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Why You Need to Go Ahead and Buy that School Yearbook

Sure it may seem like a waste of money.

Maybe our kids don’t seem to care if we purchase one or not.

It might appear as a material item that will just sit around and collect dust.

Does our child really need another school yearbook?

School yearbook sales are in significant decline today. Students seem disinterested in the costly product. Mom and Dad don’t want more stuff hanging around the house either, so they are choosing not to buy.

Is the yearbook a dying American tradition or does it still have value?

I relish this time of year when my kids bring home their yearbooks. Perhaps I have an affinity for the product because I was Editor in Chief of mine as a high school senior, but more so, it provides me parental value today. 

Those of us still buying yearbooks know we are investing in a keepsake that our child will hopefully treasure in the future. We understand that social media posts will eventually be lost yet an analog book of memories is forever. We’re also supporting and funding a group of students’ creative, hard work throughout the school year. 

What if you buy the school yearbook simply as a way to get your family members connecting today?

The hardcover Class of 2018 edition of my children’s high school yearbook sits on our coffee table surrounded by our comfy sectional couch. The book sits right where family members slowly gather around the television throughout each evening.

At this time of year, I strategically seek out an open area on the couch and begin to flip through the pages of the yearbook.

“Oh, he looks cute,” is usually all I have to say to get my freshman daughter to bound across the room to squeeze up next to me to see who in the world I could be talking about. 

“Uh, Mom. No. He is so weird. He’s in my biology class.”

Oh ok. Well, what about him? I say while pointing to a different picture. And our bonding begins….

There’s something magical about a school yearbook that allows normally off-limits conversation between my guarded daughter and myself. I can’t ask her about a friend’s Snapchat or Instagram post without coming across as intrusive or annoying. Somehow the compiled photos and stories wrapped up in this yearbook are fair game.

“Do you know her? She looks nice.”

“That doesn’t look like Michael. He has changed so much since elementary school.”

Organically the brothers can’t help but get in on the action too. They squeeze in wanting to add their personal two cents to the conversation. And the dialogue opens up between sister and brother, who typically pass in the high school hallways without even saying a word to one another.

I learn who’s funny in my child’s eyes. Who’s smart. Who’s mean. Who cheats. Who Juuls. Who kisses in the hallways. Which teachers they want for next year and which ones they hope to never see again.

The school yearbook allows us a window into our kids’ world that we may never gain access to otherwise. It is a private space somehow made public in the beauty of this hardbound memory book.

The purchase of the school yearbook may seem like a waste of money unless we understand it’s potential in the present. The compilation of photos, stories and memories inside can be a key to unlock your child’s world if you are willing to sit down with it and begin the conversation.

“He looks cute…”

Let the school yearbook be a simple and effective tool for strengthening relationships and communication in your home. We parents must purposely seek out ways to get our children off screens and into real conversation and the school yearbook is a perfect way to achieve that this time of year.

I hope that my children will value their books in the years to come, but I know I will always treasure the moments we spent laughing and talking our way through the pages year after year.

The annual school yearbook is one investment I will continue to make during this precious season called childhood and my hope is that you will too.

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3 Things to Do if your Son is Obsessed with Fortnite

My son was never a gamer. He played sports, hung out with friends and did typical dirty boy stuff.

Enter Fortnite: Battle Royale.

The popular video game is now my son’s competition of choice and playing Fortnite is his way of hanging out with friends. Even though it makes me out of my ever loving parental mind watching my offspring sit there with headphones on shooting at animated characters on a screen, I’m allowing it in our home, but not without limitation.

Playing video games should be an earned privilege, according to Dr. Lisa Strohman, Founder of Technology Wellness Center in Scottsdale.

Is playing Fortnite an earned privilege in your home?

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As summer approaches and more downtime is on the horizon, I urge my fellow parents of Fortniters to begin to set family guidelines around gaming now. 

FIRST UNDERSTAND WHY YOUR SON PLAYS FORTNITE

Belonging

Kids naturally have a need to belong and be part of the group. Playing Fortnite fulfills the human need for attachment to other people. The team approach of the popular video game is like being on a playground with friends.

