Raising Girls who are Includers instead of Mean Girls, by Lisa McCrohan

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I remember walking into the cafeteria of my new school and it was like someone punched me in the stomach.  I was in sixth grade.  My family had just moved from Virginia to Ohio.  At first, I attended the local Catholic school.  Within the first two months, I was begging my parents to go to the public school because the girls were so mean.  And when I look back, wow, they were cruel.  My maiden name is Ackerman.  They’d call me “Lisa Acneman” as sixth grade brought with it oily skin and some breakouts.  When my parents discerned that I would change schools, I felt relieved.  I won’t even tell you about the last day at school there when all the girls knew I was leaving.

Off to public school I went.  But soon I was to find out that it didn’t matter whether I went to parochial or public school.

Instantly a group of girls took me in.  They invited me to sit at their lunch table.  Little did I know that they had kicked another girl off the table so I could sit with them.  I was so grateful to have friends.  I was a bit naïve.  Maybe that’s because I grew up in a home where we were all out for each other and my assumption going “out into the world” was that everyone was like that, too.

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Then one day, I walked into the cafeteria.  I nearly dropped my brown paper lunch bag.  I looked at the table where I had been sitting for the last week.  My first week at school.  I counted the number of girls at the table – eight.  Eight was the maximum number of people who could sit at one table.  The two girls who were the “leaders” looked at me, whispered to the other girls at the table, and everyone turned around to laugh at me.

My heart sank.  I actually went up to the table and feebly asked, “Is there space for me here?”   Hoping maybe I was wrong, that it wasn’t as it seemed.  I couldn’t feel my feet beneath me.  I felt dizzy.  I swear my heart was going to jump out of my chest.

I can’t remember what they said, but I must have gotten the picture because I turned and I quickly looked around for a place to sit.  It was a small cafeteria and soon someone would notice me.  I didn’t want anyone to look at me.  My ears were ringing, my hands were clammy, my heart was beating so fast.  I felt the eight girls’ snickering whispers like daggers in my back.  There was no “physical fight” or blow up so the teachers on lunch duty were none the wiser.  I saw a table with no one at it.  So I sat down.  I wanted to cry.  But I didn’t.

saving-the-bully-within-1This is where I sat for two months.  Alone.  By myself.

Once, a male teacher came up to me after whispering to another teacher, with a sympathetic, pleading look on his face and asked me something I can’t remember now.  But I didn’t see him as a resource.

I know that eventually I sat somewhere with some group.  For the next two years that we lived in Ohio, I had some good experiences. I still have a friend from there who is one of my best friends.  But the two girls continued to be bullies.  Yes, that’s what I can call it now as I understand as a psychotherapist and adult what was really going on.  They were the kind of “friend” who would invite you over and you’d feel like “Oh good! We are friends again!”  Only to have them talk about you or put you down.

We have all had experiences like this where other girls have been mean to us.  Just the other day, another mom friend of mine told me that she waved to two moms talking and they looked at her and laughed.  It happens in childhood. It can happen between adult women.

As a psychotherapist, I intimately know that when someone hurts others it’s because they are hurting.  I have counseled both the bully and the one being bullied.

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

Raising Girls who are Includers instead of Mean Girls, by Lisa McCrohan

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How To Survive The First Few Years Of The Adoption Journey, by Mike Berry

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You got into this because you were passionate about loving children. But you soon found out, the journey is more difficult than you anticipated. How do you survive the first year or 2 of the adoption journey?

It’s the early hours of a Monday morning when I open my laptop to check email. The glowing light of my screen is the only light in my quiet house. The sun hasn’t even begun its ascent over the treeline in our backyard.

After a long weekend, and mostly ignoring email or social media for a few days, I’ve got tons of new mail. I give my inbox a quick scan, selecting a multitude of Spam messages to feed my hungry Trash folder. There at the bottom of New Messages I spot it. A personal email with a Subject that says it all- “I need help!”

Her storyline is one I’ve heard a million times over the past 15 years of personally traveling the adoption journey:

…We decided to adopt.
…And got really, really excited.
…Filled out all of the paperwork.
…Chose foster-to-adopt to save money.
…Jumped in with a full heart.
…Brought home a beautiful baby girl…a sibling group.
…Realized pretty quickly how hard this journey is.
…At the end of my rope. Questioning my choice. Need help!

