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.

Food Allergy Resource Fair & Trick or Treating this Weekend in Hopkins

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: October 9, 2014 - 9:42 PM

Halloween can be a scary time for parents of kids with food allergies. It's hard to navigate where and when kids can participate in different Halloween events and even trick or treating can be life threatening for a child with a severe allergy.

This Saturday, parents, children, educators and medical professionals are invited to a Food Allergy Resource Fair at Eisenhower Community Center in Hopkins. {1001 Highway 7}

From 9 a.m to 11 a.m. there will be vendors featuring allergy friendly food and products, including coupons and samples. Children can also wear their costumes and trick or treat.

It's a great resource and time to get your questions about food allergies answered as medical professionals and other allergy specialists will be on site.

The event is free but a $5 per family donation is suggested.For more information visit the Food Allergy Support Group of Minnesota's website or my go-to food allergy resource, local mom and blogger, Missy Berggren's site Marketing Mama.

Do Parent Portals Help or Hurt our Kids?

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: October 7, 2014 - 12:39 PM

At this point in time parent portals are old hat for most parents and school districts. A password protected program for parents to login to and see their child's grades, attendance, behavior and lunch account. Seems like a genius idea for opening the door for parent/child communication right?

Filed under the things that make me crazy edition #852 is parent portals and the expectation that I am to, in a sense, micromanage my kids. Especially my oldest kids. I have a major love hate with modern technology when it comes to education today. On one hand, there are so many tools and ways to communicate between school and home but on the other hand there are so many tools and logins and passwords and it's like wait, am I in school again or is my kid?

I mean, when I was in middle or high school my parents had no idea if I was missing a packet from math or bombed my language arts test. They found out my grades at midquarter time and the end of the quarter. Maybe conference time. This meant that I knew when I was struggling, had a missing assignment or bombed a test and I knew when I needed to kick it in high gear. It was on me. 

Now I can tell you how many points my stepson got on his Spanish quiz he took three hours ago and even if he got seconds in the lunch line {I admit, this is sometimes helpful information for my checkbook!}. There are times I could tell you my childs scores on something before they have even seen their score. 

I consider myself an involved, informed parent yet I rarely log on to parent portal programs. Not because I don't care, not because I don't want my child to succeed but mostly because we've outlined the expectation with our children and they know what is expected of them.

My 15 year old stepson wants to drive come January, he knows what GPA he has to maintain in order to not only be on our insurance but stay on the football team. My 8 year old wants to play hockey, he knows that he needs to do his daily homework and make sure that HE is staying on top of his reading minutes for the month. I'm happy to help with homework as needed, I'm happy to time and record reading minutes but I'm not going to be hounding my kids to get their work done. It's a simple cause and effect.

It is funny that when our kids enter preschool and kindergarten, teachers expect and appreciate independence. Knowing how to get dressed, tie shoes, carry ones' backpack and even answer a question from the teacher. Over time this responsibility should only increase.

My goal for my kids is to become successful adults with a job and relationships and the ability to manage their own time, responsibilities and life. If I'm always hovering and logging onto a website and asking them why they got 75% on their Language Test, I'm not doing them any favors. How will this affect them come college or when they have jobs when I'm not there to question why they didn't study before their Math final or making sure they aren't late to work?

Do I think the parent portal can be helpful? Absolutely. If used as a once in awhile check in, yes. If used on daily basis to micromanage, no. And there are probably cases where mom or dad have to get on their kid to get them in gear. There are always exceptions. But my personal take on parent portal? Set the expectations with your kids, check in once in awhile and move on. 

What do you think? Are you a fan of parent portal programs? Do you feel like it helps or hurts your kids?

Monitoring Social Media

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: September 30, 2014 - 1:39 PM

News spread like wildfire this morning of two missing teen girls from Andover. The girls, who are neighbors, went missing about 7:45 p.m. Monday night and were found safe this morning with an unknown man at 11:20 a.m. in Burnsville. Especially alarming in today's story was that an initial investigation showed the two girls had been communicating with unknown adult men through social media and text messaging. 

It's not hard for kids to find trouble on social media and electronic devices these days but I truly believe banning phones, social media, texting is NOT the answer. It's learning how to appropriately use the technology and also parental involvement.

Here are a few tips on monitoring phone/social media usage:

1. Put together a contract between you and your child on what is and isn't ok. 

  • Talk about cyber bullying.
  • Who are they allowed to communicate with?
  • What hours is the phone to be put away? 
  • Include that mom or dad can look at any/all texts and communication at any time.

2. Have a conversation about what networks they allowed on. {ask.fm, KIK, Facebook, instagram....} 

  • Require that if you are on that network, you are connected with them so you can see what they are posting/sharing.
  • Know their password/login.
  • Make their accounts private. {instagram, Facebook..}

3. If they mess up, don't freak out.

  • Plan on them messing up because this is new territory for all of us but rather than freaking out and getting mad when it happens, make it a learning experience and have a conversation about.

4. Talk about it, Talk about it.

  • One of the biggest mistakes I see parents making when it comes to social media/technology is NOT talking about it and pretending it's something they know nothing about. Learn about it, talk about it and be engaged with your child. Know what they are doing, what they are posting and who they are communicating with.

What other tips do you have for monitoring your kids social media usage?

{Speaking of social media, you can connect with ME on social media on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.}

Now What Do We Do with #28?

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Crime Updated: September 22, 2014 - 8:22 PM

The news of Adrian Peterson has calmed down just a stitch and it's not the first story of the day anymore but as it's simmered down, some questions remain. One of which is just what do we do with Adrian Peterson's jersey.

My son received his jersey for Christmas last year and as his first and so far, only, Vikings jersey, he has worn it with pride. Until that is, I took it out of the closet.

I understand the legal process still has yet to take place. I understand that many support and defend Peterson still. And I get that his jersey is a symbol of the excellent football player he is.

But I don't think I want my 8 year old walking around in his jersey just now because good football player or not, do-er of good deeds or not, and whether it's how you're raised or not, I am not ok with what's gone down thus far.

I asked on Twitter last week and was met with almost complete agreement.  Other moms and dads had also taken the jersey and were sadly, unsure of the direction to go. 

One mom did this: 

Others suggested waiting for a possible buy back. Some times teams will do a jersey exchange or buy back, as they are currently doing for Ray Rice jerseys, but currently there are no plans for a Peterson jersey buy back.

So for now, the #28 jersey sits atop the top shelf in the closet at our house.

What do you think? Do you or your kids have Peterson jerseys? What are you doing with them for now? Are you ok with your kids wearing them?

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