Archive for March, 2012

JAK ‘n Blue

Turn the Town Blue

There are so many campaigns, fundraisers, and events that are awesomely relevant in my personal life and your lives too, yet there is one common denominator that binds us JAK people together, and that’s our interest in the health and well-being of children.  Our own children and our community’ s children.

Nothing was more heart-wrenching than the recent report of the Madison 15 year old girl that was held captive, repeatedly raped, denied food and access to normal hygiene practices right in her own family’s home, rather basement. Thanks, stepmonster and dad.  Read More

I am a strong proponent of eradicating child abuse and neglect!  And this story is so horrific that I felt the time is more than appropriate for me to take a public stand and join in the campaign in a bigger way than ever.  So I am going to use Just Add Kids’ platforms to take a stand by turning blue in support of Kenosha County’s Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Campaign “Turn the Town Blue” which is a collaborative effort being spearheaded by many county services agencies and organizations.

You can participate too by checking out our website’s Happenings page.  There, by the blue ribbon, you can download a template for a ribbon that you/your kids can color blue and talk about the subject.

Just Add Kids’ Facebook page has created a JAK ‘n Blue for “Turn the Town Blue” event page.  There you can participate by copying and downloading the blue ribbon icon and post as your own Facebook profile pic.  Yes, even you Racine peeps can participate!

Throughout the month, I’ll be sharing info that will help to protect children, strengthen families and the community as a whole, (we hope!), starting with the info I received from Prevention Services Network (PSN) Family Resource Center.

Five Protective Factors that  Strengthen Families and Protect Children

 1 –Nurturing and Attachment

Children’s early experiences of being nurtured and developing positive bonds with adult caregivers have a profound effect on their ability to grow up to be emotionally and socially competent.  When children and parents have a close, trusting relationship, the children grow up believing they will be loved, accepted and protected.  These children are better prepared for life.

2 – Knowledge of child development and parenting

Parents with knowledge about parenting and their own child’s development have more appropriate expectations and use more developmentally appropriate guidance techniques. Parents who understand how children grow and develop can set up an appropriate environment for them to flourish. 

3 – Concrete support in times of need

There are factors outside the family unit that affect the family’s ability to care for their children.  Families need food, shelter, clothing, transportation, access to affordable health care, and quality child care to parent appropriately.  Some families need help finding resources to address issues of addiction or domestic violence.  Helping connect families to needed resources reduces stress and helps parents cope.

4 – Social connections

Whenever a family is isolated from family or community, the children are more at risk. Trusted family members and caring friends provide the emotional support parents need to face the challenges of parenting.  Parents also learn coping skills and experiences different parenting styles through interactions with other parents.  All parents need help sometimes. 

5 – Parent Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficulties. Resilient parents are able to recognize and acknowledge difficulties while maintaining a positive attitude.  They can creatively solve problems, and effectively address challenges. When parents are resilient, they are less likely to take their frustrations out on their children.

The information in this handout came from a publication called, “Strengthening Families and Communities,” by the Department of Health & Human Services.  Visit the website at

For more information and resources about building strong families visit the Prevention Services Network (PSN) Family Resource Center located at the Kenosha County Human Services Building, 8600 Sheridan Road, Kenosha, WI 53143.  PSN open hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00PM to 4:00PM.  You may also receive a free monthly PSN newsletter by calling Kathy Burns, PSN Outreach Specialist, at 262-697-4628 or via email at

Also, don’t forget to attend the “Celebrate Families” event on Friday, March 30th at the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha (1330 52nd Street) which kicks off the month long “Turn the Town Blue” campaign.
4:00-5:00 Ceremony
5:00-6:30 Celebrate Families Activities
• Performance by the Boys & Girls Club Singers
• Great community resources
• Create your own “Tool Kit” for strong families
• Slogan contest winner revealed



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Pee U!

JAK, The Fragrance

Oh my gosh, I am SO kidding.  Yet, I wonder, why not!?  I haven’t looked into the truth about this, yet besides Madonna, I’ve heard that the Pope is also coming out with a new signature fragrance*.  Please understand I have nothing against the Pope, but oh puleez! Read More…

In a previous life, I worked in the cosmetic/fragrance industry.  The companies would have these fabulous launch events when new fragrances were introduced.  They were special, there were maybe one to two major introductions per season.  These days, in my opinion, new fragrances are a dime a dozen.  I am so not impressed, especially when celebrities come out with a fragrance line.  I take exception with Elizabeth Taylor, who introduced the classic White Diamonds that has remained one of the top 10 best selling fragrances for more than a decade.  Most others I see are cashing in on their short-lived fame…it’s their right.  So yeah, maybe…JAK The Fragrance!

