Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Special Visitor

Look who I found hanging out in the yard last weekend.

I call him Santa Robin.

He's a partial albino. Strange but true.

Friday, November 28, 2008

They're Out to Make Liars of You

Toddlers. There's just something about them. I find this to be true all the time of the toddlers I work with. If a parent says they can't do something, give them about five seconds and they'll do it. If a parent tells you they always do such and such, you can try all you like but the child absolutely is not going to perform. It's as if there's something innate to the toddler brain that makes them bound and determined to prove you wrong.

Baby Boy definitely fits the bill. He was 15 months old and not yet walking. Know when he took his first steps? When a therapist was evaluating him for the early intervention program in his state, and asked his mother if he could walk yet, and she replied no. Five second rule. He let go of the table he had been holding onto as he stood, and took two or three steps, obviously with intent of making his mother out to be a liar. :)

Well, Baby Boy made a liar out of me yesterday. I recently posted about his camera aversion. That he hates getting pictures or video made of him, that he runs when he sees a camera, refuses to look at them, etc.

Well last night, we were at my grandmother's house, and Baby Boy went and found his favorite John Denver CD as he always does there, and made us put "Country Roads" on repeat for him so he could dance around the room. I snapped some pictures while he danced, and then set the camera down. A couple minutes later, he walked over and picked up my camera. I thought he wanted to play with it, but no... he handed it to me and grinned, then returned to his dancing. (He can say words, but still does most of his communicating nonverbally. And he's quite good at it.)

So we understood exactly what he was telling me. "I'm being really cute here! Take more pictures!"

So I lied. Apparently the child doesn't have a camera aversion, after all.

He just pretends he does. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving!

59 years ago, Laura Ingalls Wilder celebrated her first Thanksgiving since her girlhood without Almanzo. He had died a month earlier. What a sad day it must have been for her, although knowing her, she was simply giving thanks for the many years they shared together.

I love this news clipping from the local paper, the Mansfield Mirror:

December 1, 1949

Mrs. L.C. Turner enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving dinner at the beautiful country home of Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Brown and Tarry Lee. In the afternoon they all called on Mrs. A.J. Wilder with gifts showing her she was remembered. So did Mrs. George Freeman and Mrs. Walter Coday.

Bless them for remembering her. For not letting her spend the whole day alone and sad. For letting her know they cared.

Can you think of anyone you know who might be spending a lonely or sad Thanksgiving this year? Perhaps they've lost a loved one... have gone through a divorce... have a spouse overseas...

How about dropping in or giving them a call to give them a bit of Thanksgiving cheer... just to let them know that they were remembered. :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Thankless Thanksgiving

It's that time of year again. Time to count one's blessings... time to express thanks for them. Right?

Well, that depends, apparently.

It's also a time of year where many people who have think about those who have not, and give accordingly.

I am becoming more and more disturbed in recent years with what I see on the receiving end of these gestures of kindnesses. To be quite honest, it's why I've turned to supporting organizations such as Compassion International and Samaritan's Purse, giving to children in other countries who are truly in need and are grateful for what they're given, instead of giving to local charities and food drives.

It's not that I'm opposed to local charities -- please don't misunderstand. It's just that I work with many families on the receiving end of these things and what I see quite frankly disgusts me.

Example: Children whose names with sizes and toy wants are handed out so Christmas presents can be purchased by a generous stranger, and given to the child on Christmas Day as if it was from their parents or from Santa, as the family so chooses.

