Archive for September, 2007

Sep 30 2007

Getting Kids to Rise to the Occasion

If two brothers can change the face of aviation, then I can tackle education!! This is my platform. 

I was a mom who was trying to get my own kids ready for school and was shocked at how advanced Kindergarten has become.  Starting the education process in Kindergarten is already too late. We need to empower kids at ages 2-4 to inspire parents and preschool teachers to all work together to be involved in education. 

A generation of children were taught to wear seat belts and they taught their parents and grandparents.  Teach children what they need to know and they will inspire their parents to become vested in education as well.  That’s the key!

A homework assignment for parents everywhere!!! Do these 6 things daily and your children will succeed!

  1. Stop, Drop, and Listen.  Stop what you are doing, drop to their level and listen to your child talk about their day, daily!
  2. Unload the backpack/ homework folder with your kids daily.  Be involved in helping them stay on track for the next day!
  3. Read with your kids every night for 15 minutes.
  4. Play a repetitive game with your kids for 15 minutes.  You could even do 10 pushups and 10 sit-ups as a family!
  5. Ask open ended questions to help your kids learn to communicate effectively. 
  6. Be involved in school activities and join your PTA/PTO!

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Letting children know you care is one of the best ways to help them stay on top of their game.  What’s your favorite way to stay involved?

12 responses so far

Sep 27 2007

On Staying Home…

I loved staying at home with my kids.  I gave notice the same day I dropped my baby off for her first day at a sitter’s home.  She was 5 months old and I cried the entire day.  I had called my husband crying several times that morning and we agreed to meet at noon in a parking lot not far from his office.  We were both in tears.  I told him that I could not let someone else take care of our child; I wanted it to be me.   So we both decided that I would give up my job and I would stay at home. 

I was already working from home, my boss was 3,000 miles away and I would have a conference call with the home office once a week.  The only downfall was the weekly overnight travel schedule.  I was still nursing with not much success pumping.  My heart was not in my existing job; my new passion became our new baby. So I gave notice that day.  My company allowed me to work out my notice around my child’s schedule and our family started to make some changes to our lifestyle for me to be a full-time mommy.  Here are some things that worked for our family:

  1. Crunch the numbers.  In our situation, we were in a higher tax bracket with two salaries, so without my salary, we dropped down to a lesser tax bracket and found most of my salary was going to Uncle Sam rather than in our pocket anyway.
  2. Make sure both of you are on the same page for one of you to stay at home.  Set the ground rules with responsibilities on both sides:  not because one goes to work all day, the other has to do everything else.  That is never a fair arrangement!
  3. Trust your gut.  Being a 24/7 at home parent is hard work.  It’s not for everyone.  Be honest with each other to determine if it is the right decision for your family.  If you decide that working gives you a release and makes you happier, for goodness sakes, don’t let guilt get in the way.  Instead embrace your outside opportunities with the positives and stay focused on the benefits!
  4. Run your household like a corporation: upper management needs to have meetings to discuss human resources, operations, engineering, delegation, maintenance and scheduling. 
  5. Set a schedule.  Plan exercise time, snack time, reading time, playtime, nap/quiet time and clean-up time and act accordingly.  When it’s nap/quiet time you can be starting dinner, folding laundry, reading a book or mediating.  Exercise time means everyone needs to get up and burn calories, walking around the yard, dancing to a favorite tune, doing jumping jacks or hopping on one foot.  Moving is exercise!
  6. Have fun!  They grow up so fast, before you know it they don’t want to take naps cuddled together on the sofa, play puzzles with you or help set the table for dinner. 
  7. Make it a point to have your children get into the habit of welcoming home both parents from work or shopping.  Everyone likes a welcoming committee complete with the sound of running feet after a quick trip to the grocery store or when Daddy comes in from a day at work.
  8. Make your own special rituals.  If my children are awake when Daddy leaves for work, we do group hugs.  My husband and I each put a child in our arms and we all hug together.   A family that hugs together stays together!

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade! 

Are you considering becoming a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM)?  If you’re on the fence, get out the paper and pencil and get busy.  Make a list of pros and cons, crunch the household numbers, and most importantly consider what is really right for both you and your family. 

14 responses so far

Sep 20 2007

Education Reform

If I could wave a magic wand over our educational system, I would make some serious changes.  I would do a better job of making sure parents, teachers, and kids are all on the same page starting at the core:  preschool.  Until you have preschool teachers and parents knowledgeable on what kids are learning in Kindergarten, at toddler time, you will always have children falling behind.  

Testing has changed as the curriculum has become more advanced.  It is my belief that if each school took the time to have a meeting every year with parents and kids to discuss the curriculum for that year and handed out a sample report card explaining exactly what information they will be tested on, parents and kids would step up to the plate and become more responsible for learning this information. 

It is silly to expect parents and kids to just “know” what kids will be tested on before the kids are tested on it.  For each school to share this information before they begin testing just makes sense.  It would help empower both parents and kids so they would understand just how advanced the curriculum has become.  It would allow parents and kids the opportunity to become more involved in their education.

