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936Pennies Adventure Family Giveaway RedeemThe205

Family Adventure Pack Giveaway! Capture Time And Make It Count With Family Adventures

August 16, 2016

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Besides a few other families and the occasional hiker descending from Mt. Quandary’s 14,265 foot peak, we were alone at the lake. In fact, we had spotted more mountain goats, gracefully bounding down the steep slopes, than we had seen people.

I returned from a short hike to the car, back to our spot next to the water nestled between mountain peaks. The lake was clear as the day. I set down the tackle box, then the snack bag, which the boys made an immediate beeline for. Our oldest, Zeke, took a little bit longer, as he had a rocky ridge to clamor down.

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“He made it all the way up there by himself.” my husband explained, pointing to a natural seat cut into the rock face high above my head. “I just turned around, and he was way up there. Then we had a little talk”, he added with a smirk. Zeke leapt from a rock a few feet from the ground, and joined his little brothers at the snack bag.

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Nut butter bar in hand, our youngest boy settled down into my lap, and we sat staring at the water together, his whole weight resting against me. I leaned in to kiss the top of his head; his hair as soft and white as the mountain goat hair we had found hanging from the bushes we’d hiked through to get here. He turned to look up at me, his eyes as deep and indigo blue as the lake.

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Out here, as the marshmallow white clouds travel across the sky, they do not speak of time passing. Rather they give testimony to time captured and savored, because we’ve chose to stop and watch.

Here surrounded by rock and respite is not where time stands still. As a parent, I have surrendered to the fact that we cannot stop time. Rather, here is where time finds its rightful place. Here is where time becomes bigger.

In the rush and hustle and routine and often chaos of our day-to-day, time shrinks. It becomes small and insignificant, slipping through our hands. And one day we stop only to realize that a week has passed. Perhaps a month. A year. An entire childhood. And where did the time go?

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This is precisely why we take these family adventures. Why they have become an essential fiber woven into our family, holding us that much more tightly together. These adventures were the heartbeat behind our decision to move to the mountains.

But the thing is, you don’t have to have access to the mountains, the ocean, or the forest to take family adventures. Family in itself is an adventure. But wherever we live, and whether or not we as parents have a passion for the outdoors, we owe it to our kids to give them that chance. They deserve the opportunity to fall head over heels in love with the artistry created by the One who crafted them.

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Whether it’s a nature hike deep within the Rocky Mountains, or an after-school stroll along the river that runs through town, there is adventure to be found. And we must encourage that thirst for beauty and discovery in their hearts.

It hit me as I sat and inhaled the scent of my boy’s hair mingling with the aroma of pine. Out here, children lose all sense of time. There is no schedule or agenda; only rocks, sticks, wildflowers, and mystery. And here, as we watch them, fully captivated only by what’s in front of them, we find permission to redefine time also. Time no longer slips away, it lingers. It appreciates. It savors. It chisels itself as memories on our souls. It is no longer menace nor taunter nor burden, but gift.

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All the time as parents we hear it; we feel it, that time is fleeting. But my family is discovering that these adventures are one of the greatest tools we have to slow time down, and to focus on what–and who– is truly important to us in life. When we make time for these adventures, we show our kids a whole new set of priorities. As we wander, we inspire wonder. As we hike and run and stroll and climb and appreciate and respect and watch in awe—we hand them the keys for slowing time and making it matter.

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Giveaway Has Now Ended. Thank You To All Who Participated!

936Pennies Giveaway RedeemThe205

New Giveaway, Delicious Granola, and a Couch Jumping Photo Bomber!

August 4, 2016

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Official Contest Rules and Regulations:

Must be 18 or older and resident of US or Canada to enter. Entrant is entered to win by filling out and submitting subscription form above. Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Contest closes on Sunday, August 14 at 11:59pm Mountain Time. Winner will be announced on Eryn Lynum’s Author Facebook Page on Monday, August 15. Winner will be contacted for shipping address.

936Pennies Giveaway RedeemThe205

5 Questions For Setting Screen Time Limits (And When To Toss Those Limits Aside)

August 3, 2016

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I knew it the moment I took a step, something was wrong. Very wrong. A second before I had hoisted my right leg over the baby gate, a maneuver I take about five dozen times a day. But this time was different, and now a sharp, piercing pain ran down the right side of my back. I gently lowered myself to the floor, wincing with each slight movement. Tears spilled down my cheeks as I texted my husband. “I cannot move.”

Our weekend packed with plans of hiking and running and exploring would now be spent with me on the couch. Now, normally the thought of three days lazing around, swinging in the hammock, and reading books would sound dreamy. But you see, I have kids. Little ones. I have little kids who need diaper changes, snacks, entertainment, and supervision. Oh, and a toddler who constantly needs to be rescued from the top of the dining room table after he climbs the chairs while I’m not looking.

Bed rest with young kids? Yeah that’s not a thing.

