Grown-&-Flown-Book-Review

As a parent of three sons on the verge of adulthood, one daughter right behind them and one son in middle school, Grown & Flown is one of my favorite websites for all things parenting older kids. Not only have I gained wisdom and insight from this popular online parenting resource, but I have also been blessed to write for G&F as well.

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Lisa, Mary Dell and I at Mom 2.0 Summit in Austin!

Grown & Flown cofounders, Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington, have expanded on the online content from their #1 site for parents of teens and young adults and compiled all of their wisdom for those of us following in their parental footsteps into this beautiful hardback book.

The Dynamic Duo teamed with physicians, psychologists, educators, and writers, to produce this essential guide for building strong relationships with our teens and preparing them to launch into adulthood successfully. I love that both of our books feature a paper airplane on the cover too. Great minds (and great publishers) think alike!

Grown-&-Flown-Book-Review

The book Grown & Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family and Raise Independent Adults is a one-stop resource for parenting teenagers, leading up to- and through- high school and those first years of independence. This 335-page book is packed full of advice and wisdom from professionals and parents who have gone before us. You will want to dig through and take what works for you and leave behind what doesn’t.

The book is organized by topic: family life, mental health, academics, college admissions, separating and letting go, college life, and more. The unique chapter topics make it easy to decide what you want to read, depending on your current parenting stage.

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7 Messages You May Need to Read in the New Book Grown & Flown:

  • Why you may want to trust your teen instead of track them
  • 5 signs you may be overparenting your student
  • How to demonstrate loving support to your student instead
  • Why we want and need, to raise intrinsically motivated students 
  • 15 valuable lessons from a high school teacher
  • Why you may want to rethink the 4-year university path for your child
  • Our parental role in helping our child choose a college

In the book, there is an excellent resource that I am saving for next summer on 50 Questions to Ask Before You go Dorm Shopping. I thought I would buy a Bed-in-A-Bag and call it a day. Apparently not. So, I look forward to digging into this section of the book when it’s time to send our sons off to college next year!

If you are parenting teens or college-aged kids, let me know why Grown & Flown’s new book would be an excellent resource for you. Leave a comment below for your chance to win your very own hardback copy!

Winner will be chosen by random on September 17, 2019. Must be a US resident to win for shipping purposes.

Don’t want to wait? Order your copy at a discount off Amazon HERE!

Want to read my work online at Grown & Flown? Click HERE!

 

 

Circle-Pines-KOA-Williams-Arizona-Family-Fun

Five years ago, we were traveling around our country in an RV with our four middle schoolers in tow. In honor of that epic trip, we headed north to touch base with the campground life once again. We chose to get out of the Phoenix heat and camp at the Circle Pines KOA Holiday in Williams, Arizona.

We sold our motorhome shortly after returning home from our American journey, but the great thing about this location, and many other KOA’s, is that they have plenty of alternative accommodations for campers who don’t have an RV or a tent.

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We chose to split up between this deluxe cabin and one of the tepees nearby. The kids had a lot of fun going between the two places. We gathered each night in front of the tepee for smores over the campfire.

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There are so many options for outdoor family fun here at the Circle Pines KOA. Our kids used to flip through the KOA directory and beg us to go stay at this location because it looked like so much fun. When, we told them we had finally booked it, they said, “we wanted to do that back when we were 12, not now.” Ha! Too bad….

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And as you can see, they had a ball. Playing Gaga ball together….

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Go Kart racing in the afternoons. The course on property is open to the public as well, but KOA campers get a discount.

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KOA’s signature jumping pillows brought the greatest joy to our kids on our RV trip and it was apparent that their love for them still exists today!

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The Circle Pines KOA Holiday location was a perfect location for us to take day trips from. Bearizona is just one exit west of the campground.

Flagstaff-Extreme-Adventure-Course-Family-Playtime

Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course is 35 minutes east of this campground. The owners of Circle Pines, also own the KOA in Flagstaff, if you wanted to stay closer to this.

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And our glorious Grand Canyon National Park is only an hour away as well!

The Circle Pines KOA was the perfect hub for our family to go off on day trips and come back to a relaxing environment where we could all find time to decompress and enjoy playful moments together.

