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):

Week 2:

Week 3:

Week 4:

Week 5 (Month 2):

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Week 7:

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Week 9:

Week 10 (Month 3):

Week 11:

Week 12:

Week 13:

Week 14 (Month 4):

Week 15:

Week 16:

Week 17:

Week 18 (Month 5):

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Week 20:

Week 21:

Week 22 (Month 6):

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Week 24:

Week 25:

Week 26:

Week 27 (Month 7):

Week 28:

Week 29:

Week 30:

Week 31:

Week 32 (Month 8):

Week 33:

Week 34:

Week 35:

Week 36 (Month 9):

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Week 38:

Week 39:

Week 40 (Month 10):

Week 41:

Week 42:

Week 43 (Month 11):

Week 44:

Week 45 (Month 11):

Week 46:

Week 47:

Week 48:

Week 49 (Month 12):

Week 50:

Week 51:

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

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.

“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

Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Baby’s Twelfth Month, Week 51)

Mom signing with Baby351. Baby Sign Language

“Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy;
at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11

PRAYER: Abba, father, how we adore you for all the joyful pleasures you provide for us! Thank you for the gift of speech and how it enriches our fellowship with you and with each another. Please help Baby and me to learn how to communicate well so that we can really understand each other! Help me to work hard at studying Baby’s verbalizations and gestures too. Please help us develop a truly satisfying system for communicating, and make us flexible about changing strategies as needed to remain close throughout life.

THOUGHT: Somewhere between eight and eighteen months, many babies are more capable of communicating through sign language than through articulated speech. Although almost all babies use some gestures to communicate, baby signing is a fairly new concept. My children have found it very helpful in learning to understand their babies, and they believe it lessens communication frustration between parent and child.

ACTIVITY: Over the course of today, think about what words might be most useful to teach Baby in order to optimize communication and minimize frustration. Try teaching Baby to associate one sign with one important word. Be sure to clearly articulate the word as well as sign each time so Baby learns both. Some words that were most important to my first grandson included: Mommy, Daddy, milk, water, eat, more, finished, dog. Consider buying a baby sign language book, or check out the Michigan State University American Sign language website, which has videos demonstrating the signs and is very comprehensive. Try it! I think you’ll like it!

Shapes352. Matching Shapes

“And they shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that serves him.” Malachi 3:17

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for being our “Jehovah-Tsidkenu,” the Lord, our righteousness. Please make us into beautifully cut and polished jewels that you will cherish and favor. Thank you for loving us so wonderfully!

THOUGHT: Have you tried using a shape-sorter or form box with Baby yet? These are toys where Baby learns to match the shape with a space of the same dimensions, and I have read that there is a connection between learning this skill and future math prowess. The simplest types of shape sorters have about four spaces that can hold four colorful shapes, although we had a three-dimensional form box that had 4 shapes per side (16 altogether), where the shape could be pushed right through the space and into the box, and then the top could be unlatched and the toys retrieved.

ACTIVITY: Start with the most basic shape sorter you can find, but eventually you can progress to using the more complex shape sorters. Take one of the shapes (maybe the circle) and fit it into the matching slot, then take the shape out and give it to Baby to see if he can get it through the slot too. If you work together on such projects, eventually he may be able to take any block you give him and put it through the correct hole (as long as you help him find the hole). Many moons later, your clever little puzzler may be able to figure out which form goes through which hole, but don’t expect too much too soon. Be sure to praise every success and don’t ever become impatient or disapprove what he cannot understand! Always cherish his sincere effort—that is the greatest success!

Baby Playing in Park353. Enjoying Public Playgrounds

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory:
no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11

PRAYER: Oh LORD God, thank you for being our sun and shield! Thank you for giving us grace and glory…and for so many other wonderful things too! Thank you for Jesus, the holy and anointed one who came to seek and to save the lost. Please bless Baby. Seek and save her. Help us to walk uprightly so that our prayers will be unhindered as we ask for all the good things we need to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2).

Slide 21 (10)THOUGHT: When Baby gets old enough to enjoy rides on park equipment without being completely in the parent’s arms (obviously only a swing with a strap-baby-in-the-basket type of seat is safe at this age), don’t forget these little songs that can be sung to reassure Baby and make the rides less scary:

ACTIVITY: For the teeter totter, as you stand behind him, holding on to him and push him up and down, saying:

“See-saw, Margery Daw,
Jackie (or use Baby’s name) shall have a new master.
He shall have but a penny a day,
For he can’t work any faster!”

Baby SwingAnd, for the swing, as you stand facing Baby, push him gently and sing:

“A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go,
We’ll catch a little fox and put him in a box”
(catch the swing and give Baby a little hug)
“And then we’ll let him go!” (Let the swing go free again.)

 Baby looking at Book354. Helping Baby Develop Thinking Skills

“[It is God] who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.” Psalm 147:8

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for allowing me to help Baby grow up. What a privilege!

THOUGHT: Two great principles from the world of education are:

1. Dialogic Reading: Don’t just read, but make comments and ask questions, even if you have to answer them yourself in the earliest years. Dialogic reading has a host of advantages over simply reading the text. It enhances language development and later reading ability; it teaches the child to think creatively and critically so that she interacts with the text rather than just absorbing the words; and finally, it usually makes the book more fun for the reader and a true “bonding experience” for parent and child. “What do you think she’ll do next?” “Why do you think she looks so happy?” “Where do you think they’re going?”

2. Scaffolding: This is the idea of building on ideas. Read a sentence (or a short page), ask a question, and then pause for a response. For example: “Look at this big animal. What is he? A dog! That’s right. What does a friendly dog say? “Bow-wow-wow.” Good!

ACTIVITY: Try reading a very simple, cardboard book to Baby several times during the same day. After you have simply read or talked your way through the book a number of times, stop at the end of each page and see if Baby will try to turn the pages in anticipation. Ask her questions about what will come next and see if you can get a response. For example, if there is a picture of a dog on the next page, you could say, “What do you think we’ll find now?” If she doesn’t seem to know, ask directly, “Do you think we’ll see a dog?” See if you can get her to start anticipating what will come.

Crawling355. Explanations Are Good

“I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.”
Psalm 119:145

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for the many places in the Bible where you explain not only what you want us to do but why. Thank you that your commandments are not only for your glory, but also for our own good, so that we’ll live quiet, peaceable, and happy lives. Please help me to be a wise and considerate guardian for my little one. Help me to develop a sweet reasonableness in my requests, giving Baby lots of freedom but also protecting her and our home.

THOUGHT: Try to be an “elaborator” rather than just a “pragmatist” when it comes to talking with Baby. A pragmatic statement relates facts, like, “Don’t touch the curtains.” An elaborator tries to get the child to reason through issues. Certainly, if a child is about to rub grubby hands on a curtain, a sharp “No!” is in order, but the more a child understands sound reasoning, the better chance she will have of making right choices on her own or remembering why she shouldn’t do something. The elaborator might add something like, “What do you have on your hands? What will happen if you grab the curtains with sticky hands?” Of course, very small children may not understand that gooey oatmeal wouldn’t look nice on the curtains, but getting the child to make some connections between her behaviors and the outcomes is worth trying! You can always give her your opinion about the importance of being clean, and eventually she’ll catch on.

ACTIVITY: Have you taught Baby to wash her hands with a washcloth yet? By now Baby could begin learning a little bit about this basic self-care task. Try putting a warm, damp washcloth on Baby’s tray after meals. Start by wiping off her hands for her, but then wash out the cloth and give it back to her, inviting her to wash her hands with it again. Use the cloth to wipe off your hands and show her how clean they look when you’re done! After some patient training, you may find that Baby looks forward to getting to use her nice, warm wash cloth and will content herself with “washing up” her hands and tray (after you’ve already cleaned them) while you’re working on the table.

Baby on Mom's lap356. Distinguishing Truth from Error

“My soul follows hard after you: your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and understanding. Thank you for Jesus, who is the “wisdom of God.” Please bless Baby and make him into a discerning and wise person. May we both pursue you with our whole hearts. Please uphold us with your strong right hand!

THOUGHT: I was always such a sober, literal thinker and so reality oriented that it didn’t occur to me to ask silly questions in an imaginative way, but when done in fun and love, and with the purpose of teaching Baby to think and evaluate, it can be worthwhile.

ACTIVITY: Try playing “This and That.” Try pointing to a ball and asking, “Is this a banana?” If Baby is confused, show him a banana and say, “Is this a banana?” If he responds positively, say, “Good! Yes, this is a banana!” Then point to something else, such as the ball again, and ask, “Is this a banana?” Hopefully Baby will shake his head. If so, shake your head too and laugh with him, saying something like, “You’re right! This isn’t a banana, it’s a ball! BALL!” Baby looking out windowThen go to something else, such as a window, and say, “Is this a ball?” See if you can get him to shake his head, or to shake his head with you. “No! This isn’t a ball, this is a WINDOW!” Go from item to item—chair, cup, table, shirt, wall, sink, stove, refrigerator, shoe, bed, dolly, coat…whatever!—and see if he can identify when you are calling something by its right name. You could end by pointing to yourself and saying, “Is this Baby?” or pointing to Baby and saying, “Is this Mama?” and then having a good laugh, with lots of hugs and kisses together.

