Category Archives: developmental psychology

Protect the children


When I read the paper on human trafficking and found that organ harvesting was one of the areas, primarily using children, I was completely appalled. I couldn’t imagine what that implicated because it was too deeply sad a thing to consider, and for my own peace of mind, I thought of it as something far away involving the lowest people on earth. Recently, however, Planned Parenthood has come into the news for finding some potential loophole in the law and using aborted babies for profit by harvesting and selling their organs. Furthermore, Planned Parenthood is funded by our government, aka our tax money.

For more information and ways to take a stand, here’s somewhere to start.


James 1:27 (NIV)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Isaiah 1:23-25New International Version (NIV)

23 Your rulers are rebels,
    partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
    and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
    the widow’s case does not come before them.

24 Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
    the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
    and avenge myself on my enemies.
25 I will turn my hand against you;[a]
    I will thoroughly purge away your dross
    and remove all your impurities.


Painting with Yogurt: the sequel


When Snuggly Man wakes up from his afternoon nap, he is in a bit of a cuddly funk until he has had a snack and finished waking up. During one of these late afternoon slumps, Pen Elaine and I decided it was the perfect time for some messy color and tactile exploration! We had a throwback activity: yogurt painting. This was one of Pen Elaine’s favorite activities when she was this age, so check out the old pics to see how much my kids look alike 🙂 All you need is a muffin tin, yogurt, and food coloring – plus a spoon and/or a paintbrush if you want! This is a fun activity, great for practice with fingers and fine motor skills, plus exploration with textures and colors.

Of course, this time around, I had a big helper to drop in the food coloring and create colors by mixing different drops. We would put in drops of red and blue and then wait until we swirled in the yogurt to discover what color resulted – it was very exciting. Pen Elaine loved helping make and mix colors – and overseeing the exploration process. Snuggly Man (and Pen Elaine) loved touching and eating the “paints.” The end result was a huge mess, of course, but easily wiped up with a damp cloth!


Oh, and here’s this adorable toddler enjoying some attention in his high chair 🙂

This is Snuggly Man showing us the birds outside. Our bird feeder and bird bath outside the kitchen window provide continual entertainment and excitement. Snuggly Man loves being able to copy the rest of us by pointing out the window to direct our attention! It’s so cute!!!

10 Reasons Baby Boys are awesome



Snuggly Man is constantly melting my heart, so here is a post with some of the ways that baby boys…especially mine…are awesome 🙂

Top Ten style:

10. Hats – put a hat on a baby boy and he is instantly transformed into a southern gentlemen or a hipster or just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen – and the hats get to be totally weather appropriate. Boys’ accessories get to be functional and adorable at the same time!



9. Photo shoots in their pajamas are OK! With Pen Elaine, I got her out of those pj’s in one of her absolutely precious little doll dresses before I took any kind of special pic, but with a boy…bring on the pj’s – especially if the photo is documenting a major sleep milestone…



8. Mama’s boy – this little man loves his mama. I pick him up, and he immediately snuggles up to me with his thumb in his mouth. He can settle in for a power nap, if needed, and we have a special bond that I know to enjoy while it lasts! He also loves being carried in a sling, ergo, any kind of baby carrier because he just loves being close. Plus, people say he looks like me, which is totally fine for a baby boy 🙂 and I love it! Just look at that little angel baby 😉



7. Tough – my sweet baby boy can sit in the hay, and he is fine…eat it, touch it, whatever, his tough little boy skin is ready for pumpkin pics, which is good since I cannot seem to get enough photos of my cuties in the pumpkin patch. Plus, he balances out his girly, wildfire of a sister. He can just sit, eating hay and drumming on a pumpkin, while I’m corralling my little beauty to occasionally look at the camera.


6. Old man pajamas…Little boy pajamas that make them look like little old men…enough said.


5. Snuggles…I don’t really know if this is all baby boys, but mine is seriously the snuggliest, cuddliest, baby I have ever met, and I’ve worked in nurseries and an infant research department, so that is saying something. In the photo below, Snuggly Man is leaning in for a head snuggle while simultaneously wooing the hearts of about 10 older ladies at the table next to our table.


4. The Old Man and the Sea – I’ve gotten to use the ship that my Honey ordered online for Snuggly Man’s room as his month-by-month photo prop because little boys are cool, old souls. Boy clothes have one of the following décor themes on them: nautical items, cars/trucks with wheels, animals, or sports.



3. Baby toys – Baby boys actually play with baby toys! While most of our baby toys were occasionally chewed but mostly ignored when we had a girl baby in the house, with Snuggly Man, I can sit him next to a bag of baby toys, and they actually occupy his attention for an extended period of time. He systematically goes through the entire bag, pulling out each one and exploring its rattle and movement capabilities before checking out the next one. It’s amazing!






