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DRIVEALOGUE- A Tool For Driving Brave Family Conversations GIVEAWAY

Want to know what your child is dealing with out in the world when it comes to peer relationships? Their self-concept? How about their thoughts on difficult topics like sexuality, social media, technology, or drugs and alcohol?

Thanks to Adam Brooks new product, Drivealogue, parents now have a more natural way to discuss tough and timely issues with their kids. His conversation starter packs get us adults intentionally talking to our children about topics more meaningful than what we ate for lunch or what grade was achieved on that math test.

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Adam Brooks’ new product, Drivealogue, challenges parents to have brave conversations with their kids.

Brooks, the founder of Youth Awareness and Safety, was concerned about the heightened rate of youth suicide in Arizona and wanted to make a product that would allow parents to engage in tough conversations with their children proactively.

“My cards were designed to have meaningful, brave conversations that we may not even want to have, but that we desperately have to have if we’re going to keep our kids safe today,” said Brooks.

5 Things Parents Must Tell Their Children

Brooks came up with the concept of using his card game in the car because he had read that kids were more likely to open up and freely communicate with adults if they didn’t have to make direct eye contact. Not only that, but today’s reality finds parents spending more time in the car shuttling kids around to activities, so why not make a product to help us forge more meaningful conversations during our time on the road together.

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Drivealogue features three unique card decks meant for different age groups- for elementary, middle and high school-aged kids.

The cards feature questions like:

“What would you do if someone sent you a nude photo?”

“What would you do if someone who you were friends with in elementary school started ignoring you in middle school?”

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

There are also many lighthearted cards scattered throughout the decks as well, with questions like “What if you started a video channel. What would it be about?”

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At $20 each, Drivealogue card decks make the perfect family hostess gift this holiday season! To order or learn more, click HERE!

ENTER TO WIN! Want to win a Drivealogue deck? Comment below why you think Drivealogue could benefit your family in 2019! Also, be sure to mention if you want the elementary, middle or high school version of the cards. There will be three overall winners (one for each age category) drawn by random on December 12! Good luck friend!

 

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5 Truths ‘Instant Family’ Exposes about Foster Care, Adoption

November is National Adoption Month and a perfect time for this weekend’s release of the new movie “Instant Family.” I was able to recently preview the film and shared my thoughts on why you should go see “Instant Family” over at Raising Arizona Kids Magazine.

As a foster-adoptive parent, I laughed and cried my way through the entire movie so I wanted to share some of the main takeaways from the movie that resonated with me.

5 Truths ‘Instant Family’ Exposes About Foster Care, Adoption

1. Imperfect Parents Needed

The movie “Instant Family” is not only funny, but it is full of heartwarming and heartbreaking scenes about the imperfect realities of navigating the journey of foster care and adoption. The film brilliantly shows that it doesn’t take perfect parents to do this, only loving and willing ones who preferably have a sense of humor. 

AdoptUsKids end their public service announcements with the tagline, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent,” reassuring parents that even if they are not perfect, they can provide the stability and security that children in foster care need and deserve.

Check out my “Instant Family” movie review HERE.

2. Foster Youth Transport Their Belongings in Trash Bags

In the movie, you see the children carrying their belongings in large black trash bags, which is exactly how it happens the majority of the time.

Thankfully, there are organizations nationwide focused on providing bags for foster children to use so that they can move and transport what little they have with dignity. Check out these organizations who are working to change this- Together We Rise, Suitcases for Hope, and Foster Love Project.

3. Teenagers Are Often Overlooked

Even though Anders did not actually adopt a teenager in real life, he did an excellent job in the movie of portraying the truth that teenagers who currently live in the foster care system need and deserve a loving home and family too. Of the more than 5,000 children in foster care actively photo listed on adoptuskids.org, 43 percent are 15–18 years old.

I used dialogue journals to communicate with my teenage mentee. This is not only her truth but the unfortunate truth of many teens living in foster care today.

4. Community Support and Loving Relationships is Key 

The orientation and support group scenes in the movie were some of my favorites as I related to the importance of being in community with others who were going through similar scenarios in their home. I loved how the movie showed the same adults moving through the orientation, to the licensing classes, to the support group and on to the courtroom for adoptions, yet I know reality tells a different story.

