Archive for May, 2014

Oh, Maya

She Inspired 
by Just Add Kids Founder
Paula Herrmann

Do you ever wonder how someone who has made such an impact on so many kinda flies under your radar?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     It’s not that I’ve never heard of Maya Angelou. I have. And I connect her immediately with Oprah Winfrey. So I think I know that Oprah has been inspired by her and she’s referenced her, quoted her, and obviously must’ve had her as a guest on her show one or several times. I really don’t know.

I was a bit surprised at the conversation that ensued this evening in our car ride. Read more….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     My intellectual (DD #2) mentioned, “Oh, did you hear Maya Angelou died?” Her older sister replies “Ah, yah, that was already yesterday” (funny how “yesterday’s news” in this technological, social media day in age might sometimes be construed as “old news’). Her intentions, I gather were not that it still wasn’t newsworthy, but rather to indicate she trumped her sister in current events. Surprisingly, the intellectual really wasn’t too familiar with Maya, either. It was older sister, DD #1, who gave us some insight as to who Maya was. She indicated she was talked about a lot in elementary and middle school literature books. Apparently, DD #1 has read many of her works, especially her poetry. That really surprised me. She really holds Maya and her inspirational writing in high regard. Gosh, you think you know a kid, especially when she’s been around for 19 years!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             I’m not sure why my path hasn’t crossed and attention caught with what Maya stood for. I find strength, empowerment, encouragement and knowledge in my own daily teachings that I personally tap into with Joyce Meyer. So, I thought I’d take a few moments to look into Maya a bit, and of course in the day that has followed her death, there is no shortage of people writing about her life, her works, her impact.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not much of a book reader, as I know I am definitely on the adult ADHD spectrum, I found that indeed I would have benefitted from following her Twitter posts. Not a frequent poster, but Maya’s 140 character bits of wisdom, sure would have been welcomed in my feed! Here a few tweets that touched me:






I wonder about the sense of loss, not only her family member, close friends and colleagues may feel, yet those whose lives she profoundly impacted. Those she never knew.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I’m always amazed when I see someone whose name, in a coincidental way, reflects a bit of who they “are” or in Maya’s case “was”. ANGELou. Again, as I look to my own inspirational mentor JOYce. Just interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh Maya, what a legacy you’ve left. I’m glad to have gotten to know you a bit today.


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Mmmm, Memorable


Shirt reads "This is faithfulness at its finest"

Shirt reads “This is faithfulness at its finest”

by Just Add Kids Founder
Paula Herrmann

I kinda don’t even feel like I have the right to write about this, having only been on the sidelines. But, it has been on my mind for the last 4 days. The impression it’s left…well, unforgettable.

                                                                                                                                  If you missed out on any of the snapshots, comments, chatter about it….my gosh, I’ll do my best, from the eyes and heart of this spectator who has been touched so deeply.  Read more….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I’m talking about “A Night to Remember – Special Needs Prom” that was brought to life this past Sunday evening by the Great Lakes Church community and Racine community at large. My heart has grown especially soft and fond for the special needs community all spurred on by friendship that has started and grown over the last year. Oh, and if you’ve been a reader of JAK Chat, you may be familiar with the trio I am referring to. That being 16 year old Gavin who has autism: his service dog, Rusty; and his mom, Cindy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The event brought together businesses, organizations, and individuals that donated tuxedos, dresses, limos, primping, photos,

Gavin at tux fitting days prior to ANTR

Gavin at tux fitting days prior to ANTR

time…so much happened behind the scenes, yet for those of us who were spectators, it all came to life on the Red Carpet as each of the nearly 100 honored guests (special needs teens and young adults) were announced and escorted down the path with crowds cheering, cameras snapping, videos rolling, and tears streaming, into Racine’s Festival Hall (which also played host to the prior evening’s Post Prom party for area high schools) where dancing and activities ensued. Of course, most touching personally, was when the crowd was summoned to do a silent cheer for Gavin with hands up (pictured above). Too much noise for Gavin is over-stimulating.

Gavin with his escorts approach the Red Carpet

Gavin with his escorts approach the Red Carpet

I didn’t partake and observe anything that went on inside, but let’s let the pictures and Gavin’s recap below do the “talkin’ “…

Gavin and friend, Jenna

Gavin and friend, Jenna

And they danced....

And they danced….

...and danced!

…and danced!