Flying High!357. Comparisons: Big or Little?

“Happy is the man that finds wisdom, and the man that gets understanding.”
Proverbs 3:13

PRAYER: Oh, Father, help us to find your true wisdom and understanding!!

THOUGHT: Here is a game to help Baby begin to understand the idea of comparisons.

ACTIVITY: It’s called, “So Big, So Little!” Find a set of similar objects, with one being considerably larger than the other, and put them in your Surprise Box. Examples: Large and small balloons, cooking pots, bowls, dolls, toy trucks or cars, books, paper (like unfolded newspaper and a tiny square of newspaper), jars or bottles, baskets (laundry basket and a bread basket…of course, the laundry basket may not fit in your Surprise Box!), gardening shears and sewing scissors, one of Daddy’s shirts and one of Baby’s shirts (all types of clothing would work well), etc. Then, one set at a time, pull out one item and say, “So Big!” then pull out the similar small item and say, “So little!” Point to the first and say, “Big!” and open your arms up very wide and look wide-eyed. Then point to the smaller one and say, “Little!” placing your hands close together in front of your face and hunching up so even you appear smaller. Repeat this with each set of items in your Surprise Box. See if eventually you can get Baby to make the motions with you, discriminating “Big” and “Little.” If you repeat the game later on during the day, Baby may even be able to anticipate what is big or little and make the motions as soon as you pull out one of the items. If not, practice this game several times over the course of a week or two and see if he catches on! Once he has the concept down, you can ask about all sorts of things: “How big is Daddy?” “Big!” “How little is Baby?” “Little!” How big is our house? Our car? Our church? How little is our kitty? This bed? This chair?

Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Baby’s Twelfth Month, Week 50)

Baby bundled up for Outing344. Protection Through the Storm, Not From the Storm

“And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat…” Isaiah 4:6

PRAYER: Oh Father, thank you for Jesus, who is the true light of the world and the Sun of Righteousness! Thank you for the warmth of the sun in the summer…and in the winter! The world would become a frozen ball and all of us stiff as icicles if the sun stopped shining. Thank you for protecting us from many storms, but also for being our protection through the storms you allow. May Baby and I always find our refuge in you!

THOUGHT: My children all seemed to be the “outdoor variety.” Maybe that’s because their parents always loved to be outside. Whatever! Whether or not you love being outside in God’s great out of doors, be sure to give Baby many chances to experience the weather in positive ways, so she can figure out for herself whether she likes the weather.  Mom and Baby ready to play in SnowACTIVITY: If the weather conditions aren’t too threatening with lightening or miserably cold, consider taking Baby out when there’s some precipitation to see what it’s all about. If it’s warm and just a little drizzly, you might not even need an umbrella. Let Baby feel the mist and raindrops. Catch them in your hands and let them fall on your face. Tell Baby “all about it!” Take her back inside and let her feel water from the tap, maybe misting her hands or sprinkling drops on her arms the way she would have experienced rain outside. In winter, when there are big fluffy snowflakes falling gently, try bundling up Baby and taking her out to try to catch some flakes as they drift down from the sky, and let Baby lick them. Touch the snowy bushes and marvel at the beauty of God’s creative genius. Maybe after you’re back inside, you could celebrate with a cup of warm cocoa and a brief time of praise and thanksgiving!

Daddy reading to his daughter345. Tailoring Your Teaching

“Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.” Psalm 36:6

PRAYER: Oh Father, the Bible declares that you are the Lord of glory, the Lord of Hosts…the Lord of All! Your righteousness is like the great mountains and extends to the sky! Truly, you preserve man and beast, and your mercy extends to thousands of generations of those who love you and keep your commandments! I pray that you would bless Baby with a long, honorable life of bringing glory to God and enjoying him forever, and may all the generations of our family continue in the heritage of faith and grace, loving you and keeping your commandments.

THOUGHT: Have you invested in the Mother Goose rhymes, or The Christian Mother Goose books? I preferred the poems that had been modified to teach spiritual truths and God’s commandments, but both the originals and the updated, Christian versions are worth the investment. Check out your local library or online resources!

ACTIVITY: Most nursery rhymes are cute just the way they are, but don’t be afraid to rephrase them to express your sentiments and worldview! For example, here’s a little poem that I altered to suit my fancy:

Hey Diddle Diddle

“Hey diddle, diddle, while Mom tried to fiddle,” (Pretend to fiddle on a violin.)
“Daddy jumped over the moon!”
(While you look on in amazement, make a wide arc over your head with your hand.)
“The little Babe laughed to see such a sight,”
(Hold stomach and pretend to chuckle very loudly.)
“And the dish ran away with the spoon.”
(Put hands up to cheeks, drop mouth open, and look astonished.)

One Two346.Discernment

“Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with food convenient for me.” Proverbs 30:8

PRAYER: Oh God, please help us to always “abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” as you admonish us in Romans 12:9. Grant us lives of faithful goodness!

THOUGHT: Test Baby on the concept of “one and two.” Find a set of objects from your home have at least two identical members, such as: dominoes (back, unspotted side), spoons, butter knifes, plastic containers, canned goods, shoes, socks, diapers, envelopes, blocks, napkins, raisins, cheerios, bite-sized shredded wheats or crackers, pieces of cheese, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, etc. (Matching animals from a Noah’s Ark set work great!)

ACTIVITY: Put all your treasures by twos in a sack, and place Baby in his high chair, sitting so he can see what you’re doing. Fish out one set of objects and put one of them on the tray of his high chair, explaining the name of the object and then the fact that there is “one.” For example: “Spoon! One spoon.” Then, quickly set down the second member of the set, saying: “Spoons. Two spoons!” Pick up the first spoon and say, “One spoon!” Then, pick up the other spoon in your other hand and hold them up while explaining, “Two spoons!” At that point, you could take a minute and let him play with the spoons, or you could each take a spoon and play with it, pretend to eat, or whatever. After a minute of play, set the spoons aside and fish out your next set of two, while creating an atmosphere of excitement or suspense, like, “What else do you suppose we can find?” If you do this in the afternoon around snack time, you could end with the edible objects and share a tiny tea party at the end, including “two cups” of water or milk!

Ringing Bell347. Our Great Potter

“Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding?” Isaiah 29:16

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for being our creator. I acknowledge that you are the potter and I am the clay. How I long for you to take Baby and me and mold us into a “vessels fit for use” in my master’s house. Help us to be soft and pliable under your hands, so that we are easily shaped. Give us grace to withstand the trials that you permit to fire us, and make our spirits strong and beautiful.

THOUGHT: The creative genius of God is so evident in his spiritual formation of our spirits as well as in all the arts. Although it will be a long time before Baby has enough eye-hand coordination for creating visual art, he can appreciate and practice musical arts already! Give him a wonderfully varied experience in listening to gorgeous music and many opportunities to experiment with simple musical instruments.

ACTIVITY: How about investing in a couple of musical instruments to occupy Baby’s attention once he’s learned to get something to his mouth (like a spoon) that isn’t strictly food in itself? A plastic kazoo is a great beginning wind instrument, and a plastic harmonica (maybe after the kazoo is mastered) can also be a lot of fun. Demonstrate how the kazoo works, and then practice blowing with Baby until he gets the hang of blowing into the kazoo to make a sound. If he really takes off on the kazoo, you might play the harmonica while he plays the kazoo. Of course, he may want to change instruments often, but as long as neither or you are sick or gooey from eating, who cares?

Grabbing Grandpa's Nose348. Practicing Graciousness

“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt,
that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:6

PRAYER: Oh Father, thank you for your wonderful graciousness to us! Help us to know just how to respond to others, always using your grace salted by wisdom.

Grabbing EyesTHOUGHT: Here is a game for practicing eye-hand coordination, verbal skills, and manual dexterity. If he can play the game, great! If not, try again in a few weeks.

Bath ToysACTIVITY: Gather three of Baby’s most favorite small toys, such as a doll, a car, a ball, or a rubber duck. Sit so you are facing Baby on the floor and the toys are all behind your back or in a paper bag beside you. First start with your “Where is?” game. Ask, “Where is Mama’s ear?” and see if you can get Baby to touch your ear. “Where is Baby’s ear?” etc. “Eye?” “Nose?” “Mouth?” etc. Then, pull out the first toy and say, “Duckie!” Hold it up and ask, “Where is Duckie?” If he points to or touches Duckie, great, but if he tries to grab the duck, move your hand before he can take it and say, “Would Baby like Duckie?” If the answer appears to be “Yes,” then say, “Baby may have Duckie!” and hand him the duck. Then ask, ”Where is Duckie?” If he holds up the rubber duck, say politely, “May I have the Duckie?” and put your hand out. If he gives you the rubber duck, say “Thank you!” and give him a big hug before setting Duckie aside and pulling out the second toy. Practice with all three toys until he understands how to respond to “Where is?” “May I have?” “Would you like?” and “You may have…” If he learns really fast, try it with all three items on the floor in front of him and ask, “Where is—(doll)” and see if he can pick up the right toy.

