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.

Minnesota hockey families unite for Kraft Hockeyville USA

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society Updated: April 14, 2015 - 11:28 AM

You might remember that time I wrote about the time I became a hockey mom.

He's tried lots of sports in his little life. From baseball to soccer to golf and basketball. He loves football and snowboarding and is still as passionate as ever about hockey.

I get that it's like against the religion of the state of Minnesota to not want your kid to play hockey but I did not want my kid to play hockey.

With five kids we're busy enough, I thought. And of all the things I've dreamed about myself, being a hockey mom was not one of them. {excerpt}

So my soon-to-be 9-year-old is just as in love with the sport of hockey as he was back then and the passion doesn't appear to be going anywhere. He is totally self-motivated and WANTS to play. I've never seen anything like it. He eats, sleeps, talks hockey. It's the biggest motivator and incentive to do well in school and behave and I continue to be amazed at the love he has for the sport.

 

 

While I learn how to embrace the world of hockey {starting with tying his skates tight enough!} I was excited to learn that our community, St. Michael-Albertville, has earned a spot among the top 10 to become Kraft's first ever Hockeyville USA. They've already earned $20,000 in arena upgrades but $150,000 is on the line now.

From the press release- 

STMA was the only community from the “State of Hockey” to win a spot in the final 10. There are five communities each from the West and East regions, all vying for a spot in the final four. Voting to earn a spot in the semifinal began at 11 p.m. Monday, April 13 and will continue until 10:59 p.m. CDT on Thursday, April 16.

 

There are three ways to vote in the Kraft Hockeyville USA contest. Fans can text “Albertville” to 35350, call in a vote at 1-855-255-5975, or visit KraftHockeyville.com and vote online. Voting is open to all those 13 years of age and older, and voters can submit 50 votes via EACH method, for a total of 150 entries each day. Further details are on the Kraft Hockeyville website.

 

Supporters in STMA have also set up a website with information about the contest at VoteSTMA.com, and a Facebook Event site with voting reminders and instructions is also available.

 
From one hockey parent to the rest, please go vote and help support a local Minnesota hockey town! Thanks for supporting our hockey future here in STMA.

Parenting stories from the middle of the night

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society Updated: April 12, 2015 - 10:53 PM

A few weeks back in the middle of the night I heard her. Our 6-year-old daughter was standing next to my bed.

"Mom...?"

I lay there silently WILLING myself not to move or give any indication I can hear her. Not because I'm a terrible, heartless mom but because my husband is laying next to me reading his Kindle and I can NOT believe she is standing next to me. {Fact: 99% of the time when any of our kids get up at night they come to me. WHY!?!}

"Mom....?" She says it again and then before I open my eyes I hear the soft pitter patter of her feet walk to my husband's side of the bed. I drift off to sleep not quite sure what she needed or wanted but happy for a good night's rest.

What feels like five minutes later on this same night, I hear our youngest fussing in her crib. I can't tell if she's awake yet or just fussing in her sleep but again, I lay there so quiet hoping that my husband will get up.

Moments later, he says, "What do you want to do?"

This is code for: "Wake up. The baby is crying."

I am silent. I will not let him know I can hear him because I'm tired and I will not give in. I win. He gets up and tends to her and I drift back to sleep, again.

Still yet, once more I hear a pitter patter of feet approaching our bed. And then I hear a cough. The kind of cough that comes just before vomit and sure enough thanks to my stealth fake sleeping earlier our 6 year old has thrown up all over my husband and the carpet on his side of the bed. I wonder how much longer I can get away with my quiet, laying still until he pokes me and says, "I'm gonna need your help here."

Without saying a word we get the job done, clean and change bedding, shampoo the carpet, calm down and clean our daughter before we fall into bed just after 1 a.m. even more tired and dreading the sound of alarm clocks in just a short while. 

This whole thing is not the picture you have in mind when you walk down the aisle, am I right?