Great idea, in theory, and I used to participate in this. And lest anyone protest what I'm about to say and defend themselves or someone they know who is a recipient of one of these charities and does not act like this, I will post this disclaimer: I know some families are truly appreciative and grateful and honestly can't afford to buy anything for their child and for those families, this is a wonderful thing. However, I know far too many families who either:

a) Buy SO MUCH STUFF for their kids for Christmas that you'd think they were millionnaires and then accept the charity gifts on top of it. (I have one such child this year whose mother has told me she has ALREADY spent $800 on his Christmas gifts... the child is TWO... and this family has NOTHING. Where do they get this kind of money (earned income credits on income taxes, welfare checks, and disability checks... I know the answer to that) and WHY do they spend it in the way that they do??? How many two-year-olds do you know who get $800 worth of Christmas gifts, and if you are buying gifts for a "poor child that doesn't have any toys", would you not be more than slightly upset to know that your hard-earned money purchased things for a child who was already getting more than all of your own children combined??

b) Complain about what they get or cheat the system. Did you know some of these families actually open the gifts before they ever get home, return them to the store, and use the money they get back to feed their own addictions? It happens. Others do give the things to their children, but do nothing but grumble and complain about them. "This doesn't even fit right." "These toys are just junk. They didn't buy the GOOD stuff." "Can you believe that's all they got??" Yep. That happens too. I've seen both examples more times than I can count.

See why I don't buy these kinds of things anymore? I will occasionally buy things for children I work with who I know to actually need the items, and whose parents I know are responsible and appreciative, but I no longer take the risk on an unknown child. You might say that's a shame for the child's sake, but in example a, the child is getting more than enough anyway, and in the first part of example b, the child isn't getting the things you bought anyway, so only for the second part of example b does the child lose out at all.

So, even though I've become quite used to seeing how people use the various systems and charities that are available to them, I got another example this week which just floored me.

A mother, scowling and VERY disgruntled, said to me in a hateful angry tone of voice, "I am SO MAD at that such and such church, I just HATE those people, they are AWFUL, I could just bleepety bleep bleep..."

Aghast at what on earth this church could have done to have angered this lady so, I asked exactly that: "What did they do?"

"They gave us a turkey for Thanksgiving and didn't give us a pan to cook it in!!!!"

Well, aren't they just the most horrific people on the face of the planet?

"Maybe they didn't realize you might not have one," I suggested, hoping to tone down her wrath a bit and make her see reason. Ha.

"Well they gave us one every OTHER year!!!" she grumbles. Okay, someone gives you a free Thanksgiving meal not just this year, but every year, and they're horrible for not giving you a pan...

"Well, maybe whoever was handing them out this year just forgot, did you ASK them for a pan?" I questioned.

"IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN OUR BASKET!" she yells. "They always put it in our basket!" More strings of profanities.

Well. Happy Thanksgiving to you too. I see she understands the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

I can't wait to see what she has to say after Christmas. I filled out her child's "desired toy list" with learning toys I wanted him to have because she handed it to me back when it was time to register them for the gifts, and said she didn't know what to ask for. Hope she isn't terribly disappointed because it'll be all my fault. ;)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Healing

Who says God doesn't do miracles these days?

Monday morning, around 10 am, I dropped by the church between appointments to drop off my shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. The parking lot was full and rather than have to carry stacks of boxes a long distance, I thought since I'd just be a minute, I would just pull up to the door and off the road a bit into the grass.

Fabulous idea, until after all shoeboxes were delivered and I was on my way back to the car door, my foot hit an unlevel patch of ground and slid in the snow, turning with a sharp twist. OUCH, I yelled, and hopped in the car to assess the damage. I sat there for a moment wondering... okay, did I REALLY hurt it, or was it just one of those momentary ouches that quickly goes away?

The pain began to subside almost immediately, and I deduced that the latter was the case. I drove off thanking God that I didn't seriously injure it because I still had not only a full day but a full week of work ahead of me, and an injury was not conducive to accomplishing all the things I need to get done this week!

Well, it certainly appeared that I was correct in that it wasn't truly injured. I walked on it all day with no problem except an occasional extremely mild twinge only if it turned a certain way -- but for the most part, it was 100% fine.

Until about 6 pm, as on my way home it began to ache a bit. The closer I got to home, the more it hurt, and I thought to myself, "That's strange, but oh well, at least now I can just go home and rest it or wrap it up or something and it will be fine." After all, it had now been eight hours -- 8!! -- since I twisted it and it'd been totally fine, so it never occurred to me that this was going to be anything more than an ache.

