Guest Blog by Tracey Clayton


As we wrap up 2015, I’d like to wish you and yours happiness in the New Year!

This week, my guest blog writer is Tracey Clayton. She is a full-time mom of three girls. Tracey loves to cook, bake, sew and spend quality time with her daughters. She’s passionate  about writing, and her motto is “Live the life you love, love the life you live.” You can follow her on Facebook. Please welcome Tracey!

Blessings, Rebecca


Things that the kids can learn from their surroundings

The child’s environment plays an important role in his/her education. Parents should make every effort to ensure that this environment does not bring negative effects to the child, and they must make a great effort to guide their child to the right track.

Parents are the role models

As the child’s immediate environment is the family, it is inevitable that the child takes the characteristics of his/her parents. Therefore, parents should be careful about how they treat their children; it is not strange if children become mean or very aggressive if parents show identical behavior in front of them. Parents need to have a healthy attitude towards a situation that presents itself. If a problem occurs, for example, they must be able to show the resolve or at least seem to have courage to overcome it. As parents are the role models for their children, kids often simply copy the look and behavior.

Peer pressure

Apart from education provided by the parents, the children also receive education in their immediate environment, the most important thing being school. The relationship with teachers and peers has an effect on children’s education. Children often tend to follow what their friends do.


The importance of games

Play is essential to the child especially in early years. Combining learning and entertainment is an interesting concept involving the game. Through play, the children are not subjected to any pressure and progress at their own pace. It contributes significantly to the motor development in the simplest possible way. This is also a way to develop communication between children and parents. When they play pretend, children understand the world by trying things they have learned and they have seen, and reflecting their impressions. Just looking at my girls play, I could learn a lot about what they feel and think.

Games with rules

At about time they start school, children start to play games governed by rules, which they must comply. This encourages them to use strategies, logic and their moral judgment. Board games, card games and team sports all involve rules. They help children to learn to play in turn, negotiate, solve problems and get along with others.

Useful toys

Toys are an essential part of education, proper development and education in a child’s life. Apart from getting my kids toys that are appropriate for their age and stimulate learning, I also allowed them to play with different household items such as pots and magnets, and I even got them a Zado rug, with alphabet, so that they could subconsciously learn while playing.

The influence of technology

It is certain that the development of technology significantly changed the role of parents. It was really hard for me to comprehend that something that was not part of my growing up, is now an integral part of childhood for my children. However, regardless of all the technological wonders that surround us – the kids are still kids! That is, while kids acquire certain skills through games, mobile phones and computers as they grow up, playing with a ball, riding a bike, and other small, everyday activities, precisely at the appropriate age and in an appropriate manner – will not be able to get compensation later. Your participation as a parent is of paramount importance, much to the benefit and satisfaction of both you and your child.

The positive education demands patience because the child does not adhere very quickly to change. Parents must accompany the children and encourage them, providing everything necessary for the proper development while taking care of children’s immediate surroundings.

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Tough Times


This past week has been tough! My life seemed like a roller coaster with its ups and downs; twists and turns. First, we were blessed with a new place to live. The kids were excited to unpack their boxes, and I was thrilled to move in before winter hit.

Yesterday, we explored our new surroundings, and hiked to Eagles Landing observation deck. I marveled at the amazing vista of Scotts Valley, California!


Second, my friend Dianna Cornell passed away of kidney complications. I miss her smile, hugs and encouraging words. She was an awesome friend, and taught me how to blog using WordPress. I featured her Guest Blog on February 23, 2015.

Dianna loved the Lord. The good new is she’s now present with Him and pain-free. Although, it is a sad time for her family and friends, it’s also a hopeful time in that one day we will see her again in Heaven.


During this topsy turvy time, I’ve learned four things that have helped me cope.

  1. Focus on God – I find that when I start my days reading my Bible and praying to God, it always goes smoother. His peace helps me through my hectic day.
  2. Prioritize Activities – I know I can’t possibly do everything all the time. So, I write what needs to be done down and determine what needs to be done first. Once I complete it I cross it off my “To Do” list and move on to the next task.
  3. Persevere – When I feel overwhelmed, I remember to press through and keep going. Otherwise, if I stop or slow down, work piles up and I feel worse. So, I do what I can without compromising my sanity or healthy.
  4. Ask for Help – I’m extremely independent. So, this is next item is definitely a learned behavior for me. If I need assistance, I now ask my husband, son, daughter, other family or friends for help. They are always eager to help in time of need.

