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Safari :: Week of June 15

WE’RE LEARNING… Jesus is powerful.
MEMORY VERSE: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power.” Psalm 147:5a (NIV)
BIBLE STORY: Jesus Calms the Storm I Matthew 8:23-27

This week we sang a song to remind us that we can love like Jesus. Sing the song with your toddler at home!

All Powerful (to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)

Jesus is all powerful, powerful, powerful.
Jesus is all powerful,
and we can trust in Him.

We can trust Him when we’re scared, when we’re scared, when we’re scared.
We can trust Him when we’re scared, 
because He’s powerful.

We can trust Him when we’re tired, when we’re tired, when we’re tired.
We can trust Him when we’re tired, 
because He’s powerful.

We can trust Him when we’re happy, when we’re happy, when we’re happy.
We can trust Him when we’re happy,
because He’s powerful.

Repeat a few times, or as long as your toddler is interested, choosing a different verse each time. For example, “We can trust Him (when we’re sad, while we wait, when we’re angry, etc.).

Say, “Great job! Who is powerful?” Encourage your toddler to say, “Jesus is powerful!”

Safari :: Week of June 8

WE’RE LEARNING… Jesus is powerful.
MEMORY VERSE: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power.” Psalm 147:5a (NIV)
BIBLE STORY: Jesus Calms the Storm I Matthew 8:23-27

Play a fun game with your toddler to help them remember that Jesus is powerful!

Say, “If you can trust Jesus is more powerful than (a loud thunderstorm, a big dog, the dark, the tallest slide at the playground), hold up your muscles and shout, ’Jesus is powerful!’” Repeat the activity for as long as your toddler is interested. After the activity say, “We don’t have to worry or be afraid, because Jesus is powerful and we can trust Him! Who is powerful?” Encourage your toddler to say, “Jesus is powerful!”

Safari :: Week of June 1

WE’RE LEARNING… Jesus is powerful.
MEMORY VERSE: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power.” Psalm 147:5a (NIV)
BIBLE STORY: Jesus Calms the Storm I Matthew 8:23-27

This month we’re learning, “Jesus is powerful.” No matter what happens, we can remember that Jesus is powerful and we can trust Him!

We will learn the story, “Jesus Calms the Storm” in Matthew 8:23-27. Jesus was on a boat with His disciples when a BIG storm came upon them. The disciples were scared, but Jesus knew exactly what to do. He stood up and told the storm to stop. Immediately, the storm was calm! The disciples were amazed that the wind and waves obeyed Him. No matter what happens, we can remember that Jesus is powerful and we can trust Him! Jesus is more powerful than anything we will face and He is always with us. We don’t have to worry or be afraid, because Jesus is powerful and He can do anything!

We made a Bible Story Meal Time Mat to help us remember that Jesus is powerful. Place the Bible Story Meal Time Mat at the table where your toddler eats. Before each meal, point to the placemat and review the Bible story with your toddler:

  • Who do you see in the picture? (Jesus)
  • Did Jesus tell the storm to rain harder or to stop? (to stop)

Say, “Jesus is so powerful, He was able to stop a BIG storm! No matter what happens, remember that Jesus is powerful and you can trust Him. Who is powerful?” Encourage your toddler to say, “Jesus is powerful!”

Safari Toddlers :: June Parent Cue Article

There’s a reason I know quality time trumps quantity time.

When I was a kid, my grandfather would come to our house for dinner all the time. He used to say coming to our house was better than going to the movies.

I have three siblings, all sisters, so I was the only boy—and the youngest. I’m sure he found the level of mischief that ensued as a result of those dynamics quite entertaining.

My grandfather, “Paw” as we called him, was an amazing man that knew a thing or two about children. After all, he had fourteen of his own. No, that isn’t a typo. He had twelve girls and two boys…and countless grandchildren.

And although he came to our house, apparently to see a show, I was the one who was mesmerized by him.

Kind, caring, and fun are just a few of the adjectives that describe my grandfather. I loved when he came over.

And more than anything, his visits taught me the importance of quality time.

Now, we all know that quantity time, the amount of time you spend together, is important. I love when my daughter is reading, and she asks me to sit on the couch next to her. Even though we aren’t interacting, it means something to her.

The quantity of time we spend with our children provides comfort and communicates importance. You’re probably familiar with the expression that your calendar reflects what’s important to you.

But we often rely on quantity time as a substitute for quality time. It’s not quite the same, though. Sitting in the same room with my kids while we are each on our electronic devices may mean we are spending time together, but it’s not intentional, undistracted time. And it won’t build memories in the same way.

I was just twelve years old when my grandfather passed away. It’s been over twenty-five years, but I still remember him coming over for dinner and tickling my feet until I couldn’t breathe.

I still remember spending the night at his house, watching “Tom and Jerry,” his favorite cartoon.

I still remember going fishing with him, and I still remember the cabinet in his house that always had gum.

In the span of my life, I didn’t have much quantity time at all with Paw. But I had a whole lot of quality time that produced some pretty amazing memories.

Think about your favorite memories with the special people in your life and you’ll realize, too, that it was the amount of quality time you spent together that made the difference.

So this week, turn off the TV, put down the phone and spend some quality time with your children.

Tickle their feet until they can’t breathe.

Make up a dance in the middle of the kitchen.