Cloth on Head!349. Discovering Each Other

“Who can discover the face of his garment?
or…Who can open the doors of his face?” Job 41:13-14

PRAYER: Dear Father, Job was talking about a great dinosaur-like beast in this verse, but I love the idea of being able to understand one another by opening the doors of our faces. Please help me to understand Baby very well; may we share closeness and love.

THOUGHT: Once Baby can understand the fun of “Peek-a-boo” she can enjoy Contingency Games. These are games that teach Baby to anticipate what will come next and begin to understand the idea of action and consequence.

ACTIVITY: A couple of contingency games to try are:

  1. Put a towel or light cloth over your head and sit close enough for Baby to reach up and grab it off. Say “Peek-a…” and wait for Baby to grab off the towel. As he does, call out “BOO!” When he’s done, say, “I love YOU!” and give him a big kiss. Try it several times, and once Baby understands the routine, add a second contingency: say, “I love…” and wait for him to reach out to you or try to say “YOU” with you!
  2. Set Baby down somewhere where he can easily get up and chase after you. Say “Hide and Seek!” and take off, disappearing behind a door or around the corner of a room. When Baby gets close enough to see you, say, “You found me!” and give him a big hug. Then repeat the “Hide and Seek” and disappear again. Only play this three or four times, or you may frustrate Baby and wear him out! If Dad’s available, you could take turns with who hides and who finds, making Baby a team mate with either you or your husband.

Choosing Toys!350. Freedom of Choice?!

“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:28

PRAYER: Dear Father, I am awed by the realization that you are the absolute authority in the universe, and yet you give your people the freedom to choose such dangerous things as good and evil. Please help me as a mother to resist the temptation to be a “control freak,” trying to always force Baby to be good. Please guide me in how to preach, warn, and teach Baby about all wisdom. May I allow him the freedom to grow and learn, and may your Holy Spirit work in him so that at last he stands “perfect in Christ Jesus.”

THOUGHT: It is not too early to start allowing Baby to have some freedom of choice. In fact, encouraging Baby to make choices will help him become confident and self-reliant.  Baby in a box!ACTIVITY: Think of some simple aspects of his life where he could make choices that you won’t mind and ask him for his preference. “Would you like to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt?” “Would you like rice cereal or oatmeal?” “Would you like apple or some banana?” “Would you like to play with your teddy bear or with your tiger?” Hold up both options when you ask and see if you can get Baby to point or reach for what he prefers. This can be an especially good way to introduce him quiet playtime alone. If you keep a special basket of quiet time toys tucked away and let him choose what special toy(s) to enjoy during his brief sessions of “independent study,” this will help give him a sense of “ownership” in the time. Rather than feeling punished for having to play alone for 5-10 minutes, Baby may look forward to some little times of planned exploration. (Oh, wouldn’t that be nice?)

Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Baby’s Twelfth Month, Week 49)

Twelfth Month

Waving Bye-bye337. Paying Respect to our Provider

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

PRAYER: Oh, LORD God, you are the faithful and true witness to our lives, the one who provides for us and gives us strength day by day. Thank you! Help us to always acknowledge you, trust you, honor and respect you! You deserve our undivided loyalty.

THOUGHT: One of the beloved traditions in our home has been waving goodbye to Dad until he’s out of sight in the morning. Even now I love to kiss Dad (Grandpa) goodbye and walk out the door with him, waving until I can’t see him anymore. We’ve also instituted the “Fifteen Second Kiss” when no one is looking…a long, intimate kiss both in coming and going that gives a very special feel to remind us that “You are my one and only!” If you and Baby are up when Daddy leaves, consider honoring him by waving him off to work and by making a special commotion over his arrival home again. These little two-minute rituals pay tribute to your admiration and appreciation for him “slaying dragons all day” so that you and Baby can enjoy the security and comfort of a home, and it also gives Baby a clear, daily witness of your love and respect for your husband.

ACTIVITY: Has Baby learned our cultural expressions for greeting and parting? How about a game of “Hi/Bye!” Call to Baby and say, “Hi!” like you’re so glad to see him. Put both your arms out and give him a big hug and a kiss. Then, set him down and say, “Bye, Bye!” Wave and blow him a kiss, and then pretend to walk away…but just for a few steps. Wait a second, turn around, and then say, “Hi!” and start the game over again.

Maracas338.Joyful Noises

“You shall eat the labor of your hands: happy shall you be,
and it shall be well with you.” Psalm 128:2

PRAYER: Oh LORD God, you are the horn of our salvation and the lifter of our heads! You are El Chay, “the living God,” in whom we live and move and have our being! May we praise you with our whole being, singing and rejoicing and making a “loud noise” in our joyful celebration of the happy life you’ve given us.

THOUGHT: Once Baby gets quite coordinated and has mastered shaking a musical egg or maraca, try letting him play with a tambourine. They are great for learning rhythm and participating in songs before he can sing with you. You might want to start with the toy type which can be bought for very little around Christmas time, because they are lighter and smaller, but if Baby especially enjoys music and you don’t think he’s likely to hurt himself (or heave it and damage something around him), you can also invest in one from a music store that may last many years. (If you opt for a real one, be sure to let him use it only with supervision.)

Baby on Dad's ShouldersACTIVITY: Here’s one of our family’s all-time favorite children’s choruses. Try forming a train if you have several children, or just hold Baby’s hands and be a train with him.

The Gospel Express

“Join the gospel express, come along and answer ‘Yes!’
It’s leaving for glory soon.
And the guard is so glad he is waving his flag. Hallelujah, it won’t be very long.
Beep, beep goes the whistle; toot toot toot goes the train,
Chug, chug, chug goes the engine,
And we’re off on the glory train.”

Baby standing. M+G's kids copy339. R’nR’

“Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.”
Psalm 116:7

PRAYER: Dear LORD God Almighty, you are indeed the Most High, and Jesus is the son of the Most High. May Baby and I always rest content in you, our bountiful God.

THOUGHT: The best remedy for discouragement is resting in God, “casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 7:7). He loves you, and you can trust him!

ACTIVITY: Here are a couple of “just for fun” ideas for playing with Baby when you need some good, old-fashioned rest and relaxation. The first is a nursery rhyme:

“To market, to market, to buy a fat pig!
Home again, home again, jiggity jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog!
Home again, home again, jiggity jog.
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun!
Home again, home again, market is done.”

The second is a game/song that you probably played as a very small child. You stand in a circle, starting with one person who is “it” and becomes the “farmer,” standing in the middle. As the song is sung, the “farmer” gets to choose a “wife,” the wife get to choose a child, etc. At the end, everyone leaves but the “cheese,” who will become the next “farmer” if the game is played again. If you are playing alone with Baby, you can just hold her hands and walk slowing round and round in a circle, singing the song as you go.

The Farmer in the Dell

“The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell,
High, ho, the dairio, the farmer in the dell.”

The farmer takes a wife…
The wife takes a child…
The child takes a nurse…
The nurse takes a dog…
The dog takes a cat…
The cat takes a rat…
The rat takes a cheese…
The cheese stands alone…

Babies Meeting340. Share and Share Alike

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,
especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

PRAYER: Oh Father, you are the giver of all good things. Help us to share your bounty with those who are in need of help or encouragement, especially other believers.

THOUGHT: Consider making or buying a “Surprise Box. If the games played with the Surprise Box are fun, its appearance will bring on an excited curiosity in Baby as she beings to associate the box with pleasurable times of learning. It can be a happy precursor to the concept of “school’s in session,” although played for only a few minutes.

ACTIVITY: Encourage sharing by giving lavish praise any time you see Baby spontaneously being unselfish as well as by playing sharing games. Try gathering a few interesting objects into your Surprise Box, using a combination of toys that Baby recognizes and some that aren’t usually considered “hers,” such as a spoon, a greeting card, a balloon, etc. Take one of the objects out, examine it, and play with it so Baby notices. Say, “Would you like it?” If Baby seems interested, say, “You may have it,” and give it to Baby. After she’s enjoyed it for a little bit, say, “May I have it?” and put your hand out. If she gives it to you, thank her excitedly and praise her, play with the object for a few seconds and possibly find a way to engage her in playing with the object too.

If Baby doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to share, then pull out the next item from the Surprise Box and repeat the process. The goal is to get Baby to share objects with you and eventually learn three things: 1.) How to share outright
2.) How to share by exchange 3.) How to share by mutual play.