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In those moments that I spent flat on my back staring at the ceiling through teary eyes, one of my first thoughts was of our recent decision to scale back on screen time. My mind recited words I had written the week before. Words painting a picture of life’s various seasons, and how those seasons ebb and flow with various needs. There on that floor as I lay waiting for my husband’s rescue, and making a mental note to vacuum that carpet as soon as I could move again, I found myself in one of those seasons with greater need.

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 And so over the next few days, I eased up on our newly-established screen time limits. At first, as I lay on the couch with ice pressed against my back, my boy next to me entranced by (another) episode of Bob the Builder, guilt was quick to rush in. I felt as though I was undoing all of our hard work from recent weeks. But that was not at all the case. Instead, after a few days of some extra screen time for the boys, and rest and healing for me, we simply reestablished our screen time boundaries. Just like that. Done and done.

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When we started this journey a few weeks ago, I knew that the question would come up. And so I wasn’t at all surprised last week when a reader asked how much screen time we are letting our kids have. Immediately my mind went to a quote from Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane’s Book, Growing Up Social (Win a copy below!).

In it they explain, “In terms of how much screen time you allow your child, only you can decide how much is too much.”

I don’t believe that there is a “Screen Time Sweet Spot” that fits every family the same. Not at all. Rather, I believe that the boundaries we set up around screen time for our families are a personal decision, not to be judged by the next family over. It is something we all must take account of and decide for the good of our own family. The good news is that your kids can be a huge help in deciding what that healthy amount of media is for your family.

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I find that my children give me subtle hints as to when they’re spending too much time in front of a screen. Their tempers grow shorter, and they develop an entitlement mentality. When I say No, they push back or throw a tantrum. When we’ve been strictly limiting their media use, this is not the case. Rather, they observe TV as a treat, and one that Mom and Dad control, not them.

If you are wondering how much screen time is appropriate for your own family, here are 5 good questions to begin with:

  • “Is technology bringing our family closer together, or driving our family apart?” (Growing Up Social, Chapman and Pellicane)
  • Do my children act as if an hour in front of a screen is a gift, or something they are entitled to?
  • How do my children act when I tell them screen time is over? (If you’re met with tantrums, then consider scaling back. I find that the less time my kids spend with screens, the more OK they are when I turn them off)
  • Have we read books, played outside, or created something before turning on a screen?
  • Is screen time in my mind an occasional help, or a default go-to when I want to keep the kids occupied?

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Another quote I found helpful in Growing Up Social was this, “Although each family should use personal judgment on the amount of screen time, every family must set clear boundaries. Children always do better if they have clear boundaries. Screen time requires limits and parameters, or it will take over your child’s free time”.

It takes time, practice, and evaluation to discover a healthy balance of media for our families.  That has certainly been the case in our home. As we continue to evaluate our children’s behaviors and our own hearts, we are gaining a much clearer picture of how much screen time is ok for our family. And then of course, we must keep in mind that there is grace for setting aside those limits for a short time if we could use a little help.

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When mom is out of commission with morning sickness, or a new baby is welcomed home, or an adopted sibling arrives and is transitioning to a new home and family…or when mom uses improper form when stepping over a baby gate and throws out her back…there are plenty of examples of when those screen time limits can be set aside.

And then, when the waters calm and we get our feet back under ourselves again, we can set down that remote, and head outside for a picnic. We get back up again, dust ourselves off, and remember what this battle is worth…our kids’ childhoods. We reclaim those childhoods with each hour by wonderful hour that we spend outside, in a book, riding bikes, swimming at the beach, side by side making memories that thread together a legacy of a life well spent!

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growingupsocialsWin A Free Copy Of Growing Up Social, Raising Relational Children In A Screen-Driven World

Chapman and Pellicane’s book Growing Up social has played an integral part in my own understanding and practices of how screen time affects a family. In it, they share valuable research and information, complimented by relatable real-life stories, to help a family develop their own practices regarding media in their home. Win your own copy as a part of the #RedeemThe205 campaign!

 


Official Contest Rules and Regulations:

Must be 18 or older and resident of US or Canada to enter. Entrant is entered to win by filling out and submitting subscription form above. Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Contest closes on Sunday, August 14 at 11:59pm Mountain Time. Winner will be announced on Eryn Lynum’s Author Facebook Page on Monday, August 15. Winner will be contacted for shipping address.

Giveaway Parenting

Why I Teach My Kids To Talk To Strangers (And a Book Giveaway!)

May 24, 2016

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His lip began to quiver as he turned his sun-kissed face and buried it into me. The train’s horn signaled its departure from the station. Its cars were packed full of tiny passengers grinning from ear to ear. My boys watched from the sidewalk, their hopes crushed with each toot of the train horn.

I tried to explain to them that it was a pre-season test run; that its passengers were a group of preschoolers on a pre-scheduled ride. But how do you explain such things to a three-year-old with his heart set on a train ride?

