Friday, May 30, 2014


Julia @ Kids Matter
            My Facebook app just alerted me to the fact that several of my “friends” have enjoyed and liked my quick wit and Twitter constantly bleeps at me, to let me know that someone I have never met is now “following” me. I am sooo popular and loved by social media!

            WHAT AM I DOING??? What are any of us doing? Have we lost touch of who we are? Why is it that kids today can barely speak, let alone write the English language? Why do I see parents simply hand over their $700 phone to their seven year old for entertainment instead of a book? I have asked parents what their kids are looking at or playing on their phone; I always get the same responses, “It keeps him quiet,” and “… because she sees me on it and wants what I have”. That last statement really hits the bulls eye, “… because she sees me on it and wants what I have”. Recently, I ate at Red Robin and everywhere families sat in similar situations; kids jumping and screaming in the booth seats, higgledy piggledy, while their parents looked down at their phones, simply ignoring them.

The table at meal time should be a time for family conversation and recapping each other’s days. Studies have shown that children and adolescence that have at least four meals per week at the table with their family are more emotionally and socially sound than those families who don’t eat together. Also, they have a lower risk of smoking and drinking, as well as higher grades in school. Research states that the reason for these results is due to families eating meals together, at the table, without electronics as a distraction. Your family enjoying a meal and conversation together provides structure, boundaries, and a sense of belonging for your child. All these things are needed for the developmental health of your children.

            It may seem hard enough just to get your teens to the table, let alone to the table without their phones, but if you set that rule early and stick to it for yourselves and them, you will have far more socially adjusted and happy children.

            I recently saw a Youtube video. It was a young man who wrote and performed a spoken word film about unplugging ourselves from our phones. The central message is about getting back to communicating with one another, and more importantly with our kids. Put down your phones, show interest in your kid’s lives, and eat dinner at the table. Show them and teach them that your family unit is, and always will be, more important than whatever is trending.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Veronica R.
Robin @ Kids Matter
Veronica was born in Augusta, Georgia, but grew up in Darmstadt, Germany.  As you probably guessed, she is an, “Army brat”.  Both her mother and father were in the Army.  She didn’t come to Kentucky until she was around 14 years old.  She said, “At first I didn’t like Kentucky.  The southern people and way of life caused a kind of culture shock for me.  But, as I’ve gotten older… I can’t imagine living any place else.”   She still speaks a little German, but has lost most of it, because it’s not called for very often in Kentucky.  However, Veronica is part Dominican, so she also speaks Spanish.
Growing up overseas and in the military has had a great impact on her values regarding family and parenting.  She was raised in a very strict manner, with tight rules and responding with, “yes sir, no sir,” but was able to play outside freely, without having to worry about safety and things happening like we do now. She said, “As a child, I knew my place and respected it. I have tried to parent my children that same way.”  One of her fondest memories from childhood is when she was a girl scout and went to Paris for a field trip.  On that trip, her mother told her to be aware, that she would see more than many others will get to see in their lifetime.  Veronica said, “…it was true.  Remembering that time pushes me to achieve more and get back to that point.  Sometimes I imagine going back there and living my life out. “
The two things Veronica is most proud of in her life are graduating college; she was the first graduate in her family, and being a mom.  She said, “They are the best things I ever could have done.” She is the mother of 13 year old twins, a boy and a girl, a 7 year old boy, and is pregnant now.  She is due in early December and is not planning on finding out the sex of the baby before it is born.  She has a wonderful man in her life, who is the father of three children, making them the, “New Age Brady Bunch”.  She said, “He’s a superior guy who has helped me through the tough times.”  She is very proud of the children, saying they are all great athletes.  They play soccer, which she coaches.  She wouldn’t trade them for the world!
In her spare time, which she never seems to have enough of, she likes to travel.  That love probably comes from her childhood and being part of an Army family.  She loves to see landmarks, tour museums, and try different foods.  Sounds like fun!  However, Veronica may need to slow down a little on her travels.  She described herself as a, “speed demon”.  She said she has almost received about 60 speeding tickets.  She has been able to get out of most of them, and only has four on her record.  One judge even advised her to start walking instead of driving, because he was tired of seeing her.
Veronica came to work for the CCC in 2012.  She actually worked in the West Region for a few months before being transitioned to the East Region, without even moving her office.  Her advice to other eligibility workers is, “don’t take things personally in the office.  There is a difference between sympathy and empathy, and personal involvement in your work affects the way you see things.  Remember you can’t please everyone, and at 4:30 you have to leave your work in the office and go home.”  She said, “I see my future as still working at the CCC, just married and raising my family and winning the lottery would be great too!”