But oh we wouldn't trade it for the world.

We'll celebrate 11 years this Friday and I'm more sure than ever he's the one for me. Because really and truly, there's no one else I'd rather do all this with in the middle of the night than him.

Don't overschedule your kids (or yourselves) this summer

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: March 29, 2015 - 10:10 PM

As the end of March nears, I'd estimate that we've received about 157 different brochures, booklets, emails and flyers on all the different opportunities to spend money  I mean "enrich" our children's lives this summer.

From accelerated sports training to remedial academic classes, it's quite possible to have an even busier summer than school year for the small price of a second mortgage.

Gone are the days of summer freedom, the way I grew up, when we'd run amok through the neighborhood, barefoot to a neighbor lady's dismay, eating popsicles and dirt and we knew it was time to go in because it was either getting dark outside or we heard our parents roar from the front step of our house. As we got older, our neighborhood boundaries grew and we'd hop on our bikes to the DQ or the local library or even the old mostly empty Apache mall.

This wasn't just a suburban kid's dream. I lived just a few minutes from downtown and this was summer. 

I laugh because just this last week my newsfeed on Facebook was full of stories and articles about the "good ol' days" where our moms drank Tab soda and we were sent out to play. The comments are all the same as we all reminisce the same innocent childhood filled with bike rides and running through the sprinklers and plain old fun. 

And then just as soon as we click share, comment and x right out of that, we're on another website to sign up our kid for this or that or the other thing. {I can't possibly be the only guilty one here.}

Can we please stop reminiscing the good old days and just do it? Can we just remind ourselves and each other that we're really in charge of what our kids' summer looks like or doesn't look like? It's not bad to sign up for soccer or Bible camp or some academic fun if that's where they're in to and your family schedule allows but don't become a slave to your childs' schedule at age 6. 

I get the pressures of today. There is this panic among us that perhaps if we skip out on an organized sport one summer or a tutoring opportunity or extracurricular class that our kids and we will miss out. But for most of us, that's just not the case. It's up to us to find the balance for our kids. 

A wise friend once told me that for every yes we say when it comes to our time, we are saying no somewhere else. I have applied this to my personal and professional life about 15 times since I first heard it and have decided to apply it to my kids' schedules too. Every yes means no somewhere else whether that's financial- or time-wise. 

So as you start scheduling your summer activities, make sure you're saying yes to the things you want to matter most. Maybe that is twice a week soccer or an intensive hockey clinic or remedial reading, all good things. Or maybe that's a combination of picking and choosing activities and down time so that you can go to the beach or eat ice cream for dinner. Or maybe it's tossing out all the "what you SHOULD do this summers" and doing what you WANT to do this summer. 

Whatever it is, and I'd argue it's likely different for each family, make sure your yes counts and don't be afraid to say no when it doesn't.

How do you schedule summer activities for your family?

Standardized tests: What should stay, what should go

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Education and literacy Updated: March 11, 2015 - 10:15 PM

Today is the day where, according to the state of MN, 40% of my success as a teacher will be determined by 90 moody 5th graders ... Happy MCA Testing- May the odds be ever in my favor!

– written on Facebook by a suburban Minnesota teacher last spring

 

It’s testing season here in Minnesota. Maybe elsewhere too. If it’s not the MCA’s, it’s the NWEA’s or the MAP test or for the little ones, the DIBELS. No one, no not one school-age child in public school here in Minnesota it seems, is exempt from testing around here.

Can we talk about all this testing for a minute?

Just last spring it was reported that there’s been an uprising of families {encouraged by teachers} to opt out of testing at South High School in Minneapolis, joining a nationwide rebellion. A hundred out of 140 students opted out in the fall and over 250 students opted out of the spring MCA’s.

Teachers who encouraged parents and students to opt out say: “In our professional opinions, these tests interfere with real learning and are poor measures of student growth.” 