Another way to keep the fun in school is to change the way we view instruction.  Children should want to go to school and learn.  In the age of computers and technology, classrooms need to move away from the instructor in the role of lecturer at the head of the class, with the attitude that children need to shut up and listen.  I hate to tell you this but not all teachers are great teachers.   Great teachers realize the importance of involving children in the day-to-day learning process and empowering them in a creative and revolutionary way to keep learning fun.  Teachers need to realize that memorization studies show that unless the information is presented in a fun and interesting format, after the test, the information is not successfully retained. 

I would like to bring prayer and the morning pledge of allegiance back into schools.  For those that don’t believe in prayer, both sides will learn acceptance and tolerance for someone else’s belief.  I would like to end the political division in education.  It seems unfair that I know my superintendent’s political belief and yet my child is not allowed to pray in school.  Why is it okay for him to practice his belief on school time and yet my child is not allowed to pray in school?  Where is the union for my child, protecting her belief?

Our public school in Wisconsin has a $10 million dollar budget, the exact salary as the Green Bay Packers pay their quarterback, Brett Farve.  I am a huge Brett Farve fan, but the priorities of our nation say he is more valuable than one entire school district. 

In that district, 85% of the budget or $8.5 million dollars goes for teacher’s salaries, pensions, retired employee’s and health benefits and the remaining 15% is for the kids, right.  WRONG.  Of that 15%, the district needs to pay for school busing, heating and cooling the school and maintaining the school to the tune of another $1 million dollars or so.  So what is really left for our kids?  Not much! Show me any other business that caters to the employees rather than the customer and I will show you a business that was forced to close its doors long ago.  And of course, if you say anything about this discrepancy you have every teacher union president in your face screaming.  Why?  We live in a democracy where we are even allowed to bash our president but heaven help us if we question our educational system.  Why is that?  Sadly, because we have allowed unions to become the heart of education.  They are dividing education into two sides at the expense of our children.  I say, enough is enough; it is time to bring both sides to the table and re-negotiate for the future of education with our children becoming the top priority. 

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

What are your thoughts on the state of education today?  Are you happy with your school and/or district?  Have any suggestions for reform?

14 responses so far

Sep 10 2007

Let’s Get Ready for Tween FUN!

Published by under Cedar Valley Fun

I want to take the time to share a great site with you, one that just may be what you’ve been looking for:  MyTweenCentral.com touts itself as the place “where moms buy tween-safe entertainment.” 
 
Goodness, just thinking about my children getting to the “tween” years is enough to scare me!  But, I know that my oldest daughter is already considered a tween <gasp>, and our youngest is nearing that age, too!
 
Then again, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that in this day and age, making sure my children read, listen and see age-appropriate media is a huge responsibility.  Even some of the commercials on television are enough to leave me running for the remote control! 
 
Here’s what Jeff Cooley, CEO and founder of MyTweenCentral.com says about his business:

MyTweenCentral.com exists to provide an online safe haven for mom-approved tween entertainment. Your child is safe to browse, read about, and even listen to song samples from thousands of their favorite tween titles!  MyTweenCentral.com empowers you as a parent to shop with purpose. Our comittment to you is that we will continue to build a counter-cultural platform for safe and age-appropriate tween entertainment.

I get excited when I go visit MyTweenCentral.com because I know that the books, videos and music that is offered is truly “family friendly.” 
 
And the talent that’s on MyTweenCentral.com is unbelievable!  My girls thought it was an amazing thing when they got to meet Mickey and his friends – can you imagine their elation when they were able to see some of their favorite celebrities like Chloe Spencer (www.neopetsfanatic.com)?  We read her interview aloud and the girls were ready to jump through the monitor to hug her!  And for moms, there are adult interviews, too….like the current one with Tricia Goyer:
http://www.mytweencentral.com/rel/v2_home.php?storenr=271&deptnr=170.  Tricia is one of those wonderful ladies that you just want to sit across from at the kitchen table and laugh and enjoy such grand company. 
 
Know what that does?  It takes a huge load off of my shoulders.  It gives me a peace of mind about sharing these types of products with my girls.  It also allows me, as a mom, the opportunity to shop safely.  Without worrying where the remote control is!

I just read her MARVELOUS book:  A Valley of Betrayal and you can see my review of it on Amazon.com.

11 responses so far

Sep 06 2007

Ideas for PTA/PTO Fun

Our family is committed to our school’s PTA.  We attend the meeting as a family and enjoy being involved in the social benefits it brings.  It is truly a fun way to get and stay involved in our children’s school.  Come on, what are you waiting for?

