Celebrate The Earth Today and Every Day

For the last 49 years, April 22nd has become a day of celebrating our planet and bringing awareness to ways of preserving it. This year’s Earth Day theme is Protect Our Species. Some of the species that are being focused on are bees, giraffes, whales, elephants, trees, sea turtles, and great apes, which are all at risk of going instinct. The good news is that these threatened species are able to recover with help from you.  

More good news is that there are so many other ways to take action and some are easy to incorporate into your daily life.

Tips For An Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

  1. Turn off the lights when leaving the room and when there is enough natural sunlight.
  2. Reduce your use of plastic by using reusable bags at stores and reusable water bottles.
  3. Shop local! This is a win-win as it supports the planet and your local economy. 
  4. Plant a garden
  5. Replace regular lightbulbs for LED
  6. Unplug appliances you aren’t using them
  7. Buy a reusable straw 
  8. Plant trees
  9. Start a compost
  10. Recycle 
  11. Take shorter showers
  12. Turn off the sink while brushing your teeth
  13. Limit grocery shopping to just what you know you’ll eat
  14. Eat less meat and when you do, choose grass fed, free range, and organic
  15. Fix it before you throw it away
  16. Use eco-friendly cleaning products
  17. Walk or ride a bike when you don’t have to drive 
  18. Donate old clothes and other items instead of throwing them away
  19. Cook your meals instead of eating out
  20. Use a reusable to-go mug while getting your morning coffee at your favorite coffee shop

Creative Ways To Dye Easter Eggs

Easter is a fun way to bond and let creativity shine. Step it up even more this year with these crazy egg decorating techniques that will make this the most memorable holiday yet!

Shaving Cream

Get an effect that is similar to tie-dye, but even easier to create. Roll your egg around the shaving cream and dye mix and get a beautiful surprise.

Supplies:
Hard-boiled eggs
Shaving cream
Food dye
Glass dish

Nail Polish

Gather your old nail polish that’s sitting around to create this totally unique look. Roll your egg on the surface of the water (where the nail polish is floating) and voilá!

Supplies:
Nail Polish
Room temperature water
Bowl
Tooth pick
Plastic glove
Eggs (hard boiled or plastic)

Melted Crayons

This isn’t technically dying your eggs, but it’s still a great way to decorate them. Melting the crayons will make the colors more vibrant and your drawings will pop like never before.

Supplies:
Eggs (hard boiled, still hot)
Crayons

Dinosaur Eggs

Who says Easter has to be all about bunnies and chicks?! These dinosaurs eggs are an awesome way to branch out and have a unique holiday. Plus, they’re so easy to make!

Supplies:
Hard boiled eggs
Food coloring

Glow-In-The-Dark

I bet the Easter Bunny has never seen eggs like these before and will leave extra candy for creativity. And how fun would it be to have a glow-in-the-dark egg hunt?!

Supplies:
Fluorescent paint
White vinegar
Hot water
Bowls
Blacklight

Mosaic

These aren’t just Easter eggs but pieces of art! Have fun mixing and matching colors and sizes to creating beautiful designs.

Supplies:
Eggs (hard boiled)
Dye
Glue
Paintbrush

Galaxy

These eggs are out of this world! They may look complex like our solar system, but they’re actually quite simple to create. Paint and layer the colors on top that you want, then use a toothbrush to splatter white on top. 

Supplies:
Dyeable plastic eggs (black or white)
Acrylic paints
Paintbrush
Sponges
Toothbrush

Help Your Foster Child Handle Their Phobias

It may seem strange that children have to deal with phobias at such a tender age, but according to research, specific phobias already surface from age seven and social phobias from adolescence. There are many reasons for children to develop a phobia, whether it’s a rational fear of something or apparently irrational. Sometimes the fear might be due to a vulnerable situation, and sometimes the fear is picked up from the fears of others. Those who have a vulnerable background tend to display fears and anxieties, along with depression and other physical signs of their upbringing. For caregivers, dealing with these fears can feel somewhat challenging.  

Understand The Difference Between Fears, Worries, and Phobias

It’s perfectly normal for children to have slight worries or fears about certain things or events, however, when the reaction becomes severe and irrational, this is when it’s classified as anxiety. For children, anxiety can be disabling and to a certain degree, cause other medical conditions. If this is the case, it’s important for the parent or caregiver to seek medical attention. While psychiatric care is often recommended, there are also instances where the condition is caused by other medical conditions that could be serious, which is why extensive medical tests are recommended.

