Archive for August, 2011

Do U Playgroup?

Not Just 4 Kids 

The year was 1995…seven moms and their tots gather in the modest living room of a Racine north side home.  The hostess scrambles to clean up and make her house presentable for the once-a-week-on-Thursdays-at-9am event. It’s her week to provide the play space and snack spread for the lively 2 1/2 hour mess fest.  Another “Playgroup” is born!  …. Read More…

Not sure when the first of such social events took place, however, they are organized either formally or  informally for moms and preschool children to gather  for the purpose of play and companionship.  I was fortunate, as a new mom in more than one sense (1st baby and newcomer to Racine), to have linked up with two of such groups back in the mid nineties.

The first came together because this mom’s husband worked with this mom’s dad, and had a sister-in-law who was also a new mom, who knew of…and so on.   And the other one, was arranged through an organization called Racine Newcomers Club, which provided many social opportunities for women, moms or not.

Being new to the area, I quickly built a network of friends and acquaintances.  With the informal playgroup, comprised mostly of born and raised Racinians, I got to know Racine pretty fast…probably more info than I should’ve gotten to know, if you know what I mean!  My daughters (as #2 came along shortly thereafter) met their first friends, as did mommy.  With the RNC group, I got to help them know more about Racine and the area, sharing places and events I learned about from my other playgroup moms.  How fun was that?  I was already becoming a source of info for things to do, places to go with the family and kids (and moms only, too!)

So where are you at?  Are you a mom (or dad) with young children wanting to connect with other moms (or dads) to find friendships and support?  Here are a list of some formal/public opportunities to do just that:

Kenosha MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meets every 1st and 3rd Wednesday from (September – May) at  First Christian Church, located at 13022 Wilmot Road, Kenosha. Come to entrance F and you will be greeted and welcomed in!

MOPS of Grace Church meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday from 9-11:15a.m at Grace Church, 3626 Highway 31, in Racine.  They also meet September through May, starting on September 15th.  Next Thursday, on the first of September, they will be hosting a Drive-Thru Registration, from 9-11am at Grace.

Appleseeds Family Playgroup meets in Burlington throughout the year. The group meets at the CATHE Center gym, located at 125 East State Street,  on the first & third Fridays of each month from 9:30-11:00am during the Fall and Winter (October through March). During the warmer weather (April – September) the group will meet the first Thursday of every month at Riverside Park, 517 Congress Street (weather permitting).

Racine Family Club connects families of Racine and Kenosha Counties, as a membership-based social club for parents and young children.  According to their website, they currently offer 8 playgroups, with the intent to start new ones, as needed/requested. Click on their “playgoup” tab for details.

Racine Area Moms Meetup is an active membership group available to Racine, Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and neighboring community’s moms who would  like to get together, talk over coffee, and let the kids play.  The group welcomes moms of all kinds.  Join and meet up!

Kenosha Moms Network or KMN is a group for stay at home moms who live in Kenosha and the surrounding area. This is a group for moms who are serious about attending play dates to get out of their house and meet new friends.   Moms can join this group for $10 annual membership fee.

So, let’s address the dads, now.  Just Add Kids is organizing a group of dads on Facebook called JAK Dads. This is an  is an exclusive group of “Stay At Home Dads” (SAHD’s) or other dad’s (ie: divorced) who reside and raise their children in Racine, Kenosha, and the surrounding communities in SouthEastern Wisconsin and NorthEastern Illinois. This group was created for SAHD’s to connect, support, and socialize all for the benefit of their children.   A playgroup would be a great part of JAK Dads!  Any interested dads, can request to join the group on Facebook, or email contact@justaddkidsonline.net.

I can tell you from my experience in a playgroup, moms that play together, MAY stay together.  The Racine Newcomers Club has long disbanded. It’s been 16 years, since my other playgroup organized.  New moms and tots came and went for different reasons.  We weathered some tumultuous, dramatic times, though a core of  five of us moms (and tots) survived.  That core group experienced an additional 14 births, totaling 19 kids among us…one of which is now starting her senior year in high school.  Wow!

