Archive for November, 2007

Nov 28 2007

Our Heroes Have Always Been Veteran’s

I spoke yesterday about my Grandpa Richard.  The man who I spent my life looking up to … hero worship, you might call it.  He always said the right thing to me, no matter how much I didn’t know it at the time.  His love was like a shield that protected me from the world … and thrust me into life with zealousness.  My very own super hero! 
I am proud that my Grandpa Richard’s casket flag sits with me everyday in my office.  His spirit lives with me in my heart – and in that flag.  Always.
I grew up in the small town of Hayward, Wisconsin.  We’re talking every stereotype of what a small town is about, that’s Hayward.  The school principal knew your every move, in and out of school.  The local hair salon and barbershop were where you went for news of anyone and anything that happened in the town.  Your neighbor knew what you were having for dinner because they saw you at the local grocer.  Very small town!
One of my friends was Sandy Snyder.  She, too, had her very own Richard — her dad.  He was special to us then, and we spent many youthful (and beyond) days talking of our love for our Richards … and how we knew they’d someday move on to greener pastures and leave us to fend for ourselves.  Sadly, Sandy lost her Richard this year (I lost mine in 1999).  In honor of our amazing Richard’s, I want you to read Sandy’s son’s winning essay in honor of Veteran’s everywhere. 

My Favorite Veterans
By Ian Okamoto

Veterans Day, November 11th, is one day we set aside to show our thanks for the men and women who have fought for our freedom.  Even though we give thanks more often than just once a year, November 11th is a day recognized by everyone to give thanks and remember in their own way.

Veterans Day is a day for parades, speeches, parties, prayer and thanks.  Some places even have Veterans Day sales.  The Post Office does not deliver mail on Veterans Day.  Most banks let their employees take the day off to enjoy Veterans Day in their own special way.  Some family members put flags on their Veteran’s cemetery to show their respect for the courage it must have taken to fight for our country.

Veterans Day is special to me because my poppa, Richard L. Snider, was a Corporal in the Korean War.  He was issued the Korean Service Medal, four Bronze stars and the United Nations Service Medal.  Poppa was discharged on December 27, 1952, but never ever forgot his time in Korea.  My poppa received military rites when he was buried this summer.  Taps was played and my Granny received her very own flag.  Poppa always had a flag hanging from his deck with a light underneath of it.  This is my first Veterans Day without him.  My Granny still has a flag hanging on the deck-and now she has a special flag which she keeps in a special box.

My Granddad, George Okamoto also served our country.  Granddad served in World War II in the 442nd Infantry.  Granddad left the Internment Camp to serve and fight for our country.  He received two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and other medals.  He spent two years in an Army Hospital because his legs were shot full of ammunition.  Granddad and Poppa never talked much about their time at war.

I hope everyone takes time on Veterans Day to thank the men and women who fight for our freedom.

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Nov 20 2007

Following Your Passion

Do you get up every day eager to start the day?  Do you love what you do?   Do feel as if you are following your passion?  Does your existing life have meaning? If you answered yes to all of the above—bravo!  I mean BRAVO!  You make up a small percentage of the world.  You need to share your success with others!

If you are still searching for your passion, it might be right around the corner or right in front of your face.  Keep looking!   My “aha moment” came just before turning 40 when I was trying to get my own children ready for school.  I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for so I decided to write, self-publish and distribute a line of children’s educational books.   That’s the pat answer for the media, but really it was more like a brick hit me in the face and I just knew what I was meant to do!

In my case, it started with a series of Oprah shows; first it was the walking buddy show where I started walking with a neighbor to get in shape.  She was telling me what her daughter just learned in Kindergarten.  I was amazed as I did not realize how advanced the Kindergarten curriculum had become.  So I set out to find a book to help my 3 and 1-year-old girls prepare for their first day of school.    I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted.  I did not want a storybook on Kindergarten or a workbook.  I wanted a simple book that I could put my children in my lap that we could read and learn the Kindergarten curriculum.  I wanted something engaging and fun, yet simple enough that I could teach simply by reading it to them. 

One summer day in 2003, I was walking with my walking buddy. I mentioned that Oprah was having something called The Big Dream Contest and I mumbled that I wish I had an idea for Oprah’s Big Dream Contest.  My friends answer, changed my life.  She said,  “How about that Kindergarten book you can’t find, one book for every grade that helps parents, kids and teachers.”  The minute she said it, I knew it was what I was meant to do.  It was my defining moment, the brick finally hit me in the face and “aha” I knew it was what I was suppose to do.  So I started to make it happen with writing and working with educators and curriculum specialists, parents and kids.  I did not submit the idea to Oprah’s Contest at the time, it was just too good of an idea that I was simply meant to do. So I did.

How did I do it?  Ironically, Oprah seemed to answer my questions at every step along the way.  She even had a show on self-publishing when I was at the point when I was deciding how to publish, so it was like a message directly to me complete with the tools to publish it myself.  So that’s what I did.  Oprah had a show on successful Mommy Companies as if to reinforce my decision and a show on her trip to Africa, which inspired me to make my books available with global characters, available in many languages <still working on that>, and durable to withstand the huts in Africa.   

I fell into my passion and have been stumbling and bumbling along the way and still listen to Oprah and watch for other signs to point me in another direction or give me the tools to jump the next hurdle along the way.  Obviously Oprah was a huge influence on my life and this is what I know for sure, if I ever meet her I will do the ugly cry and pray that I can actually get the words “thank you” out of my mouth.  She has had that affect on millions of other people too.  I find it amazing that someone I have never met or spoke too had the power to show me the way.  If this can happen to me, it can happen to you!