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend
Belinda @ Kids Matter
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, first observed on May 30, 1868, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. While the holiday is in honor of the fallen, it is also a celebration of life for families throughout this great nation. Many families choose this weekend to kick off summer and spend great family time, bonding. May 29, 1983 was the day that started this annual weekend celebration for my family. That was the birth date of my first son. Suddenly, I wasn’t just a woman in search of a future, I was a mom. So, in addition to honoring the fallen, we opted to also celebrate family.
Each year on Memorial Weekend, our family comes together to celebrate birthdays, graduations, and life events. We spend time together eating, chatting, and letting all the grandkids just play their little hearts out. We have a cookout with big cakes and lots of picture taking to commemorate the event. Lots of friends and family are invited; games are played and presents opened. And oh, the many laughs that have filled my soul. It’s hard to imagine that this year marks the 31st anniversary of our traditional Memorial Day weekend.
These special family times are just fleeting moments in the overall scheme of life. We take them for granted, more than we should. You never know what life event may happen and suddenly you find that one family member no longer in attendance. Suddenly, even a memory of the chaotic event, planning and organizing, can bring about a smile. Why? Because… even if it is only one event, it is still time cherished as family.
Family holidays and traditions are simple ways to keep family unity. Don’t allow times like these to slip away without even a second thought. Cherish every moment with your family… yes, even those with whom you don’t have an excellent relationship. The soldiers of this world have put their lives on the line in order to afford you the liberty of being free. Don’t we owe it to them to make the most of our family time? Slow life down for one simple weekend, to laugh and play with your family. Put away the cell phones. Hide the Xbox. Turn off the laptops and tablets. We all need to slow it down, relax, and enjoy life with our family. You don’t always know what lives you touch or what lives touch you until that life is no longer there. Remember, spend time with those who put a light in your heart as often as you can.
Happy Memorial Day from my family to yours!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Debbie G.
Belinda @ Kids Matter
I say this from the perspective of a customer service representative and a customer… it’s been my experience that many people often take CSRs for granted. We tend to go in, conduct our business, and promptly exit; making no connection, and often dismissing the worker without a second thought. Seldom do we show them the courtesy and respect they truly deserve, let alone take the time to get to know the person helping us. Today, I introduce you to someone I imagine customers always wanting to take the time to converse and get to know. She is an incredible person with a delightful disposition. You can’t help but smile when you talk with her, as her soulful and caring nature just reaches out and grabs you. Please meet Debbie, an Eligibility Specialist with the CCC, who has worked in the field of child care assistance for 16 years. She devotedly covers Christian and Trigg counties, always providing service with a smile. Debbie conveyed that the best part of her job is, “Getting to be a part of helping all those precious children”.  Debbie feels so strongly about helping children that if she were not working at the CCC, she would be a teacher.
Debbie has an amazing personality. I couldn’t help but to wonder what motivates and inspires her. So, I asked and her answer was no less inspiring than her personality. “My dad is who inspired me to be who I am. He always loved to do for others. He taught me to go above and beyond, even during his last days, terminally ill with cancer. I was sick one day and he called wanting to do something for me when he could barely even walk across the floor to help himself. He always made sure that I knew he was there for me no matter what.” I felt her tears and pain as she spoke of her dad. Debbie said, “During his last days, I will always remember the way he handled himself. He stayed so positive and strong the whole time. I hope that I can be half the person he was.” She conveyed an interesting story to me, and though it was heartbreaking, it was immensely inspirational. “Dad bought a 1965 Mustang and fixed it up for my sister when she turned 16. He painted it silver with red interior. She was six years older than me and my sister used that car until she got another. He then fixed the Mustang up for me. He painted it candy apple red. I loved that car so much. I kept it for three years and then gave it back to him and he fixed it up for himself that time. He is gone now, but we still have the car in our family. Dad left it for my son and nephew to share. I hope and pray that it will always stay in our family. Just looking at that car is like seeing my dad all over again.”
Debbie has been married to Tommy for 23 years and they are the proud parents of a now 16 year old Mustang driver. Debbie says her son, Matt, is her greatest achievement in life. Having a child took careful planning and not taking the medicines she needed to treat her Crohn’s Disease. She says, “I was able to stay off my meds for the two years prior to conception and with the grace of God, had a healthy baby boy.” Debbie’s motto about life is, “…it’s living each day as if it were the last”. I couldn’t agree more, and firmly believe she lives her motto as a shining example for the rest of us. Asked if she was given three wishes what would they be she said, “My dad back, my husband not having to work nights anymore, and no families suffering from hunger in the world.”
So, when you are out doing your daily shopping and appointments, remember to take a moment to recognize the person helping you. We need those, like Debbie, to shine the ray of hope and encouragement in our lives.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross
Britton Riley (Guest blogger) @ Kids Matter
The American Red Cross was founded on May 21, 1881, by Clara Barton and a circle of acquaintances, in Washington, D.C. Barton led the American Red Cross for 23 years, during which time the first disaster relief efforts were conducted and aid was provided to the United States Military during the Spanish-American War.
Over the years, the Red Cross has grown to be one of the nation’s premier humanitarian organizations. The Red Cross responds to about 70,000 natural and man-made disasters each year, through the mobilizing power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
While many people see the American Red Cross as simply collecting blood supplies and responding to large national disasters, there are also Red Cross activities and responses happening daily, right in your own community.  On a daily basis the Red Cross not only responds to large-scale disasters, but also to individual home fires. On the scene, we provide support to First Responders and work directly with clients to ensure their immediate needs for food, clothing, and shelter are met. We provide our clients with a comfort kit of basic toiletry items and also bring stuffed animals in case there are children involved.  Stuffed animals provide the comfort a child needs to believe everything is going to be okay. We want the children to feel safe. Beyond our time on scene, we also work with clients in the weeks and months following the disaster to make sure their needs are met and they are on the path to recovery. 
The American Red Cross also provides emergency communications to the Armed Forces. When a member of the military, or their family, has an emergency and needs to contact a loved one overseas, they call our 24/7 Emergency Communications Center (877-272-7337). There, a Red Cross representative collects all pertinent information and validates the request to be passed along to the member in the Armed Forces, or their commanding officer.
Volunteers and Donors are the cornerstone of the Red Cross, our response, and the services we provide. The mission of the American Red Cross is to “… alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and generosity of donors”.  That’s what we continue to do daily. The Red Cross is a volunteer led organization and receives little federal funding.
YOU can help! Contact your local American Red Cross to find out about volunteer opportunities. Visit to learn more about ways you can donate, give blood, or take one of our numerous lifesaving courses.
Britton M. Riley, Regional Lead Specialist, Disaster Services, American Red Cross Evansville, IN

