In my experience there were two times of year that brought out the most nightmares: Halloween and back to school. According to the sleep experts, the reason our little loved ones wake us up as we’ve settled into a nice deep sleep is that nightmares happen during REM when the brain is active. But nightmares can strike at any time and any age. Over this past week, I’ve been plagued by anxiety nightmares. And I can tell you, my body is exhausted, but my brain is mush!
Our dreams and nightmares are our brain’s way of processing thoughts and emotional situations that we have faced during the course of our day. Nightmares may be more frequent during times of stress or when dealing with change or events that have been unsettling. They can be a reaction to real life trauma, reading a scary book, or watching a television show that has aroused an emotional response.
Nightmares are hard to deal with, no matter how old the inflicted person is. Emotions are real, and when you’re woken from a nightmare, the feelings are fresh and raw. Little ones may not understand the difference between a nightmare and real life due to how real the emotional response is.
Both Timothy’s Adventures and Kaylee’s Adventures have chapters that you can share with your little ones to help them deal with nightmares. Be sure to check them out!
So how do we help our little ones go back to sleep after a nightmare?
- Reassure them that you’re there for them.
- Label it as a nightmare.
- Offer them comfort and love.
- Check places that they are afraid of, i.e., under the bed, the closet or behind the door.
- Provide a nightlight or flashlight.
- Help them settle back in with a comfort item, i.e., dream catcher, soft music, stuffy.
- Talk about the dream they might like to have.
- Give them a kiss to hold while they sleep.
* Most important, be a good listener and if need be, in the morning, help them process by talking, drawing, or writing about it.
How can we help prevent or limit nightmares?
- Help them relax and unwind before bedtime.
- Try to establish a routine and schedule.
These help children to feel safe and secure!
- Try to avoid scary triggers before bedtime.
- Try to provide space to talk about their day openly and honestly with you.
- Children’s bedrooms should be a safe place. It should be a place of comfort and peace. Never use their rooms as a place of punishment.
* Most nightmares are not a cause for concern, however, if the nightmares present with other emotional or behavioral trouble, seek professional guidance.
Posted on May 30, 2021
This year, more than ever, we need good friends in our lives. Over the years working with young people, I have had many discussions on the topic of good friends and bad ones. True friends are our most treasured gifts and can have a significant impact on our success and happiness, where a bad apple (or lousy friend) can infect a group of friends or ruin a young person in many ways.
Unfortunately, most of us have had to learn the hard way that someone wasn’t a true friend, so how do we help our young children to learn the difference?
By using their television and book heroes to open conversations, and by role modeling the characteristics we want them to cultivate we can assist young people in learning to identify and nurture the key character traits that make good friends. As parents, we need to be starting conversations early with our children on what makes good friends. Young people watch us like a hawk, and this means that we must put into practice, in our everyday lives what we say. Actions speak louder than words.
Good friends motivate, encourage, inspire, and support us to be the best we can. They help us to celebrate our achievements and help us to feel valued. Our bad friends do the complete opposite. They are jealous of accomplishments, offer little support or encouragement and are often bitter and resentful.
Everyone needs friends who listen and share without distractions or interrupting. These friends understand that friendship is a two-way street. There is also a difference between active listening and distracted listening. Active listening is engaging with the speaker to clarify, and validate, while distracted listening interjects an occasional “uh huh” to sound like they’re listening.
Listening has become harder with the introduction of cell phones and social media. Cell phones are a distraction for everyone (from senior citizens to children as young as 7 years of age have phones) these days. I often challenge parents to put their phones away and be present for their children no matter what their child’s age is. If a friend is always distracted or disinterested in hearing what you have to say, then it is time to evaluate your friendship.
Young people are generally good at seeking advice from people they trust, however, sometimes they have a hard time understanding what secrets are okay to keep and what secrets they need to share with a trusted adult. But everyone, not just young people, needs someone they trust to share with, and a true friend would not gossip. If you have a friend who talks about someone else when they aren’t there, then you can be sure that they will be talking about you when you aren’t there.
Both Timothy’s Adventures and Kaylee’s Adventures have chapters that you can share with your little ones to help them learn what a good friend is. It’s never too early to cultivate good friend character traits. Be sure to check them out!
Five key traits:
5) Stands up for you when you are being hurt, emotionally or physically.
The beauty of unity and diversity:
God created the body to function in harmony. Each part has a job to do, and there can’t be division in the body, or it doesn’t work. When one part of our body hurts, all of the other parts know it, and they feel it. No one part is more important than another part; all are needed and cared for. God tells us to care for one another as Jesus has cared for each one of us.
Each person is a unique child of God, created with love and cared for so much that God has blessed everyone with special gifts, unique to them, to use in celebrating God’s glorious body, the people of God.
Why were the little puppies barking and pulling at the park?
What did Timothy and Reid do when they saw the bullies?
How did the bullies respond?
What did Naila say to Timothy and Reid?
What did Sara say to Naila?
