Archive for August, 2013


Fall Into Playgroupplaygroup

by Just Add Kids Founder,
Paula Herrmann
Update to original post “Do U Playgroup” published 08/25/2011

The year was 1995…seven moms and their tots gather in the modest living room of a Racine north side home.  The hostess scrambles to clean up and make her house presentable for the once-a-week-on-Thursdays-at-9am event. It’s her week to provide the play space and snack spread for the lively 2 1/2 hour mess fest.  Another “Playgroup” is born!  Read more…

Not sure when the first of such social events took place, however, they are organized either formally or  informally for moms and preschool children to gather for the purpose of play and companionship.  I was fortunate, as a new mom in more than one sense (1st baby and newcomer to Racine), to have linked up with two of such groups back in the mid nineties.

The first came together because this mom’s husband worked with this mom’s dad, and had a sister-in-law who was also a new mom, who knew of…and so on.   And the other one, was arranged through an organization called Racine Newcomers Club, which provided many social opportunities for women, moms or not.

Being new to the area, I quickly built a network of friends and acquaintances.  With the informal playgroup, comprised mostly of born and raised Racinians, I got to know Racine pretty fast…probably more info than I should’ve gotten to know, if you know what I mean!  My daughters (as #2 came along shortly thereafter) met their first friends, as did mommy.  With the RNC group, I got to help them know more about Racine and the area, sharing places and events I learned about from my other playgroup moms.  How fun was that?  I was already becoming a source of info for things to do, places to go with the family and kids (and moms only, too!)

So where are you at?  Are you a mom (or dad) with young children wanting to connect with other moms (or dads) to find friendships and support?  Here are a list of some formal/public opportunities to do just that:

Kenosha MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meets every 1st and 2nd Wednesday from (September – May) from 9:30-11am at  First Christian Church, located at 13022 Wilmot Road, Kenosha. Come to entrance F and you will be greeted and welcomed in!

MOPS of Grace Church meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday from 9-11a.m at Grace Church, 3626 Highway 31, in Racine.  They also meet September through May, starting on September 15th.  Next Thursday, on the fifth of September, they will be hosting a Drive-Thru Registration, from 9:30-11am at Grace.

There are additional MOPS groups that meet in SE Wisconsin and N. Illinois (and across the US). To find additional groups, click here.

Racine Area Moms Meetup is an active membership group available to Racine, Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and neighboring community’s moms who like to get together, talk over coffee, and let the kids play.  The group welcomes moms of all kinds.  Join and meet up for a small fee of $10!

Kenosha Moms Network or KMN is a group for stay at home moms who live in Kenosha and the surrounding area. This is a group for moms who are serious about attending play dates to get out of their house and meet new friends.   Moms can join this group for $10 annual membership fee.

Rockin’ Mommas is mainly local to Racine, Kenosha and Oak Creek formed as a place for mommas to meet new people, make new friends, explore the city, unwind, laugh, learn and grow. It’s core is a social group online, at the same time, offers a myriad of events including play dates at area parks, gymnastic clubs, etc. and momma’s nights out.

Mommy and me Playdates is a moms group in Wisconsin for Racine and Kenosha county areas that cater mainly to families with kids ages newborn to 9, yet open on that policy. With a focus on family, if dad has off, by all means, bring him along. The group schedules play dates and mommy nights. While more active during the summer, events are planned throughout the year.

So, let’s address the dads, now.  Just Add Kids is organizing a group of dads on Facebook called JAK Dads. This is an  is an exclusive group of “Stay At Home Dads” (SAHD’s) or other dad’s (ie: divorced) who reside and raise their children in Racine, Kenosha, and the surrounding communities in SouthEastern Wisconsin and NorthEastern Illinois. This group was created for SAHD’s to connect, support, and socialize all for the benefit of their children.   A playgroup would be a great part of JAK Dads!  Any interested dads, can request to join the group on Facebook, or email

I can tell you from my experience in a playgroup, moms that play together, MAY stay together.  The Racine Newcomers Club has long disbanded. It’s been 18 years, since my other playgroup organized.  New moms and tots came and went for different reasons.  We weathered some tumultuous, dramatic times, though a core of  five of us moms (and tots) survived.  That core group experienced an additional 14 births, totaling 19 kids among us…one of which is now starting her sophomore year in college.  Wow!

I can’t quite remember when we quit meeting as a “playgroup” on a weekly basis, mostly because our socializing did not.  Early on, we started scheduling in “mom’s nights out”, at the very least around each of our birthdays.  Then it became even more frequent than that, and the “guys” were brought into the fold with our annual couple’s Christmas dinner outing.  Finally, there were the trips, perhaps not all attended each : San Francisco, Orlando, Las Vegas, to name a few.  The playgroup, sans kids, was now dubbed “The Momtourage”.  As it is, “The Momtourage” gets together less frequently than ever.  With that said, when we do get together, we have some awesome stories….I’ll just leave it there.  Oh, the benefits of playgroup!