My hope is these simple steps can help you during a stressful season of life. I’d love to hear how you have successfully navigated through tough times. Fee free to share your insight with us.

Sharing is Caring


Thank you for sharing. It shows me you are caring are the lyrics to a song we sing in pre-school. Yet, it’s my observation kids’ least favorite activity is sharing toys. It’s my experience that children will inevitably want the same toy to play with at the same exact time. The rule at our school is to ask your friend, “Can I be next?” Then the other child will respond, “Yes,” play for awhile and hand over the item. However, there are times when a child will respond, “No!”

Why is it so hard to share? Like when you are savouring a delicious meal and your spouse asks, “Can I have a bite?” Of course you give them some, but deep down you may be thinking, “No!”


Sharing appears to be a learned behavior varying from culture to culture. Some people share everything with others such as their money, time, house, car, clothes, food, etc.


I believe the ultimate act of sharing is when God gave His one and only begotten son, Jesus, to be a randsome for the world’s sin. Often, I look at my thirteen-year-old son,  and am reminded of His loving sacrifice.

How do you share or teach your children to share? Or has anyone shared something special with you? Please tell us below.

Guest Blog by Eileen Turay


I’d like to introduce Eileen Turay. She has a Masters of Science in Counseling with a school specialization. She’s worked with children with Autism for a few years using ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), and taught at both preschool and elementary levels. She’s married, has a three-year-old daughter, two dogs, and they live in South Florida.

She shares some great free and cheap ideas to do with children. Please welcome Eileen Turay!

Blessings, Rebecca

Our top 8 fave FREE and CHEAP things to do with Kids

Since I currently work full time, I am always looking for new fun things for Olivia and I to do on the weekends. Though going to get Bagels and Starbucks are among our top two faves, they get old quickly; so, I thought I would make a list of some of our favorite inexpensive and free things that Olivia and I like to do together.

1. Make breakfast together. Pancakes are not only pretty simple to make, they are easy for a three-year-old to help make. Liv loves nothing more than to stir up the batter. I know, it can get messy, but it is worth it. When she feels helpful, it makes us both happy. Then we sit on the couch in our jammies and yell at the dogs together for trying to eat our food.


Eating breakfast together. parenting fun

 2. Go to a new park. HYPE IT UP! When I ask if Olivia wants to go to the park, I never know what she is going to say; but if I ask her if she wants to try a BRAND NEW AMAZING SUPER AWESOME park, she is IN! Google parks in a 30 mile radius from your house. If you see graffiti, gang signs, and broken glass you may want to try another one… but that’s the fun in the adventure right?


Fun at the Park

3. Festivals. Greek, music, dog, school, asparagus (yep.. that’s a real one in Stockton, CA lol) Look them up and go!! You may have to argue with your child a bit about why $5 a ticket for the bounce house is not happening… but you can probably distract her with a sweet swag bag compliments of the local Bank Branch booth.


Fun and Free Festivals

 4. FORTS. I cannot stress how amazing forts are. From ages 2-34 (my husband as proof), forts can be lots of fun. You have to be willing to just say goodbye to any chance of having decent couch cushions ever again; but honestly, if you have a three-year-old, you’ve already had the sofa funeral.


Fort Fun. Making a Mess

5. Anything wet. If you have the space for it, a tiny pool or water table. If you live in an apartment like us, find the nearest spray ground/beach/lake/pool. This one is a given. Olivia almost always says she doesn’t want to go; then she always has a blast. Here is the trick: you need to get wet too. I don’t know why I am sharing this or why it is such a stand out memory to me: but as a child, my mom never wanted to swim with us. We swam at my grandparents’ pool all the time and she NEVER got into a bathing suit to swim with us. Dad? always down… but mom was never a fan of water/swimming. I STILL remember like yesterday when one of the other adults pushed her into the pool one time with all of us with all her clothes on. I know she was mad at first but she ended up laughing. I thought it was the MOST FUN swim day we ever had as kids. It is such a simple thing, but your kid does NOT care what you look like in a bathing suit. She just wants you to be part of the fun. So be a part of it. She will remember. I still do.

free and fun things to do water fountain

Free and Fun Things to do, Water Fountain 

6. Picnics. Eating a PBJ in your house=lame. Eating a PBJ on a blanket or picnic table anywhere else=awesome. For some reason, doing things like eating sandwiches at novel locations always seems to be a good time.

fun free picnic

Fun, Free Picnic.


