Raising Kids in America

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Third "Set For Success" School Supply Drive Is On

City Councilor Kate Toomey and Susan Daly, Friendly House have announced the Third Set For Success School Supply Drive. It started on Thursday, August 14 and will continue through Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 6:00 pm.

They are collecting school supplies for kids in Worcester whose families need a little extra help with “back to school” preparations. They are asking everyone who can to help out by purchasing some school supplies that they can distribute to homeless or disadvantaged children and teens.

You can help these kids out by dropping off the following:
Pens, pencils, crayons, rulers, notebooks, highlighters, calculators, etc. and/or a backpack – you get the picture, the stuff any kid would need to get back to school.

Look for the yellow “Set for Success” boxes located at:
  • Worcester Public Library, Main Branch, Greendale Branch and Great Brook Valley Branch
  • Webster House Restaurant
  • City Hall, Second Floor Lobby by the Clerk’s Office
  • Worcester Police Department Lobby
  • Worcester Fire Headquarters on Grove Street
  • Congressman McGovern’s Office, 34 Mechanic Street
  • Riley’s Restaurant
  • Fiddler’s Green Restaurant and Pub on Temple Street

OR you can mail a check to them at:
Friendly House—Set For Success, and mailed to:
Friendly House
Set For Success
36 Wall Street
Worcester, MA 01604

Businesses and organizations are being encouraged to participate by holding their own drives. If you are interested, please contact them to register the location. They will help you by supplying posters and fliers.

City Councilor Kate Toomey at 508-963-9315 or
Susan Daly, Administrative Assistant, Friendly House at (508)755-4362

Set For Success School Supply Drive
August 14, 2008 – September 12, 2008
Multiple locations – see above

From Kate Toomey’s announcement:
Last year, this successful program, through the generosity of individuals and corporations, enabled over 1,400 students to start the year off on the right track with the tools they need to do well in school. In addition to the students who were designated homeless, there is also a great need for support for students whose families may have a roof over their heads, but do not have the means to provide the school supplies and backpacks.

This program was also able, through the generosity of donors, to meet emergency needs during the school year when the request from a school principal was received at Friendly House to assist a student or family.

The Worcester Public Schools have identified a total number of 2,467 students officially designated as homeless according to State and Federal Guidelines. A significant number of these students, 654, are living in foster homes.

This initiative has become a critical component in ensuring children’s readiness to learn. Three years since the inception of this program, the needs are greater now than ever. The cost of fuel and heating oil are expected to have a debilitating financial impact on family income. Today, the choices between food, heat, and a roof overhead become more difficult, leaving little or nothing in the way of providing these necessary tools for the students, and public support is greatly needed.

We are most grateful to our partners in this endeavor, who have graciously agreed again to be collection sites for the supplies.

Please feel free to link, copy, paste, pass along or otherwise distribute this post. It’s really important to get the word out!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

They took steps to end violence and it’s a good thing

This post was borrowed, stolen, hi-jacked from I’m From Worcester with permission.

Last Sunday we went out to the "Taking Steps To End Violence Against Women And Children" awareness walk. This is an annual event held to raise awareness about the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault and to raise money to help Daybreak, The Rape Crisis Center and Girls Inc. in Worcester.

This is a link to some photos of the t-shirt display, above is the video we shot at the event. I spoke with Kim Dawkins, Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Center of Central Massachusetts. I also got some tape of Linda Cavaioli, Executive Director of the YWCA of Central Massachusetts.

The event had a pretty good turn out. I hope that my small contribution of blog posting and vlog will help them raise awareness and support so the next one is even bigger. Speaking of which; this is an annual event so be on the lookout in the spring. They need everyone out there - that means you too.

If you couldn't make it out to walk this year you can still help. These organizations need support year round. They need volunteers, supplies and money so they can keep helping women and children in crisis. Click on the URL's below to find out how you can get involved in a specific organization. Or, go to the Taking Steps web site for information about this event.

There are hotline numbers and URLs embedded in the video. If you know anyone who is being hurt please help them by getting those numbers and web sites to them.
URLs for more information about the organizations:

The Rape Crisis center of Central Massachusetts
YWCA of Central Massachusetts / Daybreak
Girls, Inc.

AND - I think that AK Consulting Services did a great job organizing the event. They did a good job of making an informative and family-friendly event. Despite the very sad reason for the event, it was a fun day.

So - if you missed it this year, get out there next year!

Ok, I'm done telling you what to do with your weekend now. Thanks for listening :-)

***My thanks to Claudia Snell for letting me post this here!***


Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blogging for the environment - opportunity for conversations

On October 15, thousands of bloggers will unite to blog about a single topic - the environment.

