Archive for December, 2011

Fly Baby, Fly

“The Mom Stink” Heads South

Last month I wrote about my 16 year old daughter’s obsession with my smell…yes, I stink!  (Chances are, you stink too!)  I dubbed my scent “The Mom Stink”.

With the change of the new year, comes reflections of the past year and visions of what the new year will bring.  Said daughter is at the top of my thoughts right now as she, for the very first time, ventured out on her own, on a weeklong trip to Arizona, something that probably would’ve never happened even a couple of months ago. Packed in her overstuffed pullman was my pillowcase, unlaundered, pulled off of my pillow on the morning of her departure. Read More…

Only a few short years ago, my daughter suffered from a bout of insomnia.  Endless nights were spent in her bed.  My presence gave her comfort through the long dark hours, and here and there she’d catch a few light naps.  What a challenging time for us.

Then there were the numerous phone calls when I’d be out with my friends, at a meeting, or where ever I might be when bedtime was looming near.  “Mom, when are you going to be home?”  She really could not fall asleep with me tucking her in.

Sleepovers?  No way!

While she didn’t sleep in my bed at home, when out of town and overnight on vacation or weekend away at a friend’s or relative’s, I’d have to be her bed partner.  We  might have been separated when I’ve been out of town on a couple of occasions, yet those times where few, and of course, a long phone conversation each night ensued.  I guess I was her pacifier.  Key word…WAS.

That “WAS” was not so long ago.

Fast forward to today.  I finally talked to her on the phone.  My gosh, she left on Sunday,  Christmas Day.  We texted throughout the morning travel until she was safely received on the other end at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport by her cousin and uncle.  We spoke her first night exchanging our “I love you’s”, “Sleep well’s”, and “Have a good time”.  Then poof!  She became unreachable.

My texts pretty much went unresponded to (at least in the time frame I felt they should’ve).  She rarely ever does answer her phone, so it didn’t surprise me every time the call popped into voice mail.

I got a couple of updates and pictures via Facebook on Tuesday.  She looked like she was having a great time.  Late that night, I came home from a holiday light tour with my other three kids and a friend of mine, to find out that she did answer her dad’s call.  So I had to get the updates from my husband.  Well, of course, he didn’t have all of the details I needed.

Attempts to communicate live yesterday where unsuccessful, though she “liked” one of my Facebook comments on her wall.  That’s all I had.

Today, while at the Junie B. Jones play in Milwaukee, my phone (which I forgot to turn the volume down on) rang…there was my daughter’s face on my phone’s display.  Are you kidding me?  I had to hit “ignore” so my stupid phone wouldn’t reveal the idiot who forgot to heed the instruction given at the beginning of the performance.  Shortly, I saw it light up again.  There she was, “wearing my shoes” now.

Finally today, after the play, we talked.  She is having a great time shopping, enjoying the weather and the scenery, hanging out with her cousin’s friends and family out there…exactly what I had envisioned her doing.  Having fun.  Not needing me. Weaned.

It’s amazing how quickly she’s spread her wings and flew (without me).  Something I’ve wanted her to do for a long time.

Sleep well tonight, sweetheart…hope I still stink.