I get it. I really do. We were just 2 years into our journey when everything started to fall apart on us. We were head over heels in love with our children, but there were many things we weren’t prepared for, didn’t know, or didn’t do when we first began. Our hearts were full, but we quickly became tired. We too needed help.

The journey can be long, uphill, and filled with ups and downs that feel like a punch in the gut. I would love to tell you that all you need to do is focus on loving your child and everything will work out. But, that’s just not reality…for the adoption journey….or the parenting journey in general. You will never be fully prepared, but there are some key steps we’ve learned to help make the first few years of the adoption journey less stressful and more meaningful…

  1. Seek Community. You and I were never meant to travel this road alone. The adoption journey is beautiful, amazing, and adventurous. But it can also become extremely difficult. Most of the world won’t understand the unique trials and tribulations we go through. We need others around us who understand, are in the same trench as us, will never judge us regardless of the situation, and help us grow. When everything falls apart, your child is out of control, or you’re dealing with a foster care system that yanks you around like a bullwhip, a strong support community can get you through it.
  2. Grow in your knowledge of trauma and attachment. Your child has come from trauma, even if they were adopted privately and their birth mother took care of herself. There’s still deep loss. The person who carried them in her womb for 9 months is now gone. But imagine how deeper this loss is when your child has come from the foster care system or an orphanage in another country. This trauma can play out in their behavior, poor choices, refusal to attach themselves to you in a healthy manner, or more. If we could go back, 15 years in the past, and learn one thing, it would be how to parent children from traumatic places. Trauma-informed care and knowledge of attachment issues can be a game-changer in relating to your child, and helping them form healthy bonds with your family.

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

http://confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com/how-to-survive-the-first-few-years-of-the-adoption-journey/?mc_cid=6edbdcd537&mc_eid=169008643f

Being Left Out Hurts: Moms, Stop ‘Social Engineering’, by Lisa Barr

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I heard a disturbing story recently from a friend, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It went something like this … the camp buses were leaving for an overnight camp in the Midwest, and one Mom somehow had access to get on one of the buses before departure. She literally managed to rope off (save) an entire section for eight 11-year-old girls. She stayed on the bus while the “Chosen 8” boarded and sat in their “designated” seats. Another girl, a new camper, got on the bus, who was the same age, and asked if she could join “those” girls. The Mom responded: “I’m sorry, but it’s reserved” and then she got off.

The clique had been formed and there was no room for “intruders.” (I’ll get to that Mom a little later…)

The new girl, let’s call her Sarah, had been given three simultaneous messages: 1. You are not invited. 2. You are not good enough. 3. This is “The Group” — and you are not part of it, so don’t even try.

One of the main reasons I started my blog GIRLilla Warfare ( www.girlillawarfare.com) was because of the overabundance of Middle School war stories that I had been hearing from so many moms. Same story, different players. And I hate to say this, but the root of this particular social evil, is usually (sadly) initiated by a group of Moms. One of our GW writers pointed out in another blog, that those Moms decide who is IN and who is OUT. It is political, and it is what we at GIRLilla Warfare call “Suburban Social Engineering” which ends up causing many children deep, unnecessary pain.

Don’t get me wrong. Many kids choose to be with whom they feel most comfortable, and that’s totally acceptable. It’s the piece in which the Moms not only helicopter but also patrol kids’ potential friendships that I’m focusing on here.

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

How to Stop Yelling at Children Once and for All, by Jennifer Poindexter

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You are doing it again!

Yelling at your children over big things, little things, and all things in between.

But why?

Why do we parents feel the need to yell when our point isn’t getting across?

Why do we have to resort to screaming to get our kids’ attention?

The reality is—we don’t have to. We are making rash decisions in difficult moments that are teaching our children bad habits.

Janet Lehman, a veteran social worker who she specializes in child behavior issues says:

“When chronic screaming becomes the norm, children are also apt to think it’s okay for them to scream all the time, too. You’re teaching your kids that screaming is a suitable response when you’re frustrated or overwhelmed. It doesn’t teach anything positive, just that life is out of control—and emotionally, you’re out of control.”

