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,

Posts about Education and literacy

Chores without the Nagging? Yes, Please.

Posted by: Samara Postuma Updated: August 28, 2014 - 10:13 PM

Back to school time is a time of establishing new schedules, routines and for some families, starting that tricky balancing act of chores for the kids. 

I like the fact that as my kids get older they can help with chores around the house. What I do not like is the harping on them, reminding them and the double checking business.

Which is why I think FamDoo is a genius solution to that whole "nagging" part of chores.

An even better part of the new app is that it is Minnesota born app. Created by Mark and Susan Lacek of South Minneapolis. They saw a way to reward their kids for chores without having to nag and without having to have cash on hand, admittedly one of my biggest faults when it comes to paying my kids for chores.

The two's app, aptly named FamDoo, solved the problem. Simply download the app {FREE!}, create an account and create task lists and points available per chore for each child to complete. It's in their court. The child decides not to do their chores, they don't earn any points. They do them, they earn points.

And what good are the points? 

That is where a unique partnership, thanks to loyalty program expert Mark Lacek, comes in handy. If you are a US Bank account holder, all those FlexPerks Points can be cashed in for points on the app which in turn are good for gift cards for your kids. Don't have US Bank or FlexPerks Points? No problem, you can purchase points {250 points cost $2.50} which are then redeemable for giftcards. {FamDoo allowance point purchases in any amount costs a flat-rate $2 fee}

The app and program is totally free to download and use and I love that you can decide if you would rather have the rewards be non-monetary or monetary. IE if they are earning a special activity versus an iTunes giftcard.

I recently decided to create an account and start adding tasks for our kids with the hopes that this fall even amidst school schedules and sports, they can really take ownership in completing their chores rather than ME harping on them to do them.

{Super easy, by the way.}

Do your kids do chores? Do you reward them or are they expected? 

Families interested in registering for FamDoo can get 250 free cash-value FamDoo promotional points (a $2.50 value) by using the BTS2014 code in the Referral Code field upon registration.  This referral code is valid one time per family upon the initial registration process only through Sept. 30, 2014. The promotional points will be deposited to the parent account of the newly registered family up to 7 business days after the date of registration. This offer is subject to change at any time without notice. This offer is subject to the general Terms of Use of the Service (see for these details).

Back to School Nerves and When To Be Concerned

Posted by: Samara Postuma Updated: August 25, 2014 - 1:43 PM

It's not entirely uncommon to experience a myriad of emotions with the start to the school year. Even as a parent, I am feeling happy {yay for a schedule and structure again} and sad {boo to a schedule and structure again}. I am excited for my kids, yet miss them already. If this is how I feel as an adult I can only imagine the mix of emotions on our kids.

Some kids will express their nerves by saying, "I'm nervous {or excited, scared, happy...}, still others won't say anything but parents might see a change in behavior while their child adjusts. 

I recently spoke with Dr. Mike Troy, a psychologist at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, and asked him some of his thoughts on back to school nerves.

1. Have patience

"Don't mistake all transitions as a disorder," Dr. Troy said. It's normal for kids to adjust to the start of the school year, to be nervous, to be excited. Just because the first week is an adjustment doesn't mean your child has a clinical diagnosis, it just means be patient and continue to see how they adjust.

2. Compare

Last school year how was your child doing by the third week of school? How were they doing by Halloween? Look back and decide how long the adjustment took last year. Do you see a change in their behavior? Are they typically a happy, outgoing child who now seems withdrawn? Then it might be time to have a conversation with your child's teacher.

How are they doing compared to other kids at the same developmental stage? There is a wide range. 

3. Engage

Most adults are good at identifying externalizing problems but not as good at identifying internalizing problems. So have a conversation. What do you worry about? What does it mean to be a successful student?

Have a conversation with their teacher and find out how it seems they are adjusting if you are concerned. Compare notes at home and school and enlist the help of your child's primary care doctor. "Typically a child's primary care doctor knows the family and the child's development and can help assess if additional help and support is needed," Dr. Troy said.

4. Reflect

What tools have you and/or your child used in other challenging situations? "This isn't a different territory or skill set," Dr. Troy said adding that if trying things that have worked in the past aren't helping it's a concern.

Remember, we all adjust to the start of something new whether that is the start of the school year, a new baby, a new job or any other transition life has. Dr. Troy reminds us "don't see the adjustment and transition as a negative. We need these challenges in our lives. It's easy for parents to automatically see these behaviors as a negative but it's how you grow."