It’s Addictive

There is the ability to have rankings and feel accomplishment and status, so it’s exciting…. and addicting. We must be careful that video games are not medicating our children, just as we adults might turn to alcohol, shopping or other deterrents to mask our reality.

It is ‘Free’

Battle Royale is a free game yet comes at a cost. “There is always a trade-off for the free video game, says Dr. Strohman. “It costs our child no money to begin playing, yet Epic Games collects all of our kids’ data.” Fortnite generated $223 million in March alone. What appears to be free at the onset, is costing our kids along the way.

All the Cool Kids are Playing

It doesn’t help that our sons are watching their heroes play Fortnite in their downtime. “The game industry is very savvy bringing in the celebrity aspect to further entice our kids and create even more frenzy around it,” says Dr. Strohman. “They want to see who they can rub elbows with. Of course, our teenager would love the opportunity to take Rapper Drake down.”

Parenting the Fortnite Addict in the New York Times

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3 THINGS PARENTS SHOULD DO FOR THEIR FAVORITE FORTNITER

1. Communicate about healthy consumption

According to Dr. Strohman, parents must treat technology the same as they do food.  “We would never allow a steady diet full of sugar, so why would we allow a steady diet of video games and technology? she says. “If you saw your children eating gummy bears for breakfast, you would sit them down and talk about how it is unhealthy.”

Parents must do the same thing when it comes to video game consumption. We must talk to our child about why a diet full of screens isn’t healthy and then we must be willing to set firm boundaries around gaming in our homes.

2. Create opportunities to build empathy

How are these first-person shooter games affecting our kids?

There is no research to show that first-person shooter games, such as Fortnite, creates actual violence. “But, what it has shown is escalated aggression,” said Dr. Strohman. A heightened alert system increases aggressive tendencies which reduce empathy in our kids. The concern is that this is becoming habitual.”

The world needs us to raise empathetic humans. Parents must mindfully create plenty of opportunities for our children to learn empathy through real-world experiences in our families and communities. Especially if we know that video games are numbing our children to this critical value.

4 Technology Battles Parents Must Fight

3. Write out your parental expectations for earning the privilege of gaming

How does your child currently earn the privilege to play video games in your home?

I asked Dr. Strohman if the list I gave my 16-year-old Fortnite playing son was perhaps over the top? Was I crossing the line from a firm and loving authoritative parent to a demanding authoritarian parent with my expectations? 

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“Your list is absolutely awesome,” said Dr. Strohman. “If your son isn’t responsible enough to wear his retainers then how can he earn the privilege of playing video games?”

Nothing like an expert to tell you that your parenting tactics are spot on. Sorry son….

Before summer comes, decide what boundaries you need to place on video game play and overall technology use in your home. 

It’s okay if our kids think we’re crazy, mean or super annoying. It’s fine if our expectations make our child temporarily unhappy. It is our job to teach and lead our children to a life of significance and meaning and I can guarantee you too much time on an addictive video game is not achieving that goal.

Have you set boundaries on your son’s Fortnite play? What’s working for your family?

Want more wisdom from Dr. Lisa Strohman? Check out her website here!

To learn about Dr. Strohman’s book Unplug and other books on parenting our kids on screens check out my Parent On Purpose Amazon store!

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Parenting for the Launch Book Review and Giveaway

It’s that time of year when high school and college graduation announcements arrive in our mailboxes and social media feeds. What an exciting time as we get to honor and celebrate friends and family who are about to launch their precious child into the real world.

Few transitions bring as much joy, tears and anxiety to parents as when their children graduate from high school and head off into the “real world.” It’s a strange concoction of emotions that is one part reflection (the memories), one part conviction (did we do everything we could?) and one part wonder (how will they do?).

This is exactly what compelled authors Dennis Trittin and Arlyn Lawrence to write their book Parenting for the Launch-Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Their book is a roadmap to help bring clarity to your parenting goals and offer direction and strategies to achieve them.