Now that I’ve (hopefully) got your attention, I want to switch gears and take a moment educate you on Just Add KidsJAK U, if you will.  With rapid growth here in terms of numbers of new subscribers, visitors to the website, friends and followers on our social networking sites and VERY exciting month ahead, class is now in session:

First of all, Just Add Kids is many times referred to as it’s acronym JAK (I’m sure you got that by now). The Just Add Kids business provides resources that are quickly and easily accessible for families looking primarily for kid-oriented, family-friendly activities and events. JAK currently focuses on serving those in Racine, Kenosha and the surrounding communities with children ages pre-born through 18.

At this time, JAK’s product offerings consist of:
e-newsletters: weekly JAK Happenings, monthly JAK Birthday Bash, seasonal CAMP JAK, Advertiser emails
social network sites: JAK on Facebook, and JAK on Twitter and JAK on Pinterest.
blog: JAKChat
special events: Just Add Kids Expo 2012

As mentioned earlier, the coming month  is full of excitement at Just Add Kids.  Here’s JAK‘s April syllabus:

Just Add Kids’ “Color Mom Beautiful” Annual Kid’s Coloring Contest sponsored by Educator’s Credit Union and Timber Ridge Lodge will run April 1st through May 17th with promotion online and at special events.

“Turn the Town Blue” (Kenosha) a collaborative community campaign bringing awareness to the issue of child abuse and neglect teaching things people can do to prevent it.  Just Add Kids media campaign to begin week of March 25th including kick-off participation in Celebrate Families Event at the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha on Friday, March 30thTurn the Town Blue is taking place in conjunction with National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.

“Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue” World Autism Awareness Day April 2nd campaign participant and supporter.

Just Add Kids EXPO, Saturday, April 21st sponsored by Racine Unified School District and Merchant’s Moving & Storage.  Five hours of family fun, the Just Add Kids EXPO is a FREE admission event offering numerous kid-oriented, family-friendly organizations, live stage performances and presentations, meet ‘n greet with local dignitaries, characters and mascots and prizes drawings.

“Minute To Wish It” event Sunday, April 22nd benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin® is sponsored by Just Add Kids, Racine Family YMCA and the Racine Area Soccer Association.  This unique 2nd annual family competition is inspired and produced by Mollie Bartelt, a Creative Memories Unit Leader and her team of fellow consultants. The event is being held at the Racine Family YMCA.

YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day Just Add Kids is participating in the nation’s largest health day for families being celebrated at the Racine Family YMCA on Saturday, April 28th 2012. The event will feature activities such as Family Games, Pool Games, Gymnastics, a Taste of Summer Day Camp, and a mini-health fair.

So, will you get an “A”?  JAK doesn’t claim to be a teacher, or a writer!  Just a bundle of tied together resources that puts family fun at your fingertips.

*Let’s get back to the Pope… the story is that Pope Benedict XVI’s eau de cologne will not be gracing shelves, as it is just for him.  Now that, I can buy in to!

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Pampers Aren’t Just for Babies

The New “Ninety Percent” You
sponsored by Nailed It!

I started my family very young; I was married just out of high school, and my oldest child was born before I could drink alcohol legally.  My second child quickly followed the first, and the next thing I knew, I could recite the words to every song ever sung by a big purple dinosaur before I was old enough to earn a college diploma, had I been inclined to actually go to college.

When my two oldest were still in diapers, I rarely left the house. We didn’t have much money, and taking my two toddlers anywhere was an exercise in exhaustion.  Just thinking about fumbling with diaper bags, car seats, and strollers was enough to make me yearn for a nap, so most excursions into the big, wide world ended in the planning stages. Then there was the total lack of time for myself.  Any parent of a young child knows that it’s impossible to use the bathroom without an audience; it takes special ops skills on par with Seal Team Six to be able to sneak away for a moment of peace and tranquility.

Looking back now, a lot older and just a teensy bit wiser, I realize how much undue stress I was putting on myself. I focused everything I had into raising my kids, and nothing into taking care of my needs.  This led to depression, and at times resentment towards my family. Especially when my friends would regale me with tales of parties they had attended in their little black dresses, while I realized I’d had a Cheerio stuck in my hair for at least eight hours.

Yet if I could go back and do it all again, I’d still be that stay-at-home mom, I’d still skip the dinner parties for Disney movies with my little ones, and I’d still choose blue jeans over little black dresses.  What I would do differently is take some time out for myself.  I’d give my kids ninety percent instead of one hundred, and provide a better version of the mom they knew in return.

Let’s face it, our general attitude towards others comes from how we feel about ourselves, and that old adage is true; if you look good, you feel good. So it stands to reason that if you take some time to shower, do your hair, and put on a little make-up, you’re going to feel as good as you look.  When you feel good, you can face the day with a better outlook, and be a better parent.  You don’t need to give your kids your everything, and you’re not doing them any favors by sacrificing yourself to the point of burnout.  So take some time out of the day to treat yourself, and give your family a better you!

