Friday, May 27, 2016

Parenting Pointers: PlayFull Parenting

Gymboree Play & Music is launching the PlayFull Parenting movement in support of parents’ quest for more play and in celebration of its 40th Anniversary!

A study conducted on behalf of Gymboree Play & Music, found that nearly all moms need more play in their lives. In light of this, the PlayFull Parenting movement will help modern moms attain more play, with less pressure. Gymboree Play & Music is offering parents a free class at participating centers nationwide. For even more play ideas, Gymboree Play & Music also released 40 Ways to Add More Play Into Everyday – a stack of play cards with 40 unique ideas to incorporate fun into each moment. 

I had a chance to interview two Gymboree Play & Music team members to learn more.
·         Jill Johnston – Vice President and General Manager of Gymboree Play & Music Division
·         Gena Segno – Program Developer and Trainer of Gymboree Play & Music Division
1.       Why is play so important for kids?
Gena Segno:
Play is a muscle-builder, brain expander and a friend-maker. Its helps shape how a child will approach learning for the rest of their lives. It’s the one thing that simultaneously develops all aspects of human development for children; social, physical , emotional, cognitive. Everything get activated and expanded with play. It makes a child’s world a much bigger place.      
2.       Why is it important for adults as well?
Gena Segno:
Adults are really just overgrown children. We have similar play need as we age and we know that a body and mind in playful motion remains healthier, happier and more flexible. Parents playing alongside their children offers an even more unique facet of growth. Bonds are deepened, neurons are fired and lasting memories are made when adults play with their children. It reduces all sorts of family stressors, improves communication and creates joy, joy is good!        
3.       How can adults incorporate more play into their lives?
Gena Segno:
It can be as simple as looking at everyday activities through a more PlayFull lens, like singing a song when you butter the toast or pair socks. We have created “40 ways to add more play into your day” to help parents realize it’s not about doing more, but about having more fun with the moments you’re already in. Another way to get a weekly does of play endorphins is to come to a Gymboree Play & Music class. The bright colors, music, energetic teachers, and gorgeous play equipment will help you find your funny bone… and you’ll each make some new besties right in the heart of your own community.     
4.       Where does PlayFull Parenting Movement come in?
Gena Segno:
Parents are tired of the pressure to be perfect, the unsolicited parenting advice, the overscheduling, the constant judgment. It’s time to stop the madness and play!  A recent study showed Gymboree Play & Music offers modern parents a fully accepting, fun & flexible space to come and play as you are. Our non-competitive environment helps each child find success through play on their own terms. The PlayFull Parenting movement also strengthens communities by creating an important local resource for families.           
Jill Johnston:
Through PlayFull Parenting, we're calling on all families around the country to embrace play, champion creativity, foster freedom and celebrate parenting victories – big and small. After all, we're all just trying to raise the best little humans possible – so it's important to remember to be kind, laugh and have fun along the way!

Parenting Pointers: Let Them Play!

The Episcopal Center for Children, A Nonprofit Organization in DC, Offers Tips for Getting Kids Outside