Are you preparing today for the upcoming launch of your child?

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Parenting for the Launch is directed toward the parent and gives a global framework for how to approach and execute the launch. What I Wish I Knew at 18, on the other hand, is messaged directly to the teen. It has the nuts and bolts of the successful principles you’ll want to communicate before your son or daughter leaves home.

In these books, you’ll learn to prepare your child for key life decisions, build an enduring relationship and move confidently as a parent from the driver to the passenger seat.

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A friend introduced me to Dennis’ first book What I wish I Knew at 18, as they knew I was writing my book on a similar message of parenting from the end. Dennis and I connected on Twitter and were able to get together recently in Arizona to chat about his books and how parents can begin to prepare for the launch of their child now. (See there are some positives of social media!)

In Parenting for the Launch, you will find strategies that will help you prepare your teen to soar into adulthood- to parent with purpose and to let go with confidence.

Want to win your own Parenting for the Launch/What I Wish I Knew at 18 combo? Leave a comment below on why you need these books NOW and be entered to win. TWO lucky readers will be drawn at random on May 18 to win their very own copies of Dennis Trittin‘s books. Entrants must be a US resident to win.

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One Way to Curb Entitlement in Your Child Today

Looking at my kids, you wouldn’t know their name brand shirt and shorts were purchased second hand.

You wouldn’t know that the expensive shoes on their feet were actually bought for a fraction of the retail price.

The book they’re reading and the backpack they are carrying were most likely purchased at a discount too.

I take my kids to shop at Goodwill and second-hand stores on purpose.

A friend sent me this viral Facebook post asking my take on it.

To me, this is just a typical scenario that happens to all of us parents, at one time or another. We react to our child’s bad behavior or disappointing character because we’ve never proactively made a plan to do otherwise.

We get so fed up with our kid’s lack of gratitude and reactively make desperate decisions to counteract what we have created. I’ve most certainly been there.

If we don’t want to raise entitled children, then what can we do today to ensure that we instead raise humble, grateful sons and daughters?

Shop at Goodwill now.

We don’t want to wait until the negative attribute arises and then scramble to figure out how to squelch it. I highly doubt that making her son pick out and pay for his weekly wardrobe at Goodwill was a planned consequence of entitlement. It was simply a reaction to it.

What if we parent proactively today so that the entitlement we don’t want to see in our children, doesn’t come to fruition tomorrow?

What if we look at the values and traits that we don’t want our kids to embody as an adult and begin to purposefully parent toward heading those off now?

Shopping at second-hand stores has always been a proactive part of my parenting plan.

I want my children to become adults who don’t place a high value on material items so I, in turn, must devalue materialism in our home now. I also want to raise people who understand that reusing and recycling are not just good for our wallets, but for our planet overall.

Don’t use shopping at Goodwill as a punishment for your entitled child, but instead as a purposeful way to build positive values that may just last them a lifetime.

Do you shop at thrift, second hand and bargain shops on purpose?

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Parents We Must Rise! Book Review and Giveaway

We are the parents. We love you. We are in charge.

How come we sometimes forget this one simple line?

I’m grateful for the parenting reminders throughout Arlene Pellicane’s new book, Parents Rising. Since my book is still in process, I’m thrilled Arlene has just released a very similar message to mine encouraging parents to take back leadership of their children, families, and homes. The world needs us to rise, Moms and Dads!

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Every time she writes, Parents We Must Rise throughout the book, I feel empowered and want to link arms with all of you working hard to parent against popular culture. We can. We should and we must!

Whether Arlene says Parents We must Rise, or I say Parent on Purpose, both are meant to encourage parents to reject passive parenting and instead intentionally raise our children into strong adults.

I love the simple format and size of Parents Rising- 8 strategies for Raising Kids who Love God, Respect Authority and Value What’s Right. Can I get an amen for the title alone?

