New Video about My New Children’s Book Release!

Hi everyone! I am excited to share my newest children’s middle grade book release with you all! I have been working on this book for a while now and am definitely proud of the results! “Creepy, Funny & Just Plain Weird: Stories and poems for kids” is goofy, funny and a little bit gross and creepy at times too! It is sure to appeal to kids, even reluctant readers! Make sure you check out my short vlog video about the new book:

If you would like to get a copy of this book for yourself or your kids, you can find the paperback version for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $6.99. There is also a Kindle ebook version available for $2.99! If you do read it or get it for your kids, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Goodreads or even just reaching out to tell me personally what you thought of it!

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Life Update: Jobs, Kids, Writing & Bernie Sanders!

 

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“YOLO” collage on paper by Maranda Russell

Hello everyone! I’m sorry that I’ve been neglecting my blog lately. I hope to start remedying that now. Here is a short list of some of the things that have been going on in my life recently, as well as some of the projects I am looking forward to beginning:

  • For the last 8 months I have been working part-time in an emergency room. During that time I have met some fascinating people, but I have also been witness to a great deal of human suffering. I have always been a sensitive, rather empathic person who feels things deeply and in that way, I feel that this job has affected me greatly. I will be leaving the position soon to pursue other opportunities, but I am grateful for the experience.
  • Recently I have begun to take on more freelance writing gigs, particularly in the field of children’s writing. I have found that one of my true passions is taking the visions of other authors and helping them create great stories for kids. I especially enjoy editing picture books or other types of literature for young readers. Mostly I have been getting clients through online sites, but I am open to offers from other clients, so if you have a children’s book that you would like help editing, feel free to contact me!
  • My husband and I are hoping to start doing respite for kids and young adults with disabilities soon. Ever since we stopped fostering kids, I have missed having children around to play with and care for. I can’t wait to get a chance to have a full house again, even if it is just for short periods of time.
  • My YouTube vlog, Maranda’s Toys & Books, has been growing quickly! Ever since I decided to focus the channel mostly on my nerdy love of toys, books and collectibles, it seems to have found its niche and an audience that is a lot of fun to interact with! For that reason, I will probably be sharing my more serious or personal posts here on my blog from now on.
  • Lastly, this is kind of random…but I’m really rooting for Bernie Sanders! Feel the Bern! Even if he doesn’t end up winning the presidential nomination, I am thankful to see so many younger people step up and show they care deeply about the fate of our country. I think what I love most about Bernie is that he is such a humble, down-to-earth politician. It is truly refreshing to see.

Drugs are Scary

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Recently, my husband and I went to a special class about street drug use among youth. The only reason we really went was to earn some of our foster parent educational credit hours, but I must say that the class turned out to be eye-opening and even frightening on many levels. I thought I already knew the basics about street drug use…but apparently there is ALOT I still had to learn.

Following are a few of the facts and statistics that were shared during the class that surprised or even shocked me. Read them over for yourself and decide if we as a country should be worried…

  • Of all young people who die from overdosing on drugs, 98% started with marijuana. (Guess that kind of ruins our society’s whole “marijuana is harmless” belief).
  • Studies show that the risk of a person having a heart attack in the first hour after smoking marijuana is 4 times more likely than their normal risk.
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the hardest to get and 10 being the easiest to get, getting crack cocaine in this area of Ohio is an 8 for a minor. (Although obviously this statistic would vary depending on where you live and other factors, it scares me that it is so easy for our youth to get hold of cocaine).
  • Ketamine, known on the streets as “Special K” is actually a tranquilizer for large animals. For this reason, many veterinary clinics and other animal handlers often become victims of theft and other crimes due to addicts pursuing their drug.
  • OxyContin, Morphine, Vicodin and Codeine are in the same family of drugs as Heroin. (No wonder these pain killers are so addictive)!
  • Heroin users often start out by abusing prescription drugs.
  • Approximately 1 in 6 meth labs EXPLODE! This is truly terrifying! And these are not small explosions!
  • People who abuse methamphetamines have less than a 5% chance of ever fully recovering.
  • The average age for someone who inhales chemicals to get high is 9-13. (If that is the average age, many kids must do it at even younger ages. We obviously need early intervention here.)

So did those facts worry you at least a little bit? They should. If you don’t already talk to your kids about the dangers of drug use of all kinds, please start talking. And always keep an eye out. Don’t be the parent that is in denial and doesn’t see a problem right before their eyes until it is too late.

To spank or not to spank – what kind of discipline actually works?