If you're a blogger you might like to check it out.The concept is a pretty simple one, just blog about the environment on October 15. Anyone with a blog can participate. Click the graphic, follow the link - you'll see what to do.

Our family will hopefully post video blog entry for the online-event. I thought it would be a great way to share some time together. We're trying to plan what we'll do right now and will hopefully start shooting this weekend. (the weather needs to play nice - please!)

I've decided to use this as an opportunity to start conversations with my daughter about the environment and what we should all do to make it better. "The environment" is a pretty broad topic so it presents a lot of interesting ideas - think politics, personal responsibility, consumerism (and all the other -isms wrecking the planet), culture, spirituality, conservation and endangered species; there's a lot there. I've found it interesting to hear what my 10-year-old has to say about it all. I'm hoping we can make an interesting vlog of it ;-)

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Kids cooking with Dad

Most people including the little ones in our lives we like to call our children love meatballs. I've found that my kids love meatball hamburgers with cheese. Making the burgers with them is half the fun. I have to admit that I love the million and one questions that they seem to have a never ending curiosity about the process of cooking.

Same drill as before, everyone washes their hands as if going into surgery. Kids need to learn this little life long lesson early and what better time than the present to do so. You want their hands clean because they will be mixing the ground beef up and making the hamburger patties.

To make about eight burgers you need three pounds of ground beef. You decide the fat content but I usually get 85-15% at the old supermarket. Dump the beef into a big bowl and add about a quarter teaspoon of salt. Let the kids measure it out or just sprinkle it in from the salt shaker. Same amount of pepper. Same amount of Celery salt and Garlic powder. If you have minced garlic from the jar you can use a tablespoon. Adjust the quantities to taste as you see fit.

Everyone gets a turn mashing the meat to smitherenes. Grab a stool for the really little ones and let them have it too! Let them make their own burger patties. Kids appreciate the learning time with Dad or Mom and cooking with the kids is always a great time. Make sure they all wash their hands after the patty making process! Mom or Dad will not be to happy if they find raw hamburger on the couch... been there... done that.

Dad or Mom can toss the burgers on the grill or in the frying pan with a little butter on low heat and cook them for about three minutes on each side. Let the kids peel off a piece of American cheese and hand it to the cook for placing on the burgers. Serve up on hamburger rolls with whatever toppings you know that they will eat and watch them gobble it down.

Be prepared for the unexpected and children asking for a second burger!


Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 18, 2007

Kids with an Attitude

Recently, we have noticed that our nine year old has an attitude and thinks that it is okay to just say no to Mom or Dad when asked to help around the house. As a middle child of five sisters she is testing the waters as to what Mom or Dad will put up with. Pick a topic and she tests it.
The easy route out is to give in and that is the wrong thing to do. As a parent you need to set levels of acceptable behavior and allowing your child to know that telling your parents to screw is not acceptable at any age and it is a tough lesson for both of you to learn.

Take this situation as just an example of how the mind works in a nine year old. Dad says you need to help clean up the living room. Children will leave a debris field of belongings like a sinking luxury liner if you let them think that Mom or Dad will always pick it up and put it away. Placing a value on all of the debris is where you want to go with the mind of a child that refuses to pick up their own things.

Telling your child that if you have to pick up their toys, homework, clothes or anything they consider theirs and tossing it in a trash bag will instill a sense of urgency in that child. That is what you have to do. It may take a minute or twenty minutes if you start to clean up before they decide if they need to save their things from the everlasting pit of the trash bin.

This is the hardest part, you have to follow through. If you have asked and demanded that their belongings be put away and they do not answer then you have to toss them away. It may take several times of prized possessions to be tossed before they understand that toys, books, homework from days gone by or school projects that earned a high score have a place to live other than the living room or dining room. The larger the family the easier this lesson is taught. Then again I might be wrong on that theory. Far too many accomplices to blame.

Kids need to know that the family space is not their space and that is a tough road to teach. Using the threat of trashing anything with their name on it is a better alternative than threatening violence against the child. Violence is easy, making the child think is a life long lesson.

While the rest of the kids did a quick clean up the nine year old that totally refused to help went the distance above and beyond the call of duty. She broke out the vac and went beyond what was originally asked.

She did it for two reasons, the first was because she respected her parent threat and wanted to protect her belongings from the Dad or Mom with the big trash bag that was filling up quick. Her second reason was because she knew that it was the right thing to do. Huge lesson.


Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, May 25, 2007

Kids and Memorial Day

Tradition in a childs life is important because what mom and dad do is what they grow up to do with their own babies. Just like certain holidays we all recall the days of our own childhood where mom or dad cooked certain foods to feed the family to mark the occasion you should consider making your own family traditions that will be duplicated by your own children.