Friday, May 16, 2014

Lesson Plan: Mary Had a Little Lamb

Lesson Plan for Mary Had a Little Lamb
Lesson Plan: Mary Had a Little Lamb
Dora Wilson (Guest Blogger) @ Kids Matter
Through the sing song lyrics of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, we have all had a lamb follow us to school one day. What young child wouldn’t find that the most amusing thing to have happen? May 24th marks the 184th anniversary of the nursery rhyme written by Sarah J. Hale. It is believed that the nursery rhyme was inspired by a true event. Nothing inspires learning greater than bringing a story to life. The following is a lesson plan to celebrate the anniversary of this historic nursery rhyme. Be creative and add your own touches to inspire those precious little minds in your classroom.

Mary Had a Little Lamb
By: Sarah Josepha Hale

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go;
He followed her to school one day-
That was against the rule,
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school

And so the Teacher turned him out,
But still he lingered near,
And waited patiently about,
Till Mary did appear.
And then he ran to her and laid
His head upon her arm,
As if he said-"I'm not afraid,
You'll shield me from all harm."

"What makes the lamb love Mary so,"
The little children cry;
"O, Mary loves the lamb you know,"
The Teacher did reply,
"And you each gentle animal
In confidence may bind,
And make them follow at your call,
If you are always kind."