Parents Rising is an easy read, which I’m thankful for. Raising five kids and writing my own book, does not allow me much extra time for reading right now. Arlene’s practical tips and personal stories of raising her three children keep the reader entertained and inspired. I also love how she encourages us with scripture and little Bible tales, reminding us that God must be at the helm of our families if we truly want to rise.

This is the perfect book to throw in your car to read when you’re waiting to pick up your child from another school pick up or soccer practice. The book is broken down into 8 separate strategies with my favorite ones being.. Amusement is not the Highest Priority and Routine and Boundaries Provide Security. It was also fun to see she included the powerful 936 pennies message as well!

I can certainly fall into the trap of wanting to keep my kids busy, entertained and happy. And I most definitely believe that our kids need stable routine and boundaries in our homes.

My son wrote Be like a normal parent at the bottom of our family expectations before being allowed to play video games. I translate that to mean Mom, you are a parent rising! My son thinks he wants me to be a passive parent who doesn’t have boundaries. Good thing my husband and I are the ones in charge around here and that I know being my son’s friend is not what he needs right now.

Want to win your very own copy of Parents Rising? Leave a comment below on why you could use some parenting inspiration right now and be entered to win. One lucky reader will be drawn at random on April 21 to win their very own copy of Parents Rising courtesy of Moody Publishers. Entrants must be a US resident to win.

Parents let’s rise together!

Learn more about Arlene on her blog.

And check out my Parent on Purpose Amazon store for more of my reading recommendations!

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8 Ways Parents Can Combat the Stress of Growing Up in Today’s Competitive Culture

What do you mean you have a B?

What do you mean you got third place?

What do you mean you’re not taking that honors class or that SAT prep course?

What do you mean you don’t know where you want to go to college or what you want to study yet?

And our parental anxiety heightens as we question if our child is falling behind in this race toward college called childhood.

It’s no wonder youth suicide rates, depression and anxiety are at an all-time high. The pressure to keep up is intense as our children are constantly evaluated and expected to compete at a high level in every aspect of their life.

Teenagers are taking their own lives because they feel they can no longer keep up with the competitive culture they are living in. When are we going to wake up to the fact that just maybe the expectations we are putting on this generation of kids are too much?

What can we parents do to combat the crazed competitive culture that our children are growing up in? 

1. Make your Home a Haven

Let your home be a place where your child can relax, restore and be rejuvenated. We need to purposely provide a calm away from our kid’s daily storm by providing them a peaceful home away from the craze of the outside world.

This doesn’t mean that we never raise our voice (a.k.a. yell) and let our child continuously veg out on the sofa, scrolling a device, while we run around and serve them. It means that we, as a leader in our home, purposely create a low-stress environment, as often as we can. Gather around the family dinner table regularly so that authentic conversation and relationships may be strengthened.

2. Refrain from Promoting Parental Pride

It’s only natural to be proud of our son’s big win or our daughter’s accomplishment but it doesn’t mean we need to constantly post about their successes online. Our children are always watching us. When winning the games and earning the awards become what we regularly promote on our social media feeds, we subconsciously send the message to our children, and our friends, that this is what we deem most important.

If you don’t own the school or team you are promoting with the sticker on the back of your vehicle, maybe you should remove it. Because even if you don’t voice it, that logo slapped on your window or bumper tells your kids, and all of us trailing behind you, what you prioritize.

3. Say No to the Parent Portal

The parent portal apps where we can monitor our kids’ academic activity only add to the pressure and stress for all involved. How can our child own their own learning if we are constantly getting on them about missed assignments or low test scores?

If we are regularly checking the portal to see where our child is falling short than our son or daughter will never learn to feel the consequences of their mistakes or successes themselves. They will naturally come to rely on Mom or Dad to tell them what move to make next.

Set yourself up for success in this area by removing the portal off of your devices. Every now and then ask your child to pull it up on their device and show you how things are going.

4. Prioritize Play

What happened to the fun? We mustn’t take life so serious all of the time when raising kids today. Our families and homes need more laughter, play, and silliness. Don’t mistake sitting on the sidelines of your child’s life watching them perform and compete as playtime. Figure out where your family playgrounds are and head there more often. How Playful is Your Family?

