Samara Tilkens Postuma is raising five kids from infant to teen in the St. Michael area with her husband, Jeff. When not found driving kids to and from activities, helping with homework or at the park or pool, you can find her sharing her life online where she does some freelance writing and social media work and also writes at her own blog, www.simplicityinthesuburbs.com.

Children's Fundraiser at the Fine Line

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: December 4, 2014 - 9:46 PM

My family and I are big fans and supporters of Children's Hospitals and Clinics here in Minnesota. Each and every time we have had a health insurance change, one of the first questions I've asked is if Children's is included in the policy. I know that if and when things come up, like ear tubes or emergencies, I want to know that I can take my kids to Children's.

Next weekend there's a local opportunity for the Twin CIties to help raise money for Children's. This is your last opportunity of 2014 so if you've been looking for a way to help, to give back to an organization and hospital that gives back to so many children and families all year long, here's your chance.

Charlie Hopper, booking manager at the Fine Line put together this event with Children's because he's been so inspired by the care Children's has provided his 18 month old son, Edison who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth. {You can read more about the Hoppers story over on Red Current here.}

The Children's fundraiser at the Fine Line takes place Friday, December 12 at 7 p.m. and features national touring band Blitzen Trapper and will be presented by 89.3 The Current and McTerry Music. Farewell MilwaukeeBigtree Bonsai and Old Desert Road will also perform. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door and $50 for VIP (balcony access and $20 bar tab); doors open for the concert at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased here.

There's a pre-event silent auction next door at IPR that begins at 4 p.m. Admittance is free with your ticket to the Fine Line or $10.

Should Schools Be Talking with Our Kids About Ferguson?

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: December 3, 2014 - 8:32 AM

When I was in the 3rd grade, we went to war with Iraq for the first time. I remember this because it was announced on the intercom system throughout the K-5th grade building I attended at the time. Kids in class cried, our teacher teared up and I think we said the pledge a second time that morning. Years later we watched the OJ Simpson verdict in a middle school social studies course and we discussed, some argued and after that newspaper articles on the subject had my rapt attention. 

Current events were a part of school it seemed, whether that was classroom discussions based off of articles we brought in for social studies or if something big was happening in the world around us. 

Today in a world that bombards us with messages via social media and news updates and all the convenient ways in which we can get those updates, I was absolutely floored that none of my kids talked about the events taking place in Ferguson last week at all. Like not even a hallway conversation.

Now clearly my younger kids aren't of the maturity and understanding to even attempt to comprehend the happenings but our oldest two are in 8th and 10th grade. And while we definitely talk about these things at home, there's just something to be said about discussion that takes place outside of the walls of our home with others who might help us to see things in a different light, maybe disagree, maybe challenge our way of thinking. Especially a subject like the events in Ferguson, I can only imagine the emotion and feelings some students may have on both sides of the issue.

I've since been reminded that the day after the announcement was the last day of the trimester and I do understand finals and such were taking place. Yet, I find myself wondering and hoping that the discussion of current events isn't being done away with in the name of making it through curriculum and academic rigor.

What do you think? Do you think that school discussion of current events such as Ferguson is important or would you rather see that classroom time used elsewhere? Did your kids discuss the events in Ferguson in school last week? If you're a teacher, do you like having these kinds of discussions or is it difficult to add in differing views and opinions?

Think Outside of the Box this Christmas

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: November 27, 2014 - 10:19 PM

It's easy to get wrapped up in the latest craze of the hottest toys out there but I prefer the gifts that last all year long.

Here's a few out of the box Christmas present ideas around town:

Minnesota Zoo

Purchase a full year of fun and adventure for family, friends, or employees with a Minnesota Zoo membership. Starting Black Friday (11/28) thru Cyber Monday (12/1), Holiday Gift Household Plus Memberships ($155.00) can be purchased for the price of a Holiday Gift Household Membership ($130.00). Memberships are good for free admission and parking all year long, special members only events, discounts at over 100 zoos nationwide and a $2 discount at the Imax. The Household Plus Membership includes one free guest each visit. This is perfect for families with kids of all ages.

