Tips From Two Year Olds

Get excited! There’s always something new to learn.

Make a mess! You can clean up later.

Explore! There’s a great big world around

Dance! It doesn’t matter whether you dance well or not, just dance!

Play with your food! Get your fingers in there. Slurp a little. Enjoy every bite.

Let go! Share your feelings. Don’t hold back.

Go naked! Stop covering up how you feel and who you are.

child-1997729_1280 editHave fun! The simplest toys bring the most pleasure.

Laugh! There’s a bit of humor in almost everything.

Rejoice! Every day brings new opportunities.

Hug! Show others that you love them.

Nap! Work hard. Play hard. Sleep hard.


“Oh, no! I forgot Mrs. So-and-so.”

Yes, I’ve said that before. Bet you have, too.

Or, “Mom, I need a gift for a party I’m going to.”

You’ve heard that, haven’t you?

Many years ago I thought it was weird that my mother had a shelf in her closet that was stuffed with random gifts, wrapping paper and tape. Too many times I watched her dash into the bedroom, head for that closet and reappear with a beautifully wrapped gift for Mrs. So-and-so who  dropped by during the holidays.

I now understand my mother’s actions completely.

Here’s a list of inexpensive gifts to pick up in a hurry, or to keep on hand, for that “Oh, no!” moment of yours during the next Christmas season.

• Knit or crochet hats, mittens, infinity scarfs
• Fleece throws
• Jars or boxes of holiday candy
• Holiday coloring books and crayons, markers or colored pencils, puzzles, books
• Small dress pins, earrings, pendants
• Bath or shower sets for men or women
• Miniature die-cut cars, trucks, or people
• Hair accessories for women, teens or little girls
• Mixes-in-Jars (cookie mixes, bread mixes, soup mixes)


I hope this list gets your thinking cap to whirling. Some of these gifts you can even make throughout the year to have on-hand at Christmas.

Check out PINTEREST for recipes and instructions.

I pray you and your family have a memorable, beautiful Christmas together.

Picture Books and More

I’ve mentioned that I’m now on Pinterest. I find it useful in several areas of my life.

Today I want to share my Pinterest Picture Books Reviews Board with you.

  • Gentle Chapter Books
  • 17 Unexpectedly Awesome Books for Boys
  • Books That Teach Kindness (and various other virtues)
  • Books for 6 – 8 year olds
  • 100 Most Beautiful Children’s Books
  • Read Aloud Novels (for various ages)
  • 40 Books for 3rd Graders
  • 100+ Beginning Chapter Books

And lots more!25897609168_9216f8f06e_z

Disclaimer: I have NOT read every book on these lists. So, use your parent-smarts before you refer them to your kiddos, please.

Blessings to  you all in 2019! Keep those children reading.



“Who wants to go see the Christmas lights?”

That question was always greeted with lots of, “Me! Me!” and grandchildren rushing to get their jackets on. We’d buckle up and ride around various neighborhoods Oooing and Ahhing at the outdoor lights.

I enjoyed the sparkling lights as much as the grandkids did.


But, have you noticed how ugly all those wires and sockets and extension cords look in the day time? When the lights aren’t shining? They’re twisted and tangled. They dangle from naked trees like nooses, and smother shrubs. They really look a mess.

However, when darkness falls and we flip the switches, those nasty tangles of wires disappear and we see only the beautiful lights.

Sometimes people think that when we get saved, when we have a personal relationship with Jesus, that all the tangles and loose wires will disappear. But that’s not true. Like the Christmas lights, the tangles and messiness of our lives still exists. We still have sinful habits and bad relationships. We make mistakes in judgment, and sometimes we even choose to sin.

We can make a real mess of our lives—children and parents alike.

I pray the Lord will help us, in spite of the messiness of our lives, to shine for Him in the new year. When a blanket of darkness falls around us—when our culture tries to envelope us in darkness—I pray we’ll shine bright enough to reveal the LORD to the people watching our lives, our families and our churches.

Goodnight, Manger-PB Review

Another Christmas Picture Book Review by Jean Matthew Hall.

20181115_110101-2545699518-1542299137477.jpgGoodnight, Manger is Laura Sassi’s take on the first Christmas. It was illustrated by Jane Chapman and published in 2015 by Zonderkidz.

This board book is sturdy enough to last for years through several sets of little hands. Good thing, because it’s cute and sweet. The very short rhyming verses will certainly appeal to toddlers. You’ll be passing down from one toddler to the next, I’m sure.