5. Normalize Failure

Our children must feel the pain and discomfort of failure. They must face the consequences of not studying or forgetting to do their homework. Kids must gain experience failing and learn to recover from their mistakes in order to build resilience.

Talk regularly in your home about times when you mess up as an adult. Let them see you embrace failure. When we as parents expect straight A’s and winning sports seasons, we wrongly teach our kids that perfection is the goal.

6. Set Limits on Technology

Our children come home from school, fall on the coach and begin mindlessly scrolling and gaming in their downtime. As the parent, we must allow them the space to unwind while setting limits for technology use in our home. Kids need a break from the pressuring world around them, but always seeking reprieve in a screen is not healthy.

Children of all ages need space without digital devices to experience boredom and opportunity to build relationships with friends and family face-to-face.

7. Allow them to take a Mental Health Day

This is a recent shift in thinking for me. It wasn’t until I witnessed the negative effects of my high schoolers’ juggle of honors class homework, club sports, academic clubs and working a part-time job, that I began to allow my teens to turn off their alarms and take a day or morning off to regroup once in a great while.

How to Know If Your Child Needs a Mental Health Day

Managing normal stress is a healthy part of life, so know your child well enough to know when he or she is overstressed. If you see your son or daughter has time for playing video games, scrolling social media or watching television than they probably don’t need a mental health day off from school. They may need to learn to manage their time better. Know the difference between when your child actually needs a break and simply wants one.

8. Drop the College Conversations

There is so much pressure on kids, in middle school even, to begin thinking about where they will go to college and what they will major in. Friends and family discuss GPA’s, class schedules, scholarships and college essays on a regular basis.

Parents have their children join clubs and organizations hoping it will help their child appear well rounded and heighten their chances of getting into college. We as a society have begun to worry so much about building up our child on paper that we are forgetting to build up the real person.

Even if we parents aren’t pressuring, our child is still growing up today surrounded by stress and expectations. How are you purposely combatting the competitive culture that your child is growing up in?

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5 Reasons You Need To Be a Less Productive Parent

We must stop being so productive in our parenting today so that our children can learn how to be productive in their own lives.

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In the morning the productive parent wakes the child up.

Makes the breakfast.

Goes back in to wake sleeping beauty again.

Packs the lunch.

Throws in the laundry.

Cleans up after breakfast.

Reminds Johnny to take his washed and folded PE uniform and his library book that is due.

Off to school, he goes.

Good thing he has a cell phone to text Mom when he realizes she forgot to remind him to bring his math book.

And because the productive parent wouldn’t want him to be without what he needs, she runs it to school.

And the scenario goes on….

Is it possible that our productive parenting is hindering our children from becoming productive adults?

One of our goals as parents should be to raise a confident, responsible and independent adult who can capably live in the real world one day without us. It’s time to recognize if we are stealing opportunities from our child to grow into the productive person they are meant to be.

Here are 5 reasons we need to be a less productive parent in 2018

1. Our kids don’t know how to fail

We can’t stand to watch our offspring face disappointment and hardship so we do all we can to keep our babies from feeling discomfort. Failure doesn’t feel good, and we want our children happy, so we shield and protect our son or daughter from anything that may make them feel uncomfortable.

But as adults, we have mistakingly forgotten that failure is a necessary part of life. How will we ever know when we’ve truly succeeded if we’ve never been allowed to fail?

Most of our parents didn’t pick up the pieces when things fell apart for us. We learned how to do that ourselves. Why then aren’t we allowing our child the same space to learn and grow from negative experiences?

2. Our kids don’t know how to problem solve

Recently I interviewed several university deans, professors, teachers and employers about the difference between young adults today compared to past generations. They unanimously said that adolescents don’t know how to solve problems for themselves.

Who’s to blame for this? Siri, Alexa and hovering parents get my vote.

No matter who’s to blame, we as parents have to be adamant about giving our child the confidence and space to figure out solutions for themselves. Only then will they get to experience the consequences that follow their decisions- good and bad.