Our family received no compensation for this review. I just love KOA and all of the joy, connection and playful moments their locations have allowed our family to share together!

Bearizona-family-fun-williams-arizona

Our family spent part of our summer vacation exploring our home state of Arizona. We headed up north a couple of hours and visited Bearizona for the first time.

Bearizona is a wildlife park featuring a wide variety of North American animals. You can experience a scenic 3 mile drive through the Ponderosa Pine Forest in your own vehicle or choose to take the Wild Ride Bus Tour like we did.

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We enjoyed the open air guided Bus Tour because not only did we get to learn about the animals and park in general, but we could see the animals so much better than we would’ve stuffed in our Suburban.

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You could take the bus tour and then drive through yourself after if you wanted! The cost of admission to Bearizona is $25 for adults and $15 for children 4-12. They also offer annual passes.

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Bearizona takes great care in providing animals with large, naturalistic enclosures and plenty of room to roam. Many of their animals have been rescued and rehabilitated here. The wildlife park is privately owned and receives no tax dollars.

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More animals are exhibited in Fort Bearizona, a beautiful 20 acre walk-thru area, along winding paths which is more of a “zoo” type setting. After our bus tour, our youngest was so excited to go to the Barnyard and pet some of the animals.

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We also enjoyed the Birds of Prey Free Flight Show and Nix enjoyed getting to ask questions about the birds afterward. There is also a beautifully themed restaurant here and several outdoor stands with treats and drinks. We stopped and took a gelato break! There was even live music on a stage right by us. We thoroughly enjoyed our relaxing few hours here at Bearizona!

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Bearizona was only 2 miles from where we stayed at the Circle Pines KOA Holiday campground! As you can see leaving the park, there are 2 KOA’s very close by. Both of them are owned by the wonderful Bell family, who we got to meet in St. Louis along our 2014 RV journey around the USA.

Thank you to Bearizona for giving our family admission to the park in exchange for this honest review.

Flagstaff-Extreme-Adventure-Course-Family-Playtime

One of our core family values is adventure, so it was only fitting that our family headed to Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course during our summer travels to northern Arizona.

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As our children get older, it can be difficult to figure out how to connect and ‘play’ as a family, so I try to seek out places where we can spend tech-free time together in nature and this outdoor playground was the perfect place for us to do this. Plus, we had enjoyed several adventure courses during our RV trip around the USA in 2014, including Olympic Park in Utah and Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana.

What is an Adventure Course?

A Tree Top Adventure Course is an adventurous obstacle course set in the natural environment where the course is located, in this case, Flagstaff, Arizona. The obstacles are suspended between trees and participants stay securely clipped into a red safety cable throughout the course. The obstacles you will find in the park include suspended bridges, scramble nets, swinging logs, a skateboard, and much more! If you complete all five adult courses and 70 obstacles, you will also have been on 8 ziplines plus the short one on the Demonstration Course. You also may just find a surprise at the end of the 5th course! Only two of our sons made it through the entire course.

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There were lots of laughs shared and lots of obstacles to overcome….

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Pricing for the Adventure Course is $52 per guest + taxes and fees for ages 12 and up. Kids ages 12-15 must be accompanied by an adult. There is a Kid’s Adventure Course for children ages 7-11 for $27 + taxes and fees.

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Our youngest who claims to be afraid of heights, challenged himself and made it through three of the five courses. Although scared out of his mind at times, it was awesome to see him challenge himself and build his resilience on this course.

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Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course is Arizona’s only Adventure and Zipline course and is located two hours north of Phoenix. Booking your spot online in advance is highly recommended.

WHEN YOU GO TO FLAGSTAFF EXTREME:

  • Bring gloves to wear because after awhile your hands will be happy you did. They do sell fingerless gloves there, but we bought a 3-pack of inexpensive utility gloves at Walmart before we went and those worked perfectly.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle and a carabiner to hook it to your harness. There is a station to fill your water bottles outside where you check in.
  • Be sure to bring lunch or snacks to enjoy at the picnic tables throughout the park.

Flagstaff Extreme graciously comped our entrance to the park in exchange for this review.

