing bell;
Its tones so sweetly are calling, oh, come to the church in the vale.

“From the church in the valley by the wildwood, when day fades away into night,
I would fain from this spot of my childhood wing my way to the mansions of light.” (—Words & Music by William S. Pitts, 1857)

Baby Feet362. Embracing Your Lifelong Challenge

“Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25

PRAYER: Dear Lord of Hosts, our “Jehovah-Sabbaoth,” I worship you for being the Lord of all. You are the one who provides our daily strength and orders our times of rest. May I be as meticulous as Moses in following your guidance. Please be like a cloud by day and a fire by night to show our family the way in which you want us to walk.

THOUGHT: One of the joys and weights of motherhood is understanding what my pastor’s wife told me about children almost 40 years ago: “You can pick them up, but you can’t put them down.” Once you have a baby, embrace the lifelong challenge of loving and caring for another human being. Sometimes it will seem overwhelming, but know that God will provide the strength as you “commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5). Know that we have a “merciful and faithful high priest” (Jesus) who was tempted and tested in every way. He understands our trials, but he will also provide a “way of escape” for us to face and overcome the trial without sinning and without giving up (I Corinthians 10:13).

ACTIVITY: Here’s a little jingle you can use to practice getting Baby used to numbers:

One, two, buckle my shoe. Three four, close the door. Five six, pick up sticks, Seven, eight, close the gate, Nine, ten, start again.” You can play this counting game with Baby on your lap using her fingers or toes, with a set of dominoes, as you’re climbing up and down stairs, counting slats on a fence or boards on a hardwood floor, or as you’re dishing out cheerios, raisins, or some other tasty treat for an afternoon snack. Whenever you have ten or more of something, you can repeat this jingle as you count together!

Playing Ball 1363. Teaching Contrasts

“I have showed you new things from this time, even hidden things,
and you did not know them.” Isaiah 48:6

PRAYER: Oh Father, help me to keep learning and to keep teaching!

THOUGHT: Many times when Baby is cranky, there will be no discernible reason for it, but start asking him questions to see if you can get him to figure out what’s wrong anyway! “Are you dirty?” “Are you hungry?” “Are you tired?” “Are you thirsty?” “Do you want to be held?” As you ask, try to get Baby to respond by gesturing…especially by nodding or shaking his head.

ACTIVITY: If there’s nothing wrong, and you’re not too exhausted yourself, one way to distract Baby and get him to think about something besides his own tiredness or boredom is to practice the concept of contrasts:

“Hi!” (come towards him) “Bye!” (walk away)

“Up!” (pick him up or stand up yourself) “Down” (put him down or sit down yourself)

“In” (place a toy in something, like a cup) “Out” (take the toy out).

“Big” (make huge circle with arms) “Small” (make little circle with hands close to face)

“Wet” (put warm water on baby’s fingers) “Dry” (take cloth and wipe dry)

“Come!” (draw Baby close to you) “Go!” (point away or toss ball away)

“Give to Baby” (put something in his hand) “Give to Mama” (hold out hand to receive object back)

Playing Ball 2“Catch!” (roll the ball to Baby) “Throw” (encourage Baby to roll the ball to you)

Other contrasts you might try are: Stand/Sit; Hot/Cold (not too hot or cold!); Open/Close; Smile/Frown.

Looking at himself in the mirror364. Delighting in God and Life

“For then you will have your delight in the Almighty,
and lift up your face to God.” Job 22:26 (NKJV)

PRAYER: Indeed, oh God, you are the Almighty! I delight in you and lift up my face to you: “So our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us” (Psalm 123:2). Lord, I wait for you! I cling to the promise in Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Oh, Lord, I desire to live a life of love and goodness. I desire for you to bless Baby and our family with great faith and all the blessings of your Spirit. May we walk in the light of your Word and enjoy sweet peace and fellowship with you and with one another all the days of our lives.

THOUGHT: Delighting in our almighty God will bring you great joy. If you’re struggling, try this: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  Matching Hat and DressACTIVITY: If you have a soft baby brush, how about going to the Beauty Shop or Barber Shop for a few minutes today? Arrange your gear ahead of time so the whole process can happen in just 5-10 minutes, and set up Baby’s highchair in front of a mirror and so she can see what’s happening. Start by combing and brushing her hair. Comb it backwards and forwards…so that it looks its best and its worst! If Baby is a little girl and lucky enough to have some hair, try putting in a barrette or some tiny pigtails. If you have any bonnets or caps, either for Baby or that belong to you or your husband, try those on for style too! If Baby wants to get in the act, let her try to comb her own hair. If it’s staticy and dry, see if you can get any of her hair to stick straight up, or add a bit of mousse or hair gel to get it to look unusual. Have lots of fun, and take some pictures!Eye of Baby