7. Crafting. We live in FL so we are not short of Coconuts to paint. If you live somewhere where pinecones or large rocks inhabit, paint those. If big leaves are all you have to work with, use those. Its innate in children to pick up/collect/borderline hoard things they find in nature every day. If I had a rock for every time Olivia collected a stick…. oh yah, I do… and there are a lot. If you don’t want to buy paint, use what you have. Glue and ripped paper is a great time 🙂

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8. READ. People are amazed at Olivia’s vocabulary everywhere we go. I can honestly say that her intelligence is highly attributed to the amount of books we read together. We have read to her at night time since she was a tiny baby. She barely sat still for the longest time. At some point, however, she began to go from “fidgety toddler who barely made it through one story” to “mommy you skipped a page” (I swear I didn’t mean to… ok I did… but now she catches me so I had to stop). If you don’t always remember to read to your child, it’s ok! If you don’t have the time to do it at night, make it. I promise you, the bonding that comes from routine reading time is immeasurable. It is one of our favorite things to do.

reading to your kids

Reading to your Kids

 Spend time not money.

Visit our website at for more parenting tips and tricks, and learn from my mistakes before you make your own.

A special thanks to Rebecca for letting us into your community. It’s always better when we Liv and Leen totegher J

Eileen Turay


Here are some other ideas for fun stuff to do with your kids:  Fun Stuff

PS. Benjamin Bunnie’s Big Adventure is now available in paperback!


Guest Blog by Claire Brighten


I met Claire a few years ago when she visited Kidz Korner, our community children’s clothing exchange. She is a gentle and sweet woman, wife, mom and awesome photographer! I asked her to share her thoughts on parenting. She writes about her ups and downs with infertility/motherhood.

Sprinkled throughout her post, you will see my family pictures she recently photographed at Henry Cowell Redwood State Park in Felton, California. We won her Rainbow Child Photography contest, because we too experienced the lost of a child between our son and daughter. I learned that our daughter Alicia is our Rainbow Child. What a blessing this gift was as we hadn’t taken a family portrait for ten years! Please welcome Claire Brighten!

Blessings, Rebecca


My experience with motherhood was years in the making – first in biding my time while my husband finished college and searched for his first job, then we learned my body wasn’t ready. Over the course of three years, I had two miscarriages, with months of infertility between pregnancies. I spent months seeing specialists at a fertility clinic, then months going to acupuncture. After my second loss, I gave up and actively tried not to get pregnant. Then we bought a house and moved to a new city and unintentionally became pregnant, and somehow, by some miracle and some focused work on my part on my diet and stress management, I was able to carry my son to term.

So my path to motherhood was a journey indeed.

The loss of a child really helps to put any living children’s minor infractions into perspective. I remind myself often how important my son is, not as a way of letting him off the hook – we deal with his missteps and poor choices as best we are able – but as a way of remembering that these moments are fleeting. Life is fleeting. My son is already somehow 3 years old. I will blink and he will be 5, then 10, then 14, then a full-grown adult. These challenges are ultimately small and the larger picture is that I am grateful for his existence.

But that doesn’t mean I am not frustrated. Often. Motherhood is a task of self-study. Our reactions and interactions are shaping our relationships with our children and their relationships with the world. And we have to look at ourselves constantly – to be more attentive, to be calmer, to be more patient, to be sillier, to be firmer or more lax, to be, in general, the bigger person. And this is challenging – a challenge to ourselves to grow as our children are teaching us about ourselves. And a challenge to fight that internal battle to hold strong even when they are pushing every single button possible – and even some we didn’t know existed.


My son is 3. The “terrible twos” did not exist for us, but the “threenager” stage is in full effect. He talks back. He yells “Stooooopppp!” when we are at the grocery store and I am reminding him to keep his hands in the cart and instead ask questions about what he sees. He wants to do everything himself and thinks he knows best. He does not want to be told what to do. This is by far the most I have been challenged as his mother.