Beside us stood an older woman with her daughter and grandson. They, too, tried to explain to the young boy why he couldn’t ride the train. The woman was kind. As we had stood by waiting to see whether we could ride, she’d asked about my boys, about my husband’s work, about our recent move to Colorado.

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A silver-haired woman in purple tie-dye came around the corner. She had been busy boarding the passengers moments before. “I just can’t do this,” she began to explain to me and the women beside me. “I’m a grandmother. And look at those tears….” She pointed to my heartbroken three-year-old. Then she bent down until her face was level with my sons’ faces. “You can ride as soon as they come back.” My boy’s lip steadied, and curled into a smile.

As we boarded the train, we chose a seat next to the kind woman and her grandson. My boys beamed as we rode over the small wooden bridge, then through the train tunnel. The woman asked me whether we had found a church; her husband used to pastor one here, she says; they’ve been here for over 25 years. Her daughter explained that she used to ride this train as a young girl. Now her little boy sat next to her, making the same kind of memories.

We exchanged cards before we parted ways. “Call me if you guys need anything!” she said. Then I went to rejoin my boys in the sand, digging endless holes with tiny construction trucks.

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She was only one of the handful of woman I spoke to at the park that day. My children have gotten used to it—to Mom striking up conversations with strangers. In fact, I often encourage it by packing our bag full of Matchbox cars, sand toys, or bubbles—something to draw some new friends over for my boys to play with, while I talk with their Moms or caregivers.

After all, I would rather that my children learn how to interact safely with strangers by observing me, right now when they’re little and close by my side. I want them to see how I interact very differently when I am talking to a fellow mom, with other people around, then I do in situations like the other day, when we shared a plate of food with a homeless man—and I asked their Daddy to take it over to him, instead of me. I want them to see the caution. The wisdom. The discretion. And I want them to understand how to put these things into action, so that if a situation arises—they’ll know exactly what to do.

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And while we are having conversations about never going anywhere with someone we don’t know, and telling Mom or Dad if an adult makes them feel scared—I want them to also know that sometimes it is ok to talk with strangers.

That sometimes that is how we make friends.

That someday, they might need to talk to a stranger– if (God forbid) they get lost or separated from me.

I need them to know how to identify a safe stranger from a potentially dangerous one. And I want them to know that there is still good in this world. That sometimes a great conversation and even a friendship can be born out of talking with strangers. But only if they know how it must be done—with caution and wisdom. And those are the things that I want to build into them and give them a chance to observe now, while they are near.

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A couple of weeks ago I read this story from a woman about when her two sons were approached by strangers—the dangerous kind. These two young boys were well prepared with sound wisdom in how to identify good strangers from bad strangers—and that knowledge saved their lives.

I had also just read this story from a mom who lost her daughter for 15 minutes. Because of conversations they had prior to the event, this young girl knew exactly what kind of strangers she needed help from in order to locate her mom.

I think we go amiss if we teach our kids to not talk to strangers. Because one day they might need a stranger. And that’s why it is so important that we teach them not only what kind of strangers to stay away from—but what kind of strangers are ok.

That is why I love these two books that I came across while reading those stories. No Trespassing—This Is My Body, and Super Duper Safety School, are incredible resources for you to talk through scenarios with your children in a way that won’t gross them out or terrify them—but will instead empower them.

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These books show them exactly how to identity a “Tricky Person”—one that could be dangerous, and how to stay safely away from them. They also show them how to identify safe adults, if they need help. Further, they show kids how to talk these things through with their parents or another safe adult, if something makes them feel uneasy, frightened, “or just plain yucky”.

Knowledge is powerful–powerful enough to save our children’s lives. As Patti Fitzgerald (author of these books and founder of Safely Ever After, Inc) , puts it: “REMEMBER: The ONE thing that deters a child predator or a molester is the possibility that they could get caught….If they think your child is confident enough to recognize thumbs down behavior, or may speak up, you significantly lower the risk of being their target!”

Let’s equip our children with that knowledge and confidence.

These books open up and guide the conversations that could save our children’s lives. They are most certainly a new part of our regular reading list—and I’d love to make them a part of yours, too!

Enter below to win a free copy of both No Trespassing—This Is My Body, and Super Duper Safety School.

 

Giveaway has now ended. Thanks to all who participated! Check back for our next book giveaway soon!

Giveaway

Win 3 Life-Changing Books! Mothers Week Book Bundle Giveaway!

May 6, 2016

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Enter to win a bundle of 3 books that have deeply impacted, encouraged, and challenged me in my own motherhood!

Win 3 Life-Changing Books For Moms: Surprised By Motherhood, Hands Free Life, Say Goodbye To Survival Mode

 

Giveaway has now ended. Thanks to all who participated! Check back for our next book giveaway soon!

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