WASHINGTON – Getting children with special needs outside is important for their development and growth, says the staff at the Episcopal Center for Children, a nonprofit organization that assists elementary and middle school aged children with special needs.
It improves coordination and motor skills. Many children with special needs have developmental delays. Playing outside can improve flexibility, muscle strength, and coordination. It can also help them improve body awareness, motor skills and balance. 
Outdoor play builds self-esteem and improves behavior. As children overcome obstacles and improve physical skills, their feelings of self-confidence and self-esteem go up. They experience personal satisfaction and accomplishment, which builds their confidence in other areas.
They improve their social skills. Playing outside gives children with special needs opportunities to share, deal with conflict and work together – but in a low-stress and fun environment.
They advocate for themselves. When these children learn and explore, they often overcome challenges and acquire new skills. This promotes self-advocacy, resiliency, and self-confidence.
Their health improves. Playing outside makes children fitter and leaner. It also boosts their immune systems and raises Vitamin D levels, which many children today are deficient in.
It increases their attention span and problem-solving skills. Children who play outside can increase their attention spans and problem-solving skills. They also tend to have more creative imaginations.
Playing outside lowers stress. Outdoor play reduced stress and lowers a child’s risk for anxiety and depression. It can also ease some symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Getting your child outside may be easier than you think. “Make sure your child gets at least 15-30 minutes of outdoor play each day,” said Dodd White, president and CEO of ECC. “If you live in an apartment building or don’t have a yard, try to get to a neighborhood park a few times a week, and leave your technology at home or turned off.”
Other suggestions are:
- Pack up a “healthy picnic” and enjoy family time outside at an area park.
- Paint a rock garden and put it outside. Visit the garden and play with it.
- Join a recreational sports team or community activity that gets your child outside and playing.
- Encourage your child to act out stories or make up their own. Maybe they can put on a play outside for you to watch.
If you have a limited amount of time available for outdoor play, use a visual cue like a timer, to ease the transition when it’s time to go home.
“A child with special needs may need structure and supervision but you don’t want to excessively hover over them while they are playing,” said White. “Part of the benefit of outdoor play is getting to explore and be creative. So be observant and keep your child safe, but try to give your child some breathing room and keep it fun.”
The Center needs a new playground and is currently raising $30,000 as part of its “Let Them Play!” campaign, which kicks off on June 2, 2016 during DoMore24, a 24-hour day of giving in the Washington, DC metro area for nonprofits organized by the United Way of the National Capital Area. A YouTube video is available.
“We have a beautiful and historic Northwest D.C. campus, but the playground structures we inherited are old and need replacing,” said White. “The children enjoy time outside now in our school garden and play games in the field, but we are eager to get a play structure built for our students, so they can reap more of the benefits of playing outdoors.”
About the Episcopal Center for Children
The Episcopal Center for Children is a private nonprofit, nondenominational day treatment facility for emotionally troubled children and their families from the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  Accredited by the Joint Commission, the Center offers a day treatment program for children who are 5-14 years old, and focuses on enabling children to return to the public school and the community, while being able to re-engage with their families and build a positive future for themselves.  More information is available at

Smart Safety: Outdoor Power Equipment - Look Before You Pump

Soul Sustenance: Recovering from a Shattered Heart

After Jordan lost both a boyfriend and fiancĂ© in separate accidents, she crawled into a bottle of vodka to cope, only to emerge a year later to become the victim of a botched surgery. As she struggled to recover—at many times in so much pain that she couldn’t stand—she cared for her aging parents. Her father, suffering from Alzheimer’s, often didn’t recognize her and claimed that she was an intruder. Weeks later, her mother was put on life support, creating a schism between Jordan and her sister that continues to exist. Jordan shares her story in her new book, The Darkness of My Shattered Heart (Green Ivy Publishing), a heartbreaking and uplifting memoir pulled from her journal and diary entries.

I had a chance to interview the author to learn more and gain  insight.

1.  You experienced a lot of tragedy in a short amount of time.  How did you eventually pull yourself up from the weight of your burdens?

My friend Richie who passed a few months after my parents always told me I had talent and should write a book about my experiences.  I didn't put a lot of thought into his words at the time, but the idea was always in the back of my mind.  Richie was such an emotional support system for me that I felt lost without him.  I was lying on my couch one day extremely depressed and I could hear his words echoing in my mind telling me, "your stronger than this, pull yourself together and do what I told you to do...write the book!".  The more I thought about what he would want me to do and things he would want me to take away from my experiences, I decided to start writing.  It was extremely emotional and the book was written through a veil of tears.  My journals always provided a way to express my feelings, but I found writing the book was a way to express all of my pent up anger, sadness, depression that I had held inside.  It was a form of therapy for me & I realized the tears were a symbolic way of cleansing my soul as I was writing the book.  It was extremely different from writing in my journals during the events. The book was extremely more emotional and mentally exhausting to remove the feelings from my soul. 