For-Purpose-Kids-Do-Good-Starter-Kit

Be Kind. Do Good. Make the World Better.

For Purpose Kid’s simple motto is one we should all strive to raise our kids by today. 

How can we habitually make kindness and goodness an authentic part of childhood despite the self-serving culture that we are raising our kids in?

We must decide that it’s important enough to live these important values out regularly. Thanks to the value-based Toolkits from For Purpose Kids, parents now have tangible tools to use to teach younger children important character traits.

It’s a parent’s duty to purposely instill the pertinent lifelong values that will develop children of character who can go into the world and make it a better place.

Michelle-Borba-Values-Quote

Founder Misty Castañeda started imagining how different the world might look if we, as parents, consciously raised kids to be kind and caring, so she created an interactive learning program known as For Purpose Kids.

The For Purpose Kids Toolkits inspire children 5 to 10 to learn about being kind and doing good for people, communities, animals, and the environment through activities, books, and events. Built upon a subscription model for ongoing, interactive learning, the Toolkits engage young kids in meaningful conversations using multicultural characters and stories.

Misty graciously sent our family the Do Good Starter Kit, so my youngest son and I kicked off summer break by opening it up and talking through its contents.

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In our family, we focus on showing kindness and love, so this subscription box fits the values we are already authentically trying to live out.

My son cut out the characters and had the idea to write their names on the tops of them. We were able to read through the descriptions of each character, and he decided that Deepu was his favorite because of his love for animals.

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The journal was our favorite product in the box. Even though you can buy a journal anywhere, this Yoobi one felt special because it was specifically designed to use for our journey in showing kindness. We thought it was a perfect idea to write down our Random Acts of Kindness that we already authentically do in our lives. It will be even more fun now having somewhere we can log all of our fun and kind moments together.

Read my post on For Purpose Kids – Why We Need to Prioritize Serving With Our Kids!

This journal will be a great tool to help my son work on his writing and storytelling skills. He is excited about the journal because it came in this subscription box. If I had pulled out a blank book and said he was going to write in it, I’m sure this opportunity would not feel as fun.

For-Purpose-Kids-Do-Good-Starter-Kit-Yoobi-Journal

For every For Purpose Kids Toolkit purchased, five meals are donated to kids at the Sunnaay Foundation, an organization in New Delhi, India that provides basic education, nourishment, and support for underprivileged children. For Purpose Kids is not affiliated with any non-profit or religious organization, so you can incorporate your personal beliefs and faith alongside what is provided. 

In our family, we added Biblical scripture to further discuss why we live a life of kindness and love to others.

1-John-3:8

For Purpose Kids is offering my readers a 15% discount code until August 31 using ParentonPurpose.

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

We’re headed off on a week-long family trip, and in our excitement, we post pictures on Facebook of our departure from the country.

Our son receives a prestigious award at school, so we proudly post him holding his certificate on Instagram. #proudmom

It’s our daughter’s birthday, so we lovingly celebrate her by sharing a collage of pictures throughout her life even though she’s not even on the social platform.

Yes, we are proud of our offspring.

Of course, we want to share our child’s cute face and shining moments for friends and family to see.

Naturally, we’re excited to head off on that much-awaited family vacation. 

But, should we be sharing our kids’ images and our precious family moments online?

Sharents- Kids-Deserve-Privacy-Please

With June being Internet Safety Month, it made me think about my ‘sharenting’ habits and question if it’s a problem posting all that we are on our social feeds?

Are there risks to our ‘sharenting’? 

Dr. Lisa Strohman, Psychologist and Founder of Digital Citizen Academy, says absolutely and it’s why she doesn’t do it. She is a mother of two tweens who you won’t see anywhere on her social media feeds. She and her husband purposely keep their children offline.

“Neither one of us post anything about kids on social media,” says Strohman. “I’m really specific what I allow to be tagged as well. It’s not my right to post on my child’s behalf when it’s not their choice.”

Where do we draw the line between our freedom as a parent to post and a child’s right to privacy?

“I am a full believer that kids should come into adulthood with as little digital footprints as they possibly can,” says Dr. Strohman. “As a parent, I feel it isn’t our place to ‘brand’ them at a place in time with something that could come back and haunt them later. I mean, who would want our hairstyle from the ’80s to show up in any searchable database?”