Within the hour I was a complete cripple. I have no explanation for what happened, other than that I sprained it that morning and God stayed the pain so I could work all day so I didn't feel the effects of it until I got home.

When I say a complete cripple, that's exactly what I mean. Not a single step could I take. I couldn't even hop around on my good foot, because one little hop was so jarring that it caused pain so excruciating that I nearly blacked out. Yeah, not looking good...

All evening and well into the night I was in unbelievable pain from this ankle. I just could not believe it had been fine all day, and now despite wrapping it in ice and keeping it up all evening, the pain was nearly unbearable. I could only get around by crawling on my knees with that ankle stuck up in the air. It was really ridiculous. Ever tried to carry a glass of tea down a hallway while crawling? I'm quite good at it. :)

Well, I pretty much figured there was no way I was going to be able to work the next day, especially considering the 3 inches of snow we were supposed to get overnight, and the 2-4 more that was supposed to come during the day. I thought I could manage to get around if I had crutches, but I did not, and I had no way to get any, because there was no way I could walk into a store or even go to urgent care or anything. And it was totally not serious enough to merit an ambulance call, especially considering I have no health insurance. :)

Well, as I thought things through trying to figure out just what I was going to do, because a sprain could easily render me unable to work for several days and I really really didn't want to do that, seeing as how if I don't work, I don't get paid, I remembered that a friend's teenage daughter had sprained her ankle this fall and had been on crutches for awhile.

So that was my plan. I would call her up and ask if I could borrow those crutches, drive by her place on the way to my first appointment and ask her to bring them out to the car (fortunately it was my left ankle, so it didn't hinder my ability to drive) and then I'd be set. Oh. Except for that snow thing. Yeah, first time ever using crutches, an ankle in agonizing pain, and slick hilly snow-covered yards and steps and such -- not really a great combination.

And so I prayed really really hard, and when I got up the next morning, I was amazed to discover that I could walk. And even more amazed to discover that there was no snow!! So, I wrapped the ankle and went off to work. There was a limp and a small bit of pain walking on it, but not bad enough to keep me home, so I went through the day taking only the steps absolutely necessary to get to people's houses, and once in, I just sat on the floor without moving or getting up until it was time to go, so I was able to function all day, and by evening, the pain seemed gone.

I fully intended to wrap it again today to protect it, but there was no need. Because today, you would never know anything had happened to it. It is 100% good as new. I can move it in all directions, run, jump, anything I want, and it's fine.

It's incredible to me to think that just the night before last I wasn't able to take even one step, and now I'm completely fine. That can only be a miracle of God.

Hooray! :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Huge Flaw in Facebook

I posted ages ago, when I first gave in and joined Facebook, that I hated it. Well, I had overcome my hatred for it, and it's okay now, and I actually even use it quite a bit, but I was very disturbed today to discover a serious flaw in Facebook. I'm writing this hoping that word will spread through google searches and everyone can know about this. Because I've been asking around and everyone else seems to be as shocked and appalled about this as I am, having had no idea...

The flaw? Networks.

You see, there are geographic networks that you can "join", and I never really even knew what the purpose was in them, other than to identify your location in the search results. If I'm searching for someone by name, and there are 20 people by that name, and their face isn't in their profile picture, I have to rely on the location which is only shown if they have joined their location's network to know which one is the person I'm really looking for.

So I joined the network for my location ages ago and never thought any more about it.

Today, after posting photos on Facebook, and setting the privacy levels for those photos so that only three selected friends could view them, I was horrified to discover that another friend, not on the specified list, was able to see them, as well. Fortunately, it was someone that I didn't mind being able to see them, but the point was, she wasn't on the accepted list, and if she could see them, that meant others could see them too.

I quickly pulled the album, then did some investigating to see just how this terrible mistake had occurred. And the answer? Networks.

