Archive for June, 2013

Get Your Summer On!

Um, Smile!smile pic summerfest (3)
Written by Just Add Kids Founder,
Paula Herrmann

It was the highlight of my life, being a post-college, 20 something year old. Year after year. A tradition. I’d take off of work for a week, just so that I could spend every vacation day soaking up the sun, the sights, and the sounds; eating my chive fry lunch accompanied by a Miller Lite (or 5, who was counting?). Oh the life, before children. I LIVED for Summerfest!

Fast-forward to the summer of my 30th year. My first year of mommyhood. Why not bring baby in the stroller to see Kool and the Gang? Baby-friendly…I think not. Kid-friendly? Read More…I would’ve questioned that a couple of years ago when I dragged our gang of 6 down to the Henry Maier Festival Grounds so I could share and relive with my tweens and littles the joy found in a plate of Saz’s Chive Fries. Funny, they weren’t overly impressed.

My husband reflected back to the day his drinking ceased. Seriously. A day at Summerfest forever etched in my memory (and of course, his) that I will not fully share the details of, ended his days of drinking alcohol. Let’s just say, he lost his cookies (or rather gyro and beers) after a ride. Yikes! Sorry.

Okay, let’s get back to the kid-friendly topic…if I told you that my kids enjoyed it, I’d be lying. Maybe a few things here and there. Yet, mostly, they complained while my hubs and I tried to get them excited about the BMX bike demonstration, food, music, shopping, waiting around as we bumped into and conversed with a few people.  Hmmm. We dragged it out as long as we could so at least we could say we gave it a shot for the admission investment.

So now a few years have passed. And guess what? I am willing to give Summerfest another shot with the family. I don’t know, maybe we just didn’t plan it right the last time. Or…maybe Summerfest has ramped up their kid-, family-friendliness game.

At Just Add Kids, we’ve pulled out and highlighted the family fun at the big gig and posted each day on our website’s Happenings Calendar of Events in the event you want to bring the youngins’. Oh yah, and the daily admission promotions are posted daily, so hopefully you can save a few bucks (more money for chive fries!)

A couple of things we’re looking forward to are the paddle boats (seriously, how refreshing), the zipline (wheeee!) and personally, I have an affection for robots, so I can’t wait to “take control” and learn more about the robotics programs available in SE Wisconsin (you know I’ll be sharing that info with ya’ll).

For those with really young ones (as young as 2), there are plenty of activities provided by who else, but Kohl’sCaptivation Station features Kohl’s Wild Theater, Kohl’s Color Wheels, Kohl’s Design It! Mobile Lab and Kohl’s Building Blocks Workshop. There’s also Northwestern Mutual’s Children’s Theater and Playzone and a Kid’s Activity Tent.

So whaddaya think? Sound enticing? Let us know if you go and what you think.  Posts/comments are welcomed!


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Longer Days. More Play!

More Summer Time?teletubbie sun
I Wish.
Written by Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

Are you ready for some long days? We’ll get well
over 15 hours of daylight today and tomorrow. Summer officially begins at 12:04am tonight/tomorrow, however you look at it!

Wishing that summer meant even more hours (in number) to the day. Lord knows I, Miss Time-Challenged, could certainly use some more time. Okay, I am happy with more daylight.

I thought with the change of season, it might be a great time for those who are new to Just Add Kids (aka JAK), and those that have never “taken the class”, to do a JAK 101 and familiarize all as to everything Just Add Kids has to offer you, the busy parent, grandparent, child care provider…Read More…

Let’s get started! 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 preborn through 18.

At this time, JAK’s product offerings consist of:
e-newsletters: weekly JAK Happenings, monthly JAK Birthday Bash, timely JAK-tivities! for Kids, and seasonal CAMP JAK.
social network sites: JAK on FacebookJAK on Twitter, JAK on Pinterest.
blog: JAKChat
special events: Annual Just Add Kids EXPO! and other events, such as RESALE! JAK Family Rummage Event.
contests: we just wrapped up our annual “Color Mom Beautiful” and “Color Dad Awesome”  kids coloring contest. We will be announcing a fun summer contest soon.

So you think that the JAK Happenings weekly e-newsletter is pretty awesome? You’ve found out about and participated in some great things that were listed in the Happenings sections.  Well, don’t hold back!  Plus that, you might be missing out if you don’t access the website’s full calendar of events throughout the week, coincidentally called Just Add Kids Happenings Calendar of Events.  (To go there now, click here:

Don’t let the info flow stop there!  JAK follows relevant businesses, organizations, events and destinations and will disseminate announcements and updates that you as a parent/grandparent/educator/child care provider should know about.  These things impact your lives and the lives of your children.  So if you’ve ventured into wild world of social media sites, please add Just Add Kids to your friend base, likes, and follows.  Again, JAK only participates in three…Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

So do you fully get it?  JAK doesn’t claim to be a teacher, or a writer!  Just a bundle of resources tied together that puts family fun at your fingertips.

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In Transit

The Faith Hope and Love logo (2)Journey of Hope
Written by Heather Lojeski, co-director
Faith, Hope and Love – Duffel Bags for Children in Crisis

Last Thursday,  I had the privilege of being a part of the “Journey Home” experience; the life of a child entering foster care.  Our morning began on a school bus, and upon entering the school bus the group of us were given a black trash bag; which we would later find was how most times the children move their personal belongings.