General information: Teach the difference between a lamb and a sheep.
Reading: Give each child the Mary had a little Lamb booklet, have the children stand when you say the word “Mary” and make the sound “baaaaaa” when you say lamb. Give the children something to do for each section.
Math: Cut out lambs and allow the children to count them.
Art/Music: Have the children color and design their own sheep. Give them different materials such as ribbon, cloth, and pompom balls for them to decorate their sheep.
Physical Education: Teach the children how to move like sheep.
General information: Teach the schools rules about pets.
Reading: Make a game using lamb sight cards. Let the children draw a card from each stack to match the word with the picture. A picture of the lamb eating should pair with the word “eat”.  
Math: Get a stuffed lamb and have one of the teachers walk around the class with the classroom counting together as the lamb walks up to them.
Art/Music: Play the nursery rhyme song and allow the children to dance.
Physical Education: Children run to school (play as if they are running to school).
General information: What do lambs eat?
Reading: Give sight words on index cards to play memory game.
Math: Make cards with different numbers of lambs on them. Children can then match the number to the corresponding lamb card.
Art/Music: Allow groups to work together to construct sheep from clay, paint or other mediums.
Physical Education: Hide-n-seek, one child has a sheep hat and one child has Mary hat, the other students try to find where the lamb and Mary are hiding.
General information: What does shearing mean?
Reading: Create a felt board story for children to tell. Allow the children to add their version to the felt story and record their ideas.
Math: Give each group a selected number of cotton balls (wool) have them take turns gluing them on the big lamb picture.
Art/Music: While playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, in different languages, allow the children, acting as sheep, to play musical chairs.
Physical Education: Students will walk like a lamb; move their arms as if they are shearing a lamb, and running like they are chasing a lamb.
General information: Take a field trip to see a lamb or ask someone to bring in a lamb.
Reading: Bring out the Lamb puppet and tell a story about what lambs like and don’t like.
Math: Take several different lambs and have them matched to the other lambs and do the same for little girls. Make minor differences to each one so the children will need to pay close attention to detail.
Art/Music: The children will make a school house, a barn, and a pasture to reenact Mary had a little lamb.
Physical Education: Students will have relays to bring the lamb into the school yard.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Bobbie D.
Robin @ Kids Matter
I am happy to introduce you to Bobbie.  She is an outgoing, friendly, and happy go lucky person.  I have never seen Bobbie without a smile on her face.  She is originally from Hardinsburg, Kentucky, but moved to the Lexington area to live for several years.  It was during that time that she came to work for the CCC as a billing specialist.    Last year she returned to live in a little town outside of Hardinsburg.  Bobbie loves small town life and is happy to be close to her roots.  She is currently working as an Administrative Assistant in the Elizabethtown CCC office.   Bobbie said, “My dad is the most influential person in my life.  He drilled right and wrong into me and my two sisters.  Everything I learned, I learned from him.”  One of her fondest childhood memories is of playing outside in the rain in an old time metal wash tub.  Bobbie’s teen idol was Elvis Presley.  Her favorite Elvis movie is, “Kissing Cousins”.  She recalled watching it in the back of a pickup truck at a drive-in movie theater.  She still loves him to this day…movies, music, everything… 
Bobbie’s first job was as a teacher’s aide in a kindergarten classroom.  However, most of her life was spent running a sporting goods store.  She really enjoyed that because of working with kids of all ages who were involved in sports.  After selling the store, she came to Lexington in 2006 and took the job working for the CCC. 
Family is very important to Bobbie.  She stated, “Family means everything; I couldn’t live without them…well, I could, but I wouldn’t want to.”  She has two grown sons.  Each of her sons is married and has a son and a daughter.  In Bobbie’s present location she is about halfway between them, so she can easily visit each of their families.  When asked what she is most proud of in her life, she replied, “…raising my two sons to be wonderful grown men and fathers.”
Bobbie said that she loves everyone at the CCC, and wanted to give a shout out to her former Lexington co-workers…she misses you!    She said, “The CCC is an excellent place to work and we do excellent work for families and children.”  Where does Bobbie hope to be 5-10 years from now?  “… retired on the beach in Florida!”  Sounds good….I think I could handle that too, what about you?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Email Etiquette