Why we may need to change our ‘sharenting’ habits

Parents need to understand that the choices they make today could impact their child ten years from now. “If I’m sharing something about my child that they did when they were seven, who is going to see that?” questions Dr. Strohman. “You have zero control if you post on social, where those images go.”

Podcaster and Writer, Meagan Francis witnessed this firsthand when someone lifted her photo from Facebook and turned it into a meme that quickly went viral. Having a stranger turn her difficult mom moment into a viral meme was never her intention when she originally posted her picture, yet it’s the reality that can happen to any of us who post our images and stories online.

Allow your child to create their own digital identity.

“I recommend that you don’t post about your kids. You are creating a digital footprint on behalf of them that they haven’t created themselves or wanted to,” says Strohman. 

But, if you must post, think long and hard about what information you are putting online. What is the purpose of posting that image or story?

Most parents say they are posting on social media to keep families up to date with the latest photos of the kids. “The problem is when you do this publicly rather than in a file sharing program that doesn’t make it public like Dropbox or Google Drive, then you have no control who will see them, rip the images and use them in a way that you could be horrified to find out later,” says Dr. Strohman.

Put your child’s pictures back in the photo album where they belong.

Sharents need to mindfully print and preserve precious family photos instead of constantly posting them on the internet.

Rachel Musnicki spoke for many kids in her article on Your Teen Magazine, “We hate it when you tell our friends embarrassing stories in person; it’s worse when you post them on Facebook. Remember, nothing ever goes away on the Internet. We don’t want to be followed by that embarrassing nickname or baby picture on the Internet forever. I’d be mortified beyond belief if pictures of me with braces were on the Internet. Some images should remain hidden in a photo album.”

Consider removing images you’ve already posted of your child.

My daughter is embarrassed that when you google my name, a photo she doesn’t like comes up of her from five years ago on our RV sabbatical around the United States. At the moment she was okay with me posting the image, but five years later she wants it removed from cyberspace.

Fortunately, I know the owner of the podcast where it appears, and she agreed to take the image down. Other photos will remain online as they are attached to freelance articles that I’ve written, so they may unfortunately forever live on the web.    

Make a conscious choice to find other ways to connect with family and friends.

When prom season rolled around, I had to refrain from adding my teens’ pictures to the feed. Several good friends asked to see photos, and I was able to share the images with only my closest family and friends. 

My sons posted their prom pictures on their social media accounts, which is how it should be. We want to let our child create their digital footprint, instead of us building it for them.

What if we’re not ready to stop our ‘sharenting’? 

What should we consciously do before we post our child’s images and information online?

3 Things You Should Never Post

1. Don’t post your travels in real time.

You should never post ahead of or during a vacation.

“You are absolutely inviting people to your home especially if you are listed on the state website listing homeownership,” says Dr. Strohman. A driver’s license or a travel itinerary shared online could be valuable information for identity thieves and burglars. At least wait until you are back before posting your memorable moments.

2. Don’t post celebratory birthday messages.

With just a name, date of birth, and address (easy enough to find in a geotagged birthday party photo on Facebook, for example), bad actors can store this information until a person turns 18 and then begin opening accounts.

 “There is a lot of information people can pull from knowing your birthday,” says Strohman. “It takes away a huge unknown variable, for instance, if you are trying to steal someone’s identity.”

Get-Kids-Permission-Before-Sharing-on-Social-Sharents

3. Don’t post images of your child that they didn’t approve.

Always ask your child permission to post their image online and then respect their wishes if they say no. Also, understand that even if your child says yes today, they may later be embarrassed or upset about that photo living online later. 

Never tag your child or use their real name when posting their images either.

Remember that less is more when it comes to our ‘sharenting’.  Let’s be more mindful about the risks and consequences of posting on our child’s behalf. 

Have you experienced any issues from posting your child’s or family images online?

Renew-Your-Family-Passports

As I scrolled Facebook, a post from a writer friend in California stopped me in my tracks. Arlene Pellicane announced that her family had to cancel their epic Italian vacation because the kids’ passports weren’t in compliance for international travel.