Happy Boy!341. The Beginnings of Artistic Expression

“Stand therefore, having…your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:14-15

PRAYER: Father, thank you for being Ish, our “heavenly husband.” Jesus, who is our bridegroom…our passover Lamb, our king, our prophet, and the “apostle and high priest of our profession” (Hebrews 3:1). Thank you that he died for us so that we can live for him. May we always stand up for Jesus and share his gospel of peace in a hurting world.

THOUGHT: This may be premature, but my theory is that it’s rarely too soon to try something as long as you really supervise closely. Babies will most likely try to eat crayons or chalk, but see if you can get them to imitate you and draw instead!

ACTIVITY:. How about trying an art lesson? If you think of it as a “Scribbling Lesson” that might help you square the results with reality, but it might be worth a try. Buy some crayons and paper to work at the kitchen table, or buy some chunky chalk and head for a sidewalk or your driveway with your budding artist in tow. Let him watch you draw a simple figure (like a circle or line) on the sidewalk, and then offer him the chalk. If he scribbles (as opposed to trying to just eat it, break it, or throw it), give him lots of praise. You might try taking turns scribbling/drawing with several different colors of chalk, and be sure to discuss what you’ve drawn. Even though the scribbling may be “just for fun” at first, before too long, Baby will be trying to draw something that looks like something in imitation of you. This the idea of “symbolic function,” and children learn very early the fun of trying to express themselves and create designs that are pleasing and meaningful. (On the other hand, if Baby just misuses the chalk, tuck it away and try again in another month or two.)

Out for a date!342. Enjoying Abundance

“They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house;
and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.” Psalm 36:8

PRAYER: Father, we worship you as Hashem, “The Name.” You have promised that “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). We call on you, Lord, and bless your name forever. We call on the name of Yahweh, the great “I am,” and we call on the name of Jesus, who is the head of the church and heir of all things. For the sake of your great name, please bless us and save us, now and always.

THOUGHT: If you have not established a weekly “Date Night,” I highly recommend it! Of all the advice Grandpa Alan and I have received over the years, this has been one of the most useful ideas. My father, Great Grandpa Louis, told us before we got married to make sure we never stopped dating and nurturing our own relationship. He said, “Even if you haven’t got a nickel to split an ice cream cone, get out of the house once a week and at least go for a walk together!” It gives you crucial time for being friends and lovers instead of just coworkers and fellow parents. Look forward to it! Be creative when you can. Make it fresh and exciting so that it infuses your relationship with fun and romance!

ACTIVITY: Well, what does a date night have to do with “blessing your baby?” Everything, really, because happy, close couples make for happy, close homes! What about a barrel of monkeys for a barrel of fun while you’re out on a date and Baby is at home with a sitter? The monkeys arms interconnect with each other and can be made into chains. They fall apart easily and can be taken out of the barrel or put back in. They can be used for counting. If they get spilled, oh well… they’re easy to pick up!

Baby looking engaged343. Monkey See, Monkey Do!

“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.” Proverbs 24:16

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for promising that you will never leave us nor forsake us! That gives me the courage to declare boldly: “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6). Even though I’m a sinful daughter of Adam, thank you for Jesus, the “last Adam” who died so that I can rise up after falling and begin again. Thank you for Jesus, “the Branch of righteousness” who will “execute judgment and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 33:15). May I rise from each failure and begin again to imitate my Master, doing what is just, good, and kind for Baby.

THOUGHT: Here’s an old standby imitation game that children have loved for generations, and Baby may be ready for you to play it with him.

ACTIVITY: It’s called “Monkey See, Monkey Do.” The first time, you might want to get Daddy involved too, just to model for Baby what’s going to happen. Stand facing Daddy and Baby, and then do something very simple. Whatever you do, have your husband imitate, and try to encourage Baby to imitate you too. Once Baby learns how to play, either you or your husband can lead, and eventually, Baby will probably be able to play it just with you. Some ideas to try: shake your head, clap your hands, touch your toes with your hands, make kissing sounds, jump in the air, nod your head, laugh, cover your face with your hands, put your hands on your hips, swing side to side, squat, mew like a kitten, make marching movements without actually going anywhere, lift your arms up high over your head, wave, hop up and down, flap your arms up and down like a bird, smile, etc.

Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Baby’s Eleventh Month, Week 48)

Peas!330. Care and Share Alike

“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth:
unite my heart to fear thy name.” Psalm 86:11

PRAYER: Ah, dear Lord, thank you for sharing with me! Thank you for sharing your Son and your Holy Spirit! Without the love of your son and the work of your holy comforter in my life, I would be empty and lost. Help me to share you with those in the world around me. May I have a sense of mission and the wisdom to know how and when to share.

THOUGHT: Generosity starts at home. Teaching Baby to share is doubtless first “caught” and then “taught.” Just as we love God because he first loved us, so Baby will learn to care for others by observing and feeling the benefit of your tender care for him.

ACTIVITY: Mission: Once Baby starts making little forays into walking between objects, you can encourage him not only by offering him hugs or tasty tidbits when he reaches you, but you can also send him on little missions to take things to someone sitting not far away. You can either use a small toy and/or—more likely to be pleasing to Baby—have two small baggies of treats like cheerios, fresh peas, or blueberries (although the toy is more likely to work as something to send on “missions” to the parent). While baby is standing at your knee and your husband is perched on a seat not far away, give Baby one pea to eat. As soon as he’s done, say, “Take this to Daddy!” and put something in his hand, while helping him turn around so he’s in the right direction to take off and go to his father. If you give him another pea but he just eats it, don’t be surprised. Use a small stuffed animal to send, but when he gets to his father, have your husband ask if he may have whatever Baby’s carrying. If Baby gives it to him, be sure he gets lots of praise! Then, repeat the game, having Daddy give Baby a treat to eat and then sending him off with a gift for Mommy. This is a good way to express affection and practice sharing while helping Baby masters his walking skills. 12592462_801657152001_6463580527921007132_n-1331. If You Love Me, Invest in My Growth!

“But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” 1 Thessalonians. 4:9

PRAYER: Oh, LORD God, thank you that you have made us a part of the family of God. Thank you for every brother and sister I have in the faith. Help me to love my biological siblings, to pray for them and be involved in their lives, as well as loving my church family, the “body of Christ.” Teach us how to love each other and to become “one in the spirit,” even as you—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—are one.

THOUGHT: I hope you don’t think I’m recommending spending too much money on toys. Many toys are unnecessary, and with imagination and creativity, many toys can be improvised out of household items. But, think of sturdy, good toys as an asset to Baby’s intellectual development, and if necessary, consider adding a small space in your budget for toys. A few well made toys will last throughout the childhood of all your children, and we have a big box of toys in our basement that are now serving the needs of our grandchildren! So, buy with much thought, think “sturdy,” and enjoy your investment!

ACTIVITY: A spinning top is a classic toy and has a certain timelessness that makes it fun for young and old. Many come with patterns of color inside that change as the top spins, and some come with beads or marbles inside that make noise when the top is spun. Older siblings can quickly learn to spin a top for the delight of Baby, and if the children take turns seeing who can spin it the fastest or keep it going the longest, then spinning the top can make an engaging game for quite a while.

Standing in a dish332. Patience in Standing and Falling

“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you;
and ye shall be comforted.” Isaiah 66:13

PRAYER: Dear Father, please give me the grace to be extremely patient with Baby, to be gentle, forgiving, kind, “not easily provoked,” to “think no evil,” to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things, and never fail, as we’re taught in 1 Corinthians 13. Sigh. When I fail—which of course I’ve done many times and will continue to do again—please help me to be quick to admit my failures to baby, and please bless him with a forgiving spirit too!

THOUGHT: My mother often tried something new with Aaron that I hadn’t thought of yet, and it delighted all of us to see how quickly he could “catch on” to new games. My hope is that reading the ideas in this book will give you food for thought to guide you into trying some creative possibilities that might not have occurred to you already, but for any ideas that are premature, please just tuck them into the storehouse of your mind so that you develop a reservoir of activities to draw from as Baby develops.

ACTIVITY: On a quiet day when Baby isn’t feeling too bouncy, try making formations out of dominoes. Start by setting up a small line of four or five end up and about a half an inch apart on the kitchen table or somewhere with a very smooth surface. Show him how you can gently tip over the first one and that will cause the entire group to fall over. Each time, add a few more pieces until you have a very long chain. Try to get him to wait until you are done, but let him tip the first one over to cause the downfall of the entire set if he can be gentle and patient. This will be very good for teaching him patience. Also, if you want to get a bit philosophical, you can use this game to discuss the idea of “action and reaction” later on. Everything we do has an effect on our environment!

Playing with Uncle333. Here a Little, There a Little

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

PRAYER: Oh King of the Ages, King Eternal, God before time…lead us! Thank you for giving us Christ as the perfect model of kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness! Help us to love and forgive others even as you have forgiven us for Jesus’ sake.

