21 April Fools’ Pranks to Play on Your Kids, by Leah Rocketto

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Does your little one like to make jokes, especially at your expense? If so, it may be time for some friendly payback. From freezing their breakfasts to shrinking their shoes, there are plenty of ways to prank your tot that won’t end it tears. So celebrate April Fools’ Day with these tricks that keep your kids giggling all day long.

1.  TV No More

Take all the batteries out of the remote right before your kid tries to watch their favorite shows. Then act surprised when they ask you what happened!

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)


March 3rd: “Hina Matsuri”/ “Girls’ Day” in Japan (from “Kids’ Web, Japan).

Grls Day Collage

March 3 is Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival or Girls’ Festival), when people pray for the happiness and healthy growth of girls. Families with young daughters mark this day by setting up a display of dolls inside the house. They offer rice crackers and other food to the dolls.


Hina-arare rice crackers

The dolls wear costumes of the imperial court during the Heian period (794-1192) and are placed on a tiered platform covered with red felt. The size of the dolls and number of steps vary, but usually the displays are of five or seven layers; single-tiered decorations with one male and one female doll are also common.

The top tier is reserved for the emperor and the empress. A miniature gilded folding screen is placed behind them, just like the real Imperial throne of the ancient court.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)


Leap into Leap Day: 29 things to do with kids on Feb. 29. By Lexi Dwyer


As the saying goes, “Leap year comes one year in four, and February has one day more.” These fun, festive ideas will help you and your kids make the most of this quadrennial event.

1. Play leapfrog. Not only is it topical, it’s also a great way to burn off energy when you’re stuck inside. Try the “Leapfrog, Leapfrog, Snake, Snake” variation, where the partners also take turns crawling through each other’s legs. Got at least four kids? Set up a race.

2. Declutter and do good. You’ve got an extra day, why not put it to good use? When organizing with kids, the key is to find a fun project that won’t take too long. Nicole Abramovici of Genius Organizing suggests enlisting your kids to help you clean your closet. “If they’re old enough, ask their opinion about what to toss. You can even have a fashion show—kids often have a great perspective and will think of unique looks and unexpected pairings.” When you’re finished, you and your child should bring the giveaway pile to a worthy recipient, like a local charity shop or homeless shelter.

3. Get out of town. Leap Day is a Monday, so if you can pull the kids from school for a long-weekend getaway, it’s worth searching online for special Leap-Day-related hotel and airline travel deals. For example, at the ART Hotel in Denver, room rates are 29% off on February 29. The Vanderbilt Grace in Newport, Rhode Island, is offering three-night stays for the price of two. And Leap-Day babies, take note: Half Moon Resort in Jamaica is offering celebrants a 29-cent room rate for February 29 (proof of birthdate is required).

4. Answer the “Why do we have Leap Day?” question. This story, originally published in Highlights magazine, explains the origins of Leap Day in concrete, kid-friendly terms.

5. Make a time capsule. Have your child create a time capsule to open on the next Leap Day. He or she can write a letter, set goals for the next few years and add a current photo or art project. Be sure to seal it securely and label it “Do not open until Leap Day 2020!”


6. Stargaze. You’re already talking about Earth’s orbit and its effect on the calendar, so why not dust off the telescope? Due to Leap Day, there will be no last-quarter moon in North America this month (see the full explanation at Space.com). But Leap-Night observers will see a faint glow called the zodiacal light, which extends upwards from the horizon in a cone shape.

Happy b

Happy Birthday, Leap Year Babies!

7. Bake cupcakes in honor of those celebrating Leap Day birthdays. As if you really need an excuse to whip up a batch of treats. Bonus points if you decorate them with frogs or the number “29.”

8. Figure out everyone’s ages in leap years. Kids are sure to laugh when they realize their parents are tweens.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)



3 Holiday Safety Tips for Kids, by Ginger Kadlec

Xmas Kds Collage

With the holidays upon us, families and friends are getting together to celebrate the season.

Sadly, this is also a time of year when sexual predators capitalize on opportunities to prey on kids.

While many may think we only need to worry about strangers harming our kids, we should all keep in mind that the true danger lies in our own circles of trust. Here are some sobering facts all parents should know about sexual predators…

  • Nine (9) out of 10 children who are sexually abused know, love or trust the people abusing them.
  • This means it’s highly likely that the PARENTS also know the predator harming their child.
  • Approximately 30% of children who are sexually abused are molested by a member of their family (e.g., parent, step-parent, grandparent, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, etc.).
  • Around 40% of sexually abused children are abused by older or more powerful kids. (Source:Darkness to Light)

Then 10-year old Chaucie Quillen was first molested by her father during Thanksgiving in the presence of family.

Chaucie Quillen, a young girl who’s father sexually abused her for several years and the namesake for Chaucie’s Place Child Advocacy Center, was first groomed by her father while in the presence of relatives during Thanksgiving 1985. From a story run by Indianapolis Monthly in 1999

Her father first molested her at age 10, as they sat on a couch sharing a blanket and watching TV. Chaucie later said she thought the groping by her father was “okay” because her sister, brother, mother and grandmother were all nearby.