How can we begin to empower our child to make choices for themselves instead of them relying on us or technology to do the work for them?

3. Our kids don’t know how to fend for themselves

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My viral post on the 8 Things You Should Stop Doing For Your Child touched on how we need to purposely raise an adult instead of big kids who leave our home clueless instead of capable.

It’s up to us parents to let our child become productive instead of us continuously producing for them. It is the rare child who is going to ask to wake themselves up, do their own laundry, make their own breakfast, fill out their own paperwork and the list goes on. Children of all ages like having things done for them, so you are going to have to take the lead in teaching them what they need to know.

As parents, we must strive to balance nurturing our child and teaching them life skills. Don’t mistake doing everything for your teen as love. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for your child is to say no to bringing that forgotten item to them at school.

4. Our kids don’t know how to be face-to-face with another human

Technology is ruining childhood if you haven’t figured that out already. We parents must have boundaries and rules for devices, so our child grows up learning that their iPhone is an asset, not a part of their anatomy.

We must carve out space in our child’s life for them to be with people of all ages in person without a screen to hide behind. The group of professionals I interviewed also agreed that young adults are very unsure of themselves in social settings today. They don’t know how to look another person in the eye or how to have casual, yet meaningful conversation face to face.

It’s up to us parents to create opportunities for our children to develop lifelong relationship and communication skills which are not going to happen by using Snapchat.

5. Our kids don’t know how to wait for anything

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I blame the brilliance of Amazon and their uber-productive shopping experience. Why wait for anything anymore when you know you can quickly click a few buttons on this website and have your desire in hand tomorrow? What can possibly be wrong with that?

The concept of waiting for something you want or even need is lost on the younger generation, thanks to Amazon.

It’s up to us to teach our children how to wait. To wait for items that they want. To wait in lines. To wait to do things that aren’t appropriate for their age yet.

With our over-productive parenting, we are creating a generation of kids who are afraid to fail, unable to problem solve, unwilling to help around the house, uncomfortable in the presence of other humans and who don’t want to wait for a thing.

Parents, we must purposely be a bit more unproductive this year so that our children can become the productive people that they are meant to be.

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How 936 Pennies Can Help You Parent More Intentionally

Nine hundred and thirty-six weeks from birth until our children turn eighteen.

Before I even heard the 936 Pennies message, I knew that the time I had to raise my children was fleeting.

Every time I walk into my kitchen, these glass jars on the windowsill greet me. I’m grateful for their visual reminder that what I do today matters.

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God willing we get 936 weeks with our child from the time they are born until they turn 18.

This set of penny jars is a tangible reminder of how fast kids grow up.

We know it’s true, but somehow in the hustle and bustle of daily life, we simply take this precious truth for granted. When we remove one penny from its original jar and drop it into the spent jar each week, we are reminded of how well we are investing in our son or daughter’s childhood.

Eryn Lynum’s new book 936 Pennies- Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting, is based on her viral blog post about the power behind these glass jars of copper coins.

I get asked to review a lot of books, but I actually reached out to Eryn to be a part of her book launch team because I believe in her message so much.

I was afraid that her book wouldn’t necessarily apply to a mom at my stage of parenting kids in the high school home stretch. But, it most certainly does. This book applies to every parent who takes for granted the fact that today does indeed matter.

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Sprinkled with Bible scriptures throughout, Lynum’s book inspires the reader to slow down and prioritize what really matters. She says, “we can’t control time but we can slow it down by living each day intentionally. We only have so much time to teach our kids, to make memories, and to love them while they are at home.”

No Pain, No Gain

Our pennies are dwindling down toward the end and if I’m honest, it doesn’t feel good. It would be easier to choose to ignore the truth of our kids growing up and protect our hearts from the painful reality that our full-time parenting season is coming to a close soon.

“Removing pennies hurts, and it is supposed to,” writes Lynum. “A constant reminder of the shortness of time is meant to stir up a response within us.”