Apparently, if you are in a network, everyone in your network can see things that I had always thought before were only viewable by your approved friend list. This particular person was able to see my private photos because she was in my network. I experimented. I searched for someone, clicked their profile in the search results, and was given the typical message that I could not see their profile unless I was their friend, and the clickable option to send a friend request to that person. I then joined the local network that person was part of, and tried again.

Guess what? I could now see their entire profile. Their pictures. Their videos. Their notes exchanged amongst friends. All of their information that they, like me, most likely thought was only viewable by people they had approved as their friends.

Major major flaw. So much for privacy!

So, although in the privacy options, there are apparently options to take away the ability of those in your networks to see certain things, the default setting even if you've selected "Friends Only" is that those in your networks see everything. Me? I'm taking no chances on having to set all these different options to exclude networked people. I'll just leave the network.

If you desire any level of privacy in your social networking, I highly advise you do the same.

Not happy with Facebook. Not happy at all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Baby Boy and Little Girl have completely different personality types.

Little Girl is emotional and expressive. She loves life and lets you know it! (The flip side, of course, is that when she's not happy... she lets you know that too! She can throw a tantrum with the best of them!) She's pure joy to be around (except during those occasional tantrums, of course), and anything you do with her is ten times more fun because she's there. Her smile lights up the room -- and she's almost always wearing one. She finds enjoyment in just about everything.

Baby Boy, on the other hand, is a very solemn little guy. He's very even-tempered -- it's tough to even get a smile out of him, and yet, the bright side is the absence of tantrums. If he's mad, all he does is put his head down in sad silence (while we all say, "Awwwwwwwwwwwww" and are quite inclined to give him whatever it was he wanted -- his method is definitely more effective than Little Girl's tears which get her nowhere!) He's hysterically funny, and yet although he can make everyone else laugh, he remains staid and sober.

It's become a challenge to us to get him to react to something -- a difficult one to meet. Little Girl is the only one that can get him smiling most of the time. The difference is clearest when going to an above-and-beyond the usual routine type of an activity.

Take, for instance, this summer, when we took the kids to an amusement park. Little Girl, both now and when she was Baby Boy's age, has the best time, and is all smiles and joy all day long. We took Baby Boy on his first ride, and waited with much anticipation, and cameras at the ready, for the smile of delight we were certain was to come.

Nope. Nothing. He just sat, expressionless and silent, until the ride came to a stop. Did not appear to be enjoying himself in the least. "Well, maybe he didn't like that ride," we thought. Then we began getting out, and he signs, "More, more."

We walked away from the ride, and he taps us and signs again, "More, more!" We get back on the ride, and again he sits as solemn as can be. Yet again, when the ride is over, he wants more, more, more. He did this all day, on every ride. It was very disappointing picture-wise as he doesn't appear to be having a bit of fun. And yet, he really was.

Well, Baby Boy's favorite thing in the entire world (besides Mommy, Daddy, and Grandpa) is the Wiggles. Or "Giggles" as he calls them. He would watch them morning, noon, and night if he were allowed. The first thing he does when entering someone's home is head straight to the television and say and sign, "Giggles! Giggles!" He knows every song and does all the motions and is absolutely adorable doing so. Still no smiles, of course. (And have I mentioned his camera aversion? We can't get video of him doing any of these songs because the second he sees a camera, he won't do a thing. He runs from still cameras, and freezes for video cameras. He is the hardest little guy to get a decent picture of!)

I can't stress enough how much the child loves the Wiggles. At the family reunion, when we were out by the campfire and it was cold, and smoky, and very late at night, and he wasn't allowed to get down and play because there was a dropoff behind the fire that he could very easily tumble over, he was getting much fussier than he ever gets. My guitar-playing cousin knew just how to solve it. "Fruit salad... yummy yummy..." he began strumming and singing. The fussiness was instantaneously cured. :)

And we were once at a Mexican restaurant, and pictured on the front of the menu were four men in colorful outfits holding guitars. He was convinced they were the Wiggles.