Next, I received an email newsletter from my professional organizer friend, Danielle Wurth, talking about how her family trip to Mexico was derailed because of a similar scenario.

Hearing their stories got me thinking about how you and I could avoid the stress and disappointments that they experienced. 

CHECK YOUR PASSPORT NOW

Seeing my friends’ international travel plans thwarted due to passport issues caused me to head directly to our safe to check our passport expiration dates. Low and behold, my husband’s passport was due to expire in 6 weeks.

We don’t have current plans to travel internationally, but thanks to my friends’ mishaps my husband was able to send in for his renewal and already has his passport back (valid for another 10 years) in hand for when he may need it. If my friends’ didn’t tell of their passport fails, we would’ve surely been in the same position when it came time to travel out of the country the next time.

3 Things My Friends’ Passport Fails Taught Me

1. Really smart people make mistakes

That means you and I are going to make mistakes, so we can relax knowing that failure is a part of life. My friends, Danielle and Arlene, are amazingly bright, talented business owners who have their acts together. It just goes to show you, that everyone makes mistakes.

Danielle’s husband was working on their boarding passes the night before they were to leave on their family trip to Cancun when Phil announced: Honey, my passport is expired!”

Now what?

2.  It’s an opportunity for the kids to see how you handle disappointment

When negative experiences happen that affect our families, it’s important that we use the time to teach our children lessons on how to handle disappointments, frustration, and failure. It is good for kids to see that their put-together parents even make big mistakes sometimes.

“The best part as a parent was, as it was all happening and we were realizing our trip was off, my kids (ages 9, 12, 14) didn’t get upset or blame me,” said Arlene.  “They said things like, “Mom, how could you have known about the passport? I mean, it was still valid (it expired in June, our trip was in March)” and “Mom, I’m so sorry for you, you’ve spent so much time planning.”

Arlene said, “It was a wonderful lesson on disappointment and that sometimes what you are excited about doesn’t come to pass…and that life moves on.  That was a really good lesson for all of us.”

What an inspiration to see how the Pellicane family regrouped and made the most of their family time together!

At the airport, the Wurths found out the only option was for Danielle and her sons to fly to Mexico as planned and for Phil to drive on Monday morning to the main passport office in Tucson (2 hours away). Danielle says, she hated to leave him behind and start their vacation without him, but they had no other choice.

“It was a gut-wrenching experience traveling internationally without Phil, who worked hard to plan the trip, and then was the one left behind,” said Danielle. “Having family dinner on vacation with one empty chair was bizarre and felt so out of place.” Luckily, he was able to fly out and join the family on Tuesday.

3. Our mistakes help other people

I’m so happy that my friends chose to vulnerably put their stories online in order to help others learn from their mistakes.

“Mistakes happen and lessons will be learned, but it’s important to be flexible, create a new game plan and a year from now it will be a great story in our family,” says Danielle.

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Use social media as a way to help people learn and grow from your experiences and mishaps. My friends’ stories helped our family and just maybe their misfortune will help you too!

3 Ways to Avoid a Passport Fail

1. Always keep your passport current

In today’s Amazon culture, we are used to being able to get anything we need immediately. Unfortunately, Passports are not one of them. You have to plan ahead.

Even if you don’t have any upcoming international travel planned, a family member might be traveling overseas and you want to be able to fly to them if necessary.

My friend, Kim McAvoy, learned this the hard way. Her mother was traveling in Budapest, Hungary when she fell stepping off a tour bus, hit her head and ended up in the hospital where she later died. Kim was unable to travel with her Dad and brothers because her passport had expired.

TIP: Make it a habit to check the expiration dates of your family passports at the beginning of every year.

2. Ensure 6 months of validity beyond your scheduled travel dates

Go ahead and renew your passport 6-9 months before you are to travel. Many countries won’t allow you to board the plane if your passport will expire in less than 6 months from your departure date.

Passports for applicants 16 and older are good for 10 years. Passports for children under the age of 16 are only valid for 5 years. Go ahead and renew early so you don’t have any emergencies.