I can’t quite remember when we quit meeting as a “playgroup” on a weekly basis, mostly because our socializing did not.  Early on, we started scheduling in “mom’s nights out”, at the very least around each of our birthdays.  Then it became even more frequent than that, and the “guys” were brought into the fold with our annual couple’s Christmas dinner outing.  Finally, there were the trips, perhaps not all attended each : San Francisco, Orlando, Las Vegas, to name a few.  The playgroup, sans kids, was now dubbed “The Momtourage”.  As it is, “The Momtourage” gets together less frequently than ever.  With that said, when we do get together, we have some awesome stories….I’ll just leave it there.  Oh, the benefits of playgroup!

If you are part of, or know of a playgroup that is open for new participants, please post to the Just Add Kids Facebook page, or email contact@justaddkidsonline.net, so JAK can help connect groups to moms and their tots.

Have fun! Play nice!

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The Help

Helping Women, Helping Kids 

Living in a household of six people, you cannot imagine (unless you too have 6 or about that yourself, or have boys!) how much in consumables we go through each week…or should I say, daily!  Living frugally has been something we’ve been forced to embrace, though it’s evolved into a bit of an exciting challenge, if not something that has become socially hip.

The hoopla and growth of people jumping on the amazing deals bandwagon has churned out extreme couponers, grouponers, and even entrepreneurs, who have taken their lifestyle and passion and have created a business around it.  Enter Kenosha Coupon Queens…. Read More…

Personally, I’ve been following and/or liking quite a few bloggers and experts “in the know” on coupons and money-saving offers.  I am an email recipient of Daily Deals, Living Social, Groupon, almost-more-than-I-can-handle, advertised deals.  Recently, I ran across a new blog called “Kenosha Coupon Queens” which was launched just a couple of months ago by two local moms.  Obviously, I love their concept: “A blog dedicated to helping local moms find the best deals in the Kenosha area, whether it be at the drugstore or local businesses”.   Even more, I admire their mission to incorporate community service projects into their business activities in an effort to “pay it forward”.

A couple of weeks back, they announced their first of such projects, a “StockPile Drive” benefiting the shelter Women and Children’s Horizons, Inc.  In addition to offering free and confidential advocacy services for victims/survivors of sexual abuse and their loved ones, WCH also provides:

     -24-hour crisis line
     -24-hour advocate response to hospitals
     -Legal advocacy and restraining order and law enforcement agencies
     -Food, clothing, and household good pantries
     -Referrals to community resources
     -Sexual assault support groups
     -24-hour emergency shelter for women & children
I am thrilled to share with you that Just Add Kids has joined Kenosha Coupon Queens with this important initiative.

So here’s the deal, JAK peeps:

A contact at the shelter said, “Our special needs are diapers for larger babies; we get a lot of the newborn size; and feminine hygiene products,  We accept hotel size toiletries also and have baskets in our lobby to give these away and include bags of them in with the food boxes for our clients in need. 
Our thrift store the Nifty Thrifty at 3812 Roosevelt accepts donations of clothing and household items. These are sorted with some going to the shelter clothing room and the remainder put up for sale to support the agency. Our clients receive vouchers to shop the store for items they may need and also can access the shelter clothing room as needed. Spreading the word about our store is also a great help! We need shoppers and donors both!”

Take into account the above, and bring to the “StockPile Drive” perishable/non-perishable food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, paper goods, etc.

For a full list of their needs, please click here: Donate to WCH

Here is the rest of the important info you need:

      WHAT:   “StockPile Drive” benefiting Women and Children’s Horizon

     WHEN:     Saturday, August 27th, 8am – 12pm

     WHERE:  4404 52nd Street, Kenosha (Former WalMart parking lot)

     WHY:        Because you have a heart to help out women and children victims of domestic and sexual violence, beneficiaries of the needed shelter, services, support and items provided by Women and Children’s Horizons.

http://www.kenoshacouponqueens.com
http://www.JustAddKidsOnline.net

  

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Why?

Pray for Emily Maki

Done. Myself and a large number her friends, family, neighbors, teachers, and strangers answered to the Facebook call that came out on Tuesday morning.

I know you, like me, sometimes feel helpless when you know or just know of someone, or a family that is stricken with a life threatening crisis.