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Lost & Found

LOST by JAK’s Founder, Paula Herrmann
Oh geesh, I couldn’t believe what I watched, playing out online and in the news on Monday.  A toddler, 2 years old, found wandering in just a diaper less than a mile from my home Read More…
A benefit (sometimes a curse) to what I do, as I work, is stay signed into JAK’s Facebook and Twitter pages in an effort to keep abreast with what’s going on that is relevant to kids and families.  If I miss it, you might miss it.  Then I saw the play by play postings made by Racine Undercovered: the discovery of this under-clothed, unattended to, lost child.
Who could this baby belong to?  Where is his mom? his dad? his caregiver? ….the clock continues to tick.  Thank goodness for the woman who “saved” him and contacted the authorities.  I believe there were others that saw him, but didn’t respond.  No one seems to know who he is or who he belongs to, even with the door-to-door efforts by the police.  Within a few hours, the mom is identified.  You can read the story via the Racine Undercovered link above, or the Journal Times articles.
I am not a perfect mom and my intent is not to be judgmental.  At the same time, based on what the police report and articles describe, there are a few things to highlight, that most parents know: 1) Sleep when your kid(s) sleeps.  Of course, as adults we don’t need as many hours of slumber as our growing children do.  Yet, we don’t sleep when our kids, especially unattended young ones are up and around.  2) Don’t leave a bathtub full of water unattended to, especially with babies and toddlers around. 3) Don’t lie.  Especially to the police in the midst of them investigating you.  You’ll get caught (ie: she stated she was shopping online while computer logs don’t support that claim).  I know that doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.  She was online, why should it matter where?  Her apparent dishonesty diminished her credibility.   And finally, 4)  marijuana is illegal. Now, you’re busted and you’ve got a police record, multiple charges, an upcoming court hearing.  Worst of all, you’ve lost your son.
I don’t know this mom.  I know that she is young.  I am at least 20 years older than her and maybe some of what I know, including the items numbered above, comes with maturity and wisdom.  The situation, as it is reported, seemingly makes mommy and her ability to appropriately take care of her son questionable.
Now what?  Not sure if she made her $1000 cash bond.  Either way, she cannot have contact with her son. What happens to their Christmas?  To the little boy’s Christmas?  Sometimes, we don’t realize the consequences for our actions.  For this mom, sleeping and not being aware of what baby is up to (with a tub filled with water, a potential safety risk to the child); seemingly being less than truthful; possessing illegal drugs and paraphernalia; has resulted in her really loosing her child.  At least temporarily.  If she just would’ve been sleeping and baby slipped out the door, without the other junk stacked on top, would she be with him right now?  This is a commentary on how quickly events can unfold and the resulting life-changing consequences of our actions.
So what’s best for little guy? Christmas at home with his family? Or in the care of another family member, or possibly a stranger.  I don’t know….I am lost for an answer.
FOUND by JAK’s guest mom blogger from Union Grove, Kaia Beyer
“It’s guaranteed.  Every year, right before Christmas, we would get a call to take a baby.”  These are words my friend, Stephanie, a fellow foster mom, once said to me as I anxiously waited for our next placement.  It seems that even more kids come into an already over-loaded system around this time of year.  Imagine a little boy being taken out of his home, for whatever reason, and asked to wait in a large building while a bunch of people he has never met before try to figure out what to do with him.  Read More…How scary it must be to have no idea where he will sleep that night. I can’t explain it other then God made it clear to me that it was my family’s purpose to provide a home for the children that do not have one.

I became a stay-at-home mom nine years ago, after my second child was born.  My husband Joel and I have been married for eleven years, and currently have six kids: four birth, and two foster.   Things are usually pretty chaotic around here.  Someone asked me once, “But it’s ‘controlled’ chaos, right?”  Yeah… not so much.  Some days, I don’t feel like I have much control at all.  I know I can’t be the only mom who feels this way.  One of the hardest part of becoming a mom for me was to realize that each of these little people are their own person, and will make decisions that I have no control over whatsoever.  I’m learning (sometimes the hard way) that what I do have control over is how I will react to them and their choices.