Travel Smart: 6 Epic Travel Fails to Avoid 

Depending on where you live there are Emergency Passport locations which will expedite the process for a hefty fee. Desperate times call for desperate measures, but why not be proactive and avoid wasting your hard earned money.

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3. Make sure your passport is in proper condition

An expired passport is a common mistake, but it’s not the only one. You also need to make certain that your passport is not damaged in any way and also has enough blank pages available for travel.

Many countries require travelers to have at least two consecutive blank pages in their passports, while some even require four. Be sure to have more pages than you need for entry requirements. Passport and visa requirements can vary widely from one country to the next, and even seemingly insignificant violations can derail your travel plans.

For extensive online travel information, go to: https://travel.state.gov/

To avoid getting left behind at the airport, stranded at a border crossing or having to cancel your trip all together, make it a priority to keep your passport up to date and in good condition. 

Have you ever had a passport fail that derailed your travel plans? 

6-things-you-should-do-when-your-kid-has-a-smartphone

Who’s bright idea was it to think that giving our youth iPhones was a good idea?

And why have we continued to follow along knowing that giving our kids iPhones isn’t smart?

I’m not sure how our family fell into society’s technology trap, but we did. Our teenagers have personal smartphones, but they don’t come without limits, rules, and restrictions.

6-things-to-do-when-your-kid-has-a-smartphone

1. Have a family cell phone contract

Read more

The-Essential-Summer-Calendar-Helps-Parents-Purposely-Plan

Summer fun doesn’t plan itself!

With our busy family schedule, I was thrilled to find The 2019 Essential Summer Vacation Calendar. It’s the perfect tool to help me visually lay out how we are going to spend the kids’ nine weeks of summer break.

When do we have scheduled summer camps or organized activities?

When do we have time to fit in some family adventuring?

What about time away alone as husband and wife?

Do we have pockets of downtime in between organized activities for boredom and free play?

The Essential Calendar- Summer Vacation Edition- is a perfect tool to help anyone who wants to be organized and make memories this June, July, and August.

The-Essential-Summer-Calendar-Helps-Parents-Purposely-Plan

The 2019 Essential Calendar Summer Edition runs from the weeks of Memorial Day through Labor Day. Featuring easy-to-read bold type on lightweight 18″x 24″ sheets, this simple calendar runs $15 and allows you to purposely plan your precious summer season.

9 Ways to Deliberately Design Your Summer

I had so much fun sitting down to colorfully decorate our calendar with what our busy family of seven already has scheduled. It’s perfect to post on the wall for all of our family members to see so no one has to keep asking me when they leave for summer camp or when we’re headed to California. It’s all there for them to see. They can also add anything to the family calendar as well!

Save Your Sanity with a Screen Time Strategy

The Essential Calendar owners, Crystal and Lindsay, are graciously giving away a summer vacation calendar to one of you, my lucky readers! Just comment on this post WHY you need this calendar to help you purposely live out your 2019 summer for your chance to win!

One winner will be randomly selected on June 9! Winner must reside in the United States for shipping purposes.

Happy-Campers-Book-Revew-Kanakuk

Our screen-obsessed, competitive society makes it harder than ever to raise happy, thriving kids. But there are tried-and-true methods that can help. Instead of rearing a generation of children who are overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, and who struggle to become independent, responsible adults, parents can create a culture that promotes the growth of important character traits and the social skills kids need for meaningful, successful lives.

There are many reasons my husband and I choose to send our teenagers away to overnight camp far from home for a few weeks each summer. I love that Camp Owner and Mother of 5, Audrey Monke compiled the most important lessons gained at summer camp into her book Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults. Whether you send your kids off to camp or not, Audrey gives us the secrets to live out the camp ideals in the comfort of our homes.

5 Reasons We Send our Kids to Sleep Away Summer Camp

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Research has proven that kids are happier and gain essential social and emotional skills at camp. A recognized parenting expert, Audrey Monke distills what she’s learned from thousands of interactions with campers, camp counselors, and parents, and from her research in positive psychology, to offer intentional strategies parents can use to foster the benefits of camp at home.

In Happy Campers, Audrey shares nine powerful parenting techniques- inspired by the research-based practices of summer camp- to help kids thrive and families become closer.

Read more