The Gift of Encouragement

My wife and Gary Chapman agree: my "love language" is words of affirmation.

I'm not sure if my daughter, Hannah, knows that. But something she did recently filled my "love tank" to the full.

On my birthday (earlier this month), she gave me a beautiful handmade card. But the best part of the present was the gift of her encouragement.

Want to learn more? Check out my latest post on the Family Matters blog.

Then check out these related posts:

Free-Range Parenting: Have We Become Insane?

I couldn't resist sharing this article: Seven Reasons We Hate Free-Range Parenting.

"Why has America gone lunatic on the subject of unattended children? Parents hover over their kids as if every step might be their last. If they don't hover, strangers do, calling the police to report any parent who leaves their child to run into the store for a few minutes. . . ." 
"I don't think there's one easy answer to why we've become insane; rather, there are a lot of forces that are pushing in this direction. But that doesn't mean we can't push back."

Be sure to read the full article.

Am I crazy for liking these thoughts?

Common Core Math, Explained

I shared this on social media last week, but I believe it is worth sharing here. Vox explains why Common Core math look weird, but why this number sense forms a crucial foundation to build on in mathematics.

It strikes me how so many people complain about how much our education system is "failing," or how teenagers can't do simple math reasoning, and yet those people are resistant to the type of teaching shown in this video. And I can tell you (as someone who has been teaching middle school math the past few months), that there are a lot of generally-smart children who don't have a basic number sense.

Maybe I'm biased, because this is how I do mental math when I add or subtract. (And maybe I'm biased because I believe Common Core is NOT the Common Problem.) So let's here from you:

Do you understand math problems like this? Or even if not, does this video help explain why elementary students are getting "weird" math instruction?

Let us know in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter. 

Also, please consider sharing this post (or the video itself) with others. It’s easy – you can just click one of the buttons below. 

We need to clarify this issue!!

[Review]: Cottonmouth and the End

Are you looking for an Narnia-like, easy-to-read book for your children? Do you want a book with a powerful message of hope and love? Then you must get the Cottonmouth series!

C. S. Fritz (see the parallel with C. S. Lewis already?!) has written a short and captivating story about Freddie Cottonmouth, broken up into three books:
  1. Cottonmouth and the River. We meet Freddie and Tug, and learn about pain, love, and sacrifice.
  2. Cottonmouth and the Great Gift. Freddie is sent on a mission, with a guide.
  3. Cottonmouth and the End. Freddie continues the mission. Victory comes, but not by the hand of Freddie.
I highly recommend that you introduce your children to the Cottonmouth series. My kids called these stories "cool," "awesome," "mysterious,"
"adorable," and other positive adjectives. And I think your kids will do the same.

Your children will smile. They will think. They may even cry. (And don't be surprised if you join them.) And throughout the pages, you'll hear the Biblical message of redemption.

And you're in luck! You can win a free copy of Cottonmouth and the End by leaving a comment below, or on Facebook or Twitter. If you want to win, you must enter by Sunday, May 17.

Plus, you can win an original, signed piece of Cottonmouth artwork using the Rafflecopter entry below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want another fun idea for your kids? Have them mail a letter to Freddie Cottonmouth himself! They'll receive a personal reply. Here are the details:

**Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of all three books in the series, in return for this unbiased review.

Motherhood and the Brain

From The Atlantic: What Happens to a Woman's Brain When She Becomes a Mother:
"Even before a woman gives birth, pregnancy tinkers with the very structure of her brain. . . .

"Mapping the maternal brain is also, many scientists believe, the key to understanding why so many new mothers experience serious anxiety and depression. An estimated one in six women suffers from postpartum depression, and many more develop behaviors like compulsively washing hands and obsessively checking whether the baby is breathing. . . .

"Becoming a parent looks—at least in the brain—a lot like falling in love. Which helps explain how many new parents describe feeling when they meet their newborns. At the brain level, the networks that become especially sensitized are those that involve vigilance and social salience—the amygdala—as well as dopamine networks that incentivize prioritizing the infant."

Like many other issues, this is not as simple as Nature or Environment. And it's yet another testimony to the wonder of the human body, and to God's image reflected in motherhood.

Happy Mother's Day Weekend!!!

13 Practical Ways to Love My Family

Some more thoughts on how I can better love my family, and how you can love yours, from All Pro Dad:
  1. Be patient 
  2. Show kindness 
  3. Don't have jealousy 
  4. Don't brag  
  5. Don't be proud 
  6. Don't discredit 
  7. Be selfless  
  8. Forgive   
  9. Don't be easily angered 
  10. Protect  
  11. Trust 
  12. Be hopeful for others  
  13. Be faithful 
Read the full article here

Related Links:

Favorite Tweets for April

Returned to Greenville after seeing family and friends in Savannah. After school programs growing. A weekend with 250 5th and 6th graders. Being almost doing with teaching.

It's been a good month.

Favorite Tweets From Others

@DalePartridgeWhen you feel like quitting, think of why you started.

@MarkMerrillYour biggest confrontations in your marriage should not be with your spouse, they should be with yourself.

@RaviZacharias:  The Cross, more than ever, is necessary to bridge the divide between God and us and between ourselves.

@RayYarmatinoWhat in our history of experience with 2D printers/copiers made us think it was a good time to graduate to 3D?

@mitchmillerme:  There is such a thing as over-churched and under-gospeled. 

@CreativeTypeDad:  "40% of Millennials still get money from their parents?" Nooo!!!  @usatoday #parentingproblems 

My Own Top Tweets

3 reasons that school uniforms are a great idea. (Despite my daughter's protests.)  #parenting

Excited for our @myleadacademy students touring and serving at @millvillagefarm today. #w…

"He had a need, and I could meet that need. I don’t see why this is a big deal. It’s a no-brainer."  #serve #love

"My flip flops are all disorganized." #firstworldproblems   

Camps are not important just for what our kids get out of them, but how they can bless others.  #parenting #camp

In just a few months, I will have been a Christian for 20 years. Here's my #gospel story:

"The best way to become a better parent is to become a better disciple of Jesus."

The training for standardized testing made me nauseated. I believe I'll call in sick for the next 7 days. #teacherproblems 

How staff, leaders, & children from @gracechurchsc created a beautiful experience for an 11-year-old girl.