Archive for February, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

Snow Day: Little Man
by Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

He’s my son. He’s my youngest child.
And he’s alive and
healthy…thank God! earlier today Max & Leo I can attribute the fact that he was able to snuggle up on the couch with our puppy on Wednesday’s snow day to his bus driver.

Only a week ago, his life was nearly wiped out Read More… by a driver who flew through our bus stop, apparently completely oblivious to the fact that there was a big yellow vehicle stopped with flashing lights and stop sign, and a group of little people enroute to board, like any other school day at 8:30am.

I remember I was a bit miffed at my 10 year old daughter for her deliquency in turning in a project and I was chatting with another parent who was sitting in her van discussing that fact (her son is in the same grade/had the same project).  I saw the bus approach with lights triggered prior to the bus making the full stop and I acknowledged to the kids that it was time to move toward the bus. Casually, I continued my conversation with the other mom. Next thing I knew, the bus horn started beeping several times. I looked over to witness this car fly by with out any hesitation, just inches in front of my forward moving son.  Un. freakin. believable. All I know, is that we all just kind of froze in a state of shock (for a few seconds). When the bus driver assessed the situation and saw that all was clear, she waved the kids over to board, just as she does EVERY day.

I’m not going to get into who this flyby car driver is, that’s all been investigated, and citations have been issued. Instead, I must give MAJOR props to our wonderful bus driver, who every day, even before the drive by near swipe out occurred, is consistently conscientious. Me, on the other hand, have been jolted into being aware of the danger that lurks. Good grief, I cannot believe how casual I was about shushing the kids to get on the bus. Uh uh. Not no more.  I got my eyes on you, my precious son and daughter, like I always should have.

Thank goodness I can sit here and watch my son comfortably nestle with the dog, and appreciate the simplicity of a snow day morning.


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This Can’t Wait

April is Prevent Child Abuse Awareness Month
National Child Abuse Prevention Month April logo

But we’ve got problems now. This minute. Today.

Last week a JAK-ie (one of Just Add Kids friends, followers, mom) contacted me in a frantic, helpless state.  A young neighbor girl had been sexually assaulted and her own children witnessed the assault.  On top of that, the accused and admitted violator was released back into his home, right next door to his victim. Oh my gosh, what do you do?

And you may have heard of this one…a high school gym teacher is charged with child enticement.  This is just what we know in one week in our community.

Nothing happens by chance. This past Monday, I got together with the committee behind the Turn the Town Blue Campaign, Kenosha County’s collaborative initiative to bring awareness to preventing child abuse and keeping kids safe in conjunction with National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  As we build toward April and the culmination of activities, information and events that will take place, you can keep tabs on learning more about what your role can be in keeping our kids safe. Please LIKE, then follow Turn the ‘Town Blue Campaign on Facebook.

At this meeting I learned about a highly regarded (by this group) mini-course at UW-Parkside called Darkeness to Light: Stewards of Children. Specifically, the focus of this 3 hour course is child sexual abuse. “The Stewards of Children program will inform you how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse in an empowering and meaningful way. Parents, educators, counselors, child care staff, social workers, volunteers, staff at youth-serving organizations, and other concerned adults are welcome to attend this powerful child sexual abuse prevention training program.”  Many times, just like this JAK-ie mom who contacted me, we are horrified and feel helpless.  Perhaps you might attend.

Now, and in the month April and throughout the year, Just Add Kids encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Southeastern Wisconsin a better place for children and families. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help promote children’s social and emotional well-being and prevent child maltreatment within families and our communities.

So, come on. Don’t wait til April. Play your important role as a mom, an educator, a JAK-ie, whatever.  Join in on the dialog now and be accountable…for the kids’ sake, please.

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Cavemen Love Pink

Cave Dweller?
Sponsored by Next Step Goals, LLC
Written by Julie O’Keeffe Henzey
Next Step Goals logo brown letters orange circles 200 wide (2)

It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m sorry, but behind all of those boxes of chocolates and bouquets of flowers are some really annoying people! For example, the guy at the check out counter just had a long conversation with the cashier as he paid for long-stemmed roses, even after glancing back to see that I was waiting with my hands full. Those people are so frustrating!

This Valentine’s Day, make it your goal to love and accept everyone (even those people) around you “as is”, even if it kills you. Which it won’t! Read more….

