Easter Crafts for Families   

Source: Personal Creations, Flickr

Source: Personal Creations, Flickr

Spring is here and that means Easter is coming up soon. This year it falls on April 16, which means parents have plenty of time to get together some great crafts for their kids. Of course, many of your children will be doing crafts in school, but they are another great way to bond as a family and enjoy time together. So clear off the kitchen or craft table, and have the whole family come together on a weekend to celebrate Easter activities and the meaning of the holiday.

For those who participate in Easter egg hunts, you all know the classic egg dying fun to be had. We have compiled some other activities parents and children can do leading up to Easter Sunday. Plus, since so many community centers and churches offer Easter egg hunts for kids, hopefully you will get a little respite on the Sunday to just enjoy your community and family.

Crafts for Young Kids

If you have toddlers in the house, Daily Leisure has a great craft for you. It’s a simple bunny mask that your kids can glue together and then use to hop around the house for hours. They even include how to make a chick and a bunny rabbit.

Here’s one that combines adult and kid fun – wine cork chicks! Another very easy one that uses a little acrylic yellow paint and wine corks to make adorable chicks for refrigerator art.

As with all holidays, bringing the family together in the kitchen is a wonderful way to share and create memories. If you have younger children, don’t worry – they can still help. Give them easy tasks such as pressing cookie cutters into the dough or picking icing colors. They can also remove the green tops from strawberries for dessert or draw pictures to entertain those hard at work in the kitchen.

Crafts for Older Kids

For those with children who are a little bit older, this Easter basket favor from Martha Stewart makes a great gift for teachers. Have your kids help out and make their teacher’s day with a sweet treat. Martha Stewart also has an easy way to make lovely bunny ears for a family photo you are sure to enjoy. Just a little pink felt, some headbands, and hot glue is all you need.

If you want some home decorations, enlist the family in making this easy Easter garland. Gather the plastic eggs, some permanent markers, thread, and spare buttons to make an adorable and classic garland that you can easily store for next year.

However you choose to spend this upcoming holiday, your family will appreciate it and create lasting memories.

It’s Time to Talk Summer Camps

Source: susanrm8, Flickr

Source: susanrm8, Flickr

We know, it’s just now spring break. And the snow is still falling over much of the central and eastern parts of the country. Even with all of that, summer will be here in no time and it’s time to think about summer camps for your children. Often, specialty camps fill up very quickly so the sooner, the better.

Camps for Adopted Children

The good news is that summer camps have such variety now that they include nationwide camps for adopted children. You can find general lists, such as this one, that showcase camps across the country with the specific goal of meeting the needs of adopted children. Some highlights include the Heritage Camp in Grand Rapids, Michigan that is open to adopted children ages preschool through ninth grade. This camp is designed to help adopted children experience and learn about the culture of their birth countries. There is another Heritage Camp in Denver, Colorado that runs for four days in early August. In it’s seventh year, this camp helps families celebrate their unique beginnings and it is, essentially, one big celebration of adoptive families.

Kansas and Missouri Camps

If there isn’t an adoption-specific summer camp near you or a relative, general summer camps can be fantastic ways for your children to grow and learn about themselves. There is a very large variety, from sports to arts, cooking, outdoor adventure and more. There’s a handy list for Kansas that grows by the day and for Missouri, too. Talk to your children about what interests they would like to explore and surely there is a camp for it! Many summer camps offer need-based sponsorships and scholarships, too.

Volunteering at a Summer Camp

If you want to be an active volunteer for foster children, or are active in the foster care system, Royal Family Kids offers summer camps in nearly every state. In Missouri, there are 4 camps that serve approximately 45 – 50 children each year. Incredible volunteers make these camps a true success. Their current program locations include Cassville, Saint Joseph, and Springfield. What’s even better is that you and your community can even plan or sponsor a new camp in your area.

For our readers in Kansas, Royal Family Kids offers camps in Great Bend, Lenexa, Manhattan, Topeka, and Wichita. There are 6 camps in total and volunteers work hard to reach foster children. You and your family could easily start a new camp and help make a special summer for a child.

Spring Break Family Activities – Missouri

Source: gfpeck, Flickr

Source: gfpeck, Flickr

Spring break! Spring break! Can you hear the cheer of the students as they run out of school on a Friday afternoon, ready for the first big vacation of the year? With unusually warm bouts of weather this year, spring break might even prove to be a bit warm with flowers blooming and sunshine to bathe in. On a more serious note, spring break is often a difficult week for parents because the children are looking for entertainment and fun. And they are looking to you – the parents – to provide it. Thankfully, we’ve compiled some great ideas for you and your children this spring. No more boredom or lazy days in front of the television. Try some of these fun activities and enjoy the gift of time with your kids.