Joel and I  knew we were done having children together after I gave birth to my fourth, but we also knew of the tremendous need for foster parents in Racine.  Four years ago, we decided to get licensed and “ease” into foster care through doing respite care for foster families who needed a break.  After getting licensed (a process which takes a few months), we were short-term respite providers a few times, but soon welcomed our first official placement- a sweet little girl.
I definitely wouldn’t say that being a foster parent is easy.  The atmosphere at home is usually pretty awkward when a new child first arrives.  Kids have come to us who were dirty from head to toe, smelly, and who obviously wanted nothing to do with us.  I have been sworn at by a two-year old.  It is usually not the “love at first sight” that you see in the movies.  It can be a hard adjustment.   And Yes, you do get attached.  I have fallen in love with each of the children that we have fostered, and have had my heart broken more then once.   Yet, God has pieced me back together, and shown me that there are still children who need us.  My kids have also been sad to see children leave. This being said, my kids amaze me by the compassion they have for others.  I have no doubt this compassion has been learned through our experience as a foster family.  I love how they are not uncomfortable talking to people who are different from themselves, or volunteering to help serve those in need.   The blessings we have received through our experience in foster care far outweigh the hardships.  I sometimes wonder why my life circumstances turned out so different than most of the children who come to us.  I believe God has blessed my family so that we are able to help those who need it most.
The greatest lesson I have learned through my experience as a foster mom, is that each and every day with our children is a gift.  We do not know how long we will have with any of them.  Although this time of year can be extremely stressful, try to not be too flustered that you forget how magical this time of year is through your child’s eyes.  How exciting is the morning after the first snowfall, when they can’t wait to get their snow suits and boots on and run and make a snow angel?  How sweet to watch a child put each piece of the nativity scene so carefully into place?   These are the things that matter.  Sometimes you have to just stop worrying about crossing everything off your to-do list, and instead, make some hot cocoa, sit down, and listen- really listen– to what your child has to say.   Cherish the time you have together.  Life is too short not to.
In addition to her responsibilities as a foster parent and stay-at-home mom, Kaia also the co-coordinator of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) of Grace Church.

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“Fa, La, La, La, La”

Happy Birthday, Christmas Baby!
by JAK’s guest mom blogger from Sturtevant, Sheri Gavin

I love being a mom.

One year has gone by. Not sure where the time has gone. I know that this is a common theme for all moms out there. I never knew how true that statement could be until I became a mom one year ago. I can’t believe she is already one. Over the last year I have learned I could love someone more than I could have ever dreamed. Read More…

Over the last few weeks, the first moments of my little girls’ life has played in my mind like a movie. The emotions I am feeling are just as fresh as they were one year ago. I find myself in a weepy mess a lot of the time. The day of her birthday was especially hard and wonderful at the same time. The moment she was born played like it truly was yesterday. I remember how excited and scared I was to bring her home.

Welcome, Christmas Baby!

Gavin Family 2010

Going back to work after maternity leave was so difficult. I wish I could have put her in my pocket and bring her along with me. I was so afraid I would miss everything, I haven’t. I am not saying I have been there for every first, but when I see it for the first time, it is the first time for the both of us together.

Every milestone that we have accomplished feels like winning the lottery, such as; sitting up, standing, crawling, stacking her ring toys and saying her first word (even if it wasn’t Mama). No, she is not walking yet, but I feel like I don’t want to push to make her walk.  This way, I can hang onto the baby just a bit longer because she will be walking any minute and then she will be a toddler.

Every day there is a new discovery. I love seeing things through her eyes, the things in our life that we over look everyday are fascinating to a 1 year old. I have learned to look at things with a new perspective.

Christmas Baby is 1!

Gavin Family 2011













I truly love being a mom – I was born to be a mom – I was born to be this amazing little girl’s mom.

Sheri is the Marketing Manager @ Apple Holler, Married, Full Time Mom

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Awww Nuts!

Living With Peanut Allergies
by JAK’s guest mom blogger from Kenosha, Melinda Munro

I love peanut butter. Slap it between some white bread with jelly or bananas, slather it on toast, dip apples in it, bake it in a cookie, and don’t forget the all holy peanut butter cup, I love the stuff! Or at least I used to. READ MORE…

My love affair with the creamy, goopy, salty sweet, American go-to ended when my son had his first allergic reaction after a tiny bite of a peanut butter sandwich.  He vomited and hives spread all over his body.  It took two days for the hives to completely go away. So I learned that my son, like an increasing number of young children around the country, has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts and tree nuts.

Since then, I’ve come to loathe peanuts and tree nuts, which seem to be EVERYWHERE. Most kid-oriented activities seem to include some form of treats with nuts, and there’s almost always a PB&J lurking nearby. A trip to Monkey Joe’s resulted in an outbreak of hives even though we didn’t see anyone eating anything with peanuts. Catching a flick at the movie theatre is risky if anyone near us is eating candy with nuts. There’s no chance of me taking him to a Brewers game with all of the peanut shells strewn about. And don’t get me started on the children’s museums that serve PB&J. For my son, his allergy means missing out on a lot of common childhood experiences and for me it means constant vigilance and planning to keep him safe.