I didn’t know Emily Maki, a 14 year old girl who died early Wednesday as a result of complications from Juvenile Diabetes, though our paths just recently crossed. Read More

Last week, my 9 year old daughter was over at her friend’s house playing,  just on the other end of our subdivision.  While there, her friend’s mom, who is my friend, gave me a call.  Her next door neighbor had stopped over wanting to see if her daughter (and now seeing my daughter over there, extended the invite) would want to participate in some fundraiser over at the Jazzercise center.  My friend handed the phone over to her neighbor, so she could talk to me about it.  That neighbor is Terrie Maki.

I had never met her before, though we had a nice light conversation, after all, both of us are Finnish.  We chatted about family names and saunas.  She was to email the info over to me, so I could promote it with Just Add Kids.

That email arrived early Monday morning, a bit later than we both planned, though she indicated she had been busy with a shower she was involved with over the weekend.  So I proceed to promote it on Facebook and Twitter on Monday, the day of the event.

My daughter got picked up to go and participate in Jazzercise for a Cure.  Upon their departure from the event, my friend phoned me to tell me the event had wrapped up and she was on her way home.  She and I pretty much chatted her entire commute from the Jazzercise center to my driveway.  She explained to me that her neighbor wasn’t there;  that her neighbor’s daughter was flown from All Saint’s on Spring Street to Children’s Hospital via Flight for Life.  Oh, that’s why your neighbor is involved with this fundraiser for Juvenile Diabetes.  There was the connection.  Hmm….I hope everything is okay, I remember thinking.

The next morning I fire up my computer and get on Facebook.  Almost immediately, I see that some of JAK’s Facebook friends like this page “Pray for Emily Maki”.  Oh, that must be her name…Emily.  I proceed to check out the page.  Oh dear.  I call my friend.  The situation is not good.

Little did I know another friend of mine is at Children’s with her daughter, a best friend of Emily’s.  The situation, again, not good…looking worse.

While I don’t know this family, suddenly my day is consumed with this horrible turn of events.  My heart is so heavy with grief for a mom who just a day earlier, was starting out her week, promoting an event to eradicate the very disease that perhaps, combined with a stroke, has got her daughter hanging by a thread on life support.  What can I do?  Well, of course, pray.

No, there’s more.  I know what I can do….I can continue to move forward with promoting the very event that Emily’s mother commissioned me to do.  Emily may have lost her battle with Juvenile Diabetes, at the same time, this tragic early end highlights the need for continuing the research to help find a cure.

If you knew her, know her family;  or didn’t know her, but may have been touched by the outpour of love and support that rallied around her; or just have a giving heart…would you consider donating to the fundraiser Jazzercise for a Cure that her mom was helping to organize, that she wasn’t able to attend?

Here is the link:

http://jdrfevents.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.eventDetails&eventID=1095

A heartfelt thanks!  Donations are being accepted through the end of the month.

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Mommy’s Home!

Giving It All, To Have It All

Hello to all of the readers of Just Add Kids e-newsletter and JAK Chat!  My name is Andrea Pierce and I am a mom of a 20-month old beautiful daughter, Ella Rose, and a 4-month old happy baby boy, Gavin William.  And I am asking the question can you really have it all?

Today my business card says “Assistant Vice President” and as of Friday August 5th,  I will be giving that all up to stay home with my precious children.  While I gave notice more than three weeks ago, this week, more then ever, I am questioning myself…”is this the right thing to do?”

I worked really hard to get to where I am in my career.  But then,  I get home from a long day of work and my daughter runs to me saying “Mama Mama”, gives me a huge hug…Boy Boy (Gavin’s nic name) just looks at me with a huge smile within his big blue eyes following me around the room til I pick him up and then….fresh air!…..It is like no other feeling in the world!

Having it all is in the eye of the beholder. It changes as you move on in your journey of life.   As of right now, having it all to me is going to be able to be a stay at home mom for the time being.  And who says I have to stay at home? There are so many things I have wanted to do in my life that I can.

As of next week I have 40 more hours free to raise my   babies, mold them while they are young, and do the things I have been wanting and now I get to do with my babies.  So I started a running club, a book, season 1 Dexter, family from California in town next week, 2 trips to the State Fair planned……I really do have it all! I can do anything!  I am even nursing while I write this!

 

Time to peel off the business suit for at least the time being, and slip into the comfy mommy suit, whatever that is!  I’ll be sure to touch base with you all and let you know how it is going, okay?!

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