The Minnesota Zoo will also be honoring troops this Holiday season. Military personnel (active, retired, and civilian*) will receive free admission, free parking and half price admission for family members through January 4, 2015. Discount offers also at our food courts and gift stores available. 

Science Museum of Minnesota

Memberships start at just $99 for a family and include a free Imax each visit. This is perfect for that family with elementary aged kids.

Children's Theatre Company

Right now, Children's Theatre Company has a deal where for $100 you get a voucher good for 4 tickets to the show of your choice. {Show options include: Snow Flake, Huck Finn, Peter Pan the Musical or The Biggest Little House in the Forest} All four passes must be redeemed for the same show, date and time. No limit on vouchers! This is a great gift for a family with preschool age and above kids.

Minnesota Children's Museum

Basic memberships start at just $99, with the deluxe priced at $129 and that includes a free guest each visit and free admission to the Children's Museum in Rochester too. I've heard that you can get $15 off ALL memberships on Black Friday but you can use my discount code: 141019053 for $15 off a Deluxe Membership through 12/31/14. This is perfect for a family with toddlers to early elementary.

Know of any other great experience gifts and deals around town? Share in the comments! 

Heading Over the River & Through the Woods this Thanksgiving? Here's some Road Trip Tips

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: November 25, 2014 - 7:39 AM
They call this week the biggest travel week and many families are gearing up for flights here and there and a drive over that way. Here's a list of some road tripping travel tips-
 
1. Screw the schedule. I am the worst when it comes to schedules. Part of that is necessity {hello, we have five kids} and part of that is my free spirit. I am all about having a loose schedule that is more of a daily routine than anything else. If you don't live and die by a schedule for your kid, I really think travel is a lot easier. The way we framed schedules for our babes was always around US, the adults. We followed routines and tried to keep bedtime scheduled as much as we could but aside from that there was no set timing for meals and naps, it was how it fit in the day that day. Maybe lunch is typically around 11, or maybe if we're running errands we don't eat until 12. My goal for my kids is that they are flexible and adaptable kids, not kids who are thrown off by a missed nap or a later lunch than normal. I understand that this doesn't work for everyone, but it worked for us and really is probably the biggest reason travel works so well for us.
 
2. Do it early, do it often and your kids will adapt to car rides or flights and sleeping in pack and plays and such.

3. Let it go. We all want our kids to eat healthy snacks but I admit when we travel that's one of the first things to go. Special treats and snacks are a welcome assistant. Buy things you maybe wouldn't normally buy and let the food rules go out the window just a stitch.

4. Same goes with screen time. We have pretty strict limits when we are at home on screen time. But when we are on a road trip, all bets are off and unless there is a behavior reason {i.e. we took it away} we let them play games, watch shows and listen to music. I promise it's not going to have lasting long term effects because you let your child binge watch Dora the Explorer for a long car ride.

5. Keep baby entertained by packing a few essentials. Lacers, an old wallet filled with random cards and things you couldn't care less about, a toy cell phone or better yet, a cell real phone that's no longer used.

6. Organize, organize, organize. Plan ahead, know where you have what you need and stay organized. Are the snacks accessible? If someone spills or gets sticky do you have wet wipes? Did everyone go to the bathroom before getting in the car and at each stop? These are the key to staying calm when traveling. Anticipate boredom, bring coloring books and crayons, have your kids pick out a new reading book at the store or library. Think of  that thing that your kid would be thrilled to get to play with or see several hours into the trip and SAVE it for that desperate moment. Keep a few surprises up your sleeves. Involve them in the packing {note, I said involve, do not under any circumstances let them pack!}

7. Be Positive. The more negative and stressed YOU are about the trip and the travel, the more your kids are going to make you crazy. I promise. Assume your kids are going to make a mess in the back and that even though you give them a trash they will still throw their GoGoSqueez wrapper on the floor. Make it an adventure, make it fun. Stop and look around at rest stops and buy that special treat you would usually say no to. Don't be afraid, create fun new memories and establish what your "normal" travel expectations would look like. Most of all, enjoy. It's work but it's fun.

What works for you and your family when taking a road trip?

{This is an adaptation of a post that originally appeared on Simplicity In The Suburbs.}

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