ErziehungsmethodeIt’s been awhile since I have written a blog post related to foster parenting, but something has been weighing heavily on my mind and I would like to share it and allow others to share their own thoughts on the subject. As a foster parent, it is absolutely forbidden to give a child any physical punishments. No spanking, no standing in the corner, no hard physical labor or military-type exercise. In fact, sometimes it feels like as a foster parent the only type of discipline left to use is privilege removal and time out.

Unfortunately, I find that most of the discipline options we are allowed to use don’t seem to actually work. It leaves me wondering, what if anything would work? I have heard some foster parents swear that if they could just spank the kids or make them do physical drills like they are in boot camp, that they could “fix” these kids. However, I’m not so sure about that. I have known regular kids who were spanked or raised with military-type parents and some of those kids still didn’t turn out well.

So what is the real answer? Unacceptable actions do certainly have to have some kind of consequence, but what kind? Even our foster childrens’ therapists and counselors seem stumped sometimes as to what will help. They often have us trying one behavior management program after another just to see them all fail. This also leaves me wondering if it helps to constantly be changing your gameplan when it comes to discipline, even if a certified therapist recommends it. Sometimes I start to get confused about what we are supposed to be doing because it gets changed so much…so imagine how the kids must feel!

So now I am asking all parents, whether foster, biological or otherwise…what have you found that actually works as discipline? What seems to be totally ineffective? Are you for or against spanking?

Release of new children’s short story, “Vinny & Violet, The Unwanted Kittens”

Vinny & Violet coverThis is just a quick post to let all my readers and fans know that I just published another short story ebook! This ebook, titled “Vinny & Violet, The Unwanted Kittens”, is a heartwarming tale about two abandoned kittens and the little girl who rescues them. The story quickly takes a serious turn when one of the kittens becomes extremely ill and has to fight for her life.

This ebook is best suited for independent readers age 7-11, but can also be enjoyed as a read aloud story. Not only is the book uplifting and inspiring, but it also teaches an important lesson about empathy and proper animal care. Animal lovers will definitely like this one! To purchase this ebook for only 99 cents, please visit the book’s Amazon page. If you and your child enjoy the story, please consider leaving a review on Amazon as well!

Book Review of “The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide”

Although I normally only review children’s books, I do occasionally make an exception for a book that I can really relate to, and I can definitely relate to “The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide” written by Carol Lozier, MSW.LCSW.

As a foster/potential adoptive parent myself, I can say that far too many resources written about the subject of adoption and foster care are clinical and boring. I have read many of these books in hopes of finding some useful, practical information about the issues I face daily working with troubled kids, but have often been disappointed. However, “The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide” did not disappoint in any way, in fact, I found it to be one of the best resources out there.

So what makes the book so great? First off, it is accessible and easy to use. As the introduction explains, the book is formatted with a magazine style that makes it easy for busy, stressed-out parents to browse through when they want a little inspiration or need information on a particular subject. I did read the book cover to cover, but there are parts of the book I marked and highlighted that I know I will likely return to again and again.

Secondly, the book is filled with advice and knowledge that real people can relate to while they are in the trenches fighting to help the traumatized children who have come into their lives. The part of the book on the various attachment styles was excellent, in fact, I wish it was required reading for every person who obtains a foster or adoption license. Far too many well-meaning people go into foster care and adoption with no real understanding of attachment issues. Without this crucial knowledge, it is nearly impossible to help traumatized children or create a healthy home life for the entire family.

Lastly, the book addresses issues that cause many foster or adoptive parents to burn out or even give up. Self-care is sometimes entirely left out of the equation when parents try to solve problems, but the truth is that if you don’t take good care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for others in a healthy way. If you continue to neglect your own physical, emotional and mental health, you are bound to add to the problems you and your family are facing instead of solving them.

Overall, this is a great book, one that I would whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who works with troubled children or wishes to do so. For more information about the book or to order a copy, please visit www.forever-families.com.

“Ode to Icky” featured on Storytime with Starfish!

If you have thought about buying my funny picture book “Ode to Icky”, but wanted to hear the story first, please feel free click on the following link and watch Storytime with Starfish read the entire book on youtube! I love how Natalie Starfish giggles throughout the reading, it is awesome to know that even adults find your book funny!

Even if you have no interest in buying the book, I still hope you will check out the video. I am most grateful to Storytime with Starfish for featuring my first published picture book, and would also encourage you all to check out her other videos. She reads some awesome books for children, both classics and creative new titles!

By the way, if you do want to purchase a copy of “Ode to Icky”, it is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and many other fine retailers! Or feel free to ask your local library to order it! Most libraries will order books if patrons request it 🙂