Archive for December, 2012

Well Read

Well Bred?
By Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

Ha! That’s what I thought!
Made some interesting observations as of late. Maybe my conclusions have been consistent with other musings I’ve had and have verbalized here or there (likely, Facebook).
When the thought occurred to me to chat about the ungratefulness and entitled generation we’re raising, never did I think I’d have to include me own kiddos in the conversation. Read More…
Yet, I shake my head in disbelief.
I’m not going to share the long drawn out story here, as I have verbalized my version of the series of unfortunate events that unfolded in my home within the last 24-36 hours (and further back, I fear) to 4 people today (one of my best friends, my nail tech, my chiropractor, and my husband). Each successive version gets longer (well, ‘cept my chiropractor, as my appointment didn’t allow, lucky her!) and I try to limit my word count here.  So in a nutshell, here goes…
My kids (and sadly, most of their friends) are ungrateful. Okay, I said it! Anything new here moms? Dads? Grandparents?
I say this, and it’s not just the lack of appreciation, many times verbalized with the words “Thank You”, it’s that sense of entitlement that goes along with the territory.
I KNOW I say “Thank You” all of the time.  I say “Thank You” when the recipient of the TY doesn’t really deserve it, yet they’ve provided me with a service. Great example: shopping/checking out at the Boston Store several times over the last couple of weeks. I used to be a manager there, years ago, yet, I know the emphasis they put on customer service. Heck, if you look at their cash register, it says “CUSTOMER FIRST” on their screen. Sadly, I think just like all of us, if something is in front of us all of the time, it looses it’s impact. Have I been provided with even “good” customer service? Well, if I consider the young tall man who finally found the Dept 56 boxes to 3 display items I needed to buy. Yup, he found the boxes alright and boxed them. After, lady #1 couldn’t find them, shoved me off on some lady named Joyce “over in that department” who wasn’t there, he did. But boy oh boy did his body language let me know he really wasn’t pleased with my request. Sadly, I was the one who said “Thank You” each and every time I checked out there, which must’ve numbered 8 times? recently.  Not a one thanked me first.
I try to think back to when I was a kid. Why am I so conscious of being and verbalizing my sincere “thanks”?…and IT IS sincere. (Okay, well maybe on a few occasions, I’ve been a bit sarcastic.  That would be with sound reason.) Giving thanks was instilled in me by my parents. I, along with 3 siblings, were always reminded to: thank someone for a ride home, thank someone for having me over, thank someone for a gift, thank someone for dinner, thank someone for saying “God bless you” when I sneeze, whatever, whenever it’s appropriate. My dad insisted that we children thanked my mom for each meal she prepared and served us. And we did. Or, we got a firm reminder that we had better do so.
Circle back to the Herrmann household yesterday: I paid for and delivered a group of girls (3 daughters, #2’s three friends, and my niece) to the movie theater; surprised #2 (and the balance of the moviegoers) with light decor in celebration of her belated birthday, sleepover festivities begin afterall, this was arranged as such (birthday sleepover); as part of the decor, table was set and food was being prepared and then served; guess who did all of the clean up? (okay, I can overlook that it was a party of sorts, yet it’s important to note); went to bed early in hopes of waking up early to work (on calendar, weekly e-newsletter, and this blog!) didn’t happen: instead I got yelled at by #2 for sonny boy (younger brother) not leaving the group to go to bed 3x, then an hour or so later, got yelled at, again #2 for #3’s unwelcomed, extended intrusion into sister’s sleepover. Everyone, including me sleeps in. As discussed the night before, I planned on making a breakfast for all at 10am.  That, my friends, was a 2+ hour event from meal prep, table setting, serving….I was pooped and needing to make my noon nail appointment. I declared the action plan for my kids during the next 2.5-3 hours of my absence (said nail and chiropractic appointments), that which included #2’s participation in breakfast dishes clean up.  I made sure I let the group know I was leaving thinking maybe at that point, I’d get at least one “Thank you, mom”, “Thank you, Mrs. Herrmann”.  Um, not so much.
When I arrived home, our guests were gone. #2 had done her rendition of clean up in the kitchen, yet left the family room (her sleepover hub) a disaster. At the time which I addressed the mess with her, her friends had been gone for 3 hours. Ample time sista to restore the family room SHE worked so hard to make presentable for her friends.
Yes, I know I am being hard on them. I am sure #2 was very tired as she shared with me that they did not get to sleep until 4am. I really am not so much upset that the room wasn’t completely put back together. It was that sense of mom works her tail off to make it all happen, and not a one person peeps a little verbal “thanks”. Really? That kills me! Not because I am wiped out, bent over backwards, whatever…I am so freakin’ used to that, it comes with the territory.  That there is no gratitude expressed from the recipient(s) of that gift, if you will. Not this time, and as I think back on the thousands of other situations/experiences, the same rings true. These are my ungrateful kids. What the heck?
Side note: In the scheme of things, my husband and I have raised good kids. Yet in retrospect, it appears we have some work to do.
Side note/side note: I quite delight in shopping at Best Buy and Office Depot, neighboring stores in Racine. Is there something in the water in that strip mall? Those employees at both places…pleasant and EXCELLENT customer service!
Side note/side note/side note: As I was blabbing to my nail tech about my sad sad situation, she told me about this picture going around online. Of course, it fits right in with my blog theme of ungratefulness. Enjoy??…
ungrateful pic