I’ve learned there is no cure for food allergies; the only treatment is to avoid the allergens. If my son ingested a peanut or peanut product, or even a safe food that had been cross contaminated by coming in contact with a peanut or peanut product, his immune system would identify the food as an invader and attack it. The symptoms can range from a minor irritation like hives to anaphylaxis ; a sudden drop in blood pressure, breathing difficulty, vomiting, extreme facial swelling and in severe cases, death.

The best resource I’ve found to educate myself about food allergies has been other parents. There are many wonderful blogs and online food allergy websites where you can connect with other parents dealing with the same food allergy. But even with all of this information available, I still wanted to connect with someone locally who understands the challenges of raising a child with severe food allergies.

According to the nurse at my son’s school, our elementary has the highest number of children with food allergies in our school district. The nurse encouraged me to start a support group, but privacy issues make it difficult to reach out directly with these other parents. So I recently start a Facebook page to offer support for families with peanut and tree nut allergies called Kenosha Peanut Allergy Parents.

Our goal is to provide local support for people and families dealing with peanut allergies, and to form a community where issues regarding those allergies can be discussed. My wish is to reach as many families in the area as possible. I would love to have a mentoring system for parents who have just found out that their child has peanut allergies and also have parents at each school who can help answer questions and concerns for incoming students and their parents. Our group is still new and we rely on word of mouth to grow, so please pass along our FB page and email to anyone who may be interested.

You can connect with Kenosha Peanut Allergy Parents at or

Melinda Munro, of Kenosha,  is a stay-at-home mom of a 6 year old and 4 year old. Her son was diagnosed with food allergies shortly after his first birthday.

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“Oh My Word!”

“Word” is THE Word

“Mom, you sound like Julie”, is what my kids keep telling me. Is that where I picked it up?  Not sure, but it sure is sticking! Do you ever wonder where and why you start saying some catch phrase?  Well, Julie is my #3 daughter’s BFF, and I guess she must say “Oh my word” a lot.  Not even sure if I’ve consciously noticed it, but obviously I’ve picked up on it and now I just can’t stop!  Read More…
I guess I recall the repetitive exclamation start to get blurted out a month or two ago, and again, my kids were the ones that pointed it out to me.  So what did I used to say before I uttered “Oh my word!”?…I think that must’ve been “Oh my gosh!”
Now, of course, you must know that “Oh my gosh” replaced “Oh my God!” and what seems to be more socially accepted written “OMG”, which I consciously knew was wrong.  It was/is against my house rules to break the third commandment and misuse the name of God. Obviously, I am a Christian.
So don’t know how long the “OMW” will last.  I think about some of the other phrases in my lifetime that have come and gone:
  • That’s so RAD“…meant radical? cool?, I think.
  • Totally ________” fill in the blank.  Everything was totally whatever, not partially whatever.
  • Speaking of which…”Whatever!” was, and I guess still is a good response that I admittedly strategically use.  Here is how the online Urban Dictionary defines it: “Used in an argument to admit that you are wrong without admitting it so the argument is over.”  Yup, that still applies today!
  • Narly“:  Must’ve picked that one up from the surfer dudes.  Hmmm in Wisconsin?  Actually, I once again access the Urban Dictionary, and I “dig” their definition and correct spelling… “Gnarly, Dude“: “A phrase that non Southern Californians usually east coasters think is only something people say in the movies, when in fact we use it all the time…” That’s hilarious.
  • Grody” and “Grody to the max!“: Really, really gross! Max degree of grossness!
  • “Groovy” was a bit before my time, though, I did grow up with the Brady Bunch.
  • Bodacious“…a word that was never used to describe me!

Anyways (which is a word I use all of the time to note transition), it’s almost no fun to reminisce by myself.

Do you have a phrase that you use all of the time now?
Or something that you cannot believe you always say that sounds so stupid today? 
Fo shizzle you do…
Come on…spit it out!

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