Our jar on the left screams that my time is almost up. I’m down to 81 weeks until my sons turn 18. Lynum’s book encourages me to continue to deliberately invest in my children and the time we have left together.

That near empty jar coaxes me to relax and take the time to look into my teenager’s eyes, to listen and to speak love into him, to reach out and to step back. It beckons me to laugh more and to find peace in the moments I get with my busy teenagers.

What You Do Today Matters

That jar of remaining pennies begs me to teach my child one more thing about life. Or inspires me to make one more special treat. It tells me to say yes to more time to play and say no to more time distracted by screens.

It can be difficult to look at the jars and question if I’ve invested my time well.

We must let dropping yet another penny into the spent jar change us. Let the transferring of each weekly penny remind us that the way we spend our time does matter.

4 Ways to Create Meaningful Traditions in a Glass Jar

“When we set our souls on slowing that time and expanding it by taking notice and appreciating the moments that make up those weeks, we do it,” writes Lynum. “Suddenly a jar of worn pennies transforms into a treasure chest of countless moments, all building on one another to form a childhood bound together by beauty and significance.”

Lynum’s simple, yet powerful message is a great reminder for all of us that no matter the age of our children we must be intentional with the time we have left.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

Lynum writes, “Parents face this overwhelming pressure to make every moment matter, to cherish every second of the journey. But, I don’t believe that this idea correctly portrays our calling. I don’t think our job is to make every moment memorable. Rather, I believe that our job is to open our eyes wide and sink our feet deep down into those moments when we spot them.

Instead of fabricating and trying to control the memory making, we simply utilize the beauty all around us to cement lasting memories. When those opportunities avail themselves, we are ready and eager to snatch them up and hold them with awe. We’ll be ready to turn them into dog ears in the story of our sons’ and daughters’ childhoods.”

Comment below if you’d like to win a copy of Lynum’s new book 936 Pennies- Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting!

One winner will be chosen on February 16, 2018. US residents only, please.

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Why You Need to Say Yes to the Thin Mints

It’s that time of year when we’re asked to buy tagalongs, thin mints, and trefoils.

I remember the first time our neighborhood Girl Scouts showed up unannounced on our doorstep sporting their patched vests, adorable smiles and a cart full of cookie boxes. The only noticeable thing missing was a parent by their side.

Where in the world was the girls’ mother?

This week the sisters who live at the end of our cul-de-sac showed up and confidently handed me a card listing all of their offerings. They told me about their new flavors, informed me of their gluten-free option and explained that the thin mints are vegan. They also suggested I not buy the Smores ones because they’re not very tasty.

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If you tell the girls that you’re watching your waist and not eating cookies right now, they are ready for your excuse. They say you can buy the cookies instead for the troops and they will ship them overseas.

Gracie and Maya bravely stop by annually to sell their Girl Scout cookies without a parent by their side.

Where is their mother and why is she not involved?

Actually, Mom is their troop leader and is exactly where she is supposed to be- encouraging and empowering her daughters from afar. In a culture of helicopter parenting, Girl Scouts allows parents to step back and let their young girls build confidence, character, and courage through their cookie selling program.

Even though my daughter isn’t a Girl Scout and I have no personal experience with the organization, I find the tradition of a sweet young girl boldly asking us to support her cause very refreshing.

Girl-Scout-Cookie-Sales-by-Neighbor-Girls

In an age where children are more often seen strapped into the backseat of the minivan racing off to their organized activity rather than traipsing around the neighborhood, I welcome this change of childhood pace that Girl Scout cookie selling provides.

My neighbor Angela Kisner said she grew up nervously hiding behind her parent’s legs and was anxious about having to talk to anyone in person. When she had her daughters, she wanted to empower them to have a voice and found Girls Scouts as one arena to help her raise confident young women. Angela also encourages her troop parents to allow their girls to do all of the cookie selling by themselves.

“The biggest sellers year after year are the girls who sell themselves rather than the parent being the leading factor,” said Jennifer Roman, Arizona Cactus-Pine Council volunteer troop leader and service unit cookie manager. In my training, I also emphasize the importance of the financial and business skills education for the girls, not the actual quantity of cookies sold.”