Researcher and therapist Cory Jewell Jensen shared in a seminar I attended about sexual offenders that many predators will groom children in the presence of others as it enhances their “thrill” of getting away with it… just as Chaucie’s father Phillip Quillen did. Jewell Jensen also cites in her research shared with Oprah.com other facts about incest predators:

  • They sexually abuse their own children, but can also abuse other relatives and neighbors.
  • They can be sexually attracted to children or offend because they are seeking ‘intimate’ contact with another person regardless of relationship, age or vulnerability.
  • Some don’t understand and others don’t care that they are hurting the child.
  • Most have multiple victims both inside and outside of their immediate family.
  • Some abuse both boys and girls in various age groups.
  • Most appear normal and demonstrate no noticeable pathology.
  • Few have criminal records.
  • Most report that they were repeatedly able to talk family and friends out of reporting them and continued to offend.
  • Many are likely to re-offend without ‘treatment.’

3 Holiday Safety Tips for Kids

As the holidays can be prime hunting season for predators, it’s important to review these three (3) holiday safety tips with your kids:

1) You DON’T have to hug cousin Sidney or sit on Uncle Bill’s lap! Before you head to grandma’s for Thanksgiving turkey or have friends over for the holidays, reinforce with your kids that they don’t have to give hugs or kisses to anyone they don’t want to… and that you will ‘have their back’ on that decision! If someone gets upset, be your kid’s hero, intervene and say, “We are teaching our kids personal boundaries right now, but I would LOVE a hug”… then YOU go hug that relative or friend. It’s also totally fine for your child to decline an invitation to sit on someone’s lap. Forcing children to hug, kiss or come into physical contact with others flies in the face of body safety rules all parents should be reinforcing with their kids. Instead, offer your child the option of giving high-fives or handshakes when they greet people.

By the way, this applies to sitting on Santa’s lap, too… if your child doesn’t want to do it, don’t force him/her to.

(To read more, go to the following link…)


A Minecraft Birthday, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

Minecraft FYAnother post with birthday party ideas… I know some people aren’t big on birthday parties for kids.  I think it’s “each to their own” in this area, although I do believe every child’s birthday should be acknowledged somehow, as each one is special.  We haven’t had any posts on boys’ birthdays here on “The Forever Years” yet either, so I thought it good to do one!

Anyway, our eldest son turned 10 recently.  We do “themed” parties and he said he wanted a “Minecraft Party”.  At first I thought, “Uh-oh, he just wants to game for the whole time his mates are here.”  I wasn’t super keen, because there wouldn’t be enough tablets or computers for 6 boys and also, we often have “Minecraft arguments” at home among our own children (like when someone goes into someone else’s world and kills them or builds stuff without their permission or pulls down or blows up stuff without their permission… it gets complicated).

My son got a Minecraft Magazine from his school library, which had some ideas in it and we also got onto Google and made up some ideas of our own.  I found it a not too expensive and, in the end, quite fun party, so will share some of what we did here, for anyone else whose kid likes Minecraft and wants this kind of birthday party.

1.Creeper… theme  (black and green)

I always find it helpful to have a colour theme for kids’ parties, it gives them a kind of uniformity and cohesiveness.  Minecraft’s Creeper’s green colour, plus black (which is in Creeper’s face and on most of the other Minecraft characters) became our theme: green drink, green and black balloons and green and black streamers.  For the drinks, my son and I drew “creeper faces” on green cups and had lime fizz in bottles with creeper faces too, which we re-named “Creeper Juice”.  We also drew creeper faces on the green balloons.  The good thing about Minecraft is that everything is in squares, so I found it fairly easy to copy characters and faces, block by block.

Creeper Collage FY

2.  A Creeper Pinata

Creeper FYWe created a “creeper pinata” out of old boxes from the supermarket.  It was VERY easy.  The main challenge, I found, was putting paper over holes in the box so that there were enough “weak spots” that the pinata could actually be broken.  Rather than put loads of lollies inside, I put bags with each child’s name on them, so that there were no fights, and in the bag, as well as a couple of lollies, there were notebooks and Minecraft stickers… I didn’t want to send those kids back to their Mums and Dads buzzed up on sugar.  (In this photo we were still in the process of painting Creeper: we put light green small squares on his body like the Minecraft one).

3. TNT

We made “party poppers” and red jelly into “TNT”, to further fit in with the minecraft theme.  I used stickers over the poppers and on the cups for the jelly.

TNT Collage

4. Wall decorations: Minecraft Characters

My son loves drawing Minecraft characters, so we let him go for it.  I find decorating the walls for a birthday is great, because it really helps set the scene/ theme and it’s an activity for the kids to do… I think it’s great to get them to help wherever possible, it’s their birthday, after all.  My other children also enjoyed doing this and it became a family activity.