                                                                                                                              Here’s what non-verbal Gavin had to say about the memorable event via Rapid Prompting Method, in conversation with his therapist Jackie and his mom.

Jackie and Gavin post prom dialog 5.2014Mom – What did you think of the Night to Remember prom?
Gavin – I had a great time.
Mom – How did you feel walking down the red carpet and everyone was doing the quiet waving for you?
Gavin – I loved it.
Mom – Did you like dancing with Jenna and Bella and all the other girls? You danced with way more then 10 girls.
Gavin – I felt cool. They were all so beautiful.
Mom- What was so appealing in the quiet room that you kept going back there after every dance?
Gavin – It was relaxing.
Jackie – Were you trying to find more girls to dance with?
Gavin – Yes, next year can you come Jackie?
Jackie – I have Sunday’s off and would love to help if I am invited.
Mom – What would you like to tell Great Lakes Church, Jeremy and Angela and all the other volunteers that made this prom so AWESOME!
Gavin – I had a great prom. Thank you for all you did for us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even more touched, is Cindy, Gavin’s mom. Reflecting on the event, Cindy was up late last night and wrote out her thoughts in these words…

When “you” realize life is not all about “I and me” it’s about “us and we”,

that’s when together we can truly make a difference in this world.

~ Cindy Schultz (Autism Solution Pieces – Co Founder).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cindy writes on her Facebook wall…”This is how I felt the night of the Night to Remember Special Needs Prom (Great Lakes Church, Jeremy Moore, Angela Tappa and the many other volunteers that made this night so amazing for our kids ~ THANK YOU!!!!)”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And from a woman, a mom, a friend from the sidelines (that would be ME!)….Kudos to Great Lakes Church, hundreds of volunteers, countless donors/donations. You’ve made our community a better place! Well done!


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This End UP!

Up, Up and Away!  

Source: Huffington Post

by Just Add Kids Founder,

Paula Herrmann

It happened over 4 years ago, that fateful trip down down down 3 floors to the basement parking lot of the Intercontinental Hotel complex in downtown Milwaukee. It was Thanksgiving weekend, Saturday, at about 4:50pm. We’d gone to see “A Christmas Carol” and were headed back to the car. Three of us, myself, my husband, and my son, who was 6 at the time, boarded an overloaded elevator with 7 other people. I suppose you can already figure out what happened. Yup, we got stuck. Read more…

                                                                                                                                 Over an hour later, a few mini panic attacks, and 7 new best friendships formed with our co-victims from Kenosha, we finally get rescued by the Milwaukee fire department. Scarred for life! I resist any and all opportunities to ride an elevator, unless when absolutely necessary…and I can count the number of times on, well, now, 2 hands. I did a pretty good job maintaining my composure during our entrapment, especially for the sake of my son, yet now everyone I’m with has to hear the story and deal with my elevator phobia.

                                                                                                                                  So what’s “up” about the elevator saga? Well, I’ll now segway into telling you Salvation Army bounce housethe story of when that same son got “his bell rung” in the Salvation Army Red Kettle bounce house. It was two weeks ago and my now 10 year attended an event at the Salvation Army in Oak Creek. Actually, sonny boy came to work with me as I had my Just Add Kids table and corn hole tossing game set up outside to meet, greet and mingle with the families that attended. Since it was only several days back, you may remember how windy this particular day was. Hmmmm, it could’ve been a warm lovely sunny Saturday, yet dang, THAT wind!

                                                                                                                                   As you can see in the picture, this bounce house was anchored/strapped down by several PVC buckets filled with sand. There were at least 2, if not 3 people working the bounce house, which for the most part, included sitting on the buckets to keep the dang house secured. At one point, this huge rush of wind blows in, the stuff on my table flies off, my lightweight lawn chairs collapse, and low and behold the bounce house takes flight, tumbling on over almost onto Howell Avenue. And guess who’s kid is inside? That’s right….My son is hanging from the doorway which is now facing the clouds. I’m not panicking and neither is he. People rushed from everywhere to tend to the bounce house gone astray. At some point, he unclenches his hands from the dooorway and drops to the ground. We get him out. Jimmy Johns shows up. Yah, really! Quickly offers him a sandwich for his troubles. He’s a bit shook up, but soon gets over it and has a great story of survival to tell. Eh?