When I was small we celebrated Memorial Day by going out to the family burial plots. This entailed stopping at the local florist to pick up the cemetary boxes that Dad ordered ahead of time and his placing them in front of the graves of our Grand Parents. We would stand still and bow our heads in prayer and remembrance. We would all pack back into the station wagon and travel back home to a meal that Dad would serve up from the barbecue grill when it was fired by briquets of heavy charcoal that we had to hall to the back porch from the garage. Dad was a genious of a chef when it came to cooking on the grill. Anything he placed over those red hot coals turned into a meal where everyone asked for more.

All seven of his children grew up to be healthy adults and we all follow the practices of Mom and Dad at Memorial Day. I pack up the girls and head out to Lowes for the flowers and any last minute tools for the event and we do the cemetary shuffle so to speak. My Mom and Dad and Grand Parents are in a family plot so that is an easy stop. We plant a flower on my Grand Mothers sisters family graves. Then we venture off to Mom's family and where they are buried. Flowers get planted and the girls love it. The questions fly and the answers are some times easy and some times very hard. This is the time to teach your children what Memorial Day is about for them. Who their ancestors and family is. Where they came from is important to them and you will be amazed at how wise they are at any age.

If you get a chance and have a few extra flowers and you have the time show them a grave of a soldier that died that has no flowers. Let them know that everyone needs to be remembered. Plant a flower for a Veteran and you plant a seed of respect for those that they will never know.

When they ask you why they are planting a flower for them all you really have to say is that you are thankful for what they did so long ago so we could enjoy this day as an American family.

Build the memories of your children and you build a fortress that can never be torn down.

Enjoy your holiday and make the kids part of it...


Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kids and Sauce Pan Scrambled Eggs

Cooking eggs should never be boring. Bring the step stool over to the stove and let the kids have at it with this recipe. It's a slow cook and the rewards are simply delicious. Email us at Papamoka@hotmail if you want further instructions but here it is.

Making a big breakfast for the family on the weekend is always a treat for the kids. Let them see how to multi task in the kitchen. Start off with cleaning and making sure the work area is as sterile as an ICU. Get all them kids into the bathroom or at the kitchen sink and wash those little hands with tons of soap. We are making food and not cooking germs here.

We are serving breakfast so we start with the bacon that is cooked in the oven. Take one of those huge cookie pans with edges and line it with tin foil. Saves time on the clean up after all the kids have eaten and lost interest. Layout your bacon strips and put in the oven at 350 degrees. This is a slow cook method for bacon but as it fills the house with the aroma of bacon cooking it also adds to the kids appetite while we all cook the eggs.

Here we go with the fun of cooking with the kids. Take a large sauce pan and put it on the stove on very low heat. Low heat is the key to this recipe. The higher the heat the more chance of burning the eggs to the pan so go with low heat for the entire process. It is going to take some time to cook but the reward is the kids are occupied and the end result is delicious. For every person have the kids crack two eggs. Supervise and scoop out any shells. Have the kids beat the day light out of the eggs with a fork or whisker. I use a fork because the whisker eventually gets loaded up with cooked egg. Add salt and pepper for taste. Add about 1/4 cup milk for every four eggs. Add 1/8 inch slice of salted or unsalted butter for every two eggs. Let the kids beat the daylight out of it in the sauce pan non stop. Turn the light on for the stove and repeatedly tell them to check the bacon. Ask them if it is browning on one side? Let them know that they are the cook and you are just supervising.

The bacon will take about fifteen minutes to cook on one side. Mom or Dad needs to take it out of the oven for the flipping of the bacon. I would not recommend that you let the kids do that! Bacon greas splatters and we do not want any of the little people burned. Drain the grease and flip the bacon strips over. Back into the oven they go and have them check for bubbling of the bacon strips or your own preffered crispy texture.

The eggs will start to congeal and form little clusters. Stirring at that point is more important than ever. Scrape the bottom of the sauce pan to make sure it is not burning to the pan. If brown specs appear then your heat is to high. When they start to coagulate it is time to start the toast. Work in teams stirring and buttering toast. Of course keep an ever vigilant eye on the bacon. The eggs are cooked when there is just a mass of solid egg droplets and not a sauce appearance. Some folks like to drain the eggs from the excess water with a strainer after the cooking process but we just serve it up with a slotted spoon.

Drain the bacon of grease on some paper towels and serve up the eggs, bacon and toast as the best breakfast the kids have ever made with Mom or Dad. Enjoy the time with the kids and praise them for a job well done.


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,