Night Buddies - Adventures After Lights Out

How to Set Your 2018 Reading Goals

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Hi all, and happy New Year! I hope all of you had a wonderful time during the holiday season and are ready to take 2018 by storm. One of the things I always do at the start of the year is take time to remember all the amazing books I read in the previous year, and set goals for how many more I want to read in the coming one.

A lot of us make the resolution, “I want to read more,” to go along with your fitness, health, and work goals. But what does “more” actually mean? If you’re someone who wants to read as much as you possibly can in 2018, here are my tips for you to make it happen! (more…)

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Why You Should Attend the Single Parenting Summit

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It’s no secret that I raised my son John as a single parent. What you might not know, however, was how difficult that journey was. Raising children is a huge responsibility that can keep you up at night, wondering if you’re doing everything right—and when you are in the position of raising children without a partner, those anxieties only become harder to manage.

Enter the Single Parenting Summit, put on this year by EverGreen Ministries in Hudsonville, MI. It is the first event aimed at helping single mothers and fathers navigate the challenge of raising children on their own, as well as offers programs for community leaders (like pastors) learn how to support the single parents in their circle. (more…)

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4 Things To Do When Your Kids Are Bored On Spring Break

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It’s that itchy-eyed, sunny day time of year again! Chances are, your kids will soon have an entire week away from school and are counting on having some fun in its place. But how do you keep them excited and having a fun-filled time for seven days straight—especially when your family doesn’t have vacation plans? Read on for my top tips and activities! (more…)

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Book Recommendation Time!: Parenting Edition

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This past Valentine’s Day, a book titled, The Toddler Brain: Nurture the Skills Today That Will Shape Your Child’s Tomorrow, hit bookstore shelves and took over the parenting world. According to its description on Amazon, the book “helps parents recognize the connection that exists between their own parenting behaviors and their child’s ability to acquire valuable twenty-first-century skills.” I don’t know about you, but in that one sentence this book comes across as the answer to the root of every parenting question I hear—how do I raise my child to be a success? (more…)

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Tips to Make You a Storytime Hero!

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Sharing bedtime stories with your child is an important night-time ritual for many parents. In fact, research has shown that children of parents who have bedtime stories show increased brain activity, particularly vocabulary and logic skills. Those skills will serve as the foundation for a better reader for the rest of their life. Bedtime stories also deepen your relationship with your kids and help to establish a bedtime routine (something every parent needs for their child). It’s also a time for both parents and children to wind down for the day. (more…)

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Say No to Cyber Bullies: What You Need to Know

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By now, cyberbullying is something every parent needs to be aware of. A study by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids investigated how often children (6- to 11-year-olds) and teens (12- to 17-year-olds) had been cyberbullied—and the results were astonishing. One-third of the teens and one-sixth of the children reported that someone said threatening or embarrassing things about them online.

Sometimes as parents, it is easy to feel helpless to stop this bullying trend, whether your child is being bullied or is the bully himself. But there are measures you can take to minimize the risk of cyberbullying taking over your child’s life. (more…)

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What Science Has to Say About Raising Sons

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This week, an article went up on The Stir called, “Our Baby Boys May Need a Totally Different Kind of Parenting.” In it, the author discussed a study that was published in the Infant Mental Health Journal which suggested that because boys brains mature at a slower rate, they may actually be more sensitive and slower at developing emotion than girls. She notes how this goes against what society has been telling us for years—boys can “tough it out” but girls need to be emotionally supported as children. (more…)

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Top Benefits of Creativity

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For this week’s blog post, I’m revisiting an important topic that we’ve discussed on the blog before—why creativity is important. So often in today’s education, emphasis is put on science and math skills for children to work on and improve, pushing things like writing, art, and music to the side because they are thought to be less important. But did you know that working the right “creative” brain has crazy benefits too?