Chapman’s illustrations are warm, colorful and simple. They depict the Holy Family from a different perspective—happy, loving and frazzled!

Sassi’s story is the efforts of Mary and Joseph and all the stable animals and visitors to quiet a very upset baby Jesus on His first night on earth. Everyone from the donkey to the Wise Men tries to get the baby Jesus to sleep—but he’s having none of it.


Mama Mary has a great idea of them all working together to make baby Jesus feel happy and safe.

It’s a truly clever idea. I think toddlers AND their mommies and daddies will enjoy the humor of Goodnight, Manger.

Grab it up quick for your toddlers.

Hey! I think new parents might really appreciate the good laugh it gives, too.

A very Happy Christmas to you!


I’m baking.

The wonderful aromas of spices, vanilla & chocolates fill my house. My kitchen is a big mess with flour & sugar everywhere. Chocolate chips & sprinkles decorate my island. My little freezer is bulging with the goodies I’m making to share with the people I love.

It’s my thing. Baking and cooking delicious food for others. I get a lot of joy out of watching them enjoy (or pretend to enjoy) the stuff I serve them.

I also bake to celebrate!

 To celebrate Your birth, Dear Jesus
 To celebrate our love for each other
 To celebrate the bounty of gifts God gives us

20181204_100856The sweet treats I prepare and share represent all the delicious blessings God pours into my life, And there are plenty of them.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for friends & family to celebrate with. To exchange gifts with. To share good wishes with. Thank You for days of celebration.

This huge deal we make over Christmas is just a tiny taste of the celebration we’ll enjoy in Heaven someday. When God’s Son, Jesus the Groom, parades through Heaven with His Bride on His arm the entire universe won’t be big enough to contain the festivities.

I’m eager for the party to begin. Are you ready for that day?

Christmas Guest Posts

Two guest posts I authored. Please drop in to read them

HERE at Almost An Author “Christmas Grief” and

Christmas Grief

HERE at Little Lamb Books “Christmas Lights.”

Author’s Corner: Christmas Lights




The Christmas Story-PB Review

Another Christmas Picture Book Review by Jean Matthew Hall.

The Christmas Story was published by Worthy Kids/Ideals in 2005. It was written by Patricia A. Pingry and illustrated by Wendy Edelson.

This is definitely a Christian presentation of the Christmas story. The first page identifies it as “On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior. This is the Christmas story.” The last page also quotes Luke 2:1-16. I like that feature.

The Christmas Story is a child-friendly ,but fairly accurate, retelling of the Bible’s account of the first Christmas. The print is large with lots of white space. The book has a controlled vocabulary so a first or second grader should be able to read it with only a little help.

The illustrations are sweet.

I think The Christmas Story is a great book for your first or second-grader to read on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day around the Christmas Tree.


I opened a PINTEREST account more than a year ago. Then promptly ignored it. I’ll bet you’ve done something similar before, too.

However, a couple of months ago I decided it was time to revisit, learn, conquer the beast.

cupcakes-2285209_1280I’m glad I did. Now that I understand PINTEREST better, I use it often. I find tons of yummy recipes for my specific needs (and some not-so-yummy ones, too). I’m relearning crochet and I find hundreds of easy patterns for gifts to make.

But I also find useful stuff for this blog. So today I ask you to pop in and visit my PINTEREST page, or account, or whatever they call it, JeanMatthew_Hall at

I feature the following boards that are directly related to content on this blog Encouraging Words for Parents and Writers.

PARENTS—ENCOURAGING WORDS is home to my blog posts for parents.

PARENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN is home to pins I’ve saved with advice, tips and practical solutions for parents. A section of this is devoted to fun activities to do with young children.

PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS contains all of my picture book reviews on this blog.

WRITERS—ENCOURAGING WORDS houses blog posts I wrote in the past that are specifically for writers. If you know any  writers I’d appreciate your pointing them to this board.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES contains mems with Scripture and other quotes that are inspiring for parents, writers and people in general.bears-974462_1280.jpg

RECIPES and GLUTEN-FREE RECIPES contain, of course, generic recipes I’ve gathered from pins.

CRAFTS is home to crochet pins and crafts geared to adults. Things I would like to make.

My pins are a small gift to you. I hope you’ll gift me back by visiting my boards, saving some pins and sharing them with others.

Thank you. I wish you and your family a happy and holy Christmas.

Advent Calendars

My blogosphere friend, Tez Brooks, has some words of encouragement about using Advent Calendars with your children. You’ll find them here.


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