If you are part of, or know of a playgroup that is open for new participants, please post to the Just Add Kids Facebook page, or email, so JAK can help connect groups to moms and their tots.

We’ll update this post and publicize that fact, too.

Have fun! Play nice!



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“Tissue Boxes, Wipes & Plastic Baggies. No?”

Back to (Home) SchoolSchool-Supplies1-300x266
by JAK’s guest mom blogger from Burlington, Colleen Nagle

I can recall end of summer days of years past. Walking into any store and being bombarded with back to school clothes, sales, school supplies….and moms scrambling to hoard necessities before the shelves went bare.

I recall the scramble; trying to locate every supply on the teachers wish list. The stress of finding ‘acceptable’ shoes that my child would be willing to wear, and the debt! The burning through my credit cards to ensure my kids had the best clothes, best shoes, best backpack and best supplies.

Now that I home school, the end of summer means I can enter any store and not wince at the sight of school supply lists. Read More…Purchases are made out if necessity. My school supply list consists of locating leftover spirals from last year, and dusting off the Rubbermaid container filled with a hundred broken crayons and half used glue sticks.

Since most days our school uniform is pajamas, we will make certain we have a proper supply of lounge pants and T-shirts. Gym class requires old running shoes and random shorts for our outdoor adventures, hikes, bike rides, runs, strolls along the beach and yoga in the park.

Dylan yoga Dylan stretching Dylan riding

Needless to say, the best part of homeschooling is knowing that as summer draws to a close, my child is not stressed. There is no anxiety about meeting a new teacher, no losing sleep worrying about fitting in or if that bully will again be in their class. No panic about how in the world they will make it from the last class to the bus in time before the bus departs without them.

Homeschool has erased anxiety from my kids minds, removed pain from my heart as a result of worrying over them and their day at school. Homeschool is still school, still work, still challenging and still demanding. But, at the same time it has been our lifesaver. Releasing stress and strengthening our family bond.

Dylan vertebrae projectDylan at Desk Dylan and Colleen

The end if summer, for us, means an anticipated return to family routine. Learning together and learning about each other. Growing together as a family, and as individuals.

Welcome back to Home School!

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Life Lessons According to…

by Just Add Kids Founder,
Paula Herrmann

From the mouth of Ashton Kutcher, as he accepted his MTV’s “Ultimate Choice” Award at the 2013 Teen Choice Award’s this past weekend. Amazing things he learned about before he was 19, when he was called by his real first name, Chris. (Ashton being his middle name, that he soon took on as he “put on” Hollywood as Ashton Kutcher, who catapulted to mega stardom, in my mind, as actress Demi Moore’s cougar eye candy):

1) About “opportunity”, 2) about “being sexy”, and 3) “about” living life.

The birth of MTV came at a time in my life, when I was pretty much the same age as the screaming girlies in the audience of this awards program. Read more… Now, I am the mother of girls that are teens (18, 16 and 11 going on…well, she’s a preteen, so it changes with the wind), MTV ain’t what it used to be, and (much to my pleasant surprise) Ashton Kutcher just delivered a very timely message for my kids. For society.

I never thought that Ashton and I would be on the same page. I’ve not really ever been a fan. I don’t typically idolize celebrities. But there you go.

I hope you have heard his speech, if not, please take a moment to click and watch the video. Many, like myself, are applauding Kutcher’s delivering of a passionate message about hard work and the dignity of a job, ANY job.
Secondly, equating what he considers as being “sexy” is actually being “smart, thoughtful, and generous”. Finally, he reflected on rather than “living a life”, one should “build a life” referencing the late Steve Jobs.

Of course, most of the feedback has come from bloggers, media outlets, and now as the video has gone viral, adults and parents are sharing the message and chiming in.

I wonder if the message has penetrated those it was intended on impacting..our teens and young adults?

When you listen to the clip, it’s interesting to take note where the (immature) screams are heard and where there is (respectful) silence. Besides where the “I-want-to-burst-out-and-scream-something-so-Ashton-will-notice-me” shout outs are heard, at what points in Ashton’s acceptance speech was the audience quiet? Yay, might they actually be listening? And conversely, where the young fans responded and shrieked with glee. (hint: opportunity (quiet), being sexy (scream), living (a) life (silent)).

While this is a great speech, and I am glad to be contributing to spreading the message, I am hoping it can and will make an impact. The task at hand will be somehow we’ve got to get “opportunity, or hard work” AND “building a life” to “be sexy”.

(Chris) Ashton Kutcher, “old guy”, “just lucky to have a job”, very wise. And that ain’t no cr*p.

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The Week in the Life of Mom

Busy, Busy, Busy, Busybusy-full-calendar-monthly-clients
by Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

I dreamed about a summer of chilling out, rest and relaxation, fun, a family getaway, getting more healthy and fit…Hmmmmm, at this juncture, it doesn’t look too promising. I am not sure what went wrong. It all started okay once I got past the end of the school year hangover.