Support During The Phase Of Vulnerability

Children often associate certain events and situations with feelings of vulnerability. While these events can be carried well into adulthood, proper management in the early years can prove to be a great boost and completely remove all doubts, fears, and anxieties. Professions that have gone a long way to promoting a happy experience for children include visits to the hair salon or dentist. A fashionable hair cut or color-coordinated braces go a long way to promote the cool factor, which can turn a scary visit right around. For parents or caregivers, it’s important to spot a fear or phobia, as the method of alleviating the discomfort might be different. In both cases, however, it’s important that the child has the opportunity to face their fear in a controlled environment and, little by little, build up the courage to face it with confidence.  

Life After A Phobia

Once a fear no longer just seems like fear and you’re convinced the child has a phobia, it’s important to start treatment. Treatment may vary from medication and counseling to role playing and scenarios in order to alleviate the symptoms. Talk therapy is known to achieve quite a bit in terms of remedial action and is used during counseling sessions. Even with a phobia lurking overhead, children can still live a fulfilling life. Over time, there is the possibility that the child will grow out of the phobia or simply learn to handle it a little better without any remnants to place a damper on their day-to-day lives. While there is no known way to prevent a child from developing a phobia, parents can help by providing plenty of love, support, and nurturing. Even in this environment, although not usual, children may be overly sensitive to certain scenarios.

Although it might be hard for parents and caregivers to see a child suffer from fears and anxieties, especially when this goes over into a phobia, there are ways to manage these fears. Treatment, therapy, and a nurturing environment all play their part.

How to Prepare for The Transition From Fostering to Adoption

Regardless of whether you are adopting a foster child currently under your care, or you are receiving an adoptive placement for a child that is staying in another foster home, the transition from fostering to adoption is tough. There are emotional, financial, and physical impacts. Here is an in-depth look at the process of transitioning from fostering to adoption. 

Explaining Fostering

Foster care is a living arrangement for children who have been abused or neglected and need a safe place to live. Often times, their parents are unable to take care of them due to illness, homelessness, or substance abuse. 

Explaining Adoption

Adoption occurs when a child moves into a new home with a new family. The new parents becomes responsible for the child and assume the parental rights like the child's biological parents. 

Starting The Process

You can start the process by choosing an adoption method. You can check with a public adoption agency. Check with the state or local governments. Some states use private adoption agencies that are licensed by the state. Consult with your attorney. Your attorney will make sure that you have the appropriate documentation to complete the adoption process. Keep in mind that there is a hearing made through the state to terminate parental rights and give biological parents an opportunity to get custody of their children. Your attorney can give you advice on how to proceed through the process. 

Figuring Out The Adoption

Keep in mind that some foster children are dealing with a disability or other medical challenges. There are always resources available to assist you. You can search for different adoption organizations online. You can also check with your local bar association.

Finding An Agency

Once you have chosen an agency, you can start the adoption process. Initially, you'll have to attend a training session or orientation. At the seminar, you'll have the opportunity to interact with different social workers and learn more information about the children. You'll also get a thorough overview of the adoption process.

Financial Sacrifices

The amount of expenses connected to adoption depends on multiple factors, including; the type of adoption, the type of agency that you use, attorney fees, and the state that you live in. When you adopt a child from foster care, they may be eligible for some assistance through federal or state adoption subsidies. These subsidies are available at both the state and federal level. The subsidies can help you manage the short and long term costs associated with adopting a child. Contact your social worker to make sure that the subsidies are available in your state.

Benefits

Keep in mind that people who adopt children may be exempt from having to itemize their expenses. You may qualify for a flat tax credit similar to the minimum tax credit. There are military benefits as well. After the adoption has been completed, the military offers over $1,000 per child if you are serving on active duty. The military offers other benefits through its Program for Persons with Disabilities. Many employers offer employee adoption benefits. You may be eligible to receive financial reimbursement, paid leave, and other benefits.

Speak With The Child

Try to help the child understand the process of getting adopted. If the child is young, they may have plenty of questions. Some children may want to learn more about their biological parents. Try to make the child feel as comfortable as possible.

Speak With The Foster Family

It's a good idea to speak with the foster family before you adopt a child. They can provide you with important information about the characteristics of the child. The more you know about a child before they enter your home, the more prepared you will be. This will ensure a smoother transition. 

Slowly Develop A Routine

Once you adopt, there are several urgent issues that you need to attend to. You'll have to find a new school for the child. However, take some time to settle in and avoid rushing things. Give the child a chance to settle in at their pace. Consider taking a week off from work if necessary.

Give The Child Space

This is a drastic change in the life of a child. The child may have mixed emotions. You may need to give your child some space and let them have alone time. Try to find the right balance between spending lots of time together and letting your child enjoy independent time in their room.

Spring Break Must Do’s

It’s almost that time of the year again which is the beloved Spring Break. Some families spend this time traveling to exotic places, but you shouldn’t have to keep up with the Joneses to have a fun and memorable Spring Break. There are so many ways for families to enjoy the week off of school while staying right here in Eugene, Oregon.

Explore Hendrick’s Park

It’s easy to spend hours walking along the many trails of Hendrick’s Park which are covered by beautiful flowers and giant green trees. They are accompanied by large grass fields that are perfect for a family picnic or game of frisbee. Once you get there, you won’t want to leave.

Mini Golf At Putter’s Family Entertainment Center

Putter’s knows Eugene’s weather is unpredictable at best, and created the perfect environment for those long rainy days when you can’t wait to get out of the house. They are equipped with an indoor 18-hole mini golf course, laser tag, tons of arcade games, a playground, and pizza. 

Get Air Trampoline Park

Not only is it a giant room covered in trampolines, there are basketball hoops, obstacle courses, dodgeball, and foam pits. This place is truly fun for all ages.  

Adventure Children’s Museum

What’s more fun than a museum where you are allowed to touch everything?! Located in the Valley River Center, this children’s museum is full of activities for kids to learn while playing. 

Hike Spencer Butte

Rain or shine, hiking Spencer Butte is a must-do. The trail is doable for the whole family regardless of hiking experience and you’ll be too distracted by the beautiful scenery to notice how tired your legs are. At the top you’ll see amazing views of Eugene including Autzen Stadium.

Discover The Solar System

Go on an adventure to find all of the planets which are scattered along the Willamette River! The scale model begins in Alton Baker Park and expands 3.5 miles through Skinner Butte Park. It’s along the paved path so perfect for an afternoon bike ride!

Skinner's Butte Park

The possibilities of fun are endless here! From riding bikes along the river to playing on the giant playground, you are bound to have a great Spring Break day here. 

Magical St. Patrick’s Day Treats

Celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day with some sweet treats that may even bring you some extra luck. While all of these foods are green, don’t forget to actually wear it or else you could get pinched!

Lucky Pancakes

Start off the holiday of all things green with these amazing pancakes.

Ingredients:
Pancake mix, green food coloring, whipped cream, Lucky Charms marshmallows

Oreos-O-Gold 

Attract all of the leprechauns with this unique pot of gold! They won't even be disappointed to find that the gold isn't real.

Ingredients: 
Oreos, dark chocolate, gold sprinkles, Air head Extreme rainbow sour candy, water bottle, parchment pap

Lucky Krispie Treats

You’ll never want to eat plain Rice Krispie treats again after trying these. 

Ingredients:
Butter, marshmallows, Rice Krispie cereal, vanilla extract, green food coloring, Lucky Charm’s marshmallows

Shamrock Floats

This epic float couldn’t be easier to make or any more delicious.

Ingredients: 
Lime sherbert, lemon lime soda

Leprechaun Popcorn

Combine sweet and salty with this festive popcorn. But watch out, some leprechauns might come and try to steal all of it!

Ingredients:
Popcorn, green M&Ms, green and white chocolate candy melts, St. Patrick’s sprinkles

7 Tips To Motivate Your Child To Learn

Are you worried about your children’s learning skills like low concentration? Then try to motivate your child to learn because if they feel inspired, they will be interested in studying and make the best efforts to achieve their goals.

At this age, a child is oblivious to the importance of learning and mostly interested in playing games. Instead of forcing them to study, make them understand the value of learning in their own way. Remember motivation is not only needed by weak or reluctant students, but by good learners when they feel demotivated due to any reason.

The Learning Environment:

The most impactful and inseparable part of learning is the environment. A right environment will effortlessly increase the will and focus of your child. This means no music, no TV, and no distraction from other family members. Keeping all the essentials set for studying before, so that your child can completely concentrate on the topic.

Make a Realistic Routine:

Try to set a daily routine for your child which starts from brushing their teeth in the morning to a daily study schedule. But keep in mind to set a flexible and feasible routine for your child so that they can love to follow it.

Set Time-Based Targets:

Make them set goals which they have to achieve. Break the big assignments into small ones and let them finish them in a given interval of time. Achieving these small goals make them feel motivated to learn more and efficiently.

Judge Them on Learning, Not on Scores:

It sounds very discourteous and marks a negative impact on your child when you yell at their low scores. Instead, try to ask what they learned in school and try to explain the lesson in an easy version with examples so that they can retain it for a long time. Make your child understand the difficult or confusing topic directly, clear their concepts and motivate the child to learn efficiently.  

Know What Your Child Loves to Read:

Always give priority to your child’s subject of interest. Never force them to pick any of your choices. Make them explore their favorite subject, it will increase their focus, knowledge, and believe in themselves.  

Reward Every Single Achievement:

Giving rewards to your children on their small or big achievements surely makes them feel recognized and motivated to study hard with more concentration. Rewards always mark a positive impact on a child and keep them motivated to do better in the future.

Stay on Your Child’s Team:

Communicate with your child positively, gently, and respectfully. Any adverse reaction may make your child defy you and may hinder their moral. Ask and value their suggestions on the topic of discussion. Avoid ticking off your children, instead solve their problem or explain their lectures in easy language, or with the help of any learning application on the internet for better understanding.

7 Resources Foster Parents Need To Know About

Fostering is a tough decision to make; it brings with it joys and trials like any kind of parenting holds. While vastly rewarding, it holds certain challenges. The following are seven resources every foster parent should have.

A Fostering Mentor

When you know someone who has already journeyed the path of fostering and/or adoption, that person can be an amazing resource for foster parents. Parenting, in and of itself, is a challenge. For new parents, knowing whether or not a behavior or quirk in personality is normal can be tricky. This is particularly true in foster parenting. Attachment in fostering can appear quite different than in those traditional parenting scenarios. When experiencing these differences, they can be worrisome or confusing. Having a mentor in your life, someone of whom you can make queries known or to whom you can voice concerns is vastly helpful. A mentor can assuage your fears and reassure you that things are proceeding normally and help find other resources when situations call for them.

A Library of Helpful Books

These include Dr. Karyn Purvis's The Connected Child, which is a must-read for parents looking after children with attachment issues, inabilities to bond healthily, or other disorders; Beyond Consequences, Logic, & Control by Heather T Forbes, which answers how to discipline children when they are acting out of their trauma, and A Different Beautiful, by Courtney Westlake, whose infant girl had a rare skin disorder from birth. Other books are The Mystery of Risk, by Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D., an expert who is world-renowned on the topic of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Twenty Things Adoptive Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge, who was herself adopted.

A Child Therapist with the Right Experience

It is not unusual for parents to feel that seeking the help of a professional therapist or counselor means that they have failed in some way. This is categorically untrue. Foster children benefit from experiencing a safe place in which they can work through some pretty complicated feelings. Loss is inherent in fostering and adoption. Sometimes those feelings of loss can result in the child feeling less secure in a parent/child relationship. Do not be afraid to help the child through this grief and offer support in the best ways possible. Visiting an experienced therapist who is trained in attachment-based therapy will assist in strengthening the connection between you and your child. 

A Pediatrician Trained with Fostering and Adoption

The reasons behind your child being placed in foster care and the previous living conditions might well influence this or her health, especially when children are coming to you from care that is post-institutional. You require a pediatrician that views the child's fostering narrative as a possible underlying cause to whatever medical conditions may be present. Sometimes a foster child's internalizations of loss and grief are manifested through medical conditions, physical behaviors, gastrointestinal issues, and emotional disturbances. These are regularly seen in foster children and adoptees and in this case, treating both the symptom that is visible and the cause that underlies it is of vital importance.

A Respite Caregiver

Respite is a term often used in caregiving communities that means to have a break, a short period of relief or rest from a task or tasks that are unpleasant or difficult. Parenting can be both of those things, and all parents need breaks here and there. All parents can feel guilty about this. This is misplaced. Some foster parents do not wish to confess to their feelings being exhausted and overwhelmed; avoiding asking for the help they need out of aversion to being judged. Allowing a qualified babysitter, close friend, or family member to tend your child while you relax results in you being a refreshed, refueled, and revitalized caregiver to your child. Your child requires you to be emotionally and mentally healthy more than he or she needs you to be in their presence for the full 24 hours in a day. 

A Supportive Community

This community might be online, a support group, a church, close relatives, or a warm neighborhood, but we all require people about us who we know will be there for us in times of need and to share with us in joyful times. These groups can also often be drawn upon as sources for respite times and for recommendations of qualified experts.

Internet Resources

A community is not the only resource to be found online. While the internet often has hate and negativity, it also has understanding and love in the right places. Look for people who have been where you are in the fostering journey. Here you might find a fostering mentor or someone in need of your expertise that you can help and pay it forward.

Brittany Waddell is a contributing writer and media specialist for Youth Villages. She often produces content for a variety of foster care blogs.

Run With Us At The Eugene Marathon

Get your running shoes on and start training because the 13th annual Eugene Marathon is about two months away and you have the chance to run for FREE. Sign up with A Family For Every Child and participate in the 5K, half marathon, or full marathon free of charge! All you have to do is meet the fundraising minimum, $75 for the 5K and $175 for the half and full marathon, by May 5, 2019. The money you raise will be donated to AFFEC and be used to support foster children in Lane County and beyond by connecting them with adoptive parents, providing them with mentors, and more.

Since 2011 the race has been held at Hayward Field, but due to the recent demolition and reconstruction of the iconic landmark, the event has been moved to Autzen Stadium. Runners will travel through downtown Eugene, with live musical performances along the path, and cross the finish line inside the stadium at the 50-yard line. You don't want to miss this event.

There’s also fun for the whole family! Children 4-12 years old can run in the Duck Dash, a 1k around Autzen Stadium, and children 12 and older are able to participate in the 5K. After the races, everyone will get to celebrate their victories at the Finish Line Festival where food will be supplied from various vendors. Get all of your friends and family together and spend a day enjoying the outdoors while raising money for AFFEC!

Get Involved With AFFEC!

A Family For Every Child began in 2006 to find permanent adoptive homes full of love for waiting foster children. Over the years, 10+ programs have been implemented to assist special needs and challenging-to-place foster children find their forever families. None of this would be possible without all of the wonderful people who donate their time to us and you could be one of them. There are so many opportunities to get involved and make life-long impacts on these children’s lives.

1. Volunteer

We have two events coming up, Princess for a Day (3/3/19) and Hero for a Day (5/18/19) and volunteers are what make them possible. Spending the afternoon with foster children will make a long lasting impression in both of your lives. And who doesn’t love a day full of princess or superheroes?!

2. Intern

Whether you are interested in social media, child recruitment, fundraising, event planning, or something else, there is a spot for you at AFFEC. It’s the best way to gain work experience, and simultaneously make a difference in dozens of kids lives.

3. ROUNDUP APP

Download this app on your smart phone and every purchase you make on your card will get rounded up and the difference will be donated to the nonprofit of your choosing. Every $2.25 coffee you get from Starbucks, could be a 75¢ donation to help foster children find their forever homes. It’s so easy and you’re making a difference without even thinking about it. 

4. Donate 

It takes a wide variety of items to keep our program an ongoing success. Anything from office supplies to gift cards to children books and games, we could use. Decluttering your home or old storage unit could make a big difference in both of our lives.

5. Spread The Word

Tell your friends, family, co-workers, barista, anyone about A Family For Every Child and you are helping us out! We love having our name out in the community and want to bring awareness to all of the amazing foster children awaiting homes. You may not have the time to be involved with us physically, but spreading our name and message is more than enough. 

Thank you to everyone who worked with us in the past and those who want to become involved in the future! A Family For Every Child and all of our children and families are so grateful for you.