Clint Williams, Family Resource Development Specialist for AASK – Aid to Adoption of Special Kids in Arizona tells us that only 7% of the people who contact the agency for information about community foster care, end up getting licensed.

For 2017, AASK shows:

  • 1206 people inquired about foster care-adoption by telephone call or through the website
  • 523 people attended an information session
  • 205 completed intake application process
  • 120 individuals started classes 
  • 86 actually became Licensed.
  • Even fewer go forward to take in a foster placement or adopt.

The kids need more people to persevere through all of the requirements so that they may get a chance at growing up in a secure and loving home.

5. You Can Meet the Children at Adoption Fairs

In the movie, husband and wife (Pete and Ellie) meet the teenager they would later adopt, along with her two siblings, at an adoption fair. This is exactly how director Anders and his wife, met their children, but not every state has adoption fairs as depicted in the movie.

In Arizona, we do not have ‘adoption fairs’ but if you have a level one fingerprint clearance card you can volunteer at Children’s Heart Gallery and hang out with the kids who are legally free for adoption. But, you will have to be licensed to adopt any of the children.

I met our son at a Children’s Heart Gallery event in 2016.

The agency Christian Family Care does “match events” where they invite certified/licensed families (who all have clearance) to attend a bowling party or celebration at the zoo and have kids in need of a forever family attend the event as well.  “It’s an informal way for these families to meet the kids and also get to see them in a fun environment and not just read about them on paper and determine if they are a good fit or not beforehand,” said Lisa Marks, an Adoption Recruitment Specialist in Arizona. “It’s also a way for people to get to know how great the older kids are as a majority of certified families/licensed families are hoping for babies, toddlers or little kids.”

If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved in helping a foster child in Arizona, check out AASK’s schedule of upcoming information sessions HERE.

For resources for foster care-adoption nationally check out: https://www.davethomasfoundation.org; https://www.adoptuskids.org

 

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Want to be a Happier Parent this School Year? Book Review and Giveaway!

What would it look like to be a happier parent this school year?

Is it really possible for us to find more happiness amidst the chaos of the hectic school morning routine, the homework, the sibling drama and once again telling your kids to put away the screens while eating breakfast?

My friend, Lori, exudes happiness in her annual back-to-school photo tradition! Isn’t she the best?

New York Times contributor and writer KJ Dell’Antonia’s tells us HOW we can regain our happiness in parenthood in her brand new book, How to Be A Happier Parent- Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute.

As a mother of four, KJ found herself wondering if this whole parenthood thing had to be so difficult on most days. She wanted to enjoy motherhood more than she was. But, the workload was overwhelming. She questioned why she wasn’t more satisfied with her life as a parent. So she set out to find out how we can bring more happiness, and even fun to the ordinary days that make up the measure of our lives.

I consider myself overall to be a happy parent. But, I learned long ago that getting in a school pick up or drop off line was not setting me up for success in the parental happiness department. Neither was helping with math homework or making school lunches for my capable 16-year-olds. So, instead, I taught my people long ago how to be in charge of their own existence.

And low and beyond this is #1 on KJ’s list of what happier parents do well.

  1. Shift from heavier involvement to fostering independence in their children as they become more capable. (Stop doing these things for your teen this school year)
  2. They don’t put their children’s everyday needs before their own. (Can I get a hallelujah?)
  3. They look for the good in the day to day experiences. (Yes, you too can find joy in the pb&j sandwich. Dig deep.)
  4. They know what’s really important and what’s just noise and fury. (Yep, we gotta remember not to major in the minor.)

I love everything about this book- from the cute cover design to choosing the chapter I need right now to help with a problem area in our family. If it’s meal times, chores, sibling rivalry, discipline, screens… you name the thief of your parental joy and it’s most likely in here.

Through interviews with educators and experts along with her personal stories, KJ gives us lots of helpful tips, strategies, and inspirations to shift our mindsets and create new habits in order to find more happiness in our role as Mom or Dad today.

And just because my capable children wouldn’t want me to be too happy, they continue to leave me plenty of reminders that I am still dearly needed.