So recently Baby Boy received a special treat. He and Little Girl went to see the Wiggles Live in Concert! Now Little Girl has outgrown the Wiggles -- she was nearly as obsessed with them as Baby Boy when she was 2 but by 4 she had declared that she was too old for them -- but she was taken along anyway, figuring she'd have fun, and he'd be more likely not to be frightened and to have fun too if she were along.

And so they took their seats and waited, and he sat quietly and solemnly as always. And then the Big Red Car came driving out. And his eyes nearly bulged out of his head, his mouth dropped open in utter awe, he just sat there frozen... and then with HUGE SMILES of excitement, he bounced and exclaimed again and again, "GIGGLES!!! GIGGLES!!!"

At last!! Something exciting enough to make Baby Boy react!! Thank you, Wiggles!!!

He sat in rapt attention for twenty minutes, just marveling at the fact that he was right there in the room with the real live Wiggles. I imagine it was a lot like the way I felt the first time I ever visited a Laura Ingalls Wilder home. :) Indescribable.

Little Girl was dancing in the aisle and doing all the motions and with some encouragement, he was at last persuaded to join her.

If only video cameras had been allowed in the arena... the one and only time Baby Boy actually expressed excitement, and no videotaping was permitted. Sigh...

So... does anyone know how to hire a full-time Wiggle?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Little Girl is very social. She makes friends everywhere she goes. But even at the age of six, she's already experienced some friend troubles. Last year, in kindergarten, we occasionally heard the, "She's not my best friend anymore, now she's so and so's best friend" type of story, but didn't think too much about it. After all, that's what little girls do.

But this weekend, she said something that amazed me, both that it's occurring and that she has the insight to recognize what's occurring. You see, "Grandma" teaches at the same school that Little Girl attends, and Little Girl goes home with her. This means Little Girl is often there after school longer than the other kids.

Another little girl in her class is also a teacher's kid, and like Little Girl, is usually there after school hours.

Well, Grandma made a comment the other day about this child, McKenzie. She told my sister that Little Girl had said McKenzie isn't her friend anymore, but McKenzie is always in her room after school asking to play with Little Girl, so she doesn't know why Little Girl says that.

My sister was surprised, looked over at Little Girl, and said, "McKenzie's your friend, isn't she??"

Little Girl had been listening to the conversation but hadn't said a word until now. She explained, "McKenzie is my friend after school, but she's not my friend during school."

That's a loaded sentence. To explain exactly what she meant, after we clarified it ourselves, after school when all the other kids have gone home and there's nobody else to play with, McKenzie is perfectly happy to play with Little Girl, but during school when there are other girls to choose from, she's not so friendly...

I should have titled this post "Lessons from a Six Year Old" too. Because I must admit that I'm impressed with Little Girl's reaction to this situation. She recognizes the faultiness of the relationship and the not-so-nice quality of the other little girl, and yet treats her just the same and continues to play with her just as if McKenzie were always nice to her.

Those people are always out there... the people who are friends with you only when it's convenient for them, or who are friends with you because they want something and once they've got it they don't want your friendship anymore. I'm glad Little Girl has figured out the best response at such an early age -- hopefully she won't change in this quality as she grows. To recognize a friend isn't *really* a friend, but to continue to be a real friend to them... that is a beautiful thing. I'm proud of her. :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lessons from a Six Year Old

This morning, I went to church, filed into our family's usual row, and sat down. My sister's purse and Little Girl's Webkinz were already there on the pew, as well as a tithing envelope. I picked up the envelope and saw written across the front in Little Girl's handwriting, surrounded by hearts and a cross:

"I love everybuty."

Me too, Little Girl, me too... if only everyone in the world could be six again and have that mindset, what a happier place it would be.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts on the Election...

Let me just say that I think I'm beginning to understand to a small degree how Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane felt when Roosevelt was elected...

And on that note, I wish to post one of my very favorite Rose Wilder Lane quotations. She wrote this to her agent, George Bye, in January 1937, regarding her experience at a movie theatre which showed a Roosevelt newsreel, describing the audience as inattentive and restless, yet clapping politely at its conclusion. Then, she reports, the words "MICKEY MOUSE" flashed on the screen and the audience burst out in "a roar of deafening applause."