                                                                                                                                      I probably wasn’t ever going to tell you this story. It all ends well. I’m pals with the people at the Salvation Army. All is good. But then, I learn about this story this week: “Bouncy House Flies Away, Seriously Injuring Children” from a friend’s posting on my Facebook wall. Get out!  Do you see that picture above? It looks like a flippin’ UFO, but it’s a bounce house. Hallelujah, the Red Bucket did not take flight! That obviously was not the case here, or as reported in this article there have been other cases of blown away inflatables. Sadly, in this story this Little Tikes 10 x 10 foot roofless nylon broke loose from its plastic anchoring stakes and was swept skyward. There were 3 children, a 10 year old girl who fell out immediately, and two boys, ages 5 and 6 who didn’t fall out until the inflatable toy was 15 feet up in the air. One boy has a serious head injuring resulting from hitting a parked car as he fell. The other has two broken arms and several broken facial bones. How terribly awful.

                                                                                                                                  So as much as I am leary about elevators these days, trust me, I will be checking those bounce house anchors to make sure they are of commercial grade, and I will be very conscious of any wind before I let my kiddos loose in another bounce house blown up outside.

                                                                                                                                  I like to keep mine, and my kiddos feet firmly planted safely on the ground, thank ya!

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Oh No, You Di’nt!

Oh, Yes, I Did!juggling woman 2
by Just Add Kids Founder,
Paula Herrmann


So you know I am on this May Mother(over)load kick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Too darn many balls to juggle, at least for this momma to claim sanity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        On that note, I’ve decided to take a little break today, ya know, in honor of Mother’s Day, of which I am one….a mom of four humans, and a puppy and a fish, to be exact.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Writing blog entries can be a great way to express my thoughts, and share experiences. There are many times I look at what I’ve written and say, “Job well done, momma”. And then there are other times when I have nothing to offer, that is of relevancy or interest, when my creative mind is a blank slate. Not so much today, just gonna kick back. Enjoy my Mother’s Day gift to me and  Read More…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I thought it would be a great week to reflect on love. A true, pure, unselfish love. A relationship that I was introduced to just a year ago.

A mom, a son, and a dog. Here’s one of my favorite blog entries from the past year. Do enjoy… “You Had Me At…Hello!” and have a great Mother’s Day!




Gavin Cindy and Rusty

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Buckle Your Seatbelt, Momma! It’s May.

May Day! May Day! May Day!

by Just Add Kids Founder,
Paula Herrmann

                                                                                       Welcome to the juggle.

                                                                                       Today is May 1st and already the schedule juggle has ramped up a notch. If you’ve been with me for a couple of years, you know how I feel about this month. Oh, it can be wonderful if our dear mother nature is kind and blows in some warm sunny weather. Then again, this IS Wisconsin. Don’t hold your breath!

                                                                                                                               Mommas (dads, somehow I think you’re exempt) once your kiddos reach school age…bring on the juggle struggle in May. Especially for those of you that have multiple children. Hang on we’re in for a ride…

Read more…

                                                                                                                                 Thursdays in our household are notoriously busy. Anytime anyone invites me to something and they say, it’s Thursday blah blah blah, I know it shows in my face immediately the thought of wanting to, and trying to go (or on the other hand having an excuse. Well, can’t wanna go to everything, right?) Today, Thursday, May 1st, was the start of the onslaught of extra events: concerts, recitals, award ceremonies, banquets. Oh, you know. You’ve got those on your schedules, too, dontcha?!

Change my name to daddy on mothers day

Oh snap! Did I just say that?! LOL

I honestly wonder who planned Mother’s Day to happen in May? Was it a way to give us moms a break in the middle of the mayhem? Or in some cases, add to it? Hoping yours is one of rest and relaxation. For the life of me, I have no idea what we’re doing. It’s not one of those traditional plans as it is actually with Father’s Day. I dare not volunteer to host. Well, whatever the plan ends up being, we’ve/I’ve got a whole week ahead of us/me to figure it out.

                                                                                                                                 Perhaps, someone else plans your Mother’s Day celebration….lucky!  Or if you do, hope you’ve already done so. Or if not, best to you on squeezing in a moment of time to get things planned for the big day. And by the time we’re there, May 11th, we’ll be close to half the month being over.  Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

                                                                                                                                 For those of you who have wee ones (I know you’re in the game all of the time), brace yourself ladies, it’s a rite of passage, you too will soon encounter. Enjoy!

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