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,

The Teal Pumpkin Project: What You Need to Know

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: October 28, 2014 - 12:27 PM

Wondering what all this Teal Pumpkin business is about?

Here's the details:

The Food Allergy Research & Education group put together a campaign this Halloween to encourage a new tradition to make Halloween a less scary holiday for those families with food allergies.

The idea is that families will paint a pumpkin teal, place it in front of their home with a sign from FARE {available on their site} and offer non-food treats for the trick or treaters who may have an allergy.

Why teal? That's the official food allergy awareness color.

What sorts of non-food treats? Stickers, pencils, tattoos, bubbles, bouncy balls, anything you can think of that is non food and kept seperately than the food you give out on Halloween.

Why non food treats? Because different kids have different allergies. Peanut free might be safe for some kids but other kids can't have the dyes that are in certain candys. Your safest bet to be all inclusive on Halloween is to have non food treat options.

The premise behind the entire campaign is to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies – and to keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all.

Are you planning on participating in the Teal Pumpkin project this Halloween? 

{Photo credit: Missy Berggren who writes the blog Marketing Mama, a great resource for food allergy information in the Twin Cities area.}

And Then I Became a Hockey Mom.

Posted by: Samara Postuma under Society, Education and literacy Updated: October 23, 2014 - 10:31 AM

My 8 year old son is playing hockey this year for the very first time. He slipped a pair of hockey skates on his feet for the very first time just 13 months ago when I told him that if he really wanted to play hockey he'd need to learn how to skate first.

Thinking {and probably secretly wishing} that this would pacify this deep desire within him to play hockey, I took him to and from the Elk River arena each Tuesday morning last school year where he learned how to skate.

He worked hard, he fell down a bunch but he loved it. Loved it. The highlight of each week was going to skate and he was so determined.

Just a few weeks into lessons he was skating circles around kids twice his age. He did it.

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.

Alas hockey hasn't been far from his mind all these months and this summer, when hockey sign ups came up, he was begging and pleading and reminding me of the deal I made last year.

"You did say that if he learned how to skate, he could play," my husband reminded me. 

"Yeah, I did. Because I thought that he'd give up on it."

He didn't. He won't. He loves it.

Two weekends ago, he had his first practices. Set up more like an age evaluation, I've likely never been prouder. While he skated and went station to station with kids his age, many of whom have been skating and playing for 3-4 years, he did it all. 

Yeah, he wiped out a few times and watching him try and skate backwards was a little bit painful, but he did it. And he smiled the hugest smile he could from beneath that helmet with his mouthguard hanging out. He did it.

And maybe this will be a one year thing and we'll move on to the next thing. And maybe we won't. Either way, I'm proud of my kid. For trying something new, for working hard, for being determined to do it and not let anything get him down. He isn't out there comparing himself, he's out there working his tail off.

So now I'm a hockey mom and I'm the first to tell you, I had no plans of being one. But kids, man. 

They'll turn you and twist you and get you when you least expect it. 

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?


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