Play tag outside.

You’ll be glad you did.

And there will be a lifetime of memories to show for it.

For more blog posts and parenting resources, visit ParentCue.org.

Safari Babies :: June Parent Cue Article

When we announced that my wife was pregnant, that opened the floodgates for unsolicited advice. Every parent I knew took it upon themselves to offer their version of childrearing wisdom—most of which I appreciated.

Over time, we began hearing some of the same suggestions over and over again. This is going to change your life. Get used to not having any sleep. Make sure not to let them eat coins. (Okay, so I made up that last one—but it’s still useful.)

Another piece of advice that I heard countless times was how much I was going to love my new daughter. How I never knew was love truly was until I held her for the first time. How I would just understand once I finally became a parent.

Then, the big day came and my little girl was born. I was the first one who got to hold her after she was done being hosed off by the doctors. And I was certainly filled with wonder and amazement at the miracle of life. But I still felt like I was missing something.

I didn’t feel an instant connection with her. I wasn’t overcome with emotion or a sudden infusion of paternal instincts. I didn’t really feel like a dad just yet. This was a struggle that I didn’t expect. But I know I am not alone. Maybe you feel the same way.

Moms spend more than nine months growing the baby inside of them. They’re the ones who go through the traumatic experience of childbirth. And they’re the ones who often breastfeed the infants. So there are many natural opportunities for creating a deep and intimate bond.

Where does that leave new fathers? How do we find connection? I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to bond with my baby girl—in fact, I’m still not sure; I’m still learning. But I wanted to share what I’d discovered so far when it comes to bonding with your child as a new dad.

1. Hold Them
Before I became a father, I didn’t really understand the appeal of holding babies. I didn’t mind holding them. I wasn’t afraid of breaking them (as apparently many people are). But holding babies just wasn’t my idea of a good time.

Now that I’m a dad, holding my newborn daughter is one of the easiest ways that I can spend time with her and form a bond. We’ve had lots of visitors to our house and most people want to have their turn with the baby. But I need to be intentional about carving out my time with her, too.

One thing my wife and I learned from the doctors was the importance of skin to skin contact. This means literally what you think it means—holding your infant to your bare skin. So take off your shirt, show off your dad bod, and wrap your child in your arms.

2. Walk With Them
While you’re holding your new child, it might be a good idea to take a walk. Get outside the house and stretch your legs. Throw them into the stroller (please, not literally) and go for a walk around the neighborhood or the local mall.

Not only does this give you a chance to stay active, it also gives your little one some much needed fresh air and vitamin D. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which keeps you positive and happy. Associating your baby with these feelings only makes you two closer.

Be sure to put away the cell phone while your holding and walking your baby. It might be easy to scroll through Facebook while pushing the stroller. But it only creates a distraction that will slow your bonding. And starts your child’s journey towards technology addiction way too soon.

3. Talk To Them
My daughter doesn’t speak English, yet. In fact, she doesn’t speak any language. She mostly just grunts and cries. But she’s constantly listening and gradually picks up on what my wife and I are saying. Even from a young age, babies begin to recognize your voice.

The more you talk to them, the sooner they’ll be able to learn speaking. And the more they’ll recognize your voice. It doesn’t matter what you say (but maybe keep the profanity to a minimum). Take this opportunity to start brainwashing your child to love your favorite sports team or maybe teach them some interesting facts about history or cars.

If you are bilingual, this is also an early change to expose your child to another language. Babies brains are like sponges, absorbing as much as they can. I’m not personally bilingual, but I do remember a few random German phrases from high school I could teach my daughter.

4. Read To Them
Even before we got pregnant, one of the things I most looked forward to doing with my future child was reading to them. Hearing bedtime stories was one of my most cherished childhood memories, and I couldn’t wait to share that same experience, now as a parent.

Believe it or not, my newborn daughter can’t read yet (give her a few months). She can’t even understand when I’m reading to her. Despite that, reading out loud to her still makes a big difference in her cognitive development.

Not only that, but it’s something special that I get to do with her. Reading her a book is a shared experience that will serve to connect us long term. Even if she doesn’t know what green eggs and ham are, she’ll soon learn that her dad loves her.

5. Read About Them
Because I cherished reading as a child, it’s still something that I prioritize as an adult. Which is why one of the first things I did upon finding out that I was going to be a dad was buy a few books on the subject. And they’ve been very helpful in preparing me for parenting.

The more I understand my child, the better connected I will be to her. Taking the time to research infants and becoming a better father even when I’m not with my daughter makes me a better parent. It reminds me of my responsibilities and tells me I’m prepared to handle them.

The fact that you’re reading this blog post is a good sign. But if you’re looking for more, here are the books that I’ve been reading specifically about becoming a father, and I’d recommend them to any new, or soon-to-be, fathers:

6. Change Them
No, I’m not just talking about molding their little minds. I’m referring to diapers here. As a new dad, you have the opportunity to change hundreds of dirty diapers—and that’s just on a daily basis. So pitch in to help with diaper duty. This may be the smelliest way to bond, but it’s nevertheless effective.

All of these methods of bonding with your new baby is about four things—being present, close proximity, having patience, and making it personal. When you keep those three things in mind, bonding with your child starts to become just a little bit easier.

For more blog posts and parenting resources, visit ParentCue.org.