The beginning of our trip was a narration reminding us of our family, homes, and pets; we had left that morning on our way to this event.  How would we feel if a person of authority had interrupted our morning and said we were being moved from our home because it was no longer safe?  Would we be scared, angry, or sad?  Read more…As we continued on our drive, we pulled up to a home (we later found out it was the home of a foster parent).

At this stop, a human services investigator and police department investigator boarded the bus.  They walked us through their portion of the transition to foster care and the tasks they are involved with.  It was hard to fathom that in the city of Racine, we have 4 ½ investigators for the sole purpose of looking into abuse cases and they are overloaded.  As we continued on our journey, we learned about the training involved in becoming a foster parent; each parent goes through 36 hours of training and it takes approximately 2-3 months to become a licensed foster parent.

Our next stop was the Racine County Child Advocacy Center, which up until 2008 did not exist and would have made the journey for a child much longer; as they had to drive to Milwaukee or Kenosha County for same services.  At the Racine County Child Advocacy Center, the staff is able to perform child abuse assessments and rather than have the children go through questioning by more than one individual; due to the ability to perform video taping of investigations. Following this stop along our journey, we took time to hear from two case managers regarding their task of helping to find the child a  temporary home initially, and then a permanent home when necessary.

We heard a story of a situation that they were called upon to assist with regarding a child who was having difficulty during the investigation process and was refusing to speak with investigators.  When the case manager arrived and began to talk to the child, the child informed the case worker how she no longer trusted adults and was not going to talk.  The case manager was able to ask what could the agency do to help make the situation better for the child.  Surprisingly, the one thing the child really wanted, was just to know her dog was OK.  Once the case manager was able to assure the child the dog was being cared for; the child was better able to talk.  This is just one of the many stories we heard, that shows just how complex their job is; including the fact that each case manager has 30 children under their care per month.

Our next stop was the Racine Circuit Court, where we met Judge Constantine.  We learned about the judicial process that takes place within his court room.  The court room process can take as short as 45 days, or as much as 12 or more months.  All parties involved: biological parents, foster parents, and case managers; when they work together, can assist in shortening the length of time the children remain in foster care and the length of time the case remains in the court system.  We learned in Judge Constantine’s court room, that most times; biological parents realize the great resource, foster parents can be.  Many times even after the children are reunited with their biological parents; the foster parents still remain involved in the child’s life either by having visitations or providing respite care.  This was just one more way we learned about the amazing work foster parents provide to the children of our community.  As was said all day today, “Foster Parents Rock!”.

The courthouse was our last destination of the tour, but on the way back to the facility; we were privileged to hear from a couple who have been foster parents for 15 years and have seen over 150 children come through their home.  In the process they have adopted 6 children, and still continue to provide care to children in need within Racine County.  We also met another couple that has been providing foster care for many years, and ultimately ended up adopting one of the children in their care.

These foster parents and their stories are humbling and this experience was something I will never forget. Our community’s hurting children, should never have to move their belongings in trash bags; they are worth more than that.  Faith, Hope, & Love – Duffel Bags for Children in Crisis has set a goal of making sure each child entering foster care will have a duffel bag for their personal belongings and know that we believe they are priceless.

Faith, Hope, Love is a ministry of Living Light Christian Church and co-directed by husband and wife team, Mark and Heather Lojeski. Mark and Heather reside in Racine and have 10 children ages 7-23.

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No Words

The Lump In My Throat  Gabby 
Written by Just Add Kids Founder,
Paula Herrmann

I know, I know… if you are an avid reader of this newsletter and JAK Chat blog, follower of Just Add Kids, or a personal friend of mine, you might be thinking…”Girl, just get over it, already!” Nah, no, your not, especially if you are a mom.

You know what I am talking about. The choking back of happy sadness and/or the overwhelming pride. You get it every time you see your child up on the stage singing, dancing in a recital, reciting in a program, competing in a competition, and then there’s the dreaded graduation. Okay, I know I am not alone on this one. Whether it’s graduation from preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, 8th grade…you know it’s a milestone that marks not only an accomplishment and a transition for your child, but it also brings on a sense of loss. “Losing” your baby, the fast passing of time, and you’re getting older right along side of your child/ren. Read more…

My first “baby” graduates from high school this Sunday, and I have been housing this stupid lump in my throat, reigning in my mixed emotions of the happiness and sadness of all of the “lasts” we’ve been experiencing as parents the past couple of weeks. Last dance, last concert, last banquet, augh!

So many of you moms (and dads) are experiencing all of your firsts: 1st baby, 1st full night of sleep, 1st time eating cereal, 1st tooth, 1st steps, 1st birthday, 1st day of school in the fall, 1st Christmas. Yup, I remember them well!
Gabby's graduation gown
My husband and I, too, are experiencing some firsts: 1st prom, 1st child to graduate. At the same time, some of our lasts: last concert, last awards banquet, etc. Where did the time go? If you were to ask me, it seemed like yesterday, when I gave birth and experienced all of those amazing firsts that we all as parents meet with excitement. As I sit as a spectator at all of these events, my eyes well up with tears, and I hold back the flood of a good cry.

Several times a day, I walk past her room and see that dang graduation gown hanging from her curtain rod, flat, waiting to be put on.

Can hardly wait for graduation day.I’m lying…I can.

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