Kansas City

We have another blog that focuses on Kansas for this very topic, including Kansas City. Check out that blog if you’re in the greater Kansas City area and are looking for fun spring break adventures.

Branson

Silver Dollar City – With over 40 rides and attractions, you and your family are sure to have a fun-filled day. Not to mention there is live comedy and music from local artists. And don’t forget the ice cream and funnel cakes, too!

Branson Ballknocker – A great option if you and your kids are looking for thrills. The Ballknocker is a 12-foot tall clear ball with a large inner chamber that seats up to 3 people. Surrounded by a giant air cushion, be prepared to go on the ride of your life!

Springfield

Dickerson Park Zoo – A classic spring break favorite, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the zoo. To make it extra special, you can opt for behind-the-scenes tours or participate in some of the art events the zoo sponsors during spring break. It’s a great way to combine learning and fun.

Explore the Caves – This part of Missouri is known for the many wonderful caves and spring break is the perfect time to explore them as a family. Fantastic Caverns and Talking Rocks Cavern are right around Springfield. You can also travel to the Marvel Cave at Silver Dollar City for an extra-special outing. Marvel Cave opens on March 15, 2017.

And don’t forget your local public libraries! As we mentioned in the Kansas blog post, most local branches all across the state will have free events all week long.

Spring Break Family Activities – Kansas

Source: gfpeck, Flickr

Source: gfpeck, Flickr

Spring break! Spring break! Can you hear the cheer of the students as they run out of school on a Friday afternoon, ready for the first big vacation of the year? With unusually warm bouts of weather this year, spring break might even prove to be a bit warm with flowers blooming and sunshine to bathe in. On a more serious note, spring break is often a difficult week for parents because the children are looking for entertainment and fun. And they are looking to you – the parents – to provide it. Thankfully, we’ve compiled some great ideas for you and your children this spring. No more boredom or lazy days in front of the television. Try some of these fun activities and enjoy the gift of time with your kids.

Kansas City

For those of you in the big city, check out this great blog from KC Parent. It has so many ideas and thousands of families use the blogged last year to plan their spring break trips. We’ve pulled a few notable mentions below.

Open Jump at Urban Air – If you have kids with lots of energy, then this is the place for you. Much more than a simple trampoline spot, Urban Air incorporates fitness, climbing, building, and so much more. There’s something for kids and adults, not to mention nearby parks for picnics and a little respite.

Ernie Miller Nature Center – The Center is putting on all sorts of special events for spring break. With a fee of only $3 per person, you and your kids can enjoy the aquarium and trails all week long. Plus, park staff have special events, too, like animal stories, Celtic tales, and live animals!

Wichita Area

Wichita Art Museum – The museum hosts a special event every spring break and this year it’s an Art-vacation. Children of any age, including college students, can get in for $1 and enjoy art activities every day.

Downtown Pop-up Park – Combining food trucks and a beautiful park, you can come downtown Monday through Friday of spring break to enjoy a gorgeous lunch outside and some running around fun for the kids.

There are many more events and spring break camps happening in the greater Wichita area. Check out this handy website with a comprehensive list.

Your Local Public Library

Libraries all across the state will have free events including science classes, story times, magic shows, and more. Check with your neighborhood spot for their calendar of events and don’t forget to check out some books for the break, too.

 

Teaching Adopted Children Their Story

Source: Spirit-Fire, Flickr

Source: Spirit-Fire, Flickr

Parents of adopted children will one day face the question about whether or not to tell their child the story of how they came to join the family. An intensely personal decision, parents must make the decision that is best for the child and family. There is no easy answer about how to approach this subject or when. That is entirely up to the parents and the situation surrounding the adoption process. If you are an adoptive parent considering having this discussion with your child, we have a few tips to offer to ease the process.

Open Adoptions

Naturally, open adoptions will result in more conversations about birth parents. When your child is younger, you can begin to lay the groundwork. As the child grows up, you can expand on the story and explanation. For example, when younger the child can learn to understand that any visitation or contact is with a family member or other name you feel is appropriate. As the child grows up, you can explain the nature of this relationship more and the nuances of birth and adoptive parents. You can explain the significance and how their unique situation is different from their peers.

Grow the Conversation

As above, you want to grow the conversation as your child grows. A three-year-old won’t be able to understand all of the details like a ten-year-old can. Questions may come up as children are very curious (as we all know!) and can often sense things. Even if your own child doesn’t, other children might ask questions. It’s important to be prepared as adoptive parents and know what you wish to discuss and when.