THOUGHT: Remember in all your child training that “precept must be upon precept…line upon line…here a little and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). Try to teach, but if Baby isn’t interested now, he might be later. One of my babies was such a perfectionist that he wouldn’t try anything unless he was quite confident he could do it. Some of the others were eager to try anything…even if they failed. Don’t punish children for being clumsy or for being timid. Give Baby lots of freedom to grow at his own pace.

ACTIVITY: How about a song that’s bound to be fun for both Baby and his friends:

This Old Man

“This old man, he played one; he played knick-knack on my thumb!”
Refrain: “With a knick-knack paddy whack, give your dog a bone;
This old man came rolling home!”
(Also sing the refrain at end of each verse below)

“This old man, he played two; He played knick-knack on my shoe!
“This old man, he played three; He played knick-knack on my knee!
“This old man, he played four; He played knick-knack on our door!
“This old man, he played five;He knick-knacked on an old beehive!                     “This old man, she played six; He knick-knacked on fiddlesticks!
“This old man, he played seven; He knick-knacked ‘till he went to heaven.
“This old man, he played eight; He knick-knacked on our front gate!
“This old man, he played nine; He knick-knacked upon my spine!
“This old man, he played ten; Then he played knick-knack once again!”

Smiling Baby334. Returning Good for Evil

“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
John 7:24

PRAYER: Dear Father, you are the judge of all the earth…our judge, our “Shophet.” Thank you for being completely righteous and true. Thank you that you can see right through the externals of our lives and can discern the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Please help me to remember that you will always do right, and that you tell me to leave all “revenge” to you. May I learn to turn the other cheek, return blessing for cursing, and overcome evil with good. Help me to be a wise and kind lawgiver and law enforcer in my home. Keep me from harshness, and give me the ability to make righteous judgments.

THOUGHT: There may be times when you feel like an angry mother bear wanting to protect your cub from rough or rude children. Bear in mind God’s gracious, “royal law”: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (James 2:8). Rowdy children need attention, kindness, and to experience the love of Christ modeled for them.

ACTIVITY: Here’s a game you can play with Baby and toddlers, depending on how well your baby understands and how mobile she is. It’s the “Where is the______? Will you bring it to me?” game. Gather the children around your knee and ask, “Where is the _________?” (pillow, doll, ball, cushion, shoe, book, etc.). Have them look around until one of them spots it and points to it. You can let the child who saw it first retrieve it, or you can let the children take turns. If Baby is intimidated by older playmates, hold her on your lap and let her hold out her hands to receive the toys. If just you and Baby are playing, you can ask her and let her retrieve the objects and bring them to you. Be sure to offer lots of excited approval as each discovery and retrieval is accomplished!

Eating Ice cream335.Meditation

“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
Romans 12:18

PRAYER: Oh Abba, Father, thank you for Jesus, who is our mediator and intercessor! Help me to be a soothing influence in the lives of my children and all their friends.

THOUGHT: One of my favorite stories about Grandpa Alan from his childhood was how his mother used to help end the inevitable little tiffs that he would have with his cousin and best friend, Billy, who lived just two doors away. They played together almost every day, but if they got in an argument and couldn’t seem to work it out, Great Grandma Alma would call the youngsters in to the kitchen and give Alan a nickel, instructing the boys to go over to the little store across the street and pick out a popsicle to split between them. Grandpa recalls that somehow the privilege and business of selecting and splitting a popsicle seemed to sidetrack them from their petty disagreement, and soon they’d be best of friends again!

Sucking on a PopsicleACTIVITY: Popsicles are great not only for bringing sunshine to stormy friendships but also for soothing the sore gums of teething toddlers! You can make popsicles while Baby and others look on by dissolving a package of instant Jello in half a cup of boiling water, letting it cool, and combining it with 1.5 cups of favorite juice (or mashed fruit) and then freezing it in popsicle molds, which can be found with kitchen supplies in many shops during the summer months. If you don’t have molds, you can freeze the mixture in ice cube trays using popsicle sticks or plastic spoons inserted into each section for a handle. Freeze for 2 hours or until frozen solid, and then loosen by setting the pan in an inch of warm water until you can wiggle the “pops” free.

Tea party336. Joy in Play

“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance:
but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13

PRAYER: Dear Father, I know that Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Thank you that he can identify with our pain. I also know he came that we might have abundant life and that your Holy Spirit produces joy in us. Please bless our family with both your comfort during trials and your joy as we enjoy the life you’ve given us.

THOUGHT: Almost twelve months old! As Baby matures, it is good to consciously work on both “manipulative” and “imaginative” types of play. Manipulative play is where you are working together on improving mechanical skills, such as how to open a jar or crank a jack-in-the-box. Imaginative play is where you are practicing symbolic and creative ideas, such as flapping your arms up while pretending to fly like a bird, or crawling around on your hands and knees barking like a puppy or mewing like a kitten.

Water PlayACTIVITY: If it’s summer time, how about an excursion playing with trucks in the sand somewhere, pretending to build a grand hotel, or playing with toy boats in the water? If it’s wintertime, what about an imaginary tea party using tiny plastic cups and dolls? When my two sisters and I were little, we used to use acorn caps for “fairy” teacups and built dollhouses out of pine cones, sticks, pebbles, and moss. Baby will be too little for such complicated play at this stage, but he might be able to enjoy watching you set up the dollies or stuffed animals with little cups and pretend to pour out tea. You might clap the dollies hands together and pretend that they are talking by using different voices. “Yuk it up!” as they say, and have lots of fun!

Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Baby’s Eleventh Month, Week 47)

Train play323. Zipping Along the Right Road

“I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.”
Proverbs 4:11

PRAYER: Dear Father, how patient and kind you are with us! Thank you that we can be “confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). You love us, and you will keep working in us. Please bless Baby! Pour out your spirit on her tiny life. Fill her with your love, and teach her from her earliest days to love and trust you in everything. Thank you for teaching us the way of wisdom and leading us in right paths. Help me to teach Baby how to walk by faith as I respond to Micah 6:8, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Help me to “fly along” in the ways of goodness and grace!

THOUGHT: We have found a multitude of uses for an eraser board. Not only are they good for racing cars down the backside, they are good for practicing artwork with toddlers, and they’re great for holding all the pieces of a puzzle that you’re trying to put together or keeping legos or other small toys “on the building site.”

ACTIVITY: Toys with wheels are exhilarating for boys and girls. In fact, my girlfriend Brenda used to have a pit pass to record the Nascar Races in Daytona, so racing can definitely be fun for everyone! One easy way to make a very exciting track for a toy car is by leaning a piece of cardboard or the back side of an eraser board against a footstool at an angle so that Baby can set the car at the top and let it zip down the board and off onto the floor. If you have two cars, you could hold races, but at this age, it will probably be exciting enough just to watch the car zip down to the floor over and over and over!

Beach Play copy324. Celebrating Diverse Opportunities

“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand.”
Psalm 139:17-18

PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for having so many, many different roles in my life! Thank you for being a consuming fire to try me and refine me. You are the holy purifier, but you are also the water of life to quench my thirsty soul. You are my shepherd, my king, my intercessor and priest. You are my father who nurtures, trains, and loves me, and you are a brother who walks with me and carries me when I become exhausted. You are my heavenly bridegroom and husband. You are my holy spirit to guide and comfort. You are my rock, my shelter, and my refuge! Your thoughts toward me are too wonderful and too many to be able to understand them all! Thank you for being all things wise and wonderful! Help me to be a wise and wonderful mother to Baby too; may I reflect your love by day and by night!

THOUGHT: Call your local chamber of commerce for information on what’s available for water play. In fact, make friends with the folks at your local chamber of commerce. They are usually brimming over with information about all that is fun, interesting, educational, and often free in your area!  Water Play pongos19 (10)ACTIVITY: Water play is one of those perennial favorites that never grows old. Of course the dearest and best is probably a daily play in a clean, warm tub, but if the weather’s hot, be sure to find some cool water outdoors and make use of it! If you have a lawn sprinkler and swim suits, you can create your own water park for Baby. Or, perhaps there’s a public park with a swimming pool or a lake where you can swim. Enjoy!

Happy Baby playing with Mom325. Peace and Joy

“Yes, you shall see your children’s children, and peace upon Israel.”
Psalm 128:6

PRAYER: Dear father, you are the Ancient of Days, from everlasting to everlasting. You are the self-existent one who was here before the universe came into existence, and you will remain after all the stars have burned out. You tell us in Deuteronomy 5 that show mercy to thousands of those who love you and keep your commandments. Oh, Lord, I pray that you will bless Baby and me. May we see our children’s children! May we see your hand of mercy protect and keep Israel. May you bless Israel—and all the world—with your heavenly peace.

THOUGHT: One of my favorite children’s books of poetry is Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. It’s probably not too early to get a copy and start reading to your little one! The book is filled with cheerful thoughts such as, “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” That is true. It is also true that the world is full of insecurities and difficult circumstances for Baby, so he will need lots of comfort along the way. Ultimately, our happiness comes from knowing that God is with us and will carry us through this life and up to heaven.