With a new school year upon us, How to Be A Happier Parent is a well-timed reminder that a satisfying family life isn’t about hauling kids around and eventually dropping them off at destination success. It’s about finding real happiness during our journey of parenthood, and this book will help you figure out just how to do that.

COMMENT TO WIN – HOW TO BE A HAPPIER PARENT BOOK

KJ sent me a copy of her brand new book How to Be A Happier Parent- Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute. to give away to one of you lucky readers!

Comment below on why you want to be a happier parent for your chance to win! One lucky winner will be chosen at random on October 19. Must be a US resident to win.

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The Matheny Manifesto Book Review and Giveaway!

“You have to read this book,” said the parent sitting next to us on the sidelines of our daughters’ soccer game.“THIS is what we need more of in youth sports today.” He handed me this book and it quickly became one of my favorites.

Want to make a bigger impact on the children you are parenting, teaching or coaching?

Read The Matheny Manifesto and then act on the principles inside.

The Matheny Manifesto is a call to action for those of us leading children today.

The book is based on St. Louis Cardinals manager, Mike Matheny’s expectations, standards and beliefs that he wrote for the parents of a little league team he had signed on to coach. If he was going to lead this group of kids, he wanted the parents to know the value system and moral code that he would be coaching from.

What if we all took the time to think through what we believe and the intentions we have to lead the children in our care and then wrote out our own manifesto?

A manifesto is a statement where you can share your…

– Intentions (what you intend to do)
– Opinions (what you believe, your stance on a particular topic)
– Vision (the type of world that you dream about and wish to create)

What is The Matheny Manifesto?

Want to write your own manifesto?

“Let’s not sell ourselves short with regard to the impact we can have on the people who look up to us every day- our own kids and the kids we teach and coach,” says Matheny.  “They’re looking for someone to stand up for what is right and to make a difference in their lives. That’s what heroes can do, and it starts with having the courage to do things differently.”

Mike Matheny doesn’t believe sport is more important than family.

He doesn’t believe that every child deserves a trophy.

He believes in teaching kids reality. He believes children need to fail. He believes young athletes should be playing more than just one sport. He believes parents should be a silent source of encouragement and let the coach do his job.

How do I know this? Because Matheny took the time to write, share and live out his manifesto.

Matheny’s old school advice is a powerful reminder of what sports can teach us about winning on the field and life. This book is full of wisdom of how we can better lead our youth today to more than just personal success.

I received an email from the book’s author, Jerry Jenkins after he read one of my blog posts. He encouraged me by telling me that he had raised his three sons the same way and that I may enjoy one of the books he’s written- The Matheny Manifesto. Little did he know that his book sits on my shelf as one of my favorites!

Jenkins so graciously sent me a signed copy of The Matheny Manifesto to give away to one of you lucky readers! Since baseball season is underway and Father’s Day is just around the corner, June seemed the perfect month to give away one of my favorites.

Comment below on why you need The Matheny Manifesto for your chance to win! One lucky winner will be chosen at random on June 11. Must be a US resident.

Order a copy of The Matheny Manifesto from my Parent on Purpose Amazon store today!

www.MikeMatheny.com

www.JerryJenkins.com

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Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning SnapChat – BOOK REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

Over the holiday break, my husband and I continuously threatened to shut off our kids’ cell phone data plans, the wifi, the cable box- anything that might get our relaxing students to do something other than stare at a screen in their downtime.

How badly we want 2018 to be the Year of Successfully Parenting Our Screenagers.

Our family has tech boundaries. We have rules for the devices. We even made a cell phone contract when we allowed our kids to purchase their first phones three years ago. How come it’s so hard for our teenagers to follow the guidelines we’ve set and even more difficult for us as parents to uphold them?

Parenting children on screens can be absolutely maddening. 

Thank goodness for the release of the new book Be The Parent, Please Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning SnapChat- Strategies for Solving Real Parenting Problems because I need all of the advice I can get when it comes to this subject!

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When I was asked if I wanted to receive a copy of Be the Parent, Please to review- they had me at the title alone. Ban Snapchat. Where do I sign up? Be the Parent. Yes, please. I’m all over that. I know it’s my ‘job’ to lead my children well, but somehow I still feel that I’m failing them when it comes to tackling technology.