One common question that arises as a child gets older is “why?” If this does happen, remember to not speak negatively about the birth parents or the situation. Coming from a place of positivity and love will help you down the road when a teenager might ask “why?” again. Balance your answer between giving an answer to the why and expanding on all of the positive ways this decision has impacted everyone.

As children grow up they will likely want more details, too. You can continue to grow the story of the adoption and the experience of your family together. Perhaps tell the story with pictures or any other information you have on hand. And remember to be patient as your child will be rewriting some part of their personal narrative as the story of the adoption grows right along with them.

Online Support for Adoptive Parents

People supporting each other

Source: Flickr, Ondřej Lipár

Now that the spirit and cheer of ringing in the New Year has settled, many of us are back to the usual routine. That means meal prep, long work hours, shoveling snow, laundry, homework, and so much more. Usually we all end up feeling like the day needs just one more hour! The festive spirit of the holidays can be invigorating, but once that all settles, facing the day-to-day routine again brings about stress and anxiety for many adoptive parents. We understand that there is always a mountain of paperwork to complete or stacks of mail to sift through. But thankfully, there are many resources available online to ease that stress.

Parent Support Group Series

We have posted about various Parent Support Group options for Kansas City, Wichita, and St. Louis, with more cities slated to come as we continue on into 2017. If you haven’t already, please check out these blog pages and see what options are available in your city. Support groups can range from in-person meetings at churches or baby boutiques, to great parent meet-ups at playgrounds, musical events, and more. Plus, there are links to find support groups online, too. There is something for everyone.

Parent groups are crucial for adoptive parents as building your community and support group will only help you succeed and feel more confident as you go through the process. Plus, people who have been through it all before will always want to share any tips they can offer.

Online Support

If our Support Group Series hasn’t yet covered your town, or if you find yourself in a more remote location, then online is the way to go. You can start with Adoption.com‘s large forum site that is open to all parents who have questions or need support of any kind. Additionally, there is the parent group database on the North American Council on Adoptable Children. Both of these are great places to start.

On our own website, we list many local support groups that are available, too. Whatever your need or whatever your question, there is someone out there ready to help. So reach out and get ready to find your community.

The Importance of Holiday Stories

Children with Santa

Source: Flickr, Bailiwick Studios

For many of us, Christmas is a special time of year when we get to spend time with loved ones and give back to our neighbors, family, and communities. For our young ones, it is quickly become all about presents. Especially when you consider how many toy commercials and catalogs they see starting back in September. The idea of Christmas being just about presents can quickly take over before we even realize it.

One way to balance the season of gifts is to talk to kids about giving back and sharing with others. With younger children this can be a bit hard since it’s natural at certain ages to “have a case of the gimmies,” but there are many children’s books that tell wonderful stories about loving one’s family, giving back, and coming together.

Holiday Children’s Books

Consider getting the classic that many of us knew growing up – The Berenstein Bears and the Joy of Giving. This book is especially good if you find your child is asking for every toy from the catalog or spending all day talking about what he or she asked Santa for Christmas. The lovely book tackles what Christmas is really about and helps children understand the ideas of giving and sharing. With a similar story of giving is Santa Mouse, who realizes that Santa is always giving gifts but never receiving them.

You can also trust that Scholastic has a large variety of holiday-themed books, many of which teach wonderful lessons. For example, Light the Lights tells a heartwarming holiday story of an interfaith family and The Mitten, which is adapted from an old Ukrainian tale about a boy and his grandmother.

All of these books make great options for engaging your children during the holidays and talking about giving and the joy of family. They can help balance the stories of gifts received and are easily accessible in most bookstores and local public libraries.

Children and Devices

Children on phone

Source: Flickr, Guillermo Alonso

Where do we draw the line when it comes to our kids and devices? And how do we navigate requests for cellphones when they are older? How long is too long when it comes to looking at a screen on a road trip? Our entire world is very different from when we (the parents) grew up. Instead of kickball, there’s Angry Birds. And instead of math workbooks, there’s an app for that. Everything in your home can be digital, from the refrigerator to the lights, and computers are mainstays in most schools and homes. Sometimes that “computer” is simply in the palm of your child’s hand.

Parenting Challenges

Parenting now has unique and new hurdles that everyone must learn to navigate. You have to decide when to take the phone or pad away and what apps are actually stimulating your child’s brain in a healthy and productive way. This isn’t an issue just for parents of teens, either. Children as young as 1 or 2 are ready to start holding the phone and playing. And toddlers are able to understand and engage with devices at incredible rates. Time with screens isn’t going to diminish or go away; it’s here to stay. So what do parents do about it?