Wow—that hits home!

Believe me, I am not judging.

I was (probably) the world’s worst about yelling when my kids did something wrong, wouldn’t listen, talk back, seemed defiant — the list could go on and on.

I was a chronic yeller.

But I had a terrible wake up call when I ended up in the middle of a feud that happened in my extended family. Though this person was totally out of line when making accusatory statements, one thing that was said to me was, “Well, you’re a horrible mother because I’ve heard you yell a lot!”

Ouch!

What could I say? “No, I’m not a horrible mother! I am just human”? But I did yell a lot!

That hit me right between the eyes, and I woke up. I decided from that day forward I was going to work on not yelling.

I was going to conquer this horrible habit I had developed.

Not because this person was wrongfully judging me, and I didn’t want it to happen again. (I mean, no one wants that, but you can’t please everyone either.)

But because I was and am a good mom, and I want a better relationship with my children than that!

So if you are in the same boat as I was, I want to share with you a few tips I used to stop yelling at my kids once and for all.

#1 Know What Sets You Off And Nip It

We all have pet peeves. We are human after all.

There are certain things that happen throughout a day that just grind your gears.

Inevitably, the ones we love most are going to find a few of those gears and start grinding away at them.

You need to start realizing what those things are.

The reason is because those ‘gears’ are what is going to trigger you losing your cool and raising your voice.

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

afineparent.com/stop-yelling-at-kids/yelling-at-children.html

The Three-Week Family Meal Rotation, by Sarah Wilson

Three Week Family Meal Rotation

What’s for dinner? It’s an age old question isn’t it and getting dinner on the table is a significant daily task in most families. We seem to be busier and busier these days and I don’t know about you, but I want a meal system that is quick and easy to organise so that I have time for other pursuits. I’ve always planned out our family meals on a weekly basis, because I’ve found that it works well for us. I typically shop on a Monday morning and I buy all the ingredients that I need for seven meals at a time. Then I write down the meals on my little blackboard:

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Now that we live in England, my two eldest children receive school dinners every day. And the school dinners work on a three weekly system. It’s similar to the system I recall having as a boarder in a…

View original post 253 more words

Creative Crafts to do with Kids this Easter By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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As Easter draws near, I thought I’d share some of the crafts we’ve been doing at our house– ideas shared are fun multiplied and great for all our children everywhere!

  1. Easter Boxes

These are made from egg cartons with the labels peeled off.   “Easter Bunny” can put each child’s Easter Eggs in their own special container on Easter Sunday… an especially good idea if you have more than one child and want to avoid arguments about whose eggs (or bunnies or chickens or whatever) are whose.  Remember to get each child to write his or own name on their box.  Use your imagination: they could be painted, decorated with cellophane,wrapping paper or glitter.  So long as you keep an “Easter theme”.  Here are some our children made:

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            2. Big Easter Egg Poster

Draw a large egg-shaped outline on some paper.  With your kids, create a “collage” of shiny Easter Egg paper, Easter stickers, chickens, Easter bunnies, crosses, lambs or anything else you like that relates to Easter.  Make sure every gap is filled so no paper shows (that can be the challenge for the kids).  After it’s finished you can laminate it and then you’ll have a poster to use ever Easter.  (You could do shapes other than eggs too, like crosses or chickens).

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FY Easter 9   3. Crosses

These crosses can be cut out of cardboard then covered with tin foil.  The tags here are the ones you get on bread bags… a good use for them, we thought.  My 8 year old made this one at school.

 

   

4. An Easter Mural

FY Easter 10Our kids seem to always enjoy making murals where they can let their imaginations run wild.  This one was no egg-ception (sorry, couldn’t resist an egg joke).  We bought blue and green paper and I cut the shape of hills out of the green and stuck them onto the blue “sky”.  The kids did all the rest using Easter stickers and felt pens.  We got our Easter stickers from the $2 shop, $2 for a big sheet.  (None of the crafts here were particularly expensive to create).