Why was Naila confused by Sara’s comment?
What did Sara wish?
Who did Naila remind Nanny of?
What did Maria’s grandmother say to Naila?
Why did they have fruit salad?
What made the fruit salad special?
What did Timothy remember about his daddy?
Read together 1 Corinthians 12:12–27. If time permits, you may also want to read Psalm 139:1–18, Jeremiah 29:11–14, Galatians 6:4, and Ephesians 2:10.
Posted on May 16, 2021
Being off work for 3 years due to my break down and finally being diagnosed with cptsd has allowed me time to reflect on the playground bullies that became board room bullies.
How we as parents, teachers, and other adults in our children’s lives deal with the bullies will have a lasting affect.
Many of the situations that Timothy and his friends’ deal with in “Timothy’s Adventures” are real situations that came from my own personal experiences and the experiences of my son, my family ministry, and my friends that they shared with me. This means that children will be able to relate to the situations in “Timothy’s Adventures” and read about how Timothy and his group of friends dealt with them. It is my prayer that you will have an open discussion on how Timothy and his friends dealt with their situations and how your children can handle similar situations.The adults in Timothy’s life were open and willing to talk to the children but most of all, they were active, they listened, helped strategize, encouraged the children, and they brainstormed creative ways to deal with bullies which in turn allowed for opportunities for new friendships to blossom.Timothy and his friends learn the 5P’s for dealing with bullies from their Sunday school teacher after they talk to him. Being a trusted adult is a gift that should be treasured no matter how busy we are as parents or teachers. The 5P’s are a lesson I have both used at home with my son and within my family ministry. Chapter two of ‘Timothy’s Adventures” contains the devotional where Timothy and his friends learn the 5P’s. Friendship is one of the best ways to deal with bullies; this means intervening before, during, and after an altercation. Timothy and his friends demonstrate this numerous times in “Timothy’s Adventures”.
When someone is bullied, we need to teach our children to reach out to them. This may not only save that person’s life, but they may make a lifelong friend by doing it. Not only should parents recognize the signs of bullying, but parents should be teaching their children to be aware and recognize the signs of bullying.
- Someone withdrawing
- Complaining of headaches, stomach aches, or being sick
- Not wanting to go to school or do extracurricular activities
- Missing rides or carpool rides
- Lack of appetite or overeating
- Missing personal items or having their stuff damaged
- Grades changing drastically
- Lashing out at home
- Loss of sleep
Posted on May 10, 2021
Changing publishers is always risky business, but I took a leap of faith and have self published all three of my devotionals.
Timothy’s Adventures is written to help parents teach their children about combating bullying and racism, which is even more prevalent now than it was when it was first published.
Below was an article I blogged shortly after releasing Timothy’s Adventures in 2018.
Here we are coming into August, and while most people are still in summer fun mode, as a Christian programmer, I am kicking into fall and winter planning mode. This planning and programming also carry over into my writing where I currently have three book outlines drafted, one that I am now working on writing, and two new book ideas that my brain has been churning and mulling over.
Combating bullying and racism have always been on my radar and is an area I have been passionate about all my life, so it was natural for it to flow over into my devotional books. After writing Kaylee’s Adventures and Kaylee’s Easter Treasure, a cousin suggested I channel my energy into both my passion for writing and a book dedicated to combating bullying and racism.
I am sad to say that many of the adapted situations in the devotional have been from real-life situations. These were shared with me from friends, family, or were taken from my personal experiences growing up or through my son’s life. (Please note that all the characters are fictional.) Because the stories are all adapted from real situations, it makes them relatable and real so that they are more comfortable for children to connect with them. Once the connections happen, it is easier for the doors of discussion to open.
Each chapter has been prayerfully crafted to connect real-life struggles with scripture, family, and healthy ways to deal with bullying and racism.
I was having a discussion with some people at work about this very topic today so I thought I would reshare an old post. Be sure to check out the podcast of two lovely writer friends I posted at the end of this blog!
We have 3000+ books in our family library and out of those, 500+ are on the children’s bookshelf. As you can see I am a strong advocate for literacy and early childhood reading. I believe and encourage all young parents to read often to their children and to start reading to them during infancy. Don’t wait till they understand what a book is! As a matter of fact, I have no problems saying that I read to my son while he was in my womb. This often shocks new parents.
There are many benefits to reading early to your children. The obvious one is that it helps with language acquisition and literacy skills. A quick Google search will provide you with a plethora of research demonstrating that early reading will stimulate parts of the brain that are responsible for understanding the meaning of language, literacy, and social skills.
Early reading demonstrates left to right reading, how to turn pages and phonic awareness which are all great exercises for the brain. Reading also helps to enhance a child’s concentration, develops their imagination and creativity, and has the potential to create a thirst for knowledge.
One of the things I loved about reading with my son is that it provided us with some great conversations. As we identified with different characters, we would often explore the emotions we were feeling around what the character was experiencing, and the various places, animals, or cultures that we were seeing and interacting with in the books.