  • Invite parents, teachers and kids to come to your next meeting and provide babysitting with a fun activity in another room for the kids.  Children who had a parent involved in education are more likely to be involved themselves as parents.
  • Bring a healthy snack, water or fortified 100% juice for after the meeting and invite the kids to share ideas with the PTA, parents and teachers. Empowered kids mean successful kids.
  • On PTA/PTO meetings day, pass out a sticker for the kids to wear home that says PTA/PTO Meeting Tonight to gently remind parents of the meeting and reiterate that kids are invited too. Keeping everyone involved is the key!
  • Have a membership table at all school activities to recruit and inspire others to join and get involved.  When it’s fun, people want to come!
  • Sounds like fun:  a brat fray; a car wash; a Christmas/Elf shop for kids to shop for parents and siblings; Fun Fair with games, clowns, bouncy houses, silent auctions, cake walks and guessing jars – to name a few.  
  • Host a back to school picnic and greet the teachers, parents and kids the week before school starts to make everyone feel welcome and excited about the new school year.  The key to school success is to make it fun!
  • Host a subject fair, such as Science Fair complete with a group of Mad Scientists who visit each classroom conducting experiments to generate interest in participating, or Art Fair with artists who visit each classroom creating masterpieces, or highlighting the classics to generate interest in participating.
  • Raise money for school field trips or motivational speakers for assemblies to keep it fun for your children!
  • Be a part of the school’s community and show your support, proudly!  If it’s not fun, you need to make it fun by recruiting fun, positive people and getting parents, teachers and kids all involved!!!

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Already a member of your PTA/PTO?  How does your group strive to make it fun for both the adults and the children?  We’re always looking for new idea.  Care to share with us?

166 responses so far

Sep 01 2007

It’s one step at a time AGAIN…

I made some positive life changes to my diet and exercise program a few months before I turned 40.  I was working out like a banshee, eating right and the weight was coming off.  I was finally on track until the unthinkable happened.  I had a knee and elbow injury that forced me to take some time off and recuperate. 
I actually had a doctor’s order not to exercise and I was never so miserable in all my life.  The lady who hated to exercise–I still hate to exercise, but I so love how I feel after I exercise–was told to take it easy.  I didn’t listen and ended up having a more serious injury that kept me away from the workout routine that I had been doing for 2 years.

My body was ready to begin at the 6 months mark, but it took another 3 months before my mind was ready to actually begin the journey again.  Sadly, in 9 months I had gained back all the weight it had taken me 2 years to lose.  I was back to square one. 

Fortunately, it only took me 6 weeks to get back on track and settle into a daily routine which included exercise and healthy eating habits.  I am down 10 pounds and I’m ready to share what has been working for me this second time around:

• I schedule 35 minutes on my exercise bike every day before the kids wake up.  From 6:30-7:30 every morning, I bike ride while catching up on work reading.  I am in the publishing business and have piles of books to review, so for me this is killing two birds with one stone.  Yes, I don’t burn as many calories reading a book, but it is making a dent in my reading pile, so it is a trade off that works for me.  Also, I often find myself riding longer than the full hour allotted because I just can’t put down a great book!  It provides me with the added bonus of being eager to exercise and read the next day!

• Twice a week, my husband and I take a group exercise class with weight training/ball/kickboxing.  It is also a scheduled date with my husband on the calendar.  We do it together as a team and enjoy it greatly.  With school starting, I will be moving to mornings two days a week, to allow me to be home at night with the girls, staying on homework detail.  But we still will be working out on the same days doing the same class, just at a different time. 

• I watch what I eat.  I am at the point where I don’t need to journal, as I know what works for me.  Breakfast:  Fruit or 100% orange juice with oatmeal, whole grain cereal, or a slice of whole grain bread toasted dry, with a thin layer of peanut butter spread on top; Lunch:  Fruit with either soup, salad, baked potato easy on the margarine and light sour cream or a bagel with melted cheese and a slice of ham; dinner is always a protein, veggie and fruit.  I am in charge of the kitchen, so it is easy to keep the entire family on track with making healthy choices.

• I don’t eat after 6PM. 

• I have healthy treats, veggies and fruits on hand when I need a snack.

• I am lucky that I get to read books on weight loss, motivation and self-help for my job.  Filling yourself full of positive thoughts goes a long way to keeping you away from the refrigerator.  Call a friend, read a book, take a bubble bath, clean a closet, do something else (anything positive and/or productive) to redirect your energy when you are feeling the urge to eat out of boredom.  

• Listen to your body.  If you are in need of more fuel, fill it up.  Protein is a great choice to give you some long lasting energy:  a slice of cheese, a spoonful of peanut butter, cottage cheese or a glass of 1% low fat chocolate milk will take you much farther than a bag of chips.

• I use the scale every morning to help me stay on track and help me plan my day.  If it is up, I need to try harder that day.  Perhaps I add more exercise and make better food choices.  If it’s down or the same, I rejoice!  You can’t expect to loss weight every day, 2-3 pounds a week is realistic and staying the same means you are closer to a loss!  So rejoice that you are going in the right direction!

• I like myself.  I live in the present and look to the future.  So it happened, I am trying again, working harder this time to not re-injure myself and taking every day as one step toward my goal.

• Keep Moving!  I am doing this for my family and myself because it makes me healthy, happy and terrific.  It has become another passion that I don’t want to live without.

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

What’s working for you on your quest for healthier eating and daily exercise?  Is it a journal?  A firm plan?  A promise to yourself or your family?  Let’s do some healthy dishing!

14 responses so far