(more…)

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Reading Tips for Children on the Autism Spectrum

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A recent statistic came out saying one in every 68 children has an autism spectrum disorder—which is no small number. For that reason, as a librarian, special needs teacher, or parent, it is helpful to know the ways in which reading can help these kids. Here are five ways in which to effectively use books to help autistic children not only learn to love reading, but also use it to effectively help them cope with their disorder. (more…)

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Tales of a Dog Breeder: What Being A Dog-Dad Taught Me About Fatherhood

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My son John with dog, Henry.

My son John with dog, Henry.

I know there are a lot of people who claim to be dog lovers . . . but man, I’ve had a bunch of dogs! Thirteen of them since the time I could vote. Eleven Saint Bernards, with two boxers as bookends—and that’s not counting the twenty-three Saint Bernard puppies I bred and shipped out!

The time I spent as a breeder was one of the more memorable adventures of my life. My runt, Fwiddie, birthed twenty-five puppies in only two tries. I kept one who I couldn’t stand to part with (not that parting with the other twenty-four was an easy task, let me tell you), and one died after only a day in a tragic accident.

It was some job. There weren’t enough teats to begin with (only eight good ones) and I had to mark each pup with a ribbon to see that it got its share. Three feedings per day, and another at 3:00 A.M. meant that I felt as sleep-deprived as a new father! Luckily, unlike with a baby, the puppies’ feeding schedule only went on for five or six weeks—but during that time, I could never leave the house for more than a few hours. There was also the matter of shots and dew claws—I would carry twelve Saint Bernards to the vet’s office in a small box.

And then, to top it all off, I had trouble selling them. Saint Bernard puppies grow about a pound for every two pounds of food they consume, and they consume boatloads of that . . . especially when you’ve got twelve of them at once! I finally sold them off after considerable expense—I may have cleared $1000 taking care of those guys.

You’d think that might have done it for me, but there is nothing on the planet cuter than a Saint Bernard puppy. So a year or two later, my little mama produced thirteen more. It took me six months to place all of them, and by then the last ones weighed ninety pounds! As cute as they were, after that run I quit the business of breeding. But it was great in so many ways, and I’m glad I did it. You only need to lie down in the yard amongst a herd of Saint puppies to understand why!

I kept the parents for another seven years. Then came Molly (eleven-and-a-half years old), then littermates Maggie and Dudley, and now Reuben, the boxer bookend. Dudley died two years ago, so Reuben took on the role of being Maggie’s new playmate. It’s been a ride for me!

John & Henry2

Now let me give any new dog owners some fine advice: When you are training your young dog and you tell him to do something, anything—Sit! Come here! Quit that! No!See the business through! Even if you have a broken foot, get yourself up, hobble over, and make the dog do it. Never let him get off disobeying you. If you do, he will surely try it again and prolong the training. It may be inconvenient for you just then, but see the lesson through and it will pay off triple in the long run. You can go upside his head with a rolled-up newspaper, but do this very rarely. Do go over to him, grab him, and show him how to do what you’ve commanded. And most important, never miss a time. Whenever you do miss, it will set the training back. If you can’t back the order up right now, don’t issue it.

Housebreaking can be done several ways, so I’m told. Whatever method you use, try your best to catch him in the act. This is not at all easy to do, but just one time will impress the dog much more than marching him back and scolding him at accident scenes he’s probably already forgotten. Potty training kids is clearly different. With kids it’s all verbal, and there must be a hundred theories about it. I have a beloved anecdote about the time I was potty training my son: I was finishing a Number Two one day, and cleaning matters up, when my two-year-old John marched in, stopped and stared, and announced, “That’s good! That’s how you do it! I’m so proud of you!”

For dogs, it takes two years for them to get it all together, move past the primary school stage, and on through the baccalaureate. After that, their training should be complete, and they can get more human in subtle ways, depending on how much you interact with them. Some (certainly not all) pick up actual wisdom.

Despite all the hard work, sleepless weeks, and the pain of losing a few beloved canine friends along the way, owning and raising my dogs has been, and always will be, a passion of mine. If anybody wonders whether owning a dog is worth their time and money, all I have to say is that I wouldn’t choose to live life without the love and devotion they’ve shown me!

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What is Ol'Sands Up To?

Sands talks about the origin of the Night Buddies Adventures Series.