ACTIVITY: Singing songs to Baby is such an uplifting, comforting thing to do. Here’s a traditional Scottish folk song from our Armstrong homeland that is sure to delight Baby and distract him…even from sore gums when he’s teething:

“My bonnie lies over the ocean” (Rock Baby to right);
“My bonnie lies over the sea” (Rock to left);
“My bonnie lies over the ocean” (Rock Baby backwards);
“Oh bring back my bonnie to me!” (Hug Baby)
“Bring back, bring back, Oh bring back my Baby to me, to me!”
(Rock back & forth)
“Bring back, bring back, Oh bring back my Baby to me, to me!”
(Give a hug and a kiss)

Pulling cloth from tube326. Creative Play with Plumber’s Pipe to Tubes

“A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you.” John 13:34

PRAYER: Oh, Father, how you love us! Thank you for loving us even when we were “dead in trespasses and sins.” Thank you Christ’s sacrificial death! Thank you for your clear promise in Romans 10 that if we repent of our sins and take Christ as our savior, we will be saved. Please bless Baby with faith! May we both trust you as our savior, love you above all else, and learn to love each other the way you love us!

THOUGHT: There are a multitude of uses for a tube. If you can afford the time, next time you’re shopping, stop by a plumbing store and pick up a piece of plastic pipe with two end caps. (If you’re busy, the heavy cardboard tube inside a roll of saran wrap or even a toilet paper roll tube works almost as well, although they aren’t as versatile, can’t be washed, and won’t last long.)

ACTIVITY: A long plastic tube makes a great toy to play with at home or on the road. You can stuff a scarf in one end and pull it all the way through, or teach Baby how to stuff something thinner into the tube to force the scarf out the other end. You can roll up a piece of paper very tightly and insert it into the tube, then teach Baby how to use his fingers to pull the paper out (maybe!). You can treat the tube like a tunnel and race cars through it. You can put some plastic spoons inside, screw on the end caps (or tape the ends securely closed), and have a rhythm instrument. You can practice rolling it across the floor, both you and Baby pushing it ahead of yourselves with your hands while crawling on the floor together. You can close up one end, and then insert small toys or treats into the tube and have Baby experiment with how to turn it over so that the treats come tumbling out!

Putting Toy in Pot327. Teach Your Baby!

“Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land where you go to possess it.”
Deuteronomy 4:5

PRAYER: Dear Father, please protect Baby! Help me to train him to understand the world around him in such a way that he can navigate through life safely. May we both shun evil and danger, focusing our attention instead on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, edifying, virtuous, and praiseworthy, as we’re instructed in Philippians 4:8.

THOUGHT: About this stage, babies go on many “search and destroy” missions. Captain Michael (who is now a major in the army) used to be our “trash inspector,” and Daniel loved opening the toilet lid to swish a handy toothbrush in the bowl. This is a stage where children are becoming increasingly capable…climbing up and down stairs and on and off of beds, couches, and chairs…trying to open doors and cupboards. Every time you turn around, they’re into something new! They have the (in) “satiable curiosity” of Rudyard Kipling’s little elephant, and about as much sense! This stage requires constant vigilance, an ample dose of good humor, and the ability to correct with kindness. Keep a record of the crazy stuff they do; it’ll help you from going crazy!

ACTIVITY: “The best defense is a good offence.” Take time to teach your baby everything he can learn. It will actually protect him from harm. There are many types of “open” and “close” objects to learn about. Put something inside and see if you can teach Baby how to open some of these: plastic jar with a screw top lid; plastic container with a lid that pops on and off; matchbox that opens and closes by sliding the lid sideways; shoe box with a top that lifts off; hinged plastic box (lunch box) with a snap shut lid and release.

Baby watching birds328. Sharing Good Seed

“Cast your bread upon the waters: for you shall find it after many days.”
Ecclesiastes 11:1

PRAYER: Oh Father, your son is the both the Lion of tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God. Please bless Baby; may he grow to be as brave as a lion and as gentle as a lamb! Jesus has also been called the seed of a woman, the seed of Abraham, and the seed of David. He is also that incorruptible seed of God’s living word through whom we are born again. May the living word that is planted in our hearts spring up into everlasting life, making us like great oak trees of faith. May we sow spiritual seeds too, knowing someday we will reap the reward of seeing many others enjoying eternal life perhaps in part because we shared the seed of his Word with them.

THOUGHT: Many places will not allow you to feed animals, but I think it’s good for children to learn to be gentle and share with others, being compassionate towards all of God’s created beings even from infancy. I had a dear spiritual mentor who was a millionaire and yet carefully collected the breadcrumbs from the bottom of each bread sack she used and added it to the seed in her bird feeder. It is good for all of us to learn to share and be good stewards of everything the Lord gives us!  Child checking out goat 8.23.15ACTIVITY: A bird feeder in front of a picture window at your home would be one way of showing care, and such a feeder would doubtless be a great source of interest and delight to Baby! Also, many communities have petting zoos with baby goats or other animals that can be fed, or you may live near a lake or a city square where birds or fish are eager recipients of hand outs. Check with local authorities and find some opportunities for Baby to share a few tasty treats with some of God’s little creatures.

Close up playing329. Transformation by the Word

“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.” Romans 10:8

PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us your word. May it be very close to my heart and in my mind at all times, so that it is truly a lamp to light my feet and guide into the paths of righteousness. Please grant me wisdom and grace not only to know and believe your word, but also please truly transform me by it, so that I will exhibit all the heavenly fruit of the spirit in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility, and self-control. May I “put off the old man” and his wicked deeds: not only the obvious ones like lust, envy, and wrath, but also the more “respectable sins” like irritability, whininess, selfishness, pride, gossip, bitterness, and resentment. Lord, please open my eyes, so that I can see you and be transformed by your glorious beauty into your likeness!

THOUGHT: One of the most profound ways in which you can bless your baby is by growing spiritually. As you become more like Christ, Baby will benefit from your increasing maturity, and hopefully she’ll be drawn to you, desiring to become like your savior too. What a blessing it is to have a godly mother!  Ball and Baby by GTACTIVITY: While Baby is still crawling but getting very good at it, try putting out things that roll on the floor in front of her that will encourage her to keep moving forward. If you find that balls get away too fast, try rolling balls outside on the grass, or in the house you can use unopened cans of soup, vegetables, coffee tins, or round oatmeal boxes, all of which make great toys to push and chase across the floor.

Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Baby’s Eleventh Month, Week 46)

Baby Playing with Toes316. The Amazing Gift of Love

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

PRAYER: Father, you are our almighty God…God over all, our Jehovah-Yahweh, the covenant-keeping God who saves us. I can’t fathom that you joy over infinitesimal me with singing…but thank you!! May I always rest in your love and joy over you too!

THOUGHT: My sister lamented that she couldn’t even find time to brush her teeth after her daughter was born. I identify! However, I believe all mothers need, as a bare minimum, at least 20 minutes a day to get cleaned up (providing for your own body), 20 minutes a day to have a quiet devotional time with the Lord (feeding your spirit), and 20 minutes a day for emotional uplift, either by exercising, reading, or pursuing some activity that makes you feel good about yourself and builds you up (feeding your soul). It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in twenty minutes of concentrated effort, and I suspect three 20-minute intervals over the course of the day—particularly during times when Baby is sleeping or has recently awakened and her needs have been met—might work wonders for a mother’s disposition without totally frustrating Baby. Remember, we are to love others “as we love ourselves,” so love yourself and take care of yourself as well as taking care of Baby. If she cries because she can’t have 100% of your attention whenever she’s awake, then she will have to learn a bit about patience, self-control, and sharing!

ACTIVITY: How about singing this precious song to Baby often:

Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World

“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world,
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in her sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world!”
(Clare Herbert Woolston, 1856-1927)

Merry-go-round24 (9)317. Merry-Go-Round and Get Out Before You Go Crazy!

“O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.”
Psalm 96:9

PRAYER: Oh, beautiful, holy LORD, I worship you today. May all the earth learn to fear you, love you, and worship you as you deserve. Truly, you are the Ancient of Days, the omnipotent Elohim, Jehovah-Gmolah—the God of judgment and vengeance. You are holy and demand holiness. Help us to worship you in the beauty of holiness.

THOUGHT: My best friend during the days of being “residents’ widows” together (both husbands were medical residents and seemed to be gone more than they were home) used to call me on the phone every once in a while and say, “Mrs. Armstrong, are you going crazy?” My response was generally, “Yes! Are you too?” Her solution was: “Then let’s take the kids and walk the mall!” In Ann Arbor, there was a beautiful mall with a water fountain and a lovely play area for children. I don’t ever remember actually doing any serious shopping on such occasions, but we sure had fun being together, and the kids loved having the freedom to play in a park-like setting even in the winter. I still feel very close to Susie, even though almost 40 years have passed. Take time for friends!