Look around and listen.  Are you passing by your signs?  Do you ignore your gut?  Does something keep coming up time and time again?  Listen with an open mind and heart and see what comes your way.  It could be someone you have never met, someone standing in the line at the grocery store that may tell you something that could be life-changing.  Listen and trust your gut.  In my case, it was people I did not know, or those that I did not know very well who became the key to my success.     

Passion has given my life so much meaning.  So now I am on a mission to try to help others find or create passion in their lives.   Might your passion be something that you currently are doing as a hobby or something that you did in the past?   Perhaps, you can try writing down things that make you happy and see if something jumps out at you? 

In my husband’s case, his passion is his hobby — hunting and fishing.  He is most happy sitting in the woods or in a boat.  I encourage him to take hunting and fishing trips because I now understand what joy I get from following my passion, so I know how happy he is when he comes home from a day spent living out his dreams. 

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

Are you ready to find your passion in life?  Might you ask yourself some questions to unlock your passion?  What do you truly enjoy?  We can’t wait to hear about your “Aha Moment” when it occurs for you.  It will be a memorable experience!

119 responses so far

Nov 03 2007

Education Options: Public, Private, Christian or Home School?

At almost every single parent workshop I give, someone will ask me “Stacey, how did you decide between public, private, Christian or home school?”

My answer seems to shock many, yet inspire others. 

As a family, back in February of 2004, we visited all the schools in our area:  public, private, Christian, and even tried a few days of home schooling so we could make our decision as a family.  On our visits, we would ask to sit in and visit with every Kindergarten class.  Every principal commended us for making this a family decision and we were shocked when we found that we were in the 1% club—only 1% of parents ever actually do what we were doing.  I was shocked!

We walked the halls and ate lunch in every school cafeteria as a family. My husband was a strong supporter of his Christian Lutheran School that he had attended as a child. But, the 30-minute drive one-way was less appealing to me, especially during a Wisconsin winter, as I was the designated bus driver. 

I was a product of public school because I lived in a rural setting with no other options within 50 miles.  We discussed each school, looking for input from our soon to be 5 and 3 year old daughters.  It was a surprise to my husband and I, that we had unanimously selected the public school, three minutes from our home.  Heidi selected Mrs. Neitzke as her Kindergarten teacher, so we sent the school a letter for teacher request and completed her pre-Kindergarten screening and enrollment paperwork.

Because I was a stay-at-home Mom, I promised my family that I would embrace our new public school with a home school, Christian mentality:

  • We would, as a family, become involved in the PTA.
  • I would be the driver in charge of dropping off and picking up the kids.
  • I would volunteer every month.
  • I would travel and be involved in all class trips.
  • I would get to personally know each child’s entire class because studies show children are less like to bully your children if you know their name.
  • I would “do lunch” everyday of that first week of Kindergarten with my child and then plan a lunch “date” with them every quarter staying to play at recess time too.
  • I would work with my school to help find funding and grant opportunities. It is much easier than it sounds. Simply search the Internet for “educational grants” and your city or your state. Then search “community grants” and your city or your state. Then, work with your teachers to write the grant or pass it to your school’s grant writer.
  • I know that I am my child’s first and best teacher!

Whichever method you chose to school your children, as long as it is a family decision, you (as a parent) are armed with confidence, and are actively involved in the education process; your children will succeed academically, socially, mentally and physically.
Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Care to share the steps you took to select your child’s educational path?  Perhaps your ideas will help make the process easier for another family.

293 responses so far

Nov 01 2007

Let’s Get Ready For Cold and Flu Season

6 top things parents can do to motivate their kids to wash their hands:

1)  I remember the commercial, when I was a kid…. “Wash your hands, Roger” where the mom was saying it over and over and over again. Parents we have to say it over and over and over again. It becomes the mantra. They come out of the bathroom and I listen for the sound of the water or if the water doesn’t sound like it’s been on long enough — I will say — wash you hands again, Megan! And she will make that sigh sound as if saying “Mom caught me again!”

2)  Squid soap – my kids love it — it’s a squid over a soap with a red dot that they have to rub and rub to get off their hands and the red dot actually keeps them washing and washing.  The research says to keep them washing for 20 seconds!   I’ve even attached a coupon. 


3)  We have family rules – cough-wash; sneeze-wash; blow-wash; touch eye-wash; before eating-wash; after school-wash!

4)  Make it fun — like a game — catch them washing their hands and reward them or have them sing to you as they are washing their hands — Who needs the shower!…Sing in the sink!

5)  Remind them if they are near a sick person, they have to wash, wash, and wash even more! My kids, 8 and 6, have been carrying the anti-bacterial wipes in their backpack at school since preschool and they help themselves as needed. We always have these wipes at home, when we travel and at school.

6)  The one who doesn’t get sick wins!!! Have a contest in the family to reward the one who doesn’t get sick or the last one to get sick and make it worthwhile. That includes mom and dad and set the ground rules in the family as to what sick means — cough, cold, sneezing, etc. 

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

It’s never fun being sick.  Do you have a favorite product that helps children stay on top of their anti-cold and flu game?  Please share!  Anything that keeps children as germ-free as possible is a definite plus!

122 responses so far