Author Naomi Schaefer Riley is an acclaimed author and mother of three. She brings her experience, research, and no-nonsense candor to the book to help families retake control over technology’s influence.

I am so grateful for the wisdom I gain from books like Riley’s and other books I’ve read on parenting kids on screens.

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Riley challenges us to examine how we really want our children to interact with the world and gives us realistic tips on how to accomplish those goals. Be the Parent, Please motivates us with oh so many reasons to take back control of the screens in 2018.

The book is full of real-life relatable situations and lots of research to get us thinking about being the parent we really want to be. I love that the author talks about the benefits of technology free sleepaway summer camp. Being in nature without devices for several weeks is just one of the many reasons to consider sending your screenagers to camp.

It’s up to us to lead our children well this year and this book is a perfect start to helping us figure out how exactly we want to do that.

Leave a comment below on why you need to read this book!

One lucky winner will be selected at random to receive a hard copy of Be the Parent, Please by mail. US residents only, please!

Winner will be announced on January 23!

 

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4 Books To Help Parent Your Tech Addicted Kids

Parents are scrambling for advice on how to handle digital devices in their homes.

We are losing our kids to technology, but what can we as Mom and Dad do about it?

We must acquire wisdom from knowledgeable sources and implement boundaries and rules based on what we learn. When we know better, we do better.

The following four books were given to me to review and are each beneficial in the i-parenting journey. With five kids on screens, I’m open to any positive advice I can get right now on how to best handle technology in our family.

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1. Disconnected- How to Reconnect Our Digitally Distracted Kids is a call to action because we (adults and children) do not have control over electronic devices and screens; they instead have control over us.

The author Thomas Kersting is a rock star parent because he has no intention of getting his 14 year old son and subsequent daughter cell phones. I’m sure what he witnesses as a public school counselor by day and private practice therapist at night helps him in that decision. Kersting consistently sees firsthand the problems that kids are facing due to technology overuse.

I love that this book is a quick, informative read with less than 100 pages and is broken into three parts- the impact of electronic devices on kids’ brains; technology’s effect on social, emotional and family growth and what parents can do- tips, techniques and solutions.

Kersting lists warning signs and how to tell when your child is spending too much time using any form of electronic media, including television, video games, handheld devices and computers/tablets. He states ways to help your children (and yourself) cut down on electronic media consumption and he also states when is the right age to get your child a smartphone. I wish I would’ve read this one line alone before handing over phones to my kids.

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2. Unplug- Raising Kids in a Technology Addicted World is another self published short read by psychologists Dr. Lisa Strohman and Dr. Melissa Westendorf.

The book dives into the difference between technology addiction  and overuse as well as states guidelines that can be established around using technology. The authors’ candid approach helps parents sort through the pros and cons of technology use and helps parents better understand the effects it can have on children.

Unplug helps you determine how to better manage raising children with technology and to provide insight and practical tools for the challenges and choices our children are facing. I really enjoyed the call to action To Do lists at the end of every chapter and the idea of designing a Technology Use Log.

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3. A Parent’s Guide to iPhone and iPad is a must have read for any parent of kids who own an i-device. My kids have had iPhones for nearly two years and I had no idea many of the tips and tricks that I learned in this book. I wish At&t would’ve given me this book when we purchased the kids phones.

This book reminds me of a smaller, updated version of something from the “for Dummies” series. There are easy to follow instructions and visual photos to help guide you through the process.

The Andrew duo crafted this book for the parent, not the tech wizard. Think of it like a cookbook for your device with detailed step-by-step recipes on everything you can do and control on the iPhone and iPad. The tutorials are detailed and simple to follow. Your child’s future will be increasingly connected online, and you owe it to them to understand the tools they will use and how to protect them.

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4. I was part of the launch team back in 2014 for the book Growing Up Social- Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World. My kids didn’t even own cell phones at that time so it was a great book to read to help us proactively create boundaries and limits on screen time before they actually owned the devices. You can read my original review here.