ACTIVITY: Outings are such fun. Of course the great out of doors and a public park may be the best place for an outing, but when the weather is inclement, consider taking your little one to a mall or museum to explore. If you have a close friend to share the experience with, that’s double the fun! Don’t be afraid to reach out. Your friends are probably “going crazy” too and would love a break! If you’re really feeling rich, go to some inexpensive lunch spot with a play area for babies as well as some tables where you and your friend can sip lattes and relax together. Take time to enjoy life. It travels fast!

Standing318. Communing and Climbing

“O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs,
let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice,
and thy countenance is comely.” Song of Solomon 2:14

PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, I know Isaiah prophesied that Jesus was not compellingly handsome physically when he was on earth, but I believe with all my heart that there will never be a voice any more dear, nor a countenance any more appealing than that of my dear Savior. Please bless us, Lord. May we hear your voice and behold your beautiful glory. May we learn to commune with you in the secret places of the stairs.

THOUGHT: Do you have sweet communion with Baby every day, even if just for a few moments? Although both intimacy and efficiency are necessary for a smooth existence, value intimacy even more highly than efficiency!

ACTIVITY: Once Baby gets good at climbing, she might enjoy a series of “Climbing Traps” as I used to call them. Get some free boxes from a local grocery store (if you call ahead, they will usually save you some when they restock at night) and set them in various places around the house, secured to the floor with some books or a few bricks (whatever you have lying around that’s heavy and unbreakable). The ideal size is really not very big…maybe a foot high and 20” length and depth (give or take a few inches.) These boxes will provide lots of interest and challenge for Baby. They will serve as a maze when she’s crawling and a slalom course when she’s walking; they provide lots of convenient places to climb up and re-launch when she’s learning to walk; and if they’re sturdy enough (flaps interlaced and securely taped to make sure she doesn’t fall through and hit her face on a brick), she may even attempt to climb on them.

Bible Story Book Reading to Baby319. Treasuring the B-I-B-L-E

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua 1:8

PRAYER: Oh, Father, you are the wisdom of the ages. Thank you for giving us the Bible to teach us all your laws and ways. I know you have given us your word as a guidebook because you love us and want us to experience true joy and success. Please bless Baby and me with willing hearts to understand and obey you. Please help us to meditate day and night on your word, the Bible, and I pray that you would make our ways prosperous and very successful. May our lives bring glory to you and blessing to all around us.

THOUGHT: Make God’s Word your moral compass, and it will point you to the Truth.

Guitar. Finger picking..12.12.15.ACTIVITY: If you’ve got a piano or guitar and a music lover baby, try your little student with a first music lesson! How about putting Baby on your lap and teaching him how to use one chubby finger to press one key and make one note? If he can’t be talked out of simply banging with both hands, then it’s probably not time quite yet. But, if he likes the game of touching one key with one finger and making a sound, you can very quickly give him the idea that simple songs can be played on the piano. At a very early age (2-3), most of our kids enjoyed having me move their hands to the right spot to clunk out “Jesus Loves Me,” “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” and other simple tunes.

The B-I-B-L-E
“Oh! The B-I-B-L-E,
Yes that’s the book for me.
I stand alone on the word of God,
The B-I-B-L-E!” (Author Unknown)

Baby wrapped in bath towel320. A Bushel and a Peck of Kisses

“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.”
Proverbs 8:17

PRAYER: Oh Father, thank you for loving me when there was no reason. I was hopelessly selfish and blind to your love. I didn’t honor you or even know you, and yet you knew me and gave me the greatest honor: you sent your Son to die for me so that I might live for love of you! Thank you for transforming my heart. Please keep transforming my heart, and please transform Baby’s heart too. May we live to love you!

THOUGHT: If you are affectionate and warm, it usually doesn’t take many months before Baby will be attempting to return the favor by hugging and kissing you too!

ACTIVITY: Have you tried to teach Baby to give you kisses yet? If not, try this: Get right in front of Baby’s face (just a foot or two away, or possibly holding her in your arms if she likes being held) where she can see you, and then purse your lips and make smacking sounds, like you’re kissing her, but don’t actually kiss her. Next, actually kiss her cheek, making the same smacking sound. Then, announce, “Mama kiss Baby!” and kiss her again. Finally, ask, “Baby kiss Mama?” and put your cheek against her mouth, making the same smacking sounds. See if you can get her to give you a kiss!

I Love You a Bushel and a Peck

I love you a bu              shel and a peck,
a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.
A hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap,
A barrel and a heap and I’m talking in my sleep about you,
About you, ’cause I love you a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck though you make my heart a wreck.
Make my heart a wreck and you make my life a mess!
Make my life a mess, yes a mess of happiness,
‘Cause I love you a bushel and a peck
You bet your purdy neck I do!
(—Frank Loesser)

Kathi and Samuel321.Chastening out of Love

“The Lord will not cast off for ever; but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” Lamentations 3:31-33

PRAYER: Oh, precious Father, thank you for the times when you chasten me. I just hate, hate, hate the pain of your rod, but I know by faith that you chasten me because you love me and want me to walk in purity and holiness. Please search my heart, show me my sins, help me to acknowledge them, repent, and try to make things right with those I’ve hurt, and then help me to heal up and recover from the pain. Please help me to be a faithful mother to Baby too, so that I’m willing to chasten him when he rebels, not out of anger because he’s at fault, but out of love, so that he will grow up to be wise and good.

THOUGHT: God communicates with us both in simple, obvious ways, and in mysterious ways that we have to ponder and sometimes grow into understanding.

ACTIVITY: This isn’t exactly a game to play for five minutes, but it’s something to think about and perhaps try to do especially today, and then to continue practicing whenever you have the time and energy in the future. It is the concept of using Double Speech. Now that Baby is beginning to understand language, it is important to communicate both with simple language that he may readily understand, and with more complete explanations that he may only understand in bits and pieces. For example, you might say, “Mommy and Baby go!” But, as you’re helping Baby get dressed and ready, you might explain, “We’re getting all ready to go out for a walk around the block!” (Or to church, a friend’s home, or whatever.)

Baby Peeking Through Door322. Seeking and Finding

“Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.”
Lamentations 3:40

PRAYER: Oh Holy Spirit, fill our lives and turn our hearts to God today and every day!

THOUGHT: It is our responsibility to seek the Lord, although God promises to make himself known to us if we will search for him with all our hearts. May we continue day by day to “draw near to God,” knowing that he will then draw near to us.

ACTIVITY: Here’s another version of Hide and Seek. Start with Baby on your lap. Have Daddy come and kiss Baby, then disappear somewhere out of sight. Put Baby down on the floor and let him search for Daddy (or help him look if he doesn’t understand). If he can’t find Daddy right away, let Daddy know, so he can call to Baby from his hiding spot. If Daddy’s not available, you can try the game yourself, just by setting Baby down on the floor, giving him a kiss, and running quickly away, saying, “Come find me!” playfully. If Baby just cries and doesn’t understand that it’s a game, then don’t frighten him by repeating the game until you have a third person who can help him learn how to play.

There are several songs about seeking the Lord that are simple and beautiful. Two of my favorites are “Seek Ye the Lord,” by Karen Lafferty, and “You Are my Hiding Place” by Michael James Ledner. Another lovely children’s chorus is this:

Seek Ye The Lord While He May Be Found

Seek ye the Lord while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near.
Seek ye the Lord while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near.
Then shall the righteousness; then shall the righteousness; then shall the righteousness
And the glory of the Lord (Glory of the Lord)
And the glory of the Lord (Glory of the Lord)
And the glory of the Lord (Glory of the Lord)
Be everywhere
The glory of the Lord shall be everywhere; the glory of the Lord shall be everywhere.
(—Cameroonian Kids Song)

Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Baby’s Eleventh Month, Week 45)

Games with Dad309.Holding Baby Up

“They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:12

PRAYER: Ah, dear Father, thank you for being a mighty rock behind whom we can take refuge and find relief. May we sit down “under your shadow with great delight” as the bride did in the Song of Solomon. Thank you for defending us and protecting us! Thank you for Jesus, the “living stone.” Thank you that he is our cornerstone and not a stone of stumbling or a rock of offense to us. Please bless us, dear Lord, hold us up, and keep us from stumbling.

THOUGHT: Isn’t it amazing that we have a heavenly protector who will stand like a rock between us and our enemies, and who will hold us up to keep us from falling? May we be such “rocks” and supports for our children!

ACTIVITY: Do you know the children’s game “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush”? It’s a game you and Baby can play together while he’s learning to walk. Hold Baby’s hands and walk slowly around in a circle, singing:

“Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush,
Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush, so early in the morning.”
(Then stop walking, drop hands, and sing while pretending to kneed dough.)
“This is the way we bake our bread, bake our bread, bake our bread,
This is the way we bake our bread, so early in the morning.”
(Then, hold hands again and do the chorus again.)

