Archive for November, 2010

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

November Warm Up: Bank Mutual Coat Drive

If you missed donating to Condella’s Coats for Kids, or any other organized coat donation drive, don’t panic!  But, don’t delay either!

For the second year, Bank Mutual is taking coat donations to benefit the residents of Bethany Apartments, at both of their Racine branches: 3039 S.Green Bay Road (near Regency Mall) and 5133 Douglas Avenue, near K-mart and Pick N Save on the north side.  Bethany Apartments is a battered women’s and children’s center. Please drop your coats off before the end of this week! Bethany Apartment’s website is

Additionally, Downtown Racine merchants are conducting a Toy Drive that is being kicked off this Friday evening, December 3rd, in conjunction with Downtown Racine First Friday event.  Merchants are accepting donations of new and gently used toys and books for children with unfair life challenges.

Collections will then continue through Downtown’s Holiday Open House on December 11th.  Donated toys and books can be dropped off at Copacetic, 409 Main Street and Molly MaGruder, 330 Main Street.

If your organization is in the midst of or has plans for a future philanthropic activity that benefits area families with children.  Don’t keep it a secret!   Use JAK to get the word out to those families that can contribute to or benefit from the cause.  We’ll help with a posting in this blog, listing a specific event in  JAK Happenings weekly e-newsletter, and/or shout outs on the  Just Add Kids Facebook and Twitter social network sites.



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I Feel Blessed, Thank You

The Story of Glen Snow

It was Easter Day 2007 and I was as yellow as an Easter egg. No, I am not messed up here with my holidays, you’ll see where I am going with this!  Please keep reading…

I was ripe for gall bladder issues. Victims many times have these 4 F’s in common: forty/ies, female, fertile, fat.  (See what you have to look forward to, young mommas?  It’s quite common.)

After a weekend of vomiting and lying on the couch, my husband drove me to the urgent care clinic and quickly I was being processed “STAT”.  It was a crazy series of events as I was admitted on Monday and released on Thursday, with a laparoscopic surgery procedure.  Typically, you are released within a day.  I had no idea that the challenges I was dealing with while in the hospital would pale in comparison to the issues I would experience post op with my health insurance coverage. Read more.

Unbeknownst to me, the contract between this large health care provider and my employer’s insurance had changed.  It was a modification that occurred with organizational changes, combine some incredibly bad timing, and somehow I flew under the radar for being communicated to.  These changes went into affect five days before my surgery and even hospital admission had not been red flagged when my insurance was verified.

Bottom line is, most of the bills ended up being “out of network” and I racked up quite the hefty bill.   A bill that equals some full-time employed peoples’ annual income.  My responsibility.  Great.

What could be the worst of circumstances, now ends up being a no interest monthly payment to pay off my debt.  Still not a great situation.  Enter: Glen Snow.  Glen Snow is the representative assigned to my account.  As offered, I agreed that he should call me monthly and we’d do a payment over the phone.

So every month, Glen gives me a jingle.  “Hi Ms. Herrmann, how are you doing today?” And I respond with my answer, which of course is always more than one word. (blah, blah, blah…) “How are you, Glen?” I’ll ask back.  His response is always “I feel blessed, thank you”.  Sometimes the conversation is short and sweet business.  However, most of the time, we briefly talk about whatever.  Glen knows about my job loss, Just Add Kids, tidbits about my family.  It never gets too personal, yet the conversation is always very personable and professional.

As I was thinking about Thanksgiving, and what grateful topic to write about in this commentary/blog, who would’ve thought my monthly chat with the debt collector seemed appropriate. I feel blessed to have been placed with the pleasant, positive, warm person named Glen Snow on the other end of the phone line.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving Glen and everyone!

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Silly Banned

The Rubber Obsession

I think my 6 year old son was the first in his class to be told he can no longer wear his silly bands or Silly Bandz (not sure if they are the real thing, or imitation, who really cares?!) to school.  That was already back on September 2nd, his second day of first grade.  That started it’s own trend, the full blown ban of those rubbery. colorful, object-shaped bracelets in his classroom.  Perhaps we’ll see the full school ban in the future, or has the fad run it’s course?

If you’re a pair of dad entrepreneurs, you hope not!  They recently jumped on the Silly Bandz craze and brought to market The Original Silly Stand, designed to do what else, but keep those crazy rubber bands organized. In my house, I think we need a Silly Bandz detector.

I swear, we must have a over 100, but who even knows where they are (although I dedicated a container for each of my younger silly band wearers).  The funny thing is, my kids aren’t wearing them anymore. So back to my question…“Has the Silly Bandz craze come and gone already?” Read more.

A few hints to think that the fashion wave that started in the southeast back in early 2009 and exploded onto the scene here in southeastern Wisconsin this past spring has run it’s course:

-Look at kids’ wrists:  those kids that were wearing them, either can’t wear them anymore (as they’ve been banned), bands are lost and broken, or they’re just “over” them.

-If you google “Silly Bandz“, you see the chatter about them has diminished greatly, watching the trend move from the southeast to the west.  However, the outlets selling them have increased.  (Maybe too much a little too late?  We’ll see those bags at $4.99 dumped into clearance bins soon, if not already.)

Not wanting to seem pessimistic about them in the least!  I actually think they are fun, cute, and best of all…cheap.  My kids had a great time with exchanging one shape/color for another with each other and their friends.  On top of that, one of the top blogs (about Silly Bandz, and other rubber bracelets) was created and being run by an 8 year old girl. Such a expert in her Silly Bandz field that she is cited in many news sources including CNN.  This enterprising young girl has even designed some bands that are being sold by one of her website’s advertisers. And for her, I hope the trend continues.  Although something tells me, her future is bright, Silly Bandz or not!

