Monday, March 31, 2014

International Children’s Book Day

Kids Matter
International Children’s Book Day
Robin @ Kids Matter
International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) has been celebrated on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, which is April 2nd.  Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish writer from the 1800s who is best known for writing fairy tales.   Per the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), the purpose is, “…to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.” 
            Each year a different theme is chosen.  An author from a chosen country is asked to write a special letter to the children of the world and a poster is made by a prominent illustrator in that country.  International Children’s Book Day celebrations around the world focus on a new theme and culture every year.  The theme for this year is, Imagine Nations Through Story. Here is a link to the letter for 2014.   The poster, shown above, was designed by Niamh Sharkey, and the message written by Siobhan Parkinson.  The country in the spotlight is Ireland.  Past countries participating have been: USA, Mexico, Estonia, Spain, Egypt, Thailand, New Zealand, Slovakia, India, Greece, Brazil, and Austria.   The list of participating countries goes on and on. 
            ICBD is an excellent opportunity to introduce your child to other languages, cultures, and arts.  It would be great fun to make it a themed lesson and try sampling foods from the region you are studying.  If anyone in your classroom has relatives of that heritage, they would be a great guest to come in and talk about life in that country and possibly be a guest reader for of a book. 
            Due to globalization and advances in technology, the world is getting smaller and smaller.  We are able to travel around the world faster than in past years, and can communicate face to face with people on the other side of the world with the click of a button.  So, it’s very important that our children are taught skills at an early age that will help them in this new world.  Knowing how to speak a foreign language is a valuable skill to most employers.  Knowing how to treat people from other cultures without offending them due to differing values and cultural backgrounds is also vital to performing well on the job.  Exposure to different people and cultures broadens a person’s understanding of others and enriches life.  I love the experience of traveling internationally.  Meeting people from different countries, on their own turf, can be an amazing experience.  I recommend it to everyone, but, if you can’t travel in person, at least travel via book.  Happy reading!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lasting Memories

Lasting Memories
Belinda @ Kids Matter
Thinking back to my younger years, I can’t help but to smile. Remember when you were a kid and you had those sweet little star crushes? Rick Springfield… oh, the teenage hearts he broke… Scott Baio, Leif Garrett, Andy Gibb, David and Shaun Cassidy… the list goes on and on. Are you a middle aged woman sitting there smiling from all the memories those names bring? How about the oversized posters hanging all around your room? Ahhh… the 70’s and 80’s… I remember those days fondly.
When I was a kid, we would go to the arena to see WWF wrestling on Wednesday nights. It was such a fun time. I developed a star crush on Bill Dundee. Many years later, I was working at a restaurant waiting tables. It was a Wednesday night; I was the last server standing (near closing). As I started to break things down for the night, I heard the door open. Someone pinch me… I must be dreaming. Suddenly, I was a nervous wreck and couldn’t hold onto a single thing. Everything I came near fell to the floor. Who was it that held such power over me? Yes, Bill Dundee, there he stood in the doorway with a bunch of his wrestler friends. They had stopped in to eat after that night’s event.
I went to the hostess station to get menus. I picked them up. I dropped them on the floor. I picked them up, again. I dropped them on the floor, again. Are you kidding me, was all I could think. I escorted the guys to their seats. They were all laughing, joking, and having a good time. Bill was the quietest of the group, but had the sweetest smile and oh, that Australian accent when he spoke. I took their order, brought their drinks, and best of all had a nice chat with them while they waited for their dinner. Remember Handsome Jimmy? He is quite the character and had me in stitches the whole time. I had the absolute best time at work that night, meeting guys I had thought of as superstars. I even got a proposal from Handsome Jimmy (as did probably hundreds of other waitresses back in the day).  Wednesday nights with my wrestler idols became a ritual. It was so much fun to spend time with those guys.
When I look back on those memories, I can’t help but laugh. Those stars we idolize so much are just real people like you and me. They just have a light that shines brightly on them for such a short time. They go out and do a ‘job’, just like us, but they break a lot of teenage hearts in the process. What’s important to realize is that we need those idols in our lives, no matter what age we are, because that’s what allows us to dream… to better ourselves… to excel. As adults, we need to encourage children to have those superstars, to dream of being that person one day. Of course, I never wanted to be a wrestler, but what captured my heart about Bill Dundee was how he always came to the rescue. He was always helping other wrestlers. Look at the many ways idols can influence our lives. It’s not a bad thing to see the best in people. It’s not a bad thing to want better for ourselves. Inspire children to dream big and bold while striving to become the very best they can be. Who were your idols? How did they influence your life?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Scot W.
Robin @ Kids Matter
Scot is originally from Colliers, West Virginia. He came to Kentucky to be near his fiancĂ©e who was going to school at UK.  Scot was the sports editor, for two years, at a newspaper in Harrodsburg, so it’s no surprise that he loves sports!   Football is his favorite sport, both to watch and to play.  He says he quickly became a UK fan after moving here because he really liked the love that people in the Lexington area had for sports.  I asked Scot what he has done that people wouldn’t guess about him.  He stated that several years ago, he entered a singing contest and won! 
After coming to live and work in Lexington, Scot’s workplace was very near the Fayette County Eligibility Office.  He had always had the desire to help people, and was not feeling fulfilled on a personal level in his current job.  So, after some time of seeing the signs and people coming and going, he asked more about the CCC, and applied for a job.  He’s very glad that it all worked out.  Scot is now a Claims Specialist working at Central Office.
Scot, and his wife April, are very involved in fundraising for the American Cancer Society.  They both volunteer at the Relay for Life event every year.  Part of his motivation for this is from his maternal grandmother being a breast cancer survivor and an aunt who passed away from cancer.  Several members of his wife’s family have been struck by the disease also, so it’s rewarding to be able to work toward a cure. 
The accomplishment Scot is most proud of in life is his son, Owen.   You can easily tell how excited Scot is about being a parent.  He said, “New parenthood is a combination of learning as you go and relying on what your parents taught you.”   He’s very thankful for the good upbringing that he had, as it has helped him a lot in learning how to be a parent himself.  Scot said that he has learned compassion and trust from Owen.  “Owen automatically trusts that you’re going to take care of him. He depends on you for everything.”    Before Owen was born, Scot could often be heard planning pre-schools, schools, sports, and other such things for his son and worrying about doing things the best way for him.  He said ultimately now, “What matters is that Owen is healthy, happy with himself, and happy with his life.  None of the other plans or ‘what ifs’ in life matter.”   10 years into the future, Scot sees himself happily transporting Owen to sporting events, watching him play, and grow.  Scot is very happy with life and where things have gone both in family and career.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tribute to the Pancake

Tribute to the Pancake
Kim @ Kids Matter
Pancakes date back as far as ancient Roman times. In the seventeenth century the Dutch used something like a griddle and a flour batter to make them.  Here in America, Aunt Jemima’s boxed pancake mix came out in 1889.  Pancakes are so celebrated that they actually have their own holiday. March 4th was National Pancake Day.
You can use a boxed mix or make them from scratch.  Pancakes are so easy to make!  My first memory of pancakes is with my dad, when I was about six years old.  I stood on a chair, up against the kitchen counter, and helped Daddy whip up some pancakes.  It is a great memory.  My husband and I use the Aunt Jemima mix and we make them at least once a month with bacon and pecans added.  
You can eat pancakes anytime; breakfast, lunch, dinner, or for a snack.  They even have them already made in the freezer section of your grocery store.   Pancakes are so loved, that some organizations have a Pancake Breakfast for a fundraiser.
Kids love pancakes.  Pancakes