 You can make up all the verses you can dream up. Some I remember are:

“This is the way we make our beds” (pretending to smooth out covers)

“This is the way we wash our clothes” (pretending to scrub on a washboard, which wouldn’t make any sense to a toddler. Maybe a better way for today is to pretend to be bundling clothes into a washing machine…)

“This is the way we dry our clothes” (Hanging on a clothesline or throwing into a dryer)

“This is the way we iron our clothes…scrub our dishes, water our plants, pull our weeds, bake our bread…the list of house hold chores is nearly infinite, Amen?!

Happy little girl310. Sweet Peace, Sweet Peas

“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD;
and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Isaiah. 54:13

PRAYER: Precious LORD, may we always experience the great peace you have for us, as you explain in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

We marvel at your kindness and your omniscient wisdom! Teach us how to walk in your Spirit, avoid pitfalls, and experience your peace. Help me to be a wise teacher for Baby too, so that she will also learn to walk securely, avoid falls, and enjoy your wonderful peace!

THOUGHT: One of the greatest joys in life is being able to celebrate milestone events with those we love. After birth, the next “HUGE” step is walking, and if you can’t visit your parents during this critical stage in your baby’s development, be sure to send them a video if that’s an option. Just a couple of weekends ago I had the privilege of being present when our youngest grand son started to crawl. Pretty special! Let your loved ones share in your joys as much as possible.

ACTIVITY: Does Baby have a favorite treat that might be used as an alluring snack to encourage taking steps? Our firstborn loved sweet, green peas picked fresh from the garden and wild blueberries that were sun ripening along the sandy roadsides in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in August. If you can find a healthy snack that you don’t mind Baby enjoying bit by bit, try holding a tiny piece out in the palm of your hand and coax Baby to come from one parent to the other with tasty rewards to encourage her.

Cute lower lip!311. Time Out

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child;
but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you for being my potter…the one who is forming me. Thank you also for correcting me and defending me from others: “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls, for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4). Help me to correct and defend Baby as well!

THOUGHT: There are times when you’re not sure what went wrong or how to fix it, but you’re sure something’s wrong and something should be done. Once when traveling, we arrived rather late in the evening to our motel, and our two oldest, Aaron and Michael (who were about 3 and 5) immediately began squabbling about something. Alan said in a stern voice, “All right, you two, line up against that wall and just stand there for a few minutes!” Without a word, Aaron and Michael obeyed. Soon Baby Jonathan, who had been preoccupied, looked up in amazement at the quiet and noticed what his big brothers were doing. Not wanting to miss out on anything that looked like a game, Jonathan immediately dropped his toy and went and stood up against the wall next to Michael, just like a little soldier. Of course, that broke the tension and made us all laugh! We let them off in just a few seconds, and we all tumbled happily into bed. But, just that quick minute ended what could have been a very dreary evening of fighting over covers, bed space, bathroom time, or whatever!

ACTIVITY: Sometimes doing nothing is a great activity! I wish I’d used the Time Out more often! Children hate to have to be quiet and have nothing to do but think…and yet a few quiet minutes to think is often just what they need. (*Note: Please don’t ever use a car seat or bed as a “time out” spot. The best would be a playpen that’s not associated with anything else. I just used the above picture because I loved the little fellow’s obvious look of frustration.)

Cracker312.Table Manners

“I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt:
open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10

PRAYER: Ah, Lord God, the Mighty One… “Jehovah-Jireh.” Truly you do provide and you will provide, if we will only let you! Help me to be like a baby bird, opening my mouth wide so you can fill it! Please help Baby to be good, Lord, and to understand that I am trying to help him. Please help him to learn self-control so that he won’t refuse food, push away his cup, or throw things. Help me to be patient, firm, and consistent.

THOUGHT: Once Baby gets to the stage where he is intentionally defiant…at whatever age that begins…then it’s time to begin actively disciplining him. I heard a minister once comment that he only used physical punishment with his children for failures in three categories: disobedience, disrespect, and irresponsibility. That seemed so good to me that I adopted it, and I still think it makes a pretty good guide for assessing problems and understanding the dynamics of what’s going wrong. If our desire is to “train up a child in the way he should go” with the ultimate goal of helping him turn to Christ for salvation and walk in the truth, love, and light of God’s Spirit, then we have to train Baby to be respectful and obedient from earliest days.

ACTIVITY: Here’s a good game to practice with two empty, plastic tea cups. Sing:

“Polly put the kettle on, kettle on, kettle on. Polly put the kettle on, we’ll all have tea,” (Hand Baby and yourself each a cup, pretending to pour tea for both of you to drink, and then daintily pretend to drink it down.)

“Polly take the kettle off, kettle off, kettle off. Polly take the kettle off, we’re all done drinking!” (Put your cup aside, then offer to take Baby’s cup and put it away too. Treat these cups with great care, and it might help Baby learn to treat his own cup more gently.)

Plastic storage containers313. Hot Head or Cold Feet

“I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom,
and the reason of things.” Ecclesiastes 7:25

PRAYER: Dear omniscient Father, please help Baby and me learn the ways of wisdom!

THOUGHT: When Baby misbehaves, the process of thinking through exactly what is wrong with your child’s action and why it is inappropriate will help diffuse your initial reaction and help guide you as you consider what type of discipline is needed. The two natural tendencies are either to get angry and do something too harsh, or to ignore the behavior altogether. John Marshall, who was once chaplain for the U.S. Senate, prayed something like this: “Lord, deliver us from hot heads lest we do anything rash, and from cold feet, lest we fail to do anything at all.” Both responses are wrong. Try your hardest to prayerfully and thoughtfully address each transgression as it occurs and faithfully administer discipline as needed. Too often parents ignore problems until the child is flagrantly hostile and the parent is practically seething with rage. “Nip it in the bud” is such good advice! Deal with problems head on and consistently, but with a gentle grace that leaves your child feeling loved, watched, and firmly but kindly turned around and nudged in the right direction.

ACTIVITY: Learning how to turn over cups and reach into plastic containers are two very useful accomplishments to master. Two other “tricks” that might be fun for Baby to learn are how to take something in and out of a folded sandwich bag and how to open and close a zip-lock baggie. If you put something into the bag that Baby really likes, like bits of cut up grapes for lunch, that will give him lots of incentive to learn!

Sleeping Sweetly314. Seeing and Doing

“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein…this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:23-24

PRAYER: Precious Lord, your word is like a mirror. By looking into it, I can see reflections of my soul and where I need to cleanse, change, and rearrange my life. Please help me to follow through! Please bless Baby, too. May we grow to be sweet, whole, healthy, bright, and lovely inside and out! May I cherish her, groom her with care, and always see her as you do, not looking on the outward appearance, but on her heart.

THOUGHT: One of the many ingenious inventions that didn’t exist when I was rearing children is the mirror system for cars so that Mom can keep occasional eye contact with Baby even while she’s driving in the front and Baby’s sitting securely in her car seat in the back. If you haven’t invested in a baby mirror system, by all means save up your money and get one! With a mirror, you can see if there’s any serious problem going on, if Baby’s content, about ready to erupt, or sound asleep.

ACTIVITY: Have you been taking pictures of Baby all along? If not, how about a picture day? If you don’t have a camera, you can now buy a disposable one for a few dollars at most grocery stores. Be sure to get some portraits of Baby on her own, but also try to get pictures of you and Baby together. If your husband is available during the day or in the evening, ask him to be the photographer for a while, and then return the favor and take some pictures of your husband and Baby together too!

Sunshine in my Soul315. Flourishing Souls

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health,
even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 1:2

PRAYER: Dear Lord, you are the Great Physician and the Chief Shepherd. You are the best of everything good! Please help Baby and me to always put you first in our lives and affections. May our souls and bodies prosper and be in good health!

THOUGHT: Keep sharing happy songs with your children. They’ll never forget them!

ACTIVITY: Here’s a little song you can sing at the doctor’s office or anywhere else when you’re trying to keep that busy little toddler on your lap. Hold Baby on your lap and sing as you wiggle each of his fingers, one at a time. (It’s sung to the tune of “Ten Little Indians,” but Native-Americans may not like being sung about in this way, so I changed the lyrics.)

“One little, two little, three little fingers.
Four little, five little, six little fingers,
Seven little, eight little, nine little fingers,
Ten tiny fingers on your hand!
(Then reverse the fingering…)
Ten little, nine little, eight little fingers.
Seven little, six little, five little fingers,
Four little, three little, two little fingers,
One little finger on your hand.”


Here’s a song that I’ve loved since my earliest days as a believer. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it too and sing it to Baby.

Sunshine in my Soul

“There is sunshine in my soul today, more glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky, for Jesus is my light.
O there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine, while the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows His smiling face, There is sunshine in my soul.”
—Eliza E. Hewitt, 1851-1920)