I’ve seen fashion accessory and toy trends come in go in my lifetime. I really wouldn’t mind seeing this one hang on for a bit longer, because here comes an obsession in my household that is attached to a much larger price tag….American Girl dolls. (…and more dolls and more dolls, accessories, accessories, accessories). This interest too, will come to pass.  I know.  Been there, done that.  I can’t wait to tell you this story.  Another time.

(read “Wrist vs. Risque” entry, more on rubber bracelet trends)

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Wrist vs. Risque

The Case of the Scandalous Bracelet (from JAK Happenings 08.12.2010)

I love a great trend like anyone else. Some say as a young woman, I was a bit of a trendsetter. In the eighties, I was a huge Madonna fan and dunned the black lace hair bow in my blondish/brown awesomely ratted out hair. Along with that iconic accessory were the couple dozen black rubber bracelets mixed in with some other fun chains and charms on my forearms. Okay, so I didn’t start the trend, but I wore it well (as I am sure did many of you)!

We’ve all been active witnesses to the evolution of the rubber, now silicone bracelet crazes in our lifetimes. The black rubber version transformed into a colorful variety known as “jelly bracelets”. And now, of course, our kids have Silly Bandz.

Several weeks back, my 15 year-old daughter walked in the door from a trip to the mall with her hands full of several shopping bags. I was excited to see what she had purchased with, I am sure, her entire previous month’s earnings (picking weeds for grandpa). After scanning the number of bags and the stores they were from, my attention immediately went to the bracelet she was wearing…one of her new purchases. A thick white silicone band, with red bold writing…”I (heart) boobies”. What the heck? My daughter loves boobies. Ok.

Out and about this summer, I’ve now see many teenage boys wearing the “I (heart) boobies” bracelets. Several at a time, in fact, in a variety of color combinations. Really? These teenage boys love boobies and they are letting everyone know about it.

My daughter said that by purchasing the bracelet she is “supporting breast cancer”. I corrected her…”darling, it’s breast cancer awareness” (of some odd sort). Was there something wrong with the pink Susan G. Komen for the cure “Imagine life without breast cancer” ones?

Looking at the organization that markets and sells this bracelet, The Keep-A-Breast Foundation, their mission and message is targeted to young people. While I believe their foundation supports a great cause, I am concerned that there are a whole lotsa teens (not all, but probably the majority), who purchased and are wearing the bracelet with the wrong intent.

I am mixed about this. On the one hand, I see some very clever marketing, uniquely raising funds to help eradicate this awful cancer. On the other hand, I think it’s a distractive novelty for some kids.

As for my own daughter, since she is displaying and vocalizing her support for breast cancer awareness with this bracelet, I have told her, she needs to extend that by doing some leg work (volunteering) to advance the cause. Do you have any local ideas for us? Please email me.

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JAK Gives Birth!

It’s A Blog!

If you’ve been a JAK Happenings subscriber for some time, you’re probably used to the format of this weekly email:
big JAK logo at the top, partner banner ad, this commentary section, little index box, more fantastic partner ads, then the meat of the message…JAK Happenings calendar picks, finally some closing comments.

I’ve made excuses for my lack of editorial correctness, as I do not claim to be a writer. Just a mom who has got a lot on my mind, hoping that you don’t mind listening to what’s going on in this 40 something’s head (and house). Apparently, many of you don’t! In fact, this commentary section gets strong response in terms of how many of you click thru to Read more. I’ve had great feedback on some hot topics and much to my surprise, a lot of compliments.

So here goes…Just Add Kids newest family member is JAKChat. It’ll be a way to archive the commentary section of JAK Happenings email every week, so if you care to, you can read it, share it, comment, whatever. In fact, I’ll post the “best of”, so that if some of you new subscribers want to see what I’ve ranted about in the past, including “Let’s Kick Some….” (Is a** a swear word?), and “Wrist vs. Risque Fashion” (I Heart Boobies bracelet), you may. If some relevant current event pops up during the week, I’ll probably add to JAKChat.

Note: to sign up for JAK Happenings weekly e-newsletter, go to the calendar page of the website at

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Happy Hour

1am on Saturday

Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that we were splashing around in the pool, soaking up the summer sun?  Time flies. And quite honestly, I just hate it.

I do find autumn to be a pleasant time of the year, especially when it’s sunny and hovering in the 60’s.  The change of colors is absolutely stunning.  There is so much to do…soccer practice and games, football games, pick and carve pumpkins,  trips to the pumpkin farm, costume creating, Trick or Treat.  Just as the end of the October, the climax, nears…it all turns south.  Grey, cloudy, windy, rainy. gloomy.  (I pretty much described today).

In the midst of the temperature downturn and the thermostat crank up, comes the little gift of time that means so much to me, it’s almost ridiculous

When I was a young lady, the end of Daylight Savings Time for me was awesome.   I could start my Saturday evening with Happy Hour and wrap up the night (rather morning) with an hour later bar time.  Whoot  whoot*!

As a mother, with a pretty consistent 6 hour of sleep body clock, it means I can leisurely wake up on Sunday morning, chill on the couch and actually read the newspaper or watch some morning television.  Definitely awesome!  Not a rush for church, as usual, even though I know we’ll still be late.  Doesn’t seem like much, but when you break it down it’s 3600 seconds!

As I wrap up this commentary, and look forward to the task of putting together the rest of this weekly newsletter, I certainly could use that extra 3600 seconds right now.  The clock is ticking, got another (happy) hour ahead of me.  Cheers!

*a word used by common white folks to proclaim excitment. (

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