Friday, January 9, 2015

Growing Up Social

I was recently given the opportunity to review the new book by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane entitled Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World. As I read this book the one feeling I continued to get was that of


I heard the comment once, "What parents do in moderation, the children do in excess."

The more I delved into this book, the more I became aware of how much screen time I allow myself on a daily basis. The more I became aware of that, the more concerned I became about how that would affect how my children would view screen time.

It is amazing how screens subtly make their way into our lives, our daily routine, and our family time. Reading this book made me aware of each moment I held my smartphone, picked up the tablet, turned on the TV, or sat down at the computer. It caused me to put my phone on silent during certain times of the day when I needed to be present for my children. It made me close up the entertainment center so the TV would not be visible in the living room. It made me unsubscribe to a lot of emails that I received so I would only receive emails that were relevant and important. It made me assign specific times in my day to sit at the computer for work related items.

What can you expect to get out of this book? Here is what has been said about the book.

Although parents are not able to monitor every minute of their child’s screen time, they can guide them to make positive choices by example. Growing Up Social offers practical guidance on: 

  • Parenting Your Child Through Screen Life: Using technology to educate children on social skills, communication, gratitude, responsibility, and privacy; teaching them that people come first, and technology comes second. Understanding the A+ skills of affection, appreciation, anger management, apology, and attention.  
  • Screen Time and the Brain: Understanding how screen time is strengthening some parts of the brain (quick decision making, visual acuity, and multitasking), but weakening other parts (one-on-one people skills, empathy, reading, writing, and sustained concentration). 
  • Screen Time and Love Languages: Expressing love more effectively to your child, who is often engaged in screen time, by understanding their “love language.” (physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service) 
  • Screen Time and Parental Authority: Implementing boundaries regarding screen time (i.e. during dinner time, bedtime, school hours). Advice if you find your child is involved with cyber-bullying, sexting, or viewing pornography. Abiding by a “screen safe family pledge.” 
  • Screen Time and Unhealthy Lifestyle Patterns: Preventing unhealthy habits caused by excess screen time, including a sedentary lifestyle, isolation from others, unhealthy eating habits, lack of sleep, and aggressive behavior. Also impacted is a child's inability to have healthy, positive friendships face-to-face.

Growing Up Social had so much to say. Words that will stay with me for many years to come as Brian and I raise our children in this digital age. Here are a few excerpts from the book that I hope will capture your attention and make you more curious as to what this book has to offer you and your family.

Technology is here to stay, and we believe you can find positive ways to utilize it for your relationships. No doubt your child is going to use emails, texts, and smart phones as he grows into an adult. (pg. 9) 

The AAP recommends that children older than two years old should get no more than two hours a day of screen time. This means if your child is on the computer for one hour at school, they should only have one additional hour at home. (pg. 19) 

Many screen-savvy teenagers are not taught to treat people with respect and courtesy online. Navigating friendships on a screen can seem more transactional than with humans. You can delete friends who bother you and just get new ones. People can be treating you like a commodity; they are there for your convenience to meet your needs. (pg. 63) 

Parents are needed more than ever to provide instruction, correction, and positive modeling to a child regarding screen time, even if this digital world seems like unfamiliar territory. We live in a brand-new era when children are digital natives and many parents are digital immigrants. In other words, many children know more technology than their parents, and that is quite different from how the world worked hundreds of years ago. (pg. 169) 

I am very particular about which books I keep long-term. This is one of those books I intend on keeping and reaching for every couple of years as a reminder of being intentional with our screen time as a family.

About the Authors:

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to a Happy Husband and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. She has been a featured guest on Fox & Friends, The Today Show, The Better Show, TLC’s Home Made Simple, The 700 Club, Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah and Family Life Today radio. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Arlene worked as the Associate Producer for Turning Point Television.  Arlene earned her BA from Biola University and her Masters in Journalism from Regent University. Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three young children.

Gary Chapman, PhD, is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The 5 Love Languages. With over 30 years of counseling experience, he has the uncanny ability to hold a mirror up to human behavior, showing readers not just where they are wrong, but how to grow and move forward. Dr. Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively, MRE and PhD degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What to Remember When Taking Pictures on Christmas Morning

As I was going through my camera after Christmas last year, I had to chuckle as I tried to find those perfect shots of our perfect Christmas.

This is what I found instead and decided to share with you so you will remember when you are trying to get those perfect shots on Christmas morning what really qualifies as a perfect photo.

You can forget about being in a photo yourself. Unless you can sign your name to each photo taken, there will be no proof that you were even there for Christmas. (And if there was a picture, it is pretty safe to say you deleted it before anyone had a chance to see it.)

Your subjects will move right when you snap the photo.

When you try to get pictures of the kids playing with their new toys, they will most likely be playing with the toys their siblings received.

Not everyone will cooperate with you. Okay, let's be realistic- no one will cooperate! And some photos may come out dark.

Hair will most likely still be messy from their night of dreaming about Christmas morning.

When you ask them to look at you, they will probably break out into some awkward pose you have never seen before. This is probably due to their extreme excitement.

But.... those aren't really the shots you will want to remember for years to come anyway.

The poses you will want to take are the ones when no one is looking at the camera because they are snuggling and so involved in the special Christmas movie that comes after all the gifts have been opened.

The photos of a happy child playing next to his exhausted father.