These parents are my super heros! There needs to be consequences to our kids sense of entitlement and lack of appreciation. Job well done, Max’s parents!


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By Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

A few months back I described my family’s addiction to the family of “i’s” (see “Me. Myself. And i” in JAK Chat). You know, it started with the iPod (mine, daughter #2), then next came the next generation iPod Touch (daughter #1), the “new” iPad (me), then finally the iPhone 4s (that would be mine, again).

With two of my kids’ birthdays in December, Christmas, and another birthday in January, I have lists up the wazoo. Read more

So here’s the deal, being the “seasoned” mom, that I am…may I offer some words of wisdom, as I probably am paving the path before you with an 18, 16, 10, and 9 year old kids.

If you buy your 8, 9, or 10 year kid a iPhone…you WILL run out of things to buy your kids by the time they are teens. I am flabbergasted that my 5th grade daughter has friends/classmates that have iPhones, and perhaps they’ve had them for a couple of years. What, I ask, are you going to get them when they are teens? I know it’s a new world. When I was 10, I was still playing with Barbies. Heck, when I was 13, I was still playing with Barbies (albeit, me and best friend Mari Beth Hintz were “closet players” in our first year of being teens, but we were still young girls).

I am not trying to be judgmental, really. But what is there after the iPhone? I would imagine there is already a computer he/she either has or is available in the household…right? I mean in this day and age, you really need it for school work. What else would there be…a gaming system, like a Wii or Playstation, yes? That was probably purchased a couple of years ago. And of course, they have their handheld device…more than likely a 3DS, because the DS wasn’t enough.

We first got our older two girls a cell phone when my oldest was 11 and #2 was 9. In the summer, they rode their bikes to grandma’s house, picked up their 12 and 9 year old cousins, rode by North Beach in Racine onto the Racine Yacht Club for sailing. I was a working mom who, despite the fact that we had our babysitter at home in charge of them and their two younger sibs, needed to keep track and in communication with them as they ventured a couple of miles and out of protective sight. That to me made sense. It was a little flip open model protected by the cutest fuzzy cow cover. The phone was never to be used to call one’s friends (that’s what the house phone was for)…it was for emergency purposes and to keep in contact with mom (or Dana our babysitter, or Grandma, or Auntie…you get it). At 13 and 15, they each got their own phones. The rule stood, house phone to talk (why rack up the minutes?)…then of course, there came the all too common now texting. I am going to tell you, at this time, finding gifts are not easy. And if I have already filled the phone (and no, I am NOT getting them an iPhone, why? One of the reasons..the $30/month data package) need, what else do they need? You know they will tell me an iPad…it may come, just not yet.

Onto daughter, #3, said 10 year old. That’s all she ever asks me for…an iPhone, an iPhone! “Mom, I want an iPhone for Christmas, puleeez?!” She is relentless.  I ask her why she thinks she needs one…well, of course, all of  her friends have one. “Mom, I am the only 5th grader that doesn’t have a phone. So and so has an iPhone….” Oh, I know, I’ve seen it.  So let’s say I get her an phone, an iPhone, for that matter (which I won’t be doing), what will I get her when she is 11? A car?

I know she’ll be heartbroken when she opens her gifts on Christmas morning. But that’s life. You don’t get, just because you want and because others have. I almost wished she wanted a Barbie. But, you know, “Barbies are for little girls, mom. I’m not a little girl anymore. I’m 10”.