Creating an "Easter Mural"

Creating an “Easter Mural”

 

5. An Easter Tree

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Every year the kids and I create an “Easter  Tree”.  Usually we start by going for a walk in the bush somewhere to collect dry twigs and branches.  Then we come home and put our “collection” in a bucket (anchored with bluetak so the whole thing doesn’t fall over).  We decorate it with anything related to Easter.  This year we put toy chickens and rabbits, eggs and crosses made out of pipe cleaners on it.  There are some beautiful ribbons with Easter patterns on them which can be used as “streamers”.  We bought some years ago and bring then out each Easter.  (Japanese friends came to stay one Easter, so the “tree” had their Easter decorations on it too).

FY Easter 11

 

6.   Learning about Faberge Eggs

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Last Easter the kids and I learned about “Faberge Eggs” and created this poster (we Google searched these images).  We also looked at why Faberge created them for the Russian Royal Family and what materials they were made out of.

 

7. Free Drawing

Just doing drawings of anything related to Easter can be fun too.  Our six year old created this picture.

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We here at “The Forever Years” hope you have a Happy Easter with your children.  We hope you have found these ideas helpful and would LOVE to hear of anymore you might have.

“Orange Friday” in Aotearoa/ NZ… raising awareness of domestic violence. By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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Orange Friday is a  day to raise awareness and much needed funds to help victims of domestic abuse become safe and stay safe.

Domestic abuse is not an easy subject, especially because our statistics here in Aotearoa/ NZ are shocking.   The NZ Police answer a domestic abuse callout every 5 minutes.   One child is killed every 6 weeks by a family member.   And one in three Kiwi women will experience physical or sexual abuse by a partner in their lifetime.  It’s awful to know that we have such a huge problem with domestic abuse in our beautiful country.

On “Orange Friday” people dress in (you guessed it) ORANGE :).  They donate money to the organisation “Shine”.  Shine was founded in 1990, so have just celebrated their 25th Anniversary.   Shine work in partnership with many organisations,  including the NZ Police,  Child Youth & Family Services and Family Works.  They offer a range of integrated services that support adult and child victims to be safe, as well as supporting men who have used abuse, to change their behaviour.  Shine currently have a serious funding shortfall, meaning only  1 out 4 victims that are referred are able to be helped.  Orange Friday aims to help with this shortfall by raising  funds to ensure  all victims of domestic abuse are able to have the support that they need.

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Kamo lntermediate School Children on “Orange Friday” 2015.

“Orange Friday” is also a good opportunity to raise general awareness of domestic violence, so holding it in schools or offices is great… lots of people wearing orange will attract interest and further help this worthy cause.  So get out there, get orange and “shine a light” on this problem… one which is often hidden behind closed doors until it’s too late.

xxx

For more information about “Orange Friday” and Shine, follow the links below:

http://www.2shine.org.nz/

http://www.orangefriday.org.nz/orange-friday/who-is-shine

10 Powerful Truths About Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) That Will Change Your Perspective, by Mike Berry

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For the majority of the world, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is misunderstood and often judged. But, there are powerful truths that can change your life when you understand, and embrace them.

Anger.

That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about FASD. Anger.

I’m angry that my child’s birth mother would make the selfish choice to drink during her pregnancy, angry that the claws of addiction dug deeper than the conviction of pre-natal care, angry at the numerous therapists, doctors, and authorities who’ve downplayed or disagreed with my child’s diagnosis over the years, angry at a world that judges before seeking the truth, and angry when I think about the missing pieces of my child’s life.

The child I chose with love.

Most of all, I’m angry that he will never have a normal childhood. A part of his brain is absent thanks to a stupid choice, a lack of self-control, and an unwillingness to guard his precious life before he took one peek at the world. I know this sounds harsh but this is the stuff I wrestle with often. Sometimes it eats at me, grinding away at my soul like a jackhammer grinding away at concrete. Other times, it’s sadness. A deep longing to go back in time, before his conception, and beg his birth mother to not make the choice she would eventually make.