We are wired to label people as either “in our group or “outside of our group” and to treat them accordingly.  To achieve this, we have to look for clues as to whether someone is worthy of membership in our group. Our caveman ancestor would watch a stranger approach his cave and want to know, Is this man going to offer us mastodon meat or steal our children?  If we can’t find any clues, we often assume the worst until proven otherwise.

Fortunately, I don’t have to worry whether the guy in the flower shop is going to take my child.  This gives me a great opportunity to interrupt my normal flow of labeling and give the man a chance.  This also applies to the driver who cuts into our lane, the neighbor who plays their music too loud, and the coworker who constantly interrupts.

And why bother?  The benefit is this:  It feels better not to dole out negative labels.  In the act of labeling, we unleash negative energy in our thoughts.  It’s completely within out control to decide how we are going to think about a situation.  We can let a delay at the flower shop ruin our afternoon. We can ruminate on the rude behavior, label the person as rude, complain how we would never be so rude, and say to ourselves, Next time, I’m going to tell the guy to shut up and leave.  The negative energy races around in our bodies and our heads, tightens our shoulders, and makes it difficult to operate productively.  Negative emotions close us down and restrict our ability to see possible solutions.  We get trapped.

Instead, we can enjoy ourselves, and even our time in the flower shop, by taking a non-judgmental approach.  We can notice the guy is telling a story at length and realize that he’s really into it.  Then, rather than judge him, we can just think, Hey, he’s having fun here AND I need to get going.  Rather than make it a predicament, we can imagine the guy as a harmless Robin Williams or Jamie Foxx and say, Pardon me, while you’re telling your story I need to pay for my items.  Could you slide over and I’ll set these things down?

We can give up the need to label people and situations, if we notice we are doing it.  By paying attention, we can identify when we are on the verge of using our outdated caveman behavior.  Then we can put on the brakes, take a detour in our head, and attend to a situation without going negative.

Stop your caveman instincts in their tracks.  Put a welcome mat at the front of the cave and expect a Hallmark moment, not death!

Julie helps women and seniors successfully take action and navigate challenges through her two businesses Next Step Goals LLC and Peace of Mind Transitions LLC. She herself has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and completed 60 sprint triathlons while divorced with two kids.

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Ed U K8

Why is my Child Spooning Beans?                          Small World Logo (2)
The Importance of a Montessori Education
Sponsored by Small World Montessori
At first glance, a Montessori classroom is not like that of any other.  Upon entering you may find a child spooning beans between 2 dishes, another working with a map of South America, or playing the bells by scale.  These are just a few of the unique activities in a Montessori classroom. We offer a homelike environment in which we approach education of the “whole child” through hands on, self-directed activities.
Small World girl africa pic

How is it possible that children are working independently at their own activities?  Read More…The environment is carefully staged with progressively difficult, self-correcting materials, and most instruction is delivered one on one. Our extensive curriculum spans from 2 1/2 through 6 years old.  The mixed age classroom allows the child to work at her own pace and since instruction is individual, no child is left behind or forced to wait.  Children in the Montessori environment develop long attention spans, independence, social grace, and a joy in learning.

Small World Montessori recently opened our toddler room, the first in Southeastern Wisconsin to offer a Montessori education to very young children.  True to Montessori form, the children are offered freedom to choose their work within a safe space with the guiding rules of respect for others and for the environment.  Our introductory classroom allows for a smaller teacher to student ratio, ensuring each child is given the attention they need at this developmental stage.

Small World toddler room pic

We also offer an Extended Day program which allows more time for individual and social development for our 4 and 5 year olds.  Following the morning time, extended day begins with lunch and continues with more advanced lessons.  In addition, we offer weekly Spanish lessons, art instruction, yoga classes, and science experiments.

We invite you to tour our beautiful classrooms and see their extensive age appropriate curriculum at our Open House this Sunday, February 10th from 1:00-3:00PM.  If you are unable to come this Sunday, we would love for you to see our classrooms in action so you can experience for yourself the joy of a Montessori education.  Call or e-mail to schedule a visit.  (262)632-6797


Small World Peapod room picSmall World boy stacking blocks pic
Small World web school picSmall World boy with puzzle pic

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