Give yourself a spa skin treatment at home.  Set your kids up with a movie or activity to occupy them, and then arrange for your spouse, significant other, older child, or a sitter to keep an eye on them for an hour. When they’re all settled in, LOCK yourself in the bathroom! Light a few scented tea lights to set the mood, and provide relaxing aromatherapy.  Take a spoonful of brown sugar and dampen it with a little olive oil for a homemade sugar scrub to exfoliate dry and dead skin. Rub it into heels, elbows, and/or callused hands until the sugar dissolves, then rinse the residue away. Once the dead skin has been sloughed away, a heavy lotion or body butter and hot, moist towels create a nice hydrating treatment for those problem areas.  Brush the butter on thickly, and wrap with warm towels for five to ten minutes.  You’ll feel relaxed, refreshed, and your skin will thank you!

Sometimes you need to step away for a little while though, talk to other grownups, and be pampered instead of pampering yourself.  When those times come, please consider stopping at Nailed It.  We offer spa services at reasonable prices, and we see the whole you, not just your hands and feet.  If you’re confident, you are beautiful, and our goal is to make you feel fabulous inside and out!

Anne Schlegel is a married, mother of four, Nail Technician and Owner of Nailed It!

Nailed It! is located at  3122 Washington Avenue, Racine, WI 53405
Phone number is: 262-633-1555

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Once Upon A Time

When Dreams Come True…

Do you ever wonder why your kids hate to read or hate doing their homework?  Is it because it is too difficult or just boring?  Motivating children is what I do.  Seeing their success is why I do it!  I have been a speech language therapist for over 20 years.  When I say that I love working with children, believe me it is not the floor pounding tantrums or snot smearing hugs that beacon me to return work the next day.  Read More… It is the joy of success that a smile, hug or high five reflects when a child accomplishes a skill that seemed like a mountain to them.  Knowing that I was part of the process, the pulling, the pushing, the cheering and the guiding up the mountain to success is what drives me to work with children.  Yes, I want to start singing “ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”.  Reading is one of those mountains for a lot of children.  The mountain that is too difficult to climb alone.

Reading is supposed to be fun.  Reading can be fun, inspire dreams and promote success.  I used to dream about becoming Nancy Drew and I remember my oldest two daughter’s relating to Junie B. Jones!  Then my 2nd grader wanted to read Harry Potter.  Now, my 3 year old can’t get enough of Barnyard Dance as we spin and spin and spin…..  The latest studies show that reading something that is individually interesting will influence how well a child reads and understands.  It is also an excellent predictor of educational success.

For years, I have taught children to read as part of speech language therapy.  Tears turn into smiles with the sound of a word said by a child.  This was my inspiration for opening Mrs. Myers’ Reading Room.  The confidence of a smiling child, the puffed up proud gaze their parent drove my passion for teaching all children the joy of reading.  I teach children, all children, not just the ones that are struggling, the dream-making confidence and successful reading.

When a child is allowed to choose their topic or book, they are motivated to read and read more about the topic.    If reading is effortless (or seems to be)  then homework becomes easier and reading for fun is actually fun.  So then how do we go about teaching our children to love reading.  I believe that there are some basic steps that we can all follow to positively influence our children to read and guide them to love reading.

  • Read out loud.  Read everything.  Yes, of course books, but also labels of your child’s favorite foods and toys.  Read the directions to their games and the recipe while making cookies.  Encourage your child to read with you.  You will probably not be able to stop them when involves a game or a cookie.  Let them hear you read EVERYTHING!
  • Make it fun.  Silly games with sounds, words and rhymes make words interesting and increase your child’s curiosity about language.  Taking real words and making up nonsense words such as “cup” and changing it to “mup” is silly, yet lets your child know that they have control of their language and that it is “okay” to play and have fun with it.  Much in the same way that Dr. Seuss did it.
  • Write, draw and play.  Writing with different tools, even unconventional things such as icing, yogurt and cookie dough increases interest in words.  My daughter used to love making cookie words and if the truth be told, she still does.  Children want to express themselves and will try things that are new and exciting especially if they get to eat it afterwards!

At Mrs. Myers’ Reading Room we have an active after school program to teach reading and reading comprehension skills.  This is not speech therapy.  It’s all about reading!  We use videos to music ( there are no desks ), iPads for children to create stories as well as hands-on play to teach sound recognition, word reading, grammar and understanding.  Our teachers are professional.  We have proven success!

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As parents we realize that the power of reading can mean a lifetime of dreams come true.  When learning to read becomes reading to learn it means that our children can be anything that they want to be.  They will have the power to make their dreams come true.

Please come to our open house event for treats, tips and tours!  You will be amazed at the innovative ways that we teach your child!  

Open House  March 15 & 16  or  March 22 & 23  2-6 pm

It will be a pleasure meeting you and your child!

