Archive for May, 2013

8 and 18

F.B.O. Reyna!Reyna
Written by Beth Bitner

Reyna Moore is a local Racine girl who has recently been diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, which is a rare form of bone and soft connective tissue cancer.  She has a tumor in her left hip and upper femur. The cancer has also spread to her lungs.  She has undergone 5 rounds of chemotherapy thus far and is starting her 6th round on May 29th.

Reyna is 8 years old and a middle child in a family of four children. She has two older brothers, Alonzo who is 15 and Mario who is 13, as well as a younger sister Maria who is 7 and doubles as her best friend. Her mother Trudy is a hardworking single mom who is trying her hardest to provide the best life possible for her children.

Reyna’s cancer was found after she had been complaining about her leg hurting for a couple of weeks, and it was pretty much written off as growing pains. At 8 years old, cancer is probably the furthest thing from a parent’s mind.  Read More…Trudy decided to take Reyna to the doctor after her teacher had sent a note home saying that she had noticed a change in Reyna and that she wasn’t as active as usual.  Needless to say, the diagnosis of cancer threw Trudy for a loop.  What followed was a slurry of doctor’s appointment and making a lot of decisions that no parent should ever have to think of. Unfortunately, along with a cancer diagnosis comes a sentence of financial burden.  From missed work to special dietary needs and medications and gas going back and forth to the hospital. It adds up, and quickly.

It was decided early on that a benefit was going to be the most effective way to raise money to help defray some of the costs that have been building up. It was also decided that the Racine Zoo was the best place to have it because Reyna is one of the biggest animal lovers I have ever met.  We are going to have some really great things to do there. ReynaWe have a face painter, a cookie decorating table, a get well card station where people can make Reyna a card and write messages of encouragement. One of our bigger activities that we are really excited about is the Mad Hatter Tea Party.  Participants will get to decorate their own hat and have an Alice in Wonderland style tea party and who knows, the Mad Hatter himself might even make an appearance.  We also have a pretty big raffle going with the big ticket item being a two night stay at Wilderness Resort in the Wisconsin Dells with water park passes.  Along with the regular raffle, we will be having a 50/50 raffle, so someone could win big! We are also very excited to have three wonderful bands to entertain us. We will be welcoming country band Dane County, rock band The Elephant, Christian Rock band Revival and singer Cheryl McCrary.

There is admission to get into the zoo, but if you mention that you are there for the benefit, it will only be $3.  We will also have a Team Reyna store, where we will have some fun products to support Reyna and promote awareness for childhood cancer. We encourage everyone to come out and show support as well as a great chance to spend some family time together at the zoo.