In the end, transitioning, making new friends, expressing nerves about situations like the start of school builds resilience and just as we need exposure to germs for our immune system, we need exposure to these sorts of developmentally appropriate challenges to realize strengths and weaknesses.

What sorts of tips do you have for parents and children nervous about the start of the school year? What has worked in your family in the past?

Day of the Dozers

Posted by: Samara Postuma Updated: August 19, 2014 - 2:57 PM

If you have kids who LOVE trucks, tractors, construction vehicles and more you will not want to miss the Day of the Dozers. The event takes place on Saturday September 13 in Elk River at the ERX Motor Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kids will even get to ride the Big Equipment with a trained and qualified professional operator, and all proceeds go towards a great cause- Children's Hospitals and Clinics.

Last year the event raised a little over $5000 and this year's goal is $10,000.

Adult admission is $10 and kids admission is $5. You can pay when you arrive but you might want to save time by filling out your waiver beforehand online right here.

For those early birds that day, the first 500 children will receive a free toy construction hat.

Do you have a truck and construction loving kid in your house? Will you be attending?

#MNVaxChat with Children's and Twin Cities Moms Blog

Posted by: Samara Postuma Updated: August 10, 2014 - 9:41 PM

I'm excited to be a part of a Twitter chat Monday night {I'm @samarapostuma} with Twin Cities Moms Blog and Children's Hospitals and Clinics. We'll be talking vaccines and leading the chat will be expert from Children’s (@ChildrensMN), Patsy Stinchfield (@InfectiousPS). Patsy is the Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in Infection Prevention and Control at Children’s. Patsy will be joined by Dr. John Baker (@jbakermetropeds), Metropolitan Pediatric Specialists (Metro Peds) in Burnsville, along with Children’s, to answer any questions that YOU might want to ask about vaccinations.

Even better than a chance to learn more about a widely discussed topic? Children’s is giving away a $50 Target gift card to one of our #MNVaxchat participants. Be sure to use that specific hashtag in each of your responses to be sure we see your tweets.

The Twitter chat will take place at 8 pm CST for one hour and you can follow along and participate by using #MNVaxChat

In the spirit of full disclosure, I do vaccinate my kids and really feel strongly about it. When one of my children had food allergies a few years back we really took a step back and slowed down the schedule of immunizations but in my mind and heart, I would much rather protect my child from illness for an inconvenient poke than risk illness or disease later on in life. 

Vaccines can be a divisive topic but it can also be an informative, respectful discussion. I hope you can join us and have your questions answered and share your opinion and experience tonight even if it's different than mine.

Not on Twitter and want to join? Here's some step by step instructions on how to join Twitter and our chat Monday night from Twin Cities Moms Blog.

Summer Safety with Children's: Sun Smarts

Posted by: Samara Postuma Updated: July 14, 2014 - 10:02 PM

Who doesn't love a nice warm sunny day? After the longest winter ever Minnesotans are determined to soak up each and every moment of sunshine we can. Vitamin D, right?

It's all good as long as you're protecting yourself from the sun. July is UV Protection Month and Dr. Pamela Gigi Chawla, senior medical director of Primary Care for Children's Hospital, has a lot of tips for families who are trying to make the most of the sun.

-Be proactive and preventitve. Wear sunscreen from the beginning, don't wait until you start seeing color.

-Speaking of color, if you are seeing red, it's time to go in. "Your skin is giving you a warning sign," Dr. Chawla said noting it's important to just head in at that point, not to start reapplication.

-Reapply. "You can't assume you're covered for hours upon hours, you must reapply," Dr. Chawla said.

-Rashguards, protective clothing and sun hats. If your child is going to be swimming or at the beach, this is a simple way to help protect them from the sun without having to constantly reapply sunscreen to their arms and torso.

-If you or your child get burnt, stay hydrated and use a topical soothing agent {like aloe or coconut oil} and over the counter pain relief. "Your skin is the largest organ of your body, so take care of it," Dr. Chawla said.

-It's especially important that if your baby gets sunburnt you stay on top of it as babies can lose a lot of heat and water and sunburns can cause fluid issues. 

-Dr. Chawla said that while aerosol sunscreens are convenient, it's difficult to see where the product is. "Using a cream sunscreen creates a thick, visible barrier," she said though noting sunscreen use of any kind is better than none.

How do you keep yourself and your kids safe in the sunshine? Do you have a certain brand of sunscreen you swear by? Rules for reapplication?


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