2. Bath time – Baby boys use bath time to show off their skills! Pen Elaine liked taking baths, but Snuggly Man LOVES the bathtub like Buddy the Elf loves smiling and Christmas…He gets in there and starts kicking like he is swimming across the Atlantic Ocean with a serious face, using his whole body for momentum and movement. He is breathing heavy until he takes a quick break to smile up at me (or whoever is giving him the bath) with this smile that lights up his face in a way that looks like he is telling me thank you, so much, for giving me this time in the bathtub!



1. Bow ties.



Children are a gift from the Lord; babies are a reward. Psalm 127:3 NCV

Mommy & Me class: Pretend Play with Fake Food



Pretend play is so important for young children – they need time and space to imagine and practice what they are figuring out in “real” life. It is easy to fill up their time with structured activities, commitments, and get caught up with our own schedules so much that we start dragging our kids through each step and “job” of the day. One of my recent resolutions has been to give Pen Elaine some play time (that includes me) before making her complete her morning “jobs” of getting dressed and making her bed, even if I still have a kitchen to clean up or breakfast dishes to put away. This does not and cannot happen every day, but it is at least on my radar and a goal for most days. However, I know making time for children is important since Jesus Christ said that He was not too busy to hold them, touch them, pray over them. Matthew 19:14 says, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'”

Sometimes a craft project can help lead to more pretend play or more intentional pretend play. Pretend play with food can be a fun time to practice table manners, thinking of other people, using proper utensils, and having mealtime conversations, to get the ball rolling.

I saw these tantalizing play food creations from oneperfectdayblog and really wanted to attempt our own. Ours didn’t turn out looking too much like actual food…although Snugly Man was fooled, as captured in the top photo!

Only supplies needed: sponges from the dollar store, paint & paintbrush, some glue optional

Pen Elaine enjoyed painting and stacking these “slices” of sponges to create a piece of cake and “cookies” (that kinda look like cupcakes…?).




We also made paper pizzas (to look like one by Looksissquare via Pinterest) – it’s on the bottom in this last pic, we cut out the “dough,” “sauce,” “cheese,” and an assortment of toppings such as peppers, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, meatballs, etc. These could’ve been made with felt to be more durable for creating many times over.




Mommy & Me class: Fall faces



It has probably been a month since we enjoyed these activities at our “Preschool Moms” class, but I’m posting this anyway…maybe I can change the publication date.

Anyhow, our theme was Fall Faces so that we could make some jack-o-lanterns and scarecrows! Plus, it is a good reminder that kids are very tuned into faces, especially the faces of their mamas, starting at a very early age. A classic experiment, the “Still face” paradigm, started by Dr. Edward Tronick and colleagues, is a moving example of how babies are always watching mama’s face and deeply affected by her emotions and responses. Watch the video on youtube! An unresponsive face leads a baby to distress and despair. Furthermore, a baby worried about the love and safety in her mama’s eyes has all her resources tied up in that issue, with nothing left for learning or exploring or deepening understanding about the world around her. Of course, people don’t really grow out of this “phase;” we need eye contact for human connections and love and security for our entire adult life. I recently was shown a video about Validation Therapy, founded by Naomi Feil, that brought me to tears because of the touching nature of human interaction that includes needs that last a lifetime.


Furthermore, these are great activities for teaching facial features and where all the parts of the face belong when creating these faces! Play is learning!

First, I printed this pumpkin/jack-o-lantern poem onto cardstock, leaving a big space for drawing a pumpkin. The idea was to paint or draw a pumpkin, with a handprint stem, then to glue black construction paper pieces, cut into the shapes of eyes, nose, mouth, etc. onto the pumpkin to transform it into a jack-o-lantern. Pen Elaine thought this was so fun – we completed the pic in stages, and I just let her color the orange pumpkin with a crayon, followed by a green paint handprint, and black facial features. I cut out several options for eyes, nose, mouth, and she chose and glued what she wanted onto the “pumpkin.” I did talk her through putting the facial features in the approximate “right” places; maybe I was squelching her artistic license, but since she’s three, I wanted to make sure she was thinking through where body parts should actually go.



I couldn’t resist – here’s my little pumpkin!



Second, we made paper plate scarecrows! These were fun – I cut out the shapes for Pen Elaine and let her glue them down, reminding her to place eyes where “eyes go” and mouth where “mouths go,” etc.