Drawing Collage

5. The Cake

Fortunately for our family, my husband has a natural flair for decorating kids’ cakes.  For this party, he created a very cool Creeper.  He said that this was one of the easier cakes he’d decorated, however, again because of the “square” factor that comes when doing anything with a Minecraft theme.  (Doing “natural” looking curves on cakes to make them look like animals or other “real” things can be tricky).  The thing which took the longest, in decorating the Creeper cake, was attaching the hundreds of tiny square icing “tiles” in different shades of green.  For those who don’t feel up to doing that, giving Creeper a pale green body, then painting it with food colouring in different shades of green would also look effective.

Cake FY

Overall, this party went well.  I was a little nervous about the pinata, as we’d never done on before.  The prizes were in the Creeper’s body, not in the head, so I had to tell the kids to wack the body.  I think the reason I haven’t done a pinata before is that belting them until they split open always seemed quite aggressive and violent to me.  But kids love them and we tried to keep it orderly so everyone got a turn.

The party was for two hours, 2pm-4pm on a Saturday afternoon.  I think one reason things went smoothly was that the kids were older (I’ve had some parties for younger kids where their over enthusiasm has caused chaos… including one party at which a wee girl projectile vomited, as she was so excited when she saw our daughter’s 3rd birthday “pony cake”…).  After doing parties for four children for a decade, I’ve also discovered that having a list helps.  For this party, my list was:  guests arrive, Joe opens presents and thanks guests, eating, birthday cake, pinata, watch some Minecraft on Youtube if time at the end, guests parents collect them.  Very simple, but something to go back to when noise levels were high and my brain was addled and also plenty of things to chug through in two hours.

I hope this article and the pictures of what we did will inspire and help those of you who want to do parties for kids who love Minecraft.  We held this party at home and the most expensive thing was probably the cake.  The overall party was fairly cheaply done.  Please comment if you have any other great ideas for parties with this theme and I’ll put some links below that I found helpful when organising our son’s one.




May 25th: International Missing Children’s Day


By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

Have you seen this Youtube clip, which has recently gone viral?


Etan Patz

I thought it was a good one to embed here as I begin a post for International Missing Children’s Day, which is on 25th May.  Parents and carers should be aware that our kids love things such as puppies– they must be told NEVER to go with anyone (puppy, kitten or no) unless their parents agree.

International Missing Children’s Day is celebrated on May 25, the same day as the United States’ National Missing Children’s Day designated by Ronald Reagan in 1983.  On May 25th, 1979 Etan Patz (6) disappeared from a street corner in his New York neighbourhood while he was walking to school.  A photo of Etan, taken by his professional photographer father, generated national and international media attention and became a symbol of the missing children movement.  International Missing Children’s Day is now directed by the Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN).

Just hearing Etan’s story makes shivers run down my spine.  He is the same age as my only brother: how must his family feel, never having known what happened to him or whether he is still alive out there somewhere?  I have a six year old son of my own– it’s every parent’s worst nightmare to imagine their child suddenly “vanishing”: the hole it must create and the anxiety mixed with uncertainty and hope are unfathomable.

etan-patzThe GMCN (Global Missing Children’s Networ) is a group of countries which connect, share best practices, and disseminate information and images of missing children to improve the effectiveness of missing children investigations.  The GMCN was launched in 1998 as a joint venture of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) and the US’s National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).  The Network has 22 member countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the US. [Source: Wikipedia].

It is estimated 8 million children are reported missing each year around the world– that’s twice the population of impactAotearoa/ New Zealand!  Ernie Allen, President and CEO of ICMEC, speaking on last year’s International Missing Children’s Day, said: “Every child deserves a safe childhood.  It is essential that governments around the world make a commitment to locate and recover missing children. They need to ensure rapid response to missing child cases and provide law enforcement with the resources and training they need for handling missing child cases” [Source: http://www.newstalk.com/Today-marks-International-Missing-Childrens-Day].
When I think of missing children, names like Madeline McCann come to mind and, of course, the abducted Nigerian school girls.  We hear the stories, see the faces on the news, and silently thank God that our own children are safe.

e7edc5cab21d06e506a7b2f634da7a8fEvery year on May 25, GMCN members pay respects to International Missing Children’s Day, honoring missing and abducted children, celebrating those who have been recovered, and, at the same time, spotlighting the issue of child abduction around the world and suggesting  steps parents and carers can take to protect their children.  The day  encourages everyone to think about children who remain missing and to spread a message of hope by releasing balloon. It celebrates the missing children who have found their way home and remembers those who have been victims of crime around the world.

Making our kids aware that children do go missing, all around the world and that we have an “International Missing Children’s Day,” and perhaps saying a prayer and releasing a balloon in honour of all the missing children– and to celebrate those who are no longer “missing” is a good start.  Unfortunately, this includes an awareness that not all adults are well-intentioned towards children, from which follows discussions about “stranger danger” (although not all abductors are necessarily strangers) and body safety awareness.  International Missing Children’s Day is a great opportunity to discuss such issues with our children, as well as to raise an awareness, around the globe, of children who are currently still “missing”.


Little Bowden Primary school children (in the UK) release balloons during International Missing Children’s Day. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001377-90)

The following is a link to pictures of and information about children who are currently classified as “missing”, around the world.   Sometimes abductors take children to other countries, so any possible sightings of these children anywhere should be reported immediately.  We pray for their safe return.



Other Related Links: