Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Photo: Word Porn!

Keeping the Thanks in Thanksgiving

What memories do you want your children to take with them as they grow up?  When they think of the holidays, what do you hope they recall?

I know what I don"t want them to remember: a mother so stressed out about the "production" that no one is having fun.  Holidays are the best when I find that balance that creates something special that connects me with my family here and now, and at the same time connects me to my past and to the future where my children have the memories of what we do today.  That feeling of connection is  is the magical part of this season for me.

So I have to let go of a lot of stuff.  Yes, the house needs to be cleaner than normal when Nana comes, but it won't be perfect.  There will be dust bunnies, and the hallway will not be painted.  The kids rooms will be partial disasters, but the bathrooms will be clean, the floors will be mopped, and the kitchen will sparkle.  And guess what, Nana won't really care!

I have to set a budget, and I have to stay within it.  Money is tight, and if I pretend it isn't then the stress of overspending will make me resent the holiday, not embrace it.  I need to focus on what I CAN do and not dwell on the gifts or things I can't have as part of our holiday.  I won't focus on the I Phone my daughter wants but will not get, rather I need to focus on having fun shopping for the stuff she is going to get.

I am "doing" Thanksgiving dinner at our house, only for ten, but it is the first time it is more than just the four of us.  We typically go to Nana or Grandma's house.  My Thanksgiving will be good, we will have fun together.  It will not be perfect.  I work full time.  I need some shortcuts to make it happen. So while the pie crusts will not be homemade, my daughter will be thrilled that the mashed potatoes will be.  The table will be pretty, but not worthy of a magazine.  And as I type this I remind myself that I have little memory of what table settings my mom used, just that we used the nice glasses, and the turkey looked awesome.  My kids will not care that our tablecloth is inexpensive, and that the centerpiece is not a work of art.  They will see family sitting together, and turkey, and feel love and a sense of connection.  We will laugh about who carves the turkey, and debate the merits of candied yams vs mashed potatoes. These are the memories I hope they will carry with them.

It will be good, and it will be best if I am relaxed and enjoying it with everyone, not worrying about how things don't live up to some artificial ideal in my head created from a Norman Rockwell painting or a Martha Stewart magazine.

So I wish you and your families a warm, stress free holiday season full of happy memories of the past, and hopes for the future.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Suicide Prevention: We all can play a role

Both the Towns of Granby and East Granby are proud to announce that they now have a certified QPR instructor on staff.  Question, Pursuade, Refer is a research based, nationally recognized suicide prevention program suitable for older teens and adults.  In a brief hour long session, you learn what to look for and how to respond to someone who may be considereing suicide.

It is an uncomfortable topic, one we may avoid asking about.  Asking someone if they are suicidal means we need to do shomething if they are, and many of us feel unqualified to handle this kind of situation.  QPR gives you the skills you need to ask the right questions and get the person the help they need.

Sucicde is preventable, and the more members of our community who are prepared to respond to the warning signs of depression and suicide, the better we can rotect our friends, families and neigbors from a deadly decision.

If youor anyone you know are interested in taking this free one hour training class, please call AneMare Cax at (8600 844-5355 to schedule a training session.  Small group or larger, here at the YSB or at your office or home, this program is worth your time.  You could help save a life.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Creating a community voice for prevention.

One of the reasons I moved from my work in a school based clinical day treatment program to the Town of Granby Youth Service Bureau was my desire to shift from intervention to prevention.  Watching kid after kid struggle with anxiety, depression and substance abuse was frustrating and sad.  I remember thinking if I could help just one kid NOT start using, NOT become so depressed he or she harmed themselves, NOT be so anxious that attending school was an un-winnable battle, then I would truly have accomplished something profoundly worthwhile.

As the coordinator, and a counselor with the Youth Service Bureau, prevention is a big part of what I do.  I firmly believe that community based prevention is the key to raising children able to make healthy decisions and reduce the risky behaviors they engage in.  That said, community prevention is no walk in the park!

There is really good information out there, research based intervention strategies that have documented effectiveness, and they do not require a rocket scientist to implement.  What they do require is a community interested in hearing them, and incorporating the ideas and philosophies into a community wide voice that clearly lets our youth know that they are valued, supported, and that risky behaviors such as under age drinking, drinking and driving, risky sexual behavior and smoking marijuana or experimenting with other drugs is dangerous and unacceptable.

In our community  (as in many,  if not most communities) reaching parents with the information they need to be effective contributors in a community wide prevention effort often feels like an uphill battle.  As in other towns, when we host a parent night, or an educational forum on a prevention topic ( be it drug use, suicide prevention or concussion prevention) we typically get anywhere from 10 to 20 parent attendees.  Those parents almost always leave feeling they have learned important information.  

Our challenge then is to figure out how to move the message beyond these 15 or 20 families and reach the thousand or so other families we are missing time and time again.  No one has time for another meeting, another workshop, another anything, and prevention education just does not resonate with families as something they need to concern themselves with right now.  The excuse may be my children are still too young, or my kids are doing fine, or they have good friends and I don't have to worry.  

Well, we need to consider some facts here.  Your children are too young? Maybe, but the average age of first use in Connecticut is age 12. This means that the discussion needs to start while our kids are in elementary school.  Your kids are doing fine?  Fantastic!  Let's work together to keep it that way. Your kid has good friends?  Also fantastic, but lets face facts, in a community where almost 50% of high school seniors say they have smoked pot or consumed alcohol in the recent past, a whole lot of good kids are engaging in some high risk behaviors.

As parents we need to prioritize prevention.  Knowing the facts will help you guide your child to making safer decisions as a teenager, and if you are lucky enough to raise a teen who never makes a risky choice, I can almost guarantee you that  he or she will have a friend who will make a mistake.  The information and limits you impart to your child is may well help another child reduce the risks they take.    

So please, the next time you hear that a prevention program is being offered in town, make the time to check it out.  Coming to a program on preventing drug use in no way implies that you are worried that your child has a problem.  To the contrary, it means that you are doing everything in your power to prevent a problem from developing.  Please become a part of Granby's voice as we work to protect our youth from the very real dangers of underage substance use.

If you have any suggestions for topics of concern that you would like more information on, or ideas for bringing more parents to the programs we hold, please let me know!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Protecting the Developing Brain

Last night's program, Protecting the Developing Brain was attended by 25 community members.  The concussion presentation by Deb Shulanski of the Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut started off the night.  Rebecca McEwen from GMHS reviewed RTP practices and concussion screeing.  Dr Kaminer from UCONN Medical wrapped things up with lots of information on the developing brain and the risks posed by underage use of drugs including marijuana.  A big thank you to our presenters as well as to everyone who attended!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Protecting Your Child's Brain

On Tuesday October 15th from 7 to 9 PM we will be hosting a presentation for parents highlighting what we need to know about the developing brain, concussions, and also the increased risk of injury due to underage substance use.  Join us to learn the signs symptoms and treatments for concussions  Find out what IMPACT screening does and does not do.  Learn what the latest brain imaging research tells us about the damage and risk associated with underage drinking and marijuana use, and what you need to know to help your child make healthy choices.

Guest speakers include Deb Sulansky from the Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut and Rebecca MacEwen from GMMS's Athletic Department. Dr. Kaminier from UCONN Health Center will lead the adolescent brain and substance use risks discussion.

Please call to register if you will be able to attend this program.  (860) 844-5355.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Freshman orientation took place at GMHS today.  The class of 2017 is ready to begin!

If the return to school puts some added stressors on your family, remember we are starting our next Love and Logic parenting workshop on September 16th.  Registration forms are available on the Town of Granby website www.Granby-ct.gov.  This workshop is all about raising responsible kids and enjoying the process at the same time!  As a past participant I can tell you it is well worth your time to check it out.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Check out this link to an interesting article about school climate and our boys emotional needs!
School is starting before we know it!  I hope you have had a relaxing and enjoyable summer vacation...and if you are a typical working parent, I hope you have survived the stress of juggling a houseful of kids and work all summer long!

It is time to start getting the kids ready for the school schedule.  If they have been staying up late and sleeping in, begin to make some changes, a half hour at a time, getting them ready for the start of the school day.

If the summer does have you stressed out, or if the back to school transition has you pulling your hair out, consider signing up for our September Love and Logic parenting workshop.  This practical, fun workshop helps eliminate the power struggles and bring the joy back to being a parent.  Beginning Monday September 16th, the workshop meets once a week for seven weeks.  Parents who took part in last Spring's workshop gave it rave reviews.  Real life logical solutions that work to real life, common parenting issues.

Cost for the workshop is $30 plus an additional fee for on site babysitting.  Special needs children can be accommodated by our professional staff, just give me a call to discuss your child's' needs! (860) 844-5355

Registration forms are available on our website WWW.Granby-Ct.Gov under the Youth Services Department.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Schedules

Summer is here and the schedule at the Town of Granby Youth Service Bureau changes a bit!  I will be out of the office the first two weeks of July and again the week of August 5th.  The rest of the summer will see me working some early mornings with our Holcomb Farm Youth Work Study Program.  Tuesday through Thursday we will be at the farm by 7:00 AM!  Since I see many of my clients during the school day, and now there is no school, my office hours are shifting from daytime to late afternoon and early evening.  I will be in the office from 1 to 8 PM on Mondays; 4 to 7 PM on Wednesday and Thursday, and 1 to 5:45 on Friday.  GO! will run of Friday evenings from 6 to 7:30 as usual!

The rest of the counselors will be busy working around their own vacation schedules and the vacation and camp schedules of the clients they work with.  Be sure to confirm your schedule with your counselor to ensure that appointments are scheduled appropriately!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The count down to summer is really on!  Kid after kid has been complaining to me that it feels as if time has stopped, and the last day of school will never arrive.  Funny how my perspective is a wee bit different.  Time is rushing by, and I have my fingers crossed that everything that needs to get done will be done before the family packs up and heads off for a two week family reunion!

The YSB is wrapping up its' first Love and Logic parenting program, and WOW!  Was it a success!!!  We will be offering another class beginning in September.  This was so worth the time parents invested in the once a week six week class.  I know I have been using the methods to great success, and it lives up to its publicity, Love and Logic takes the stress out of parenting and brings back the fun!

The summer schedule here at the YSB is always a little crazy.  Regular office hours are a thing of the past (past school year that is).  We will continue to be busy in the late afternoon and early evenings with family counseling.  The counselors and clients figure out how to work around the vacation and camp schedules as best as they can.

Our programs take on a summer theme.  Kids Play You Stay will continue to meet on Wednesday mornings at Holcomb Farm.  With nicer weather on the way, some outdoor activities will be in the works.

GO! will meet beginning the third Friday of July.  The 6th and 7th grade (soon to be 7th and 8th graders) will be hanging out at Salmon Brook Park most Friday evenings.  We will have use of the pond with life guard, as well as the rest of the parks amenities.

The Holcomb Farm Work Study program is kicking off.  Our younger teens will be working on the farm from 7 AM to 12 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Piper Dumont is the program coordinator, and I will be giving her a hand as the teens develop the work skills and ethic that will help them obtain and keep future jobs.  Piper has added an after noon enrichment program that will meet form one to three on the days the work study program runs.  This is open to any teens who may be looking for a fun, interesting way to spend a few afternoons.  Check out the Holcomb Farm website for more information on registering for the youth Enrichment Program!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Parenting the Love and Logic Way

So many exciting things happening this Spring!  Teen nights for Middle Schoolers, Silent Auctions raising funds for the local Prevention Council, and we are launching our first Parenting the Love and Logic Way program.  This nationally recognized parenting program is used throughout the country and has helped thousands of parents work the kinks out of parenting styles to reduce conflict and increase the joy they find in raising children.  West Hartford offers this program to both its teachers as well as parents year after year to very positive reviews.

Our first 7 week class will begin on May 7th and run on Tuesday evenings until June 11th.  The group will meet from 6:30 to 8 PM here at the Town of Granby youth Service Bureau.  The program is free, however onsite babysitting will be provided for a small fee.

Space is limited to ten households, so please register quickly if you wish to attend.  The registration form is available on our website at www.granby-ct.gov.  Have questions?  Call me at (8600 844-5355

Check out the GPC Silent Auction!

On Saturday April 27th the Town of Granby Prevention Council will be hosting its first ever silent auction.  From local farm produce to Kindle packages, YMCA memberships to table wine the offerings are many and varied.  As you check out the auction items, entertainment will be provided by some talented high school musicians and snacks will be provided by the chefs from area high schools as they participate in an Iron Chef style cook off!

The fun starts at 5:00 PM at Holcomb Farm and will conclude at 8:00 PM.  Check out more on the auction items by liking the Granby Prevention Council's Face Book page.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Exciting news!  The YMCA is hosting it's first Teen Nite for ages 11 to 14 on Saturday April 27th.  This will be open to any youth in the area, membership at the YMCA is not required.  Check out our website www.Granby-ct.gov for a copy of the flyer.  It is listed on the Youth Services Department page.

Parents, drop your teen off at the Y and head over to Holcomb Farm and check out the GPC's first annual silent auction and Iron Chef competition.  Funds raised will support prevention programming within our community!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring is here, and it FINALLY feels like it!  The added sunshine has given me an energy boost, just in time to see GO! starting up for the combined Spring/Summer session.  GO! is a group for 6th and 7th grade boys, and our plan as always is to be out and about as much as possible.

This may we will use Holcomb Farm as out home base.  We have been given a challenge...haul enough rocks from the stream to build a fire pit.  If we can do it, our names will be engraved on a marker giving us credit for creating the fire pit.  How cool will it be for local groups to have a place for a safe campfire!

We will take a few hikes, and if the guys want, plan a bike tide.  When the weather turns warmer, it is off to Salmon Brook Park in late July and August.  We will have the pond to ourselves, as well as access to the stream, trails, and pavilions.

For more information or to find registration forms, check out the town website www.granby-ct.gov.  Click departments, then click Youth Services!