Ultimately this was great bonding time for us! When he got too old for me to read to him, we still found ourselves curled up on opposite ends of the couch or snuggling side-by-side while reading our books. As a matter of fact, I have included a picture of him reading the finished draft of Timothy’s Adventures with me.
P.S.: The last time he was home from University he asked me to read my work in progress to him, proving that you are never too old to be read to!
Early childhood literacy is SO IMPORTANT. Ari and I discuss that along with our favorite childhood books in a new episode of #TheMerryWriterPodcast! Give a listen:
Posted on April 7, 2021
Do you know why I call Timothy’s Adventures and Kaylee’s Adventures devotional books and not a collection of short stories?
There is actually a big difference between a novel, a collection of short stories, and a devotional book. Timothy’s Adventures and Kaylee’s Adventures are devotional books, where my new work in progress is a fantasy novel.
Often misunderstandings happen because people are not using the same definitions to define a word. So here are the definitions that I used when prayerfully choosing how to market Kaylee’s Adventures and Timothy’s Adventures.
A book as defined by a quick Google search:
1) A written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.
2) A bound set of blank sheets for writing or keeping records in.
I would define a book as a collection of pages that may be either bound and printed or kept together in e-format. These pages may contain non-fiction, fiction, pictures, puzzles; abstract lines (as in accounting) as their content or the pages may be blank (as in journals).
A story as defined by a quick Google search:
1) An account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.
2) An account of past events in someone’s life or in the evolution of something.
Google defined a short story as a story with a fully developed theme but significantly shorter and less elaborate than a novel.
Google defined a novel as a fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism.
Merriam Webster defined a novel as an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events.
Which brings us to defining a devotional. Google defined a devotional as: of or used in religious worship.
This definition, however, is not very useful in the context of my devotional books.
Merriam Webster defined devotional as:
1) Of, relating to, or characterized by devotion
2) A short worship service
Once again this definition was not very useful. Given these definitions, I decided to ask myself how I would define a Christian devotional.
For me, Christian devotionals are for personal edification and to assist with spiritual formation. A devotional may be read on its own or alongside the Bible. They have some form of prayer and meditation to guide the reader’s thoughts and prayers.
My devotional books are a collection of short story devotionals. Each chapter may stand alone as a devotional taking advantage of the valuable parent/child discussion time. Or you may choose to read the devotionals as part of an ongoing sequence.
I shared in another blog post that my son was often disappointed that his devotionals always had different characters. He was sad that he never got to know the characters, which made it harder for him to relate to them. I found he always wanted to know more, his little mind imagining the rest of the story.
For this reason, I’ve written my devotional books so that children may connect with the characters and their friends. This allows for a meaningful connection with real life and the scriptures.
My new books are middle grade fantasy novels! Something completely new and exciting for me. I loved writing the first one so much that I’ve already started the second one.
Posted on April 1, 2021
What? Wait! It’s April? We still have snow! Mountain living at its best …
Like many, I am struggling to stay motivated during Covid. All my best intentions are somewhere under a pile of papers on my desk, which, by the way, is not normal for me. I am normally a really neat and organized person.
On a happy note, be sure to check out this book review for Timothy’s Adventures.
Review by Rachel Poli
Posted on March 8, 2021
What a great feeling to be back to writing!
The goal is to write one scene Monday to Thursday and edit on Fridays. Leaving the weekends for family and playing. Well, that’s in a perfect world and my world is anything but perfect!
I didn’t do too bad. Monday I edited what I wrote before the pandemic lockdown. Tuesday and Wednesday I started to write but had to stop both days because I got to scenes that triggered me. Thursday I struggled with what I originally planned and went back to the drawing board. So this weekend I focused on pushing through and managed to get chapter 2 finished.
So, I’m starting this week technically behind but full of excitement because I’m pumped to be back with my beloved characters!
Although, I don’t think they like me right now!
Posted on March 5, 2021
All I asked for for my birthday was a writing course bootcamp! And I am so glad that I did. It was just the kick start I needed to jump back into writing book 2.
Being back in my own office is definitely helping too. There is something to be said for having your own space to be creative. I love my office, even though it is just a corner in the living room downstairs. I have my bookshelves around me and the items that I draw creativity from near at hand to stare at during mental blocks. I have beautiful windows to look out, where the urban deer will come up to the picture window doors and look in. My furbabies join me. Life is good!
Life is good … yes even during Covid life is good. Not perfect, but I definitely can’t complain.
I’ve finally turned 50! lol Yes, you read that right. I said finally because for the past 3 years I’ve told people I was 50. So what should’ve been a big birthday is actually very anticlimactic for me, which is just as well because Covid is stopping any kind of party! lol Originally, my sister and I had planned on taking a weekend trip to a celiac certified resort to celebrate our 50ths together, maybe we will try for our 60th?
The fun thing about doing a bootcamp is that it doesn’t care if you’re 50 or in your own office. All that matters is that you get your word counts in. So on that note wish me luck!