Remembering to Feed the Ducks



Remember to feed the Ducks @ Whimsinlove

I have not written a post in over a month because my computer screen was on the fritz for a while, we traveled for a week, the fall schedule got up and going, and, most of all, I have been working on living and “relaxing” in the everyday moments of being a mom with two littles. I self prescribed myself to soak up the fleeting phases of my children, trying to listen to God and see His beauty in the way He starts on people. To see and shape my daughter’s heart, I need to stop and listen to her words, and not feel hurried by the list of things to do or rushing her into clothes, the car, the next stop, etc. when I am focusing on her. Some days, she needs to be home with me, while baby brother is sleeping, and just play…or craft…or read…because she will only be 3 this one year.

It’s easier to remember the passing of time and phases when (1) another kid starts to kindergarten and all of a sudden, the first five years seem like the blink of an eye and the time has arrived for this child to stretch her wings, or (2) my baby starts crawling around the house and almost sleeping through the night and looking like a giant. I’m reminded to enjoy the little moments, like brushing my little girl’s hair for her, snuggling with a little mama’s boy who has a crazy, toothy grin, and not be weighed too heavily with the toddler-sized anger issues, the squashing baby brother like a puppy, the piles of laundry from wearing 5 different princess dresses in one day…because it’s actually the sweetest thing to watch a miniature human learn how to make kinder choices, to pray instead of hit, to explore what it means to be a girl in the world. Being their mother means everyday holds different joys, heartaches, challenges, and lessons that God is trying to teach me, and sometimes we both say the same things a hundred times before seeing any fruit.

1 Thessalonians 4:10-12

But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.



Instead of squeezing in a kitchen task while Pen Elaine takes a million years to eat a meal…I’m trying to use that time for question games and talking about situations or feelings or God’s Word.

“Olaf” pancakes are constantly requested, but all she really wants is whip cream.


Rather than getting caught up with the getting there or the end result or the destinations, I’m trying to dilly-dally on the way, so that I can enjoy the pace of a curious toddler. The wonder of a butterfly, birds eating from our bird feeder, picking a flower for me from our flower beds, all awaken the depth and beauty inside a little girl’s soul, in a way that is unique to this special time of being 3.

20140606-141224-51144978.jpgremember to feed the ducks @Whimsyinlove

Here is Pen re-enacting a book we read, but most of the time, I read through a book and then check it off my mental list then onto the next item, instead of discussing thoughts more or acting the story out, so that I can find out how the book is touching my child’s soul.


We got excited about our one strawberry harvested – Pen Elaine tasted the fruit of our scarce labor – we would probably have grown more fruit if I had taken more time out with her to care for that plant! Thankfully, her preschool heart was content with just the one.



I’ve been reminded to recognize the still or routine moments  – riding in the car, eating a meal together, shopping at the grocery store, giving a bath, bedtime reading – are all opportunities for teaching, talking about Jesus, reciting Bible verses, asking questions and developing a close relationship as family.


Instead of squeezing everything I can possibly get accomplished into the day, I need to just imagine the fun things to play with my kids in the next moment, while they are still young and hanging on my every word.


Here is Pen Elaine after her first taste of salsa! She wanted to like it, I think, to be just like her daddy. She recently asked him if she was beautiful in her blue dress that she chose to wear, since his favorite color is blue. For learning to take place, kids need safety and love needs to be met first, and that can’t be accomplished in the hurried moments between activities or while I’m simultaneously looking at a screen.


15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

While everyday moments are easy to wish away, God is reminding me that His ways are higher than our ways and only He can see the future and know how the pieces fit together. Since my life is so small on the line of eternity, I need to accept and relish in the details of this life God has given me. The season when the ducks are waiting at the neighborhood pond and my kids are excited about feeding them is a special gift of time before the seasons change.


Pen Elaine’s most favorite book (trilogy)…this week


If you haven’t heard of Mo Willems, go to the library and check out all the books you can find by him. His books are funny and charming and fun for the whole family. We read “Cat the Cat” books when Pen Elaine was just 1, then we moved up to “Pigeon books,” followed closely by “Elephant and Piggy books.” Then, a mom whose kids I used to babysit recommended his “Knuffle bunny” books, of which I had never heard. So, when I spotted one at the library, we read Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity before realizing we were reading the second book in a trilogy. This series has super fun illustrations that are drawn animations on top of actual photographs, a fun effect that feels real and yet approachable for preschoolers.

However, the real treasure is reading through all three books and finding the author’s note to his daughter at the end. These hilarious tales (seriously, Pen Elaine guffaws at moments in all three books…each time we read them) end in such a heartwarming way that I actually had tears in my eyes…maybe I was just hormonal, but it chokes me up a little each time. I love the progression of this trilogy as Trixie “grows up” from toddlerhood to elementary school. They also illustrate the special bond of fathers and daughters, and the lengths that dads will go for their little girls. Furthermore, it subtly reminds kids to think of others. Please go read these with your kiddos!