I am on my journey of motherhood and I hear that little voice inside me, remembering how precious this being is to our lives, for the rest of our lives. Today is a challenge. Tomorrow will be a challenge. There will always be a challenge. But I have overcome many just to share in shaping this tiny person’s life – and he mine. He is 3. He gives kisses freely. He wants to hold my hand and run together. He loves to sit with me while I read him books. He finds wonder and excitement in so much of the world around him. At the end of the day, the joys outweigh the challenges. And I will forever be grateful and honored to hold the title of “Mom.”



Guest Blog by Fr. Blaine Hammond


Fr. Blaine Hammond is a Priest in the Episcopal Church, currently working at St. Andrew’s in Ben Lomond, California.  He is married to Dr. Elizabeth Forbes, and they have three children; all in their 40s now.

Before his ordination, he worked several years for the Boeing Company in Everett and Renton, Washington, for the Post Office, drove buses for Seattle and King County, rebound and repaired books at a seminary library in Denver, ran the computer division at a small event management company near Denver, and supervised the Word Processing Department at the JFK Child Development Center, part of the University of Colorado Medical Center, in Denver.

He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Washington, a Master of Divinity Degree from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, and a Certificate in Anglican Studies from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.

Since being ordained, he has worked for congregations in Lyons, Colorado, Castle Rock, Colorado; Seaview, Washington, and his current position. Also, he has volunteered with congregations in Clayton, California, Alameda, California, Battleground, Washington, and Seattle, Washington.

Fr. Blaine Hammond leads the congregation where I teach pre-school. It’s a treat to watch him tell our little ones about God in chapel each month. Also, he contributes a column in The Piper church newsletter. So, I asked him to share his insight with us this week, and am thrilled to have a male perspective! Please welcome Fr. Blaine Hammond!

Blessings, Rebecca


A professor of psychiatry and medical humanities at Harvard, Robert Coles, wrote a book titled The Spiritual Life of Children (1990, Houghton Mifflin, Boston).  What interested me about it was the way that he set aside the preconceptions of his profession and listened to the things the children had to say; and having done that, how he worked to understand the ways that children tried to fit their understandings about God and religion into the world they were in the process of encountering and trying to learn about, and vice versa.

My observations of children, having raised three to adulthood along with my wife, have convinced me that children are not simply small, unlearned and incomplete adults.  They are, in many ways, something quite different from adult humans, in terms of the ways their brains and bodies work, and the ways their spiritual lives work.  It is that, I think, that Jesus was talking about when he said that we not only need to be willing to receive children as worthy of our adult attention, we need to learn from them and even try to become more like them if we are to be able to understand and enter the kingdom  of God.

Those can be hard things to think about when a tired, manipulative, demanding, whiny child is interrupting us for the fifth time during a telephone conversation or making our shopping experience a monstrosity.  But when we are not trying to correct, mold or escape from our children, watching them and listening to them can really teach us lessons about looking at, experiencing and thinking about the world in ways we have forgotten.  It can also teach us lessons about what faith, love, understanding and hope mean.

One of the things Dr. Coles reports was a conversation that ensued when a group of children heard an ambulance siren go by outside.  “I noted, yet once more, how often children (like adults) think of God as a judge, a critic, or a benefactor: one who rewards and punishes.  The children also managed to give God a psychology, one not unlike their own.”  They had been talking about a sickbed picture, and the discussion turned to whether God was, or could be, like the doctor in the picture.  Many of us adults have formed enough of picture of God to satisfy ourselves.  I wonder how often we can sit with a child, not to teach the child what God is like, but to listen as they speculate about what God could be like?  Or even to speculate with other adults, or by ourselves, after so many years of having our opinions settled?

We often think we need to protect children against thinking about the difficult things of life.  But they think about them anyway.  Children are right there at ground level, where things  happen that we don’t even notice.  Hidden from our eyes in the grass are dead birds and small animals, which the children discover and wonder about as they play, along with the discarded items of adult life.  What do they think about these things?  How does it affect what they think about God and the world, life and death?  We’ll never find out if we don’t open the subject up with them.