Tammy Myers MS CCC-SLP
Mrs. Myers Reading Room
6233 Durand Ave Ste C
Racine, WI 53406
262/ 456-2384

P.S. Enjoy this brief video! It will bring you into my program and how children move through each “chapter”.

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Hugs, Tears, Cheers

“Elmo Loves You”

Last night, Wednesday night, was date night for the hubs and I. We watched Elmo. Oh what fun, eh? Actually, it was wonderful. No, Sesame Street Live is not in town. Nor did we hook up at a hotel and watch PBS Kids.

Rather we went back to one of my old 20-something stomping grounds, “The Fashionable Eastside” as it was (still is?) called and hung out with Kevin Clash at the Oriental Theater.
Read More in JAK Chat…

I had seen the trailer for the documentary, “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey”  (the man behind/underneath, character/voice of Elmo) a few months ago and I wanted to go!  Problem was, the closest movie theater showing the film was in Indianapolis.  Hey, I was up for a trip to Indy, afterall, that’s where I believe I first met Elmo.

My high school friend’s, first-born son, Ben,
wouldn’t let go of that red scrappy looking muppet of his. 
That was probably twenty years ago and I knew then,
there was something just too loveable and special
about this little high-pitched pleasantly stuffed fella.  

It was the holiday season, and as much as going to Indy sounded fun, let’s get real, I’ve done crazier things for Elmo (as you’ll soon read) but it just wasn’t gonna happen.  Yet, I saw that I could grab a “button”, embed it on my website, and petition to get it to play here, well, Milwaukee, though I totally could see it being played at the Golden Rondelle (Anyone have any pull there? Yeah, I’m talking to you!).

Well, a year or two, after my introduction to Elmo, my first-born Gabrielle (oh, I’m sorry honey, it’s Gabby) was introduced to Elmo.  Oh my gosh, she LOVED LOVED LOVED Elmo, and as Elmo would tell her daily on Sesame Street and in one of our favorite books, Elmo loves her, too.

Enter an even hipper, interactive version of Elmo, the Tickle Me, Elmo, and the Gabs mom just HAD TO HAVE IT!  It was the hottest toy for Christmas 1996 and I remember it well as I was expecting #2, just before Christmas.  I swore, with an already well-loved Elmo, we didn’t need another one.  Though who could resist?  All of the mommies were talking about it, on the phone, in play group, on TV, everywhere.  It was all about the hunt.  And I was up for the challenge.  I just had to get my hands on one of those coveted Elmos, not because we needed it, but because everyone else wanted it.  I pulled out all of the stops.  Nothing was going to get in the way of this preggo momma and what I anticipated to be the gift she’d scream over when she opened it on Christmas.  She deserved it, afterall, cuz she wasn’t going to be “the baby” anymore in a few short weeks.  My craziest antic was lining up at K-mart at 4am one freaking cold winter morning (pay no mind that I was 8 months pregnant), because it was rumored that K-mart was receiving 27 TME’s on that morning truck.  My sources were right, but, the word spread fast, and I ended up getting rain check #6, which was eventually filled.  Well, I wound up with 4 of them.  Had no problem, finding homes for any of Elmos.  Giving one to my Gabs, another to her same-aged cousin, Luke, one sold on E-bay (oh, yeah, I made some jing on that transaction), and another playgroup mommy got my 4th Elmo.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that she didn’t like her Tickle Me, Elmo…she did.  Yet, it was her first Elmo, that grabbed and kept her heart.  Oh well.  Her cousin and our cats?  They freaked out on TME on Christmas Eve.  Of course, eventually warming up to, then loving yet another Elmo.

Tickle Me Elmo Loves Cheerios! And Elmo Love You, Too!

With my youngest being 8 now, it’s been awhile since Sesame Street has been on our TV.  It’s been years since I’ve tucked a child in bed with their Elmo.  All four of mine have been Elmo freaks to one degree or another.  My oldest? She was by far our family’s biggest Elmo fan, well, next to her momma.  Me thinks we still is (Elmo fans, that is).

Gabby Loves Elmo!

Funny, what I thought might be a review of the award-winning documentary, ended up to be a review of my life, our lives with Elmo.  Maybe not all episodes written out in this blog, but remembered with emotion.  The same feelings felt while watching the movie: the warmth of a hug, a touch of melancholy tears welling up in my eyes, and expression of thanks.  Thanks for those memories, Elmo…uh, Kevin.  This mommy loves you, too.

Now, last night’s screening came and went. Thank you, Milwaukee Film Festival, I’m so glad I ran across your tweet last week.  Geez, I know there are so many of you that would just love to see this movie.  I was missing my kids, no offense to my husband.  But, they would’ve loved it too.

Please go to the home page of  the Just Add Kids’ website, and please click the “Demand It’ button and bring (back) “Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” to us.

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