"Oh why? I cried in my embittered soul, O why didn't the Republicans nominate Mickey Mouse?"

My dear Rose, I wholeheartedly agree...

Mickey for President!!!! :)

Santa's List of Learning Toys for Toddlers

It's that time of year again -- the time when I begin to have conversations with parents about what to buy their kids for Christmas. As an early interventionist (speech therapist) working with kids under 3, I have very strong opinions about toys marketed as "educational" and I also have the benefit of seeing how large numbers of kids respond to particular toys, as opposed to a parent's perspective of just knowing how their child responds.

So, if you're the parent of a toddler and you're looking for great toy ideas for this Christmas, and especially if you're the parent of a toddler with speech or developmental delays, these are the toys that I have found in my practice to be the best-loved by nearly all little ones that I have worked with, as well as toys most effective for teaching new skills (especially speech and language). Just for the record, I have no affiliation with any of these companies. I know it's going to look like I'm a representative for Melissa and Doug, but really I'm not. I just really like these toys. :)

1. Puzzles. For the under 2 crowd, big wooden peg puzzles with 3-5 pieces (here's an example); for two-year-olds, peg puzzles with about 9 pieces (here's an example). Use these to develop vocabulary (by naming the pieces for your child as you give them each one), matching skills, and fine-motor skills (manipulating them into the puzzle). As a bonus tip, I keep each of my puzzles in a ziploc bag (1 gallon for smaller puzzles, 2 gallon for the jumbo ones) -- this prevents pieces from getting lost! And this is a favorite set for 2-3 year olds too, and you can teach shapes and colors as well as basic vocabulary with them.

2. Books. The type of book is important. Board books with simple pictures are great for babies and toddlers. Don't try to read them a story, just look at the books and name the pictures. Ask your little one to point to them when you name them ("Where's the dog?").

"That's great, but my child has absolutely no interest in books!" you're saying? I've found that most kids who won't look at books typically will be more interested in flap books. (Check out the other books in this set, and similar recommendations for lots of great options!)

3. Manipulative food toys. Kids LOVE these!! They look so simple, you'd think five minutes and they'd be bored, but no. Most kids I have would play with these toys for hours if you let them. Develop vocabulary by naming the foods and actions (cut, roll, etc.), fine motor, and creative pretend play. Here are my tried-and-true favorites: Melissa & Doug Cutting Food and Pizza Party! (This one has small pieces so make sure you supervise this at all times!) Also of note, these toys are particularly beloved by big brothers and sisters, as well, so don't consider it just a toy for 2 year olds. Kids up to 8 or 9 years old love these just as much! Oh, and if you just happen to have a puppet with a hole in its mouth, let the kids cut up the food and feed it to the puppet -- they LOVE that!

4. Lacing beads. These are my favorite. I use them to teach colors, counting, and also develop fine motor. Preschoolers like these a lot too. (Here's a tip: Wrap Scotch tape around one end of each string for the first couple of inches, and tie a knot at the other end. This will make the end your child has to insert in the hole straight and stiff and a lot easier to thread -- then when your child becomes an expert, you can remove the tape and give them the challenge of threading it without the tape. And the knot obviously will keep the beads on the string!)

5. Fisher Price farm. Not the one they sell in the stores. The old barn. You know, the one they sold for about forty years -- the one you grew up with! Check ebay, they always have lots of them, and you can put together a nice set for your child. Again, preschool and elementary age kids love this too. Children love the moving parts of the more realistic looking animals, the ability to completely conceal by opening and shutting the doors, and you can teach a lot of pretend play, as well as vocabulary through this toy. (Animals can eat and drink from the trough, ride in the tractor or wagon, be fenced in or jump over the fence, be put to sleep, etc.)

6. Pound and Roll. An all-time favorite. Never met a kid yet that didn't love this. This is another toy that older brothers and sisters (especially preschoolers) fight to get to play with. Again, great for colors and motor skills.