 I also decided to put my time and effort into doing for others. My mom and I would make parachute bracelets, book markers or anything creative when she was dealing with breast cancer.  At her appointments, we would give the items to patients waiting at the cancer center.  It was a small token to try and make others feel happy for a moment who were dealing with the same situations as my mom.  I started making the bracelets again and donated to the gift shop at the cancer center in Columbus, GA.  The gift shop would sell the bracelets and the money used for cancer research.  They sold out faster than I could make them.  It was a way to keep my mind occupied and help others in the process.  It gave me a sense of peace instead of feeling depressed. 

2.  How can dealing with aging parents put a strain on family relationships? 

I was on call 24/7 with my parents.  It didn't matter what time they called needing me, I was always going to help them as best I could.  I had very little time to spend at home and when I was at home I found myself catching up on household chores.  I was extremely stressed out and often quiet at home.  My husband wasn't receiving the attention he needed and our conversations were very limited.  I was able to hold myself together in front of my parents, but often times I would be in tears once I was at home.  My husband had no idea how to handle the tears and he didn't know exactly what I was going through being emotionally & physically drained. 

The last year caring for my parents were extremely difficult.  I was rarely at home and I was called away frequently when I did have a few moments at home.  I spent days and nights at the hospital & I was home long enough to shower.  My parents were both in the hospital.  I tried to split my time between both of them.  My anniversary, birthday, holidays were all spent at the hospital.  My parents became priority because they needed me.  My husband was able to care for himself and I was trying to do what I thought was the best for everyone.  My husband knew I was doing what I needed to, but it wasn't easy on him being alone.  He was living alone, sleeping alone and I couldn't remedy the situation at that time.  My mind was focused on my parents, but my husbands mind was focused on me.

3.  How can people use tragedy to inspire others?

In my life, I had a sense of purpose and control with my life when I was making the bracelets for the cancer center.  I feel it is very important when things are going crazy in our lives to hold on to a sense of control & purpose.  We all need positivity in our lives and anytime we can turn our sadness into a happy feeling when doing for others, it is a great feeling.  The possibilities are endless to help others.  One great way is to volunteer with an organization.  Depression effecting me in a way I wanted to stay home, lying on the couch and watch mindless tv all day.  Once I found an outlet for my feelings I had a sense of purpose and being among others really helped me emotionally. 

4.  How can people help others who are going through personal tragedies?

I knew in the back of my mind things others would say was meant to help, but sometimes the words were very hurtful.  A long time friend of my parents told me my mom was better off dead because she was suffering.  I burst into tears and that statement still causes tears 3 years later.  I would never allow my mom to suffer.  I had a team of doctors I trusted to help me make the decisions I needed to make.  As long as the doctors had hope, so did I.  The day my mom's doctor told my brother and I we needed to sign a DNR, we did just that with tears streaming down our faces.  These were the moments no one else knew about.  I think its very important to choose your words wisely when someone is dealing with tragedies.  The less you say about the situation the better.  Spend time with the person, cook for them, help with things they are not able to do at the moment. Take them out of the situation they are dealing with such as to dinner, watch a funny movie with them, anything to change the thoughts in their heads.  The last thing they want is to be reminded of what they are dealing with at the moment.  Treat them like the great person you know and not as if they are broken. 

Elizabeth Jordan is the author of The Darkness of My Shattered Heart, a memoir based on journal and diary entries she kept while caring for her aging parents. An award winning photographer, activist for animal rights, and supporter of cancer causes, she graduated with honors from Troy University with a Bachelor of Science with a focus on psychology and sociology. Jordan lives in Salem, Alabama.
Connect with Jordan on Twitter and Facebook.
The Darkness of My Shattered Heart is currently available on Amazon and other major online booksellers.

Book Nook: Beyond Therapy - Igniting Life Focus Community Movements

I recently had the chance to review Beyond Therapy: Igniting Life Focus Community Movements . Although the title is a bit perplexing until you discover what those life focus community movements are, it was made clear as I read the book.