Email Etiquette
Belinda @ Kids Matter
If you were to start listing your pet peeves, where on that list would email fall? With me, it ranks right up there in the top five. Several years ago, I embarked on a project called Get It Write. The project provides training on how to use email properly and delivers a comprehensive look at how to utilize email efficiently and effectively. The information contained in this article is very minimal in comparison to the project, but it does highlight the most common complaints.  You may think, how complicated is email when we use it every day. Well, think about it… if it’s in your top 10 list of pet peeves then there has to be a problem somewhere!
Top five complaints:
1.     People don’t respond in a timely manner or don’t respond at all.
2.     Content has a harsh tone.
3.     Content is not well thought-out and organized.
4.     Content has numerous misspellings and lacks proper punctuation.
5.     Misuse of group email, causing an overload on servers and inboxes.
This is where the many shades of gray come into play. What is priority for one person may not be for another. That being said, there should NEVER be an email that goes without a response if a question has been asked. Email is a form of communication, just as if you were standing in front of a person having a face to face conversation. Would you allow the person you are conversing with to ask a question and you not answer? The objective is the same via email conversation. Out of common courtesy, a response should be sent within 24 hours. By not responding, you are conveying to the writer that the content of the email is not important. Writers should not take the lack of response as a personal attack. The content is deemed not important, not the writer.
Emails are easily misinterpreted due to the reader projecting their own emotion into the email. Business emails are meant to be direct and to the point. It may sound curt, but in reality is no different that standing in front of your boss taking instructions. No one is out to get you. Your personal feelings should remain in check when conversing via email. You cannot see tears in an email, so the reader may not know that you are upset. Maybe the writer is having a bad day. Nothing sets a person off quicker than flaming (criticizing harshly via email). When writing emails do NOT use all capitalization, this conveys anger and yelling to the reader. Do not over use the exclamation point such as !!!!! (which are called bangs) and places great emphasis in the tone. Conduct yourself professionally just as if you were having a face to face conversation.
Think about what you are going to say. Put it into an order that the reader can easily follow such as: problem, cause, fix, and predicted results. People are much more open to hearing a problem, if they hear the problem and the fix at the same time. When presenting a person with a problem the first thing on their mind is, not another problem! Eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed by stepping up and offering a solution. Never send an email with a one sentence statement… I have a problem. Emailing is not texting. Write complete thoughts and resolutions. Don’t be afraid to bullet or outline the content for easy following. You want to make a point and have it clearly followed by the reader.
Grammatically correct:
Proper spelling and use of punctuation are key factors in a successful email. There is absolutely no reason the writer cannot proof read and check for spelling errors. There is not a 30 second time limit on writing an email. Take the time to write it correctly and proof read it multiple times. If you can’t take the initiative to write a proper email, don’t expect the reader to take the time to figure out what you are trying to say.
Group emails:
At the top of each email you will see a “To” “CC” and “BCC”. Learn to use those fields appropriately when using group emails. The “To” field is directly to the person you need to convey the information. The “CC” field is a carbon copy which is sent to someone for informational purposes and probably doesn’t require a response from them. The “BCC” field is a blind carbon copy and is used for confidentiality purposes. The person in the BCC field remains unseen by people in the “To” and “CC” field. Even more importantly… know when to “reply” and “reply all”. Sometimes it is important to communicate to a group as a whole. Seldom is it ever necessary for each member to reply all to a group emailing. Let’s think about the impact this could have on the server, inboxes, and what it will do to the email platform. One person sends an email to a group of 20 people. That’s 20 emails. Those 20 people respond to all. That’s 400 emails (20x20) bringing the total to 420 now. Let’s say the conversation continues and each of the 20 responds to all again. Within just a very few minutes a total of 820 emails (20+400+400) just crossed the server slowing the process down to a crawl and clogging the server for important emails that need to go out.
Email responsibly. Write with professionalism. Read without emotion. Communicate effectively and efficiently.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mothers and Daughters

Mothers and Daughters
Belinda @ Kids Matter
“Probably, there is nothing in human nature more resonant with charges than the flow of energy between two biologically alike bodies, one of which has lain in amniotic bliss inside the other, one of which has labored to give birth to the other. The materials are here for the deepest mutuality and the most painful estrangement.” Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution
As a daughter, and a mother of a daughter, I will be the first to admit there is a fine line walked. Feet in proper position and arms extended outward, we tread softly and gingerly down that line, back and forth, most of our lives. We want to be the daughter that makes our mother proud, yet we want to be the mother that makes our daughters proud. It’s an inner battle that sometimes bleeds over into our daily lives. How do we seal and preserve the bond that is the inner sanctity of the relationship?
Women, throughout history, agree on one thing… there is no simple answer. Relationships are tricky, be it with spouses, parents, or children. Keeping relationship balance is hard. There are times throughout life when one must give more than the other and there are times when both have to give an equal amount. When the daughter is a child the mother gives way more than she receives. When the mother becomes advanced in age, it is the daughter doing the greatest percentage of giving. In between, however, lays a whole span of time when the shift of giving swings back and forth like a pendulum on an old grandfather clock. It is during this time that estrangements can and often do occur. How you choose to handle those situations is what, in the end, defines your success as a mother.
The key, in mother daughter relationships, is honesty and open communication by both parties. Maybe you feel you can’t be open and honest because it would hurt her feelings. I can assure you of one thing… honesty is much more appreciated than dishonesty. As my husband likes to say, “What is she gonna do, take away your birthday?” Don’t be afraid to be open and honest in your mother daughter relationship. Chances are, if you aren’t, whatever foolishness you did as a child will come back trifold on you as a parent, with your own children. Life has a funny way of paying you back.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mommas out there, and especially to my own! I love you, Mom, always have and always will!