7. Mr. Potato Head. Need I say more? Body parts and those fine motor skills again. It's not that I'm always working on fine motor, although that's a nice perk. It's that little kids like things they can do with their hands. So all the favorite toys involve fine motor. Another one for the older siblings to enjoy, and the more different pieces you get for him, the more fun it can be!

8. Cariboo. I love this game for my kids that are getting closer to 3 and old enough to begin to understand how to play games. Great for preschoolers too. Kids LOVE this game. Beginner level teaches colors, shapes, and counting, Advanced level works on letters and numbers. And for speech therapy, I adapt it and you can too -- I print out pictures that are the same size as the "doors" on the game of whatever words I need a child to practice, and instead of using the cards, I just let the child pick the door he wants to open. He says the word, he gets to open the door. It's a wonderful motivator!

You might notice that among all of my recommendations, there isn't a single toy that needs batteries or makes sounds. There's a reason for that. I have seen so many parents go out and buy all these electronic toys that are touted as educational, and they are, in my opinion, such a waste of money. The noises are merely distracting -- kids learn to talk by hearing real people talk. Not tv people. Not toys. Mom and Dad. Grandma and Grandpa. Brothers and sisters and cousins. If you want your child to learn to talk, talk to him. Constantly. Name everything. Describe everything. Use simple words and short phrases, and repeat them again and again. No toy is going to teach your child to talk. The toys I've recommended, however, can be used by you to help YOU teach your child to talk.

Happy shopping! :)

This post was written for Works-for-Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I Bought a Cow

I never thought I would say those words. You see, I dream of living on a farm... but my dream farm has no crops and no animals. ;)

I'm not an animal person. Cute small fuzzy animals are okay, although as of right now, I have not chosen to invite even the most darling little kitten into my home. (But boy, those Holland lop bunnies are enticing, and I may give in yet.) But anything larger than a cat is simply not for me.

So why, you may ask, did I buy a COW?

First, let me show you the cow:

I bought the cow not for me, but for Rebecca, my sponsored child in Uganda. (She's the smaller of the two girls shown.) She is the dearest little thing, by the way... her letters are so sweet.

For Rebecca's family, the cow means milk, not only for Rebecca and her siblings to drink, but to sell. For a family that only makes a dollar a day, when they can find work at all, a cow means more money than they've ever had. Not a lot of money still, but more than they have now.

What astounds me most is when I take into account the price of the cow, and Rebecca's family income. They would never, ever, have been able to purchase a cow. It costs more money than they earn just to keep their family fed. They have no opportunity to make their lives better, because it takes money to make money.

And yet, the money I sent for this cow equates to the amount I'm paid for an hour and a half of work.

Yes, that's an hour and a half of sitting on the floor with a two-year-old and teaching them how to play with toys, how to say sounds or words, how to match pictures or sort colors. Some sacrifice, eh? Such a little bit on my end becomes so much on theirs. It sort of reminds me of Jesus with the little boy's lunch, feeding thousands of people. Such a small gift, but it went so far.

This cow is the perfect example of what I love best about Compassion. I get to see the impact my dollars have. I see how they're spent, and what difference is made. I have given to other ministries that do similar things, and I have nothing bad to say about any of those ministries nor do I discourage supporting them in any way, they too are making differences like these. But I sent off my check and hoped it made a difference in someone's life and never really knew what happened as a result. With Compassion, I know. I know whose life it impacts, and I see the long-term results, as I get to keep Rebecca for another 15 years or so.

You can't change the world -- but you can change the world for one child.

I sponsored Rebecca as part of the Compassion Bloggers' trip to Uganda in February. I'm thrilled to announce that tomorrow, a new group of Compassion Bloggers is going to the Dominican Republic. I encourage you to follow their trip, and to pray to see if God is leading you to sponsor a child through Compassion. Click "Compassion" in the list of labels in the sidebar to read my other posts about my Compassion kids.

And while you're at it... sponsor a child. ;)