The author looks at three of the most common activities: conversation, religion, and the arts. Instead of just living through life, he encourages the reader to have a "life focus" as a way to improve mental and emotional health. It's appropriate for both people who are struggling but aren't seeking professional treatment, and also for mental health practitioners looking for specific exercises and ideas for designing programs.

I like the focus on communal belonging. As a society, we are too individualistic, and that results in less community support when we struggle. The community aspect of the book helps bring that back together.

Soul Sustenance: Pressing Pause - A Solution for Moms Who Need a Moment to Themselves

I've been spending a lot of time over the past few weeks using little snippets here and there to recharge myself. One book I've enjoyed having the chance to review is Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus. It's a beautiful book that's calming just to look at, with blue and green tones and a friendly cover. Like any book that needs to fit in a busy mom's schedule, the meditations take just a few minutes, but still have impact.

I like the focus on practical ways to serve God and love our families. The length made it not only easy to fit into a schedule, but also easy to focus on and remember the main point. Some days I was able to read a few of them, and other days I read only one, but each time I returned to the book I felt refreshed, energized, and renewed in my purpose as a mother.

Movie Minute: When Calls the Heart - Troubled Hearts

I recently had the chance to review the newest installment in the When Calls the Heart series, Troubled Hearts.

Big revelations are in store for Hope Valley as Elizabeth moves into her own row house, dismaying Jack, who has been planning to build a new home for the both of them. Rosemary discovers that Lee has taken out a loan and worries that he is in financial difficulties.  And Jesse, the young drifter who works in  Abigail’s kitchen, has information that could ruin Pastor Frank’s good standing in Hope Valley,  and begins his plan to extort the pastor with an  old “Wanted” poster…
 Like the other installments, it's a faithful interpretation of the spirit of the Janette Oke books - historical conflicts, integrity winning over deception, hard-working main characters. The movie has just the right amount of suspense to keep the plot moving without being scary for younger kids, making it a good family-friendly series to watch.

Giveaway: Mother & Son - The Respect Effect

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
 Respect is a huge part of success. As a teacher, it is immediately apparent to me which students have been raised to respect authority and which ones haven't. It's not necessarily just about behavior, but it's also about attitude and work ethic when asked to do a task.
 But what's the best way to raise a son to be respectful? In Mother and Son: The Respect Effect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs makes the claim that it begins with the mother respecting the son. This seems backwards, but it really isn't. How can a son learn to respect without being shown what that looks like?
I like the take in this book - to focus on that mother/son relationship is something not a lot of books do. It does have wisdom that work with father/daughter and mother/daughter and father/son relationships, but has a particular focus on the interaction between female parent and male child.
I have a chance to give away a copy of the book. To enter, leave a comment by June 7th with what you love best about your relationship with your son (or another young man in your life).

Book Nook: The Sisterhood - How the Power of the Feminine Heart Can Become a Catalyst for Change and Make the World a Better Place

I recently had a chance to review The Sisterhood by Co-founder and Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church Bobbie Houston. Although the book wasn't exactly what I expected, it was still an inspiring read.

Based on the subtitle, I had expected a little more in terms of a practical how-to read; instead, the book was largely focused on what had happened. That doesn't mean it wasn't worth reading - the biggest takeaway I got from the book was what can happen when you trust God, even if it seems like it's way out of what's expected. Reading how amazing God's work has been in her life, with the creation of The Colour Sisterhood, was inspiring. And to think it all began with the whisper of God in her life.

Book Nook: Kids Are Turds

There are a wealth of helpful parenting books out there, with advice and tips, written from the scholarly tone to the sarcastic. But sometimes, you just need a book that will commiserate with you, with the trials and joys of parenting. That's what Kids Are Turds does. Subtitled "brutally honest humor for the pooped-out parent," this book holds nothing back, exploring the dirty, messy, disgusting side of parenting.

I had a chance to review the book, and I did laugh a lot. Sometimes the author goes a little over-the-top in describing the challenges, but mostly, it's easy to empathize, because we've all been there! It's a great book to get a new parent - if you want to warn them - or an experienced parent, who will be able to laugh because they've gone through it too.