As a mother of 4 kids, (now 18, 16, 11,9…yah, that old!) I figured out years ago, a mom’s busiest months are May, September, and December. Maybe not in that order for everyone. I think I’d flip the last two months. But definitely May (into early June) tops ’em all if your kids are of school age. Might anyone refute that? Read More…

So what the heck happened this past week that has had me flyin’, drivin’ by the seat of my panties?

As I recap: I promoted and participated at the (wonderful) fundraiser for Autism Solution Pieces last Friday night; a graduation party and a birthday party on Saturday; 2 singing performances for one child (throw in the bake sale for the later show) on Sunday, one early morning, one in the evening; overnight weekend guests; sailing adventures for 2 kids (weekend races, Tuesday excursion, Wednesday race); 3 sleepovers (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday); drivers ed each weekday for 1 kid; orthodontist appointment for 1 kid on Tuesday, extended family dinners (Wednesday and Thursday); and 2 kids with golf this morning. These are all the things on the busy, busy, busy schedule for the week. That didn’t account for all the stuff inserted in there: prep for each of the listed items, coordinating and scheduling for the next week(s), dishes, laundry, paperwork, picking up stuff laying around the house, carpet cleaning…help! Oh, that’s right, how could I forget about the serial text stalker that sucked up hours of my life on Tuesday….freakin’ time stealer.

Kid's Carnival & Concert Aug 2 2013 The Unicorn Tall Ship Racine 8.2012

Kaisa singing Catamaran races Racine Yacht Club 2013

kids golfingcreeper text pic w number whited out

This is August. I am afraid of September (#3 month on the busy scale) and even before that, what’s to come next week. So I dream while I operate in survival mode. A week in the life of a mom.
Tired? I am.

P.S. As I reread, my intention is not to vent or complain, necessarily. I am exhausted, of course. Yet, I am blessed.

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You Had Me At…

Meeting Cindy, Gavin & Rusty
By Just Add Kids Founder, Paula HerrmannGavin Cindy and Rusty

It might sound a little creepy to say that I fell in love with a relationship. Well, I did.

I bumped into the trio of mom, Cindy; son, Gavin; and therapy dog, Rusty Schultz at a special needs resource fair a few months back. I, there representing the resources Just Add Kids has to offer families, including those with special needs* children. And “team Schultz”? They were there at the table next to me, sharing the opportunities available from the support group Autism Solution Pieces, selling merchandise, and seeing and making new friends. Wasn’t too hard!  The adorable, extremely well-behaved Goldendoodle is a magnet.  Read More…

I spent some time learning more about the group that I had been introduced to before via a phone call from co-founder and Vice-President Cathy Wathen months earlier. By meeting the other half Cindy, President of the founding team of A.S.P., as it is commonly referred to as, I know the why and the inspiration for all their efforts.  I can’t even begin to describe the passion Cathy has for providing support to others, sharing her experience, faith and knowledge.  It’s overflowing.

I also got to meet Gavin, who is 15 years old and diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3. At the event, you could find him keeping busy at their table working on some project, or moseying around socializing with Rusty, his faithful companion, at his side. To the best of my knowledge, while I am acutely aware of the ever rising numbers of those diagnosed with Autism, I don’t recollect much personal interaction that I’ve had with someone with Autism. I felt a little awkward at first, directly talking to Gavin. Rusty is definitely a buffer, if not a welcomed diversion. (not in a negative way). Interacting with the dog is a way to come together and communicate.

Today, I can speak of my adoration for this family trio: mom, son and dog. You know it’s there, yet, it’ll take more than I have time to write about at this juncture and I’d like to save that for a later date. But trust me, you won’t have to wait too long! There is so much to that story. Take note of the “talking to” I mentioned in the previous paragraph, we’ll address that in great detail at a later date. And I cannot wait!

Along with the brief introduction to the Schultz’s is an introduction to A.S.P. which is best summed up by its mission statement:
“At Autism Solution Pieces, our goal is to empower parents and individuals affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).  Autism Solution Pieces is a volunteer based organization whose purpose is to raise hope and awareness by providing support and peer group meetings, educational conferences, fundraising events, and community outings for Autistic individuals. We are committed to providing current information on ASD causes, prevention, and treatments so parents and individuals can use these resources to build knowledge best suited for their families.”

To learn more about A.S.P., you may visit their website at and “Like” their Facebook page.

Allow me to also invite you to a fundraiser benefiting the work of Autism Solution Pieces. Kids Carnival & Concert will take place on Friday, August 2nd.Here are some of the details. I’ll be there, and of course the dynamic Schultz trio will be there. We won’t be hard to find if you want to come and say “hi”.I’ll be in a Just Add Kids shirt. Cindy will be running around, happily wearing a smile. Gavin and Rusty….well, if you can’t pick those two out of a crowd.

Please come. We’d like a crowd!
Autism Solution Pieces flier kids carnival and concert 2013
* Just Add Kids posts kid-oriented, family-friendly activities and events to our website’s Happenings Calendar of Events. Presently, we highlight those that accommodate or are intended for special needs by framing the event in **asterisks**

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