Yes, we reel in pain over this disease. After all, that’s what it is. It’s brain damage, and the worst kind too, as far as we’re concerned. We live with the devastation of our child’s violent outbursts that have brought trauma on our family so deep that we’re not sure we’ll ever heal from it. We wrestle but, we’re hopeful. In the midst of our life, which often looks more like a pile of ashes than a life, we have a hope and a belief that our child, our son, will succeed. It began a while ago, when we embraced some powerful truths about FASD…

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

http://confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com/10-powerful-truths-about-fasd-that-will-change-your-life/?mc_cid=e4f566056a&mc_eid=169008643f

Creativity with Cans! By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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Recently I discovered a simple, but very effective way to organise a lot of our kids’ clutter.  It’s also great because it recycles tin cans and it costs next to nothing.  One of our goals here at “The Forever Years” is to support parents and carers as they raise their children.  This idea has reduced a lot of headaches in our house (and also fighting over items like scissors), so I thought I’d share it.

Here’s what I did:

Can 1

  1. Took a used tin can and washed it out thoroughly.  Different sized tins are good for different items, for example, I used a tall, thin can for paint brushes, another tall thin one for long rulers and a shorter, wider, fatter one for crayons.  Any can Is OK, although I personally decided not to use our cat or dog’s meat tins, as, even after washing, they still seem to have a yucky, residue jelly meat smell.  Also it’s important to remember that people will be putting their hands into the cans regularly, so make sure there are no jagged edges to the tin.  Try to create a “smooth cut” when you use your can opener or, if there are jagged edges, hammer them down or cover them with strong tape.
  2. I didn’t bother removing the labels fromCan 2 the cans, as I found most of them were glued on quite solidly.  Instead, I covered the outside of the cans with white paper, which I glued over the labels.  I made sure they went right round the cans and were glued on well.
  3. Can 3I created labels for various items using “Picmonkey” and “Ribbet”.  If you’re not keen on using aps like these, the can labels could be created using scrap booking stickers or by hand… make them your own.  We don’t have a printer at home, so I saved my labels onto a memory stick and had them printed off at our local “Warehouse Stationery” shop.  Four labels were able to fit on one A3 piece of paper, so cost me $3 to print 4 labels.  This was the only cost associated with creating these– unless you also count the glue used to stick the labels onto the cans, which wasn’t very much.

Can 5

In a busy household with six people frequently wanting things like scissors, crayons, felt pens and so on,  I have found our new “storage cans” have taken away a lot of stress and chaos.  We mainly use them for stationery items, but I also made some for our kids to put pocket money in (see the header at the top of this post).  These were fun, because I was able to really personalize them.  Our daughter, for example, likes cats, so we put cats on her can.  One of my sons has dogs on his and another trains, and so on.

The limits are only your imagination…  kids could become involved and create their own containers for pens or other items for their rooms with their own drawings and names on them.   As mentioned above, the cans are cheap to create, but as well as that they are a great way to recycle.  Please leave a comment and let us know how your creative efforts with cans went, especially if you come up with any other great uses for them which we haven’t mentioned here. (One other idea I thought of was that you could glue the cans together, to make a kind of “stationery storage unit”  The individual cans could also store things such as hair ties or clips, jewellery, first aid or bathroom items or small pieces of Lego).  Have fun and enjoy!

Can 4

Have now placed these labels on our “Free Charts & Other Printables” page 🙂

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/free-printables/

Now Our Kids Love Eating Fruit! By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

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Getting kids to eat healthy food, including fruit and vegetables, can be a struggle.  Recently I discovered this awesome little machine, which makes fruit peeling and coring into a fun activity for kids.  The novelty of using it doesn’t seem to wear off and it also seems to make them want to eat the fruit afterwards.  Our Kindy had one of these and I noticed that all the kids there loved it.  So when we came across one in a hardware shop, and discovered it was only $15 (NZ) , my hubby and I decided to grab it.  One of the aims of this blog, “The Forever Years” is to share anything which might be useful to other parents.  Part of Child Advocacy is to support one another as parents, network and share ideas which have been useful.  No one is an expert on everything and everyone has something to offer.  This post will be short, but hopefully useful, particularly to anyone who had been struggling to get their kids to eat fruit (or vegetables, for that matter).  This little machine is called an “apple cutter”, but we have also used it to slice carrots, pears and peaches (with the stones out).  The chopped fruit or veg could also be used to make smoothie.  I have put a video below of two of our children using this machine.  Good luck and let us know, here at “The Forever Years”, if you have come across any similarly useful things.  We love  comments and welcome articles from guest writers.  Have fun creating “curly fruit” (my 5 year old’s name for the end result).

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