A Rose for Mother
by Cleo M. Shoffstall

Another Mother's Day is here,
Bringing joy and pleasures new,
On this special day, Mother dear,
I want to remember you.

I cannot give you costly gifts,
And I've told you this before,
No matter what I give to you,
You give back much, much more.

I'm giving you a pure, sweet rose,
Gathered in the early morn,
This rose you planted in my heart,
The day that I was born.

In kindly, loving thoughts of you,
And with the faith you still impart,
The rose I give to you today,
Is the love that's in my heart.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Ashley E.
Robin @ Kids Matter
Ashley is originally from Eastern Kentucky.  She grew up in the Prestonsburg area and graduated from Big Sandy Community and Technical College with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration.  Her fiancĂ© talked her into moving to the Lexington area, so she came, liked it, and stayed.  Ashley was always interested in working in the field of business.  She chose to study Business Administration, in hopes that it would allow for more flexibility in finding a job.  However, she hopes to one day go back to school and further her education in the finance field.
Ashley came to work at the CCC a couple of years ago.  She was not happy in her previous job, and had some friends who worked here and recommended it to her when there was a job opening.  Ashley said, “I like working for the CCC because of what it stands for.  I like coming to work because we’re helping the community people make their lives better.”
As the parent of two children (Cameron 2 years, and Chloe 7 months) Ashley’s goal as a parent is to raise them in a way that they feel they can come to her with anything, good or bad.  She said, “I want them to do well.  I want to give them the tools to have a better life than me, and I want them to have fun while they are kids… and just be kids.”  She tries not to be too strict or too loose with them.  It’s a hard balance to keep sometimes, but she tries to stay in the middle.   She stated she is happiest when her children are happy.  For her to see them smiling and playing together is the best feeling in the world!  Her pride and love for her children was palpable as she spoke of them during the interview. 
In her spare time, Ashley has started to focus on fitness.  She likes walking and has recently started the Couch to 5K program.  In June, she plans to walk in the CCC 5K, sponsored by Fox 56.  It will be her first 5K.  Walking and exercise are a great pastime that we probably all need to take part in more often.  Good luck in the 5K, Ashley!
I asked Ashley what she is bad at that she would like to be good at, and her reply was that it would be really awesome to be able to draw.  She is amazed by what other people do, while she “can’t even draw a circle”.  Perhaps that makes her better able to appreciate the work of those who are more artistically talented.  What is the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen?  “It’s definitely not the birth of my children… that was disgusting!  It would probably be watching the sunset or sunrise on the beach.”  Ashley loves to be on the beach.  It’s the favorite spot for family vacations every summer.  Ashley plans to stay working here at the CCC for many years to come.  She also looks forward to being a “soccer mom,” taking her kids to practice and school events.  Her goal is to just enjoy life with family. What a great goal to have!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tornado Safety

Tornado Safety
Robin @ Kids Matter
According to Tornado Project Online, nearly 1000 tornadoes touch down in the United States each year.  They have occurred in every month of the year, but spring in the Southeast is considered “tornado season”. 
Here are some things you can do to reduce your chance of being injured in a tornado:
·       Be alert to the onset of severe weather.  It is important to be watchful of severe weather and take steps to get to safety in time.  Be watchful of what is happening outside.  Some signs of tornado danger are: a “funnel-shaped” cloud, a sickly greenish colored sky, a sound like a waterfall rushing that turns into a roar as it gets closer, debris dropping from the sky, and a strange quiet that comes within or shortly after a thunderstorm. 
·       Know the terms tornado “watch” and “warning”.  A watch means that the conditions are present for a tornado to be possible.  A warning means that a tornado has been sighted and you should seek shelter right away.
·       Have a plan for your family.  Have a safe place such as a basement or an interior room with no windows to go to.  Know where the closest public shelter is if you are outside or in a home with inadequate protection.  Go there before the storm hits.  Also have drinking water, a battery operated radio, and flashlights in this location. 
The number of deaths and injuries that result from tornadoes has drastically dropped over the last half century.   Technological advances in being better able to predict tornadoes and the ability to alert the public at a moment’s notice via TV, internet, and phones are attributed with this decrease.   However, the most important part is still to be aware of the approaching storm, and take steps to get to safety in time. 
Follow this link for a Tornado Safety Crossword Puzzle that will help you brush up on your storm knowledge.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports

The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports
Julia @ Kids Matter
               If you, like me, were a kid growing up in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky, there are several things about the first Saturday in May that you are born knowing…

1.   Hats
2.   Plecher, Lucas, and Baffert are household names.
3.   Secretariat’s real name was Big Red, and his colors blue & white.

          But what is it like? What is it like for a Kentucky girl like me, who rode horses like her mother before her? What are my traditions with the Derby? For me, I usually don’t attend the Derby or parties; I like to watch the coverage all day at home with my mother and brother. Derby Day is a HOLIDAY! We love to snack, drink, snicker at clothing choices made by female attendees, and sneer vehemently at certain trainers whose techniques we don’t agree with.

          We watch the races leading up to the “big one” with a certain impatient edge that comes with Derby Fever. Then, I hear the famous, “RIDERS UP!” and small flutters occur in my belly. The trumpet calls the riders to post. “My Old Kentucky Home” by Stephen Foster plays, and I choke back a sob of Kentucky pride as these magnificent creatures trot to the gate. Millions of eyes are on my home, my state, my commonwealth; I couldn’t be happier.

          Like any athlete, you see the determined and slightly wild look in the thoroughbreds’ large rolling eyes. Their nostrils flare, sensing the thousands of people and their excited energy. The flanks tighten and mouths slightly froth at the anxiety to be free and run their hearts out. They line them up, which can take a few minutes if you have some unruly ones who are spooked by the smallest things. My breath is held as lock them in. My mother instinctively curls her hands, as if once again holding reins, and turns to me and states, “I just want a clean round…”

          AND THEY’RE OFF! Two heart stopping minutes of jumping, screaming, pleading, cursing, crying, and cheering that seem to last an eternity. When you think you can’t scream any harder you hear the famous, “AND HERE THEY COME DOWN THE BACK STRETCH!”

          There are between 12 and 22 thundering horses with dirt covered jockeys looking for the outside break. And millions of spectators screaming in unison, “GO BABY, GO BABY, GO BABY!” Then someone crosses the finish line. Was it the favorite, the first timer, the filly, was it your pick?

          It’s over, and we are finally able to breathe once more. We instantly begin to chatter about the race highlights before the famous roses are draped across indeed, a ‘good baby’.

          If you don’t watch the Derby, you should! It’s A-mazing! You can find all things Derby at Local coverage (in Louisville) is from 7AM – 10AM with NBC national coverage starting at noon on NBCSN and 4PM on NBC with race time approximately 6:20PM and show ending at 7:30PM. (All times are EDT)

          Two recipes common on Derby Day are “Derby Pie” and Mint Juleps. You just have to give them a try!

“Derby Pie”
The pie was created by George Kern and his parents in their restaurant in Prospect, Kentucky.  It is a chocolate and walnut mixture, in a pastry crust.  The original recipe has remained a secret, so we do not have that recipe.  Following is a recipe for possibly the best pie I have ever had.  So, try it... you’ll like it.

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
9 inch unbaked pie shell

Directions:  Combine all ingredients except the pie shell.  Mix well.  Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until brown on top.

Mint Juleps (Mock)
4 -5 mint sprigs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups cold water
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 quarts ginger ale (or Ale8 1)
Thinly sliced lemon (to garnish)

1. Rinse mint and discard stems.
2. Mix sugar, water, and juice in medium bowl.
3. Stir in mint leaves.
4. Let stand 30 minutes.
5. Fill large pitcher with ice.
6. Strain liquid over ice.
7. Add ginger ale and lemon slices.
8. Serve in tall glasses with lemon slices to garnish.

Happy Derby Day Everyone!