Parents, don’t be afraid to be in the know and set boundaries according to your family values and beliefs. Our kids are depending on us to lead them well.

FYI- I will receive a few pennies if you purchase any of the books with the Amazon links provided in this post. 

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Hosting a holiday party? Celebrate with a Torani Soda Bar!

How much fun is this setup?  Thanks to Torani and their bright and colorful flavored syrups, our handcrafted soda bar was the hit of our recent adoption and Christmas parties.  A Torani Soda bar is such an easy way to bring some excitement to your guests of all ages.

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Family Friday Fun with Mini Babybel!

How do you still carve out time to play as a family as the kids get older? Family game time used to come easily and often in our family. But, as time has progressed that simple down time seems to come at a premium.

Friends, sports and activities leave us little time for family togetherness. It’s up to us as parents to actually schedule in some play time for our families. Now, don’t let the kids know that you’ve got a family fun agenda brewing. That will be a sure way to lose every last one of them to making a plan of their own.

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8 fun teen gifts for under $25!

Still trying to figure out what to buy that teen for Christmas? We all know they love gift cards, but here are some fun items at a good price that they may enjoy! If you’re ordering online, do it today as time is ticking!

Here are 8 fun ideas for affordable teen Christmas gifts!

Read more

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You Can Take Six Months Off!

It’s hard to believe that today-June 2- marks the one year anniversary of when we headed off in our newly purchased motorhome on our family sabbatical around the USA. It’s been one year since we left and six months since we returned. Time sure does fly!

This past year has no doubt been one of the best of our lives. Traveling for 6 months and then reflecting on that experience for the next 6 has made for an amazing year. Our sabbatical introduced us to so many like minded people- in person and virtually- that we would’ve never met in our routine daily life at home.

Tomer Lanis and his family are an inspiration as they also pulled out of life and spent 6 months sailing the Caribbean. Lanis sent me his new book You Can Take Six Months Off I thoroughly enjoyed reading and relating to so much of their adventure. Although our means of travel were drastically different, our passion, dedication and determination were the same.

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The Lanis Family enjoying Maho Beach, St. John, USVI along their 6 month sabbatical sailing around the Caribbean.

If you would love to take six months off and travel with your family or if you have done it before, you will enjoy this read. It is interesting and inspiring at the same time. One chapter is dedicated to a Mind Map that breaks down the multitude of interconnected tasks that may intimidate anyone thinking of taking their own time out. I really liked the way Lanis spelled out 16 tasks that their family worked through to prepare for their sabbatical.

Excerpts from the book that inspired me and that I totally related to in why we took six months off as well:

“The purpose of the trip is neither the destination nor the activity. It is my family- dedicating time for each other, intensifying our bonds, and expanding our horizons. Staying at home is incomparable because the experience is too familiar and static. Endless distractions steal your attention from your family.”

Love your life? So do we. It’s ok to just take a break from it! It can all still be there when you return.

“I have read about and met others who had taken longer breaks. They sold their house and quit their jobs. For me, that would be too much to lose. I love my life at home and truly enjoy my work I appreciate my social network and am lucky to own a home in a beautiful location. I don’t want to give all that up. I would like to pursue my dreams without sacrificing my current life. Six months, for that purpose, is the ideal duration for me to be away.”

“I am neither the first nor the only one to realize that taking my spouse and kids for a time out of the rat race is the best use of my resources- my money, my energy and my time. Allowing my job, the kids school, our mortgage or my comfort zone to take control of my life would certainly lead to regret.”

No Date- No Commitment

“Setting the date means making a commitment. In principle, no date is convenient for interrupting our routine life, leaving our home and putting our jobs on hold. While you’re immersed in daily tasks and the career race, any date seems to be the worst possible timing. There is no wrong timing for dedicating time to each other. Any date will do.”

Put your job on hold

“Taking time off- or not- is my decision. Letting me return to my job when I’m back- or not- is my manager’s decision. My employer is not the master of my life, I am. They are not responsible for my dreams, I am. If I’m not wanted back at work after my absence, then I am probably in the wrong place anyway.”

Connect with Tomer Lanis on his website. His book You Can Take Six Months Off would make a great Fathers Day gift. Purchase it here on Amazon.