Talking About Technology

In a recent learning and technology news story, parents confronted the issue of kids and screens. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these types of news stories are some of the most popular with parents. In this particular one, parents shared with each other. They asked questions about how to encourage face-to-face time with children, ensuring the privacy and safety of their children, and how parents can model good device behavior. These questions keep coming up and some worry about parents spending too much time on devices as well.

Finding Balance

It is important to remember a good balance, between play at the playground and play on any device. If you find that you are facing similar questions with your own children, engage your fellow parents in discussion. It can be good to talk these concerns out and you may decide to form playgroups. You could opt to focus on physical play with all phones put away (including parents). Or you can have kids try to act out their favorite app games in real life.

Focusing on coming together as a family and enjoying playtime is a quick and easy way to distract from devices. You can take everyone on a camping trip, where there’s no data or signal, or simply put rules in place such as “no phones at the table.” Finding the right balance for your family is most important in this new tech-driven world.

Parent Support Group Series, Kansas City

Source: Flickr user Janita

Source: Flickr user Janita

In September, we started a blog series to help bring parents, especially stay-at-home moms, together, city-by-city. We started with Wichita, Kansas then we reached out to those of you in St. Louis, Missouri. Now, we want to reach readers in Kansas City who may be in need of additional support. With the holiday season upon us, many people find themselves extra stressed out between gift shopping, kids out of school, and a growing “to do” list. You are not alone if the holiday time makes you feel overwhelmed.

Below, we share ways that you can meet other parents in your area and find like-minded friends. Friendship is vital to living a full life and it shouldn’t stop when you become a parent. This is especially true for adoptive parents who need to build support circles of all kinds. From swapping parenting tips, to sharing recipes and enjoying each other’s company, friends make life more complete. During this holiday time, be sure to reach out to others and engage with your community. ‘Tis the season for giving, and that includes supportive hugs from friends!

Online

As mentioned in our last blog, be sure to check out the MeetUp website. This is a central place where people can post and create meet-ups for parents. It is an easy way to start, so give it a try if you want to test the waters.

There’s one group that’s been active since 2012 with a focus on friendly, fun, and frugal good times. Activities are often kid and pet friendly, so jump on in and join the group.

Blogs

Kansas City Moms Blog – a great space for finding activities, tips, crafts, and so much more.

KC Parent – tackling all kinds of parenting issues, this site includes education and holiday sections, along with all things Kansas City.

In-Person Groups

MOMentum – this group is especially helpful for moms looking for supportive relationships, adult conversation, and regular discussions. It’s an active support group that meets the first Tuesday of every month and helps moms connect. Check it out at the Richmond First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.

Friends of Adoption – this is a local group that offers support at all stages of the adoption process.

If you’re considering home school and want to find a support group, check out Midwest Parent Educators site for a group that meets regularly.

Be sure to look at the entire KC Kids Fun website for a full list of parent groups to check out in your area.

 

 

Ways to Celebrate and Show Thanks

Source: Flickr user anjanettew

Source: Flickr user anjanettew

The day for rest, family, and giving thanks is nearly upon us. While you and your family bond on Thursday, whether it’s you, your spouse and children or a whole big family gathering, take the time to really think about what you wish to give thanks for. Talk to your children about this concept and share what makes you feel happy and grateful. It can be a lovely time to come together as a family and give thanks for each other, for birth parents, and so much more.

For younger children, this concept is especially good at teaching gratitude and learning to appreciate small blessings. Social scientists, such as Dr. Christine Carter, studied how grateful children are more likely to grow into happier adults and that the concept of thankfulness (and the ability to be thankful) is not an inherent trait. It’s something people can learn and children can be taught, just like learning a new language. To embrace this concept with your children on Thanksgiving, try some of these suggestions and remember to simply be thankful for each other!

Source: Flickr user anjanettew

Source: Flickr user anjanettew

Volunteer

Does your church offer volunteer opportunities? Or perhaps your local community finds a Meals On Wheels program. Whatever the option, volunteering with your children is a great way to show gratitude for what you have and your desire to help others. Volunteering is also something that can be done year round as a family and sets a wonderful tone for children as they grow up.

Shop for Others

The next time you are at the grocery store or mall with your children, encourage them to pick out one or two items. It could be canned goods, gloves, warm socks, or a blanket. Then after you are done shopping, take your kids with you to the local shelter or food bank and let them donate the items.

School Lessons

Speak with your child’s teacher to see what lessons they are learning around Thanksgiving. Then you can build on those at home, asking them what they think the Pilgrims were thankful for and what a Pilgrim would be thankful for now. If your children are old enough to write, have them write a letter of thanks to someone that they appreciate. This is also an activity the entire family can do and then you can read the letters around the dinner table.

All of these opportunities are a great way to teach children how to show thanks and we hope you and your family have a thankful and wonderful Thanksgiving.