The smiles of gratitude for a day that went above expectations.

The sparkle of eyes that are truly experiencing Christmas and all of its thrill for the first time.

The way your child clings to his daddy because for some glorious reason, that he doesn't understand, Daddy didn't have to go to work today.

Your husband and son playing with each other and interacting with each other the way only fathers and sons can.

Because, after all, Christmas isn't about the presents under the tree. It is about relationships. The relationship that God wants to have with us, so He sent His Son Jesus as a Baby that first Christmas so long ago.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Intentional Christmas | Our Christmas List

This post contains affiliate links.

Yesterday, I shared how we have chosen to be intentional about Christmas this year.

Would you like to see the real life way we are putting our desires into action?

Here they are in no particular order. The actual main items our children will be getting on Christmas Day. I did not include stocking stuffers, since I bought them on clearance at the beginning of the year. (Amazon prices change without notice, so prices may have changes since our purchase of them.)

Adventure Bible, NKJV

Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry: Make Bracelets, Rings, Belts & More with Rainbow Loom(R), Cra-Z-Loom(TM), or FunLoom(TM)

Twistz Bandz Rainbow Loom

Welcome to Samantha's World-1904: Growing Up in America's New Century (American Girl)

Skip Hop Zoo Pack Little Kid Backpack, Owl

Disney Doc McStuffins Beach Towel Pink

Boy's Spiderman Beach Towel

My First Hands-On Bible

Monday, November 24, 2014

Intentional Christmas | Preparing Your Heart and Home for an Intentional Christmas

Brian and I have spent considerable time talking through what we really want for our children.

We want them to:
  • value their relationship with the Lord
  • value their relationships with us and each other
  • find their worth in Christ, not in their stuff
  • develop an attitude of gratitude, not an attitude of entitlement
  • see that stuff does not matter, people do
  • learn that the money God gives us has to be spent wisely
  • choose experiences over things
With those goals in mind, we have altered what Christmas will look like for us this year and every year after.

We are choosing to scale back, not just on gifts, but activities.

For the last few years, I have wrapped 24 books and had my children open one every day until Christmas. This year, we are taking a break from the daily book. Instead, we will be learning about the character of God with Melk the Christmas Monkey. We want to redirect our children's focus back to the Lord and off of the commercialism of the season.

We are involved in many church related activities, but we are making sure that we do not overwhelm our calendars. We want to sit back after Christmas is over and reminisce, not crash.

Christmas will be practical, but it will still have the element of Christmas wonder that children look forward to. 

Our home is a decent size, yet space is still at a premium. Once the wrapping paper has settled and the toys have been played out for the day, the issue of finding a place for all of these things comes up. For us, practically speaking, the items we purchase for our children are already having "places" prepared for them. Bookshelves are being purged of "froo-froo" books to make room for books that will last for years to come. Toy boxes are being purged to make room for gifts that family may be giving.

It will have purpose, but it will still be fun. 

My children are involved in a co-op and we also take field trips and visit family frequently. One of the things I know they could benefit from is a backpack. Brian and I have chosen to use a back pack as their "stocking" and some of their smaller gifts (under pants and socks) will be put inside of it.

Addie is now old enough to have a "real" Bible. Because we also want Ian to have a Bible of his own, we have gotten both of them age/reading level appropriate Bibles.

We live in Florida. In the summertime, pools, beaches, and backyard water fun are a part of our daily existence. We decided to gift each child a beach towel featuring a character they prefer. 

The gifts that we are giving our children have been intentionally chosen, based on shown interests and needs that they have.

Addie is completely immersed in the Rainbow Loom phase despite the fact that she does not have an actual Rainbow Loom (hers is like a super simple version of the real thing and is not capable of making anything more than a simple bracelet). We have watched how she learns what she can from cousins and friends and has even learned to use her fingers to make some rings. We decided that she has shown us that she is ready for the real Rainbow Loom as well as a book to help her make some fun accessories.

Ian on the other hand needs a bicycle. Our road was recently paved, so we now have a great place to ride bikes (our road dead ends and we have no traffic). Addie has gotten to ride her bicycle while Ian chases her with the best attitude ever. Once Brian heard him say, "My legs are tired. I need a bicycle." No worries, Little Man. We have you covered.

We are staying away from the "toys" this year. In all honesty, they have plenty of toys, and I have found that the fewer toys they have on hand, the more they play with their toys.

I love that I can depend on several family members and friends to gift us things that are practical and are also needs. Several of my aunts are great at getting my children clothes and pajamas. One aunt in particular always purchases great quality shoes for them (a huge blessing to us!). One of my dear friends almost always gifts us pajamas- something I appreciate so much because it is a need but not something I like spending money on. One of their aunts always calls or texts to find out what our kids want or need.  

An intentional Christmas does not mean you have taken the fun out of Christmas. It means that we are making the thrill of Christmas last much longer with gifts that will be used for a long time to come.

Tomorrow I will be sharing a list of the items we have actually purchased for our children as we work towards as intentional Christmas. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Guest Posting | Kids Don't Care About the Packaging

Today, I am posting at Frugal Homeschool Family where I am sharing about a frugal way to give Christmas to our families. Our children don't generally care about the packaging their gifts come in. I will be sharing how we have given a great Christmas to our children by shopping in places other than retail stores.


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