Miscarriage: The Loss of our Baby


The Ultrasound Technicians slowly moved her wand through the warm gel along my lower abdomen. I watched her face desperately searching for a ray of hope. She turned off the equipment, “I’m sorry Mrs. Krusee, but your baby’s heart is no longer beating.” Water filled my eyes, What! This can’t be happening…I’m only five weeks along!

On my ride home, my mind rehearsed the devastating report. I reflected on the fact we married later in life at age 35, had our son Austin at 36, and tried for over a year to conceive this baby at age 39. My heart sunk!

I shared the crushing news with my husband Randy. We cried, knelt at our bedside and prayed for God to heal our broken hearts, and to bless us with another child.

My doctor suggested I rest my body for 30 days before trying again. I did, and to our surprise the following month, we discovered we were pregnant!

Nine months later, we welcomed our precious daughter Alicia.

Recently, a friend taught me the baby following a miscarriage is called a “Rainbow Child.” I like that analogy of something beautiful following a storm, because she definitely fills our lives with color. Also, I have hope and look forward to meeting our baby in Heaven some day.


For those of you who have also suffered the loss of a child or struggle with fertility, I want to extend my sympathy to you. I empathize with your inexplicable pain, and pray you find comfort in the loving arms of God during your difficult time.

Blessings, Rebecca


Now available in paperback!

cover-imageI Like to Eat Fruitcover-imageI Like Angels

Resonate Blog

I wanted to share another resource for parenting and children. It is Twin Lakes Church Resonate Blog which hosts authors with diverse backgrounds and experiences who share their encouraging stories.

This week my previous guest blog author, Barbara Taylor, shared her heart-wrenching story about a time her twelve-year-old son decided he wanted to live with dad. Read more to find out what happened a dozen years later.

Motherhood Interrupted


Guest Blog by Mona Hodgson

I first met Mona at Mt. Hermon’s Writing Conference in 2010 when I attended her class on writing children’s books. Her dynamic teaching style allowed me to learn so much in just a few short days.

Mona is the author of nearly 40 books, historical novels and novellas for adults and children’s books, including her popular Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, The Quilted Heart novellas, and Prairie Song. Her children’s books include bestseller, Bedtime in the Southwest, Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional. six desert and princess Zonderkidz I Can Read books, six I Wonder books, and more.

Real Girls 3

Mona’s writing credits also include several hundred articles, poems and short stories, which have appeared in 50 different publications.

Mona is a speaker for women’s groups, book clubs and reading groups, schools, and conferences for writers and librarians. And director of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.

Mona is an amazing woman balancing career, family, and ministry! Please welcome Mona Hodgson!

Mona Hodgson chin on hands


It’s no secret that children learn by example.

We all do. Adults included.

Show me how to make an omelet. Let me see the ingredients spread out on the counter. Allow me to watch the process and technique you use, and you exponentially increase my chance of making a decent omelet.

Tell me how to make an omelet then send me home to my kitchen, and I may or may not recall all of the steps for success.

That’s likely true for all of us. And that truth certainly applies to children. Whether it was one of my toddling daughters repeating a new word in her language-learning-process or one of my grandsons picking up his plastic hammer like he’d seen his papa do with a man-sized hammer.

Being shown love, grace, forgiveness, compassion, hope, and truth through example rather than being told their importance or value is why we love stories. Human Interest stories put faces on the abstract numbers of people affected by an earthquake or tornado. The journey stories of Olympic athletes cause us to cheer for those who have overcome personal hardships or family tragedy to compete. A verbal warning about the dangers of greed or healing power of forgiveness is not nearly as effective as a story that shows consequences and results through a compelling character or cast of characters in a vivid story world, whether the story told is nonfiction or fiction.

Providing examples through story is one of the most effective ways to teach a child or share truth with an adult. It’s why I write historical fiction, but it is also what inspires me to write children’s books. I want to provide authentic characters, real or imaginary, who demonstrate the nature of humanity and highlight the grace of God. Stories of loss or failure, faith and hope. This desire led me to study the stories of various women featured in the Bible and write Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional, published by Zonderkidz in their Faithgirlz line.

Through the stories of Bible women from the Old and New Testaments, girls (and women) learn that they are not alone on their journey. They come from a long line of strong girls—girls who struggled to know God and to follow His plan, just as they do. Learn more about Real Girls of the Bible and other story-rich resources at and

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