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Helping Your Senior Parent Downsize

Sponsored by Peace of Mind Transitions LLC Peace of Mind logo (2)

As we gather at the holiday table, some of us will notice our senior parents are changing.
Perhaps they ask “Where’s Jimmy?” five times, struggle to maintain their balance while
walking, or can’t focus on peeling potatoes. This may spark a conversation with a brother
or sister: Should mom or dad receive more attention? If they’re still living in their house,
should they be selling and moving into a community setting? Read more

The holidays are a great time to ask mom and dad about what they want in their future and to suggest ideas. The problem is, these conversations are hard. They shine a spotlight on life’s finality, allow complex family dynamics to surface, and make us ever too aware of how we may become stretched to the boundaries of our own time and energy.

Yet, since change is inevitable, we might as well face the future directly and with some positive energy. We can look for the positive outcomes of the upcoming change, rather than focus on loss. Typically senior communities open the door to a richer social life, provide food service, and offer an array of fun activities. What’s not to like?!

And what about all the personal belongings that might be packed to the rafters in the family home? Clearing them out is a daunting thought! Just how will it be tackled without someone tearing their hair out? Beyond nostalgic feelings, we are confronted with complex logistics, divvying up the belongings among family members, and the sheer volume of physical labor required.

Break it up into five steps, create some deadlines, and you’ll find it a bit more manageable. First, go through the house with your parents and siblings and make a list of everything that someone would likely want to keep. Have a camera handy and take a photo of each item. Then print out all the photos in the most convenient way possible, label them, and give a copy to each sibling. I recommend paying a teenage daughter or son to stand at a photocopier and create paper copies of the photo inventory. Thirdly, use the inventory to divvy up desired belongings among siblings. You can do it in rounds, letting each person pick one item from the inventory during each round. It’s like picking teams for playground kickball when you were little, except with potentially more teams. Fourth, have each sibling pick a deadline by which they will get all their chosen belongings from the house. Fifth, go through the remainder of items in the house and label them for donation, resale, or permanent disposal and then arrange for removal. This is still a ton of work, but with structure and deadlines, you can at least gain some assurance that it will get done!

This holiday, take some time to have a conversation with your parent or parents about where they’d ideally like to live and how they’d like to live. Then you can talk about getting the house ready to sell—or even staying in the house with some modifications and decluttering!  Both you and they might enter 2013 with a sense of relief and anticipation of better things to come.

If you’d like professional support in senior downsizing, search online for a local provider or contact me at Peace of Mind Transitions LLC. Learn more through this video or visit

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When Life Gives You Lymes…

…You Make…An Online Auction, Of Course!
by Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

I know the feeling (kinda)…swimming in a cesspool of medical bills. Post my gall bladder removal surgery five years ago, I was made aware of  the gaff made: thinking that my health insurance actually covered the surgery, yet $27,000. quickly became my responsibility. Five years later, I am still paying off that debt. Dang.

Enter Lauren Lamoreaux and her 3 young daughters, all afflicted with Congenital Lyme Disease. Read More…

I just bumped into Lauren this week via a Facebook event invitation that I received from a mutual friend. Well, here’s a unique one, I thought to myself, never been invited to a Facebook online auction before. It took me a day to hop over there and see what this is all about. Reading the event description took me to a place where I was a bit familiar, of course, with a ginormous medical bill and similarly, we both have 3 daughters, albeit, mine are a few years older. I couldn’t even imagine being in a place where the bills were piling up….I’m sick (and if and when you read Lauren’s blog you will jump into her painful debilitating new life), my girlies are also sick. You are falling deeper and deeper into debt and you, personally, cannot do anything to tackle the payments because your sick painful body won’t allow you to work. Can you imagine being a mother in this position? I cannot.

So, I perused through her available auction items and found at least one thing that I feel in love with…a neck heating pad, or actually 4 pads. Hey, I really am in need, and I thought I’ll get one for me, and one a piece for my 3 daughters. (We had one of these in a warm green flannel, and sadly, it’s lost…you cannot imagine the excitement when I ran across this desirable item! Yup, that excited. We really miss our missing one. Well, no more!)

Anyways, Lauren also has a lot of her own hand-knit items such as cute knit wrist warmers, newborn baby headband and bootie set, as well as other unused, or gently used household items. Please take the time to shop around.  Here’s a link to the event: Shop away!

Read Lauren’s blog  journaling her heartbreaking adventure (I started at the first post and moved my way to the more recent entries), watch their story via video, and please buy, if you can.

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