Did you know that the Girl Scout Cookie program is the largest girl-led financial literacy program in the country?

Do you realize that by buying that $5 box of cookies you are not only receiving a familiar special treat, but you are helping a young girl gain confidence in her leadership abilities?

Girl-Scout-Cookie-Program-Quote

The Girl Scout Cookie Program: Learning by Earning program teaches five essential skills that prepare a girl for future career success.

  • Goal Setting – Girls set cookie sales goals and, with their team, create a plan to reach them.
  • Decision Making – Girls develop a basic business plan for cookie sales and decide as a team what to do with the money they earn: like Girl Scout activities, camp, traveling or service projects.
  • Money Management – Girls develop a budget, take cookie orders, handle customers’ money, and gain valuable, practical life skills.
  • People Skills – Girls learn how to talk to, listen to, and work with all kinds of people while selling cookies.
  • Business Ethics – Girls are honest and responsible during every step of cookie sales.

Because these five skills are embedded throughout the Girl Scout Cookie program, cookie sellers learn in a hands-on, fun way how to set goals and meet deadlines, work well with others, understand customers, and be trustworthy and reliable.

So when you’re asked to buy tagalongs, thin mints, and trefoils from a smiling Girl Scout this month, remember that what you’re really buying is so much more than a box of cookies.

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7 Ways to Add Excitement to Your Family New Year’s Eve Party!

Ushering in the New Year as a family can be a blast with just a little effort on your part. Here are seven ways to entertain the kids and make your family New Years Eve party memorable for your family and friends.

1. Make bags for the kids to open each hour up until ‘midnight

I usually start letting the kids open goodie bags beginning at 8:00. These bags give them something to look forward to as they count down each hour until midnight. Each bag contains a variety of poppers, sparklers, noisemakers or candy in them.

2. Freeze Dance Parties

After the kids open their bags, we start our hourly freeze dance party until we’re down to one winner. It keeps everyone laughing and looking forward to the next hourly celebration!

3. Turn your Christmas Tree into a New Years one

We always leave our tree up until after the new year, so turning it into a New Year tree is a lot of fun! I love this idea of adding balloons, filled with money and fortunes, to pop at midnight. You probably need to have a faux tree like ours to do that though.

4. Fun, interactive games are a must

New-Years-Eve-Family-Party-Game-Ideas

Especially if they involve a little money. We always play Left, Center, Right using pennies or quarters to make it a little more fun for everyone. Other games we love to play are Telestrations, Speak Out and Wits and Wagers get the creativity and laughs flowing!

5. Serve Festive Drinks

How about a fun Torani Soda Bar setup? Or sparkling cider in plastic stemware is always a fun option for the kids.

6. Make Vision Hats or choose your One Word for 2018

A friend gave me the idea of turning our New Years Hats into walking vision boards. Such a fun idea! Have everyone cut out pictures and words from magazines representing what they hope for in 2018 and glue them to their party hat! Or start thinking about your One Word for 2018.

7. 20 YEAR END REVIEW QUESTIONS

Cut these up and put them in a New Years Hat. Pass them around and have each person answer the question they draw. Print the entire list and have everyone answer all 20 questions!

1. What new friends did you make this year?

2. What friendships did you let go of?

3. How did you express creativity this year?

4. How did you serve others?

5. How did you live out your faith?

6. What was the most fun thing you did this year?

7. Who did you miss seeing this year?

8. Who did you love visiting with this year?

9. What moment from 2017 brings a smile to your face?

10. What’s something sad that happened in 2017?

11. How were you courageous this year?

12. How did you relax this year?

13. What was the best place you visited this year?

14. What new restaurant did you enjoy this year?

15. What’s something new you tried in 2017?

16. What movie did you love watching this year?

17. What was your favorite book that you read?

18. What was a favorite gift you received this year?

19. Who helped you be a better person this year?

20. What’s something that surprised you in 2017?

Happy New Year Friends!! See you in 2018!