Minneapolis Public Schools research and assessment director Eric Moore said last year that he is FOR the testing and said that as a parent “I’d like to know how my student is doing compared to other students in the school, to other students in the state, and to other students across the country. Those are data points I use to measure my child’s progress…”

Yet teachers say that effective teachers can assess a student’s mastery of a skill through both formal and informal techniques. 

I applaud Governor Mark Dayton for throwing his two cents into the ring last week on Minnesota students being overtested but I'd like to see him take it a step further. What about these optional tests school districts are choosing to do in addition to the requirements? Education Commissioner Brenda Casselius says these have to go. "I think if you really want to address the issue of over-testing, you have to think about all the tests districts take, particularly some of these optional tests." 

Oh yeah, preach if Ms. Casselius. I'm with you.

Testing has always been a little bit of a hot button for me. Even before my now third grader started kindergarten, I read and watched with rapt attention as testing became more and more present in our classrooms. 

While I think assessment and evaluation in some respect is not only necessary but important I also worry about children. Recent reports say that student anxiety is at an all-time high and rates don't appear to be dropping off.

Neither do the tests.

I begin every day with 4th grade children at war with each other and their world. And today the state will measure their ability to sit for 2 hours and pass a standardized math test.- written on Facebook by a Minneapolis public school teacher last spring

How do you feel about standardized testing? Do you opt your kids out? As a parent, do you see the value in it or do you think of it as a necessary evil and go with it? As a teacher, do you feel the results are an adequate measurement or do you want to do away with it all? Tell me.

Measles in Minnesota: A mom's perspective on vaccines

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society Updated: January 30, 2015 - 9:25 AM

Earlier this week my 6 year old daughter was home sick with some sort of wicked case of strep throat. She had an on again, off again fever topping out at 103, was tired, lethargic and just not herself. My biggest concern was that she might possibly have influenza but after a few doctor's visits, it was confirmed that it was strep. The wicked, worst kind. It was a few days of sickness, some lost work time and missed school but it could have been worse. So much worse.

The next day I read story and story and article upon article about the measles outbreak in California and then later this week learned of the University of MN student with a confirmed case. 

I don't know about you, but this scares me.

While I understand he had travelled internationally, we already know that there are more and more cases of measles here in the states.

We made the decision to vaccinate and this was not a decision taken lightly yet, it was the best decision for us. 

And while that gives me some peace of mind, knowing my kids have been protected against this disease, I also can't help but wonder how this epidemic will continue to spread.

I respect other parenting decisons and values, I try to be open minded in my opinions but this is one that I just struggle to understand. In the year 2015 when we have so many medical resources and so much knowledge and have rid our society of so many terrible diseases, why would one choose NOT to do it?

I get that a vaccine isn't a guarantee of health. I get that there are some risks associated with vaccines.

But. 

The benefits of being vaccinated way outweigh any second guesses I could have. Knowing my child can travel without fear of contracting a once deadly disease, knowing that they are not only keeping themselves healthy but those kids who CAN'T be vaccinated. Because there are families who wish and pray and hope their child can be vaccinated but due to health reasons, CAN'T. Knowing that my child will likely not have measles or mumps or rubella. 

Any hey, new moms, you can't tell me the perks of a sleepy baby post shots isn't a benefit too.

So, let's try to keep it civil, but help me understand. Why is it you choose not to vaccinate? Please don't quote Jenny McCarthy or any other celeb who's got a strong opinion. Tell me what it is you've decided, why you've decided and how do situations like this one affect that decision. If you don't vaccine, when you hear of a measles outbreak, are you concerned or do you question your choice?

When I hear from parents who choose to not vaccinate I seem to hear this recurring message of why do I care, it doesn't affect you, sort of message. But here's the deal, "Measles is so contagious that outbreaks may occur if any more than 5 percent of the community is unvaccinated." via Children's.  

I'm glad we live in a country that allows us to make choices about such things but can't help but hope it doesn't backfire on us either.

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