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First Time Mom

The (Non)Prom Mom
Written by Just Add Kids Founder
Paula Herrmann

Ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived.  Our firstborn is a senior in high school. She’s 18. My husband and I are close to completion of raising a child.
This past weekend we experienced our first prom. And if you know about Racine’s prom, it’s more of a big deal than most.
As a mom of 3 daughters, you can only imagine the firsts that we’ve experienced and how before each of those experiences, I’d imagine how perfect each of those firsts would be (first dance recital, first day of school, first communion, first date)  Yeah, many times, it was all about how each of the occasions made me feel…how does she look? Isn’t she adorable? I’m so proud.  This time ’round, was no exception, only experienced from a distance. Because this time…mom wasn’t invited.
Read More…
I don’t quite know when the “mom at an arm’s length” became her posture toward me. She was and still remains the only one of my 4 who would repeatedly call me when I’d go out with my girlfriends…“Mommy, when are you coming home?” “Please come home”, she’d plead with me over and over again. She couldn’t go to sleep until I was home. Not necessarily because she couldn’t live without me, but more it’s that she’s got O.C.D., and at about the age of 10.1 years old, it flaired up. Me being at home and tucking her in nightly was part of her “routine” (and mine, too). Though peeps with O.C.D. many times demonstrate very unique routines and have a difficult time if something does not play out as they plan, including mom not being home at bedtime (or the bedroom door having to be opened (normal), yet having to be about  6″ away from the wall.  Um, not so much normal). Heaven forbid the door touched the wall or was 2 inches off of it…no way!)
As expected, she’d grow out of it, and as most children mature, their dependency on mom lessens. That is evident early on from having to “walk” your baby with arms raised up holding on to your hands, until finally she lets go and can walk, ever so fast and wobbly, on her own. This one…well, she was a late walker…15 months! She is late, somewhat,  in her teen independence.  (notice I didn’t say defiance) But, if there is one thing that is evident, and because she tells me so, she just doesn’t like having her mom hang around. So “my” first prom, didn’t go as I had imagined, perhaps dreamed, it would be.  I was a first time prom mom, from a distance.  Oh yeah, that deserves a double sad face!
😦 😦
So here’s my first daughter’s prom, from the eyes of her mom. And if you knew the whole story, as to why I HAD to take a back seat, you’d understand. Ok, here goes: no shopping for dress with her; DID order/take care of/pay for  the flowers (because I asked her if she had done it. Nope!); no assisting her with getting ready the day of; no pre-prom pictures with her date, other kids and their parents; DID go to post-prom red carpet event, DID intend on momma-razzi-ing her and her date as they arrived, walked the red carpet, and entered Festival Hall. And as usual, got the worst snapshots in the world. Wouldn’t you know my iPhone died right as I was going to snap a picture of her and said date.
So here’s this first time prom mom’s memories, captured in pictures:
Gab's prom my vantage point 2013
My vantage point at Racine Country Club pre-prom pictures/dinner. I’m not one of the moms in that crowd. I am taking this shot from the street, as we zoom by in the car. Hope someone takes some good photos from me.
Gabby's prom the rebels are coming
The Rebels are coming! The Rebels are coming! ^ That blurriness, my friends, is their motorcade coming from their school, arriving at post prom festivities.
Gabby's prom 2013
Remember, before I was able to get that shutter to snap…SNAP! my stupid phone battery died. Where’s the real camera you ask? Well, not sure. Haven’t seen that since our last “first-time” event. My 10 year old’s first daddy & me dance. So fortunate to have captured this unknown young man and his infamous date, the blow up doll. Nice.
Well, and for those first-timers to be, you must know that the prom does NOT stop at 3am when it’s lights on, get out kids, go home time from Festival Hall. Oh no no no. A Sunday after must…an overnight trip to the Dells. Monday…Senior Skip Day. I am still trying to piece together (not because I’m nosey)..I just want to “experience” her experience.
I am the Prom Mom, Non. And I’m sticking to my story. What great memories! Well, you make what you can of it all.

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Mayday! Mayday!

The Never-Quite-Under-Control List – Are We All On This Page?

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

Make appointment, replace florescent light, fertilize plants, activate credit card, return boxes, install new battery, buy present, call mom … there are so many things on my “to do” list. What about you?

With my goal coaching background, I’ve got a pretty good handle on managing my time and tasks. And still, the loyal companion of my “to do” list is a low level anxiety.  Read More…Either anxiety settles in when I do something non-work related during work hours (even though I work for myself), when I feel like everything is urgent, or when I’m still chipping away at things at 10 o’clock at night and know I should just stop. When immersed in four to five different major volunteer, work, or home projects at one time, I can feel scattered and tense.

I decided to reduce my stress by transferring both my “to do” list and the framework I use for it from paper to the kitchen magnetic board. The framework lets a person prioritize tasks both by urgency and priority in a four-square matrix. (Thanks, Stephen Covey.) I had been using it in a Word document but had to keep re-printing the document every few days. By wrapping twine around strategically-placed magnets, I created four boxes on my magnetic board. I thought to myself, “I’ll use sticky notes, devote a note to each task, and move them around from square to square as new priorities or urgencies come up.” Brilliant!

Three months later, these are the current occupants of my board: my husband’s class photos from 1st grade, a Christmas card, the grocery list, a diagram of how to install a new three-pronged light switch electrical box, two Wisconsin annual state trail passes, a Lowe’s receipt, an OutPost refund voucher that expires tomorrow (yikes!), along with a Toppers coupon that expired April 28, and one inspirational quote.

Meanwhile, multiple paper “to do” lists and various sticky notes are littered around the dining room and kitchen tables. I even wrote something on the front of a magazine today while I was on the phone!

Clearly I am struggling with finding a sustainable solution. One thing I know for sure: The twine is coming down today.

So please share your ideas on what has or hasn’t worked for you! Or a story. Ever lost your “to do” list and forgotten to walk the neighbor’s dog for a week?? You can scroll down to the “Leave a comment”.

We’re all in this together!

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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On the Go

Born Learning Trails                                            Leadership Racine logo

United Way of Racine County and Leadership Racine have collaborated to implement two outdoor trails locally, on at West Park and one at North Beach Park.United Way of Racine County logo  After becoming a Leadership Racine community project, United Way and a group of five Leadership Racine participants began the planning process. Samantha Anderegg-Boticki from Modine Manufacturing, Stacey Malacara from Gateway Technical College, Heather Martinez from CliftonLarsonAllen, Adam Markham from ClearCom, and Christina Mueller from Racine County and team liaison, Leadership Racine alumni, Lori Castor from CNH, were in charge of researching the program, determining the locations, installing the trails and planning a community event. The team’s proposal was approved by Racine’s Parks and Recreation board and the trails were installed on Saturday, April 27, 2013 with finishing touches done on May 4, 2013.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Born Learning Trail offers activity stations with fun, interactive learning games that parents, grandparents, caregivers can play with young children.  Read More… “We know that children are learning constantly, right from birth. We know what happens in a child’s early years matters – for success in life and for school readiness,” stated Dave Maurer, United Way of Racine County president. “We wanted to bring the Born Learning Trail to Racine County because we want to do all we can to help the community prepare young children to succeed.” The educational strategy behind the trail will help boost children’s language and literacy skills and can be a valuable community resource for early learning. For example, the sign “Stop! Learn! Play!” encourages parents and caregivers to follow the child’s lead, building the child’s curiosity and confidence, and reinforcing the learning already underway.

You can take part in celebrating Racine County’s first Born Learning Trail! There will be a FREE community kickoff event on May 11, 2013, from 11:00a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at North Beach Park in Racine. The event will include guided tours of the Born Learning Trail, a ribbon cutting, a balloon launch, facepainting, healthy snacks and more!  Make
your mark on the trail. As part of the kick-off event, we will be tracing the hands and feet of your little ones to paint on the sidewalk with their names. Later, come back to find your print on either trail, North Beach or West Park.  Trail signage and give-aways are in both English & Spanish.

Born Leaning Trails painted sidewalk picBorn Learning Trails Toss sign

About United Way of Racine County

United Way of Racine County advances the common good by focusing on education, income and health: the building blocks for a good life. United Way funds more than 60 programs and special projects, while also initiating and facilitating systems-wide initiatives to create long-lasting change. United Way works in partnership with other individuals and organizations throughout Racine County who bring the passion, resources and expertise to address the community’s most critical issues. For more information, visit www.unitedwayracine.orgor call 262-898-2240.

About Leadership Racine

Leadership Racine recruits potential leaders and helps prepare them for positions of public influence and decision-making for Racine. These leaders help ensure a promising future for our community. For more information, visit or call 262-634-1931.

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May Day. Play Day!

Come Play With Us!Kenosha Dream Playground project logo

My name is Jaime Forsythe, I am part of the Kenosha Dream Playground Project team. Maybe you have heard of us?  We are working with the city of Kenosha and the Kenosha Achievement Center to build a safe, accessible, fully inclusive playground at Kennedy Park in Kenosha.

Now you might say, “Kenosha already has lots of playgrounds and of course everyone can play there!”  However, my youngest daughter, Amity, was born with Spina Bifida, a birth defect that has left her paralyzed below the hips and using a wheelchair as her main way of getting around.  So when I take her and her friends to the playground she has to either sit out or drag herself through dirty woodchips and painstakingly pull herself up stairs that were not made for her.  It can be heartbreaking to see a child not be able to play, because we know that play is the way that all children learn about and experience life.

Others have said “Oh, a playground for disabled children.” Read More…Yet, the playground we are dreaming of has many wonderful components for children (and parents, grandparents, and other caregivers) of all abilities. For children with mobility issues it has wide ramps with railings, transfer platforms around the slides and a smooth rubber and polyurethane surface surrounding all of the equipment. There would also be plenty of open space to make it easy for people with walkers and wheelchairs to get around.  However in addition to these features that help children with mobility needs there will also be rock walls and ladders for typically developing children and children who are learning these skills. kenosha dream playground swings The “Dream” playground also has high backed swings and wheelchair swings right next to regular swings, so the children can play together and make friends with each other regardless of ability.  There are two rows of monkey bars right next to each other too, one up high and one down low enough for a child in a wheelchair to reach up and explore this different way of propelling himself.

On top of the items that help children with physical disabilities there will be pieces of equipment that are designed to help children with other special needs as well. For children who are visually impaired, a textured, concrete guide wall with artwork and braille and many musical and noise making elements, such as a steering wheel that makes noise like a rain stick when it is turned.  Kenosha dream playground wheelThe many signs on the playground would be in braille also. Many of the musical instruments will vibrate when used so that children who are hearing impaired or have sensory issues can enjoy them too. Speaking of sensory issues, it would have sand and water features that children with autism (as well as others) seem to enjoy, and safe rocking and spinning components as well.  But, the thing that parents of children with special needs seem to appreciate most is that the playground will be fenced, with only one way in and out, to make supervision easier and children safer.


I hope I have painted a vivid picture of the “Dream Playground”.  I am working with other team members to make sure everyone is aware of our efforts.  Just this last weekend I had the opportunity to meet many people and share this vision at the KUSD’s Academic Showcase.  I took this time to stress that this is a community effort. We have already had success with school fundraisers and feel that this is a great way for the young people in the community to feel a sense of ownership of the playground.  I also took a drive to “Possibility Playground” in Port Washington for a Kenosha Day Play Date this past Sunday.   This playground is the inspiration for the “Dream” playground and where many of the pictures used here were taken.  I was joined by many of our dedicated team members who already either work with children with special needs or are respected advocates for the City of Kenosha.  There were also other members of the community who had accepted our invitation to come there.  When people see this playground it helps them envision the one that will built in Kenosha and usually inspires them to join our effort.

The team, headed by Tammy Conforti, and I have made a lot of progress in the nine short months since we started.  This Saturday, May 4th we are unveiling our “Future Home of The Kenosha Dream Playground Project” sign in Kennedy Park at 3:00 P.M., many community leaders will be speaking at this event and I would be happy to see any Just Add Kids readers to join us as well. We also have a fundraiser coming up on May 18th and many fundraisers in the months to come.  We will have a booth at Harbor Market and at most of the downtown summer activities, stop by and say “Hi”. Thank you for taking time to read this and become aware of us.

Our motto is “A community that embraces, engages, and invests in its children embraces, engages, and invests in its future!”

For more information:
”Like” us on Facebook “Kenosha Dream Playground Project”

Tammy Conforti- or (262)948-1956
Jaime Forsythe- or (262)697-1077

To donate:
Checks payable to KAC (Playground Project on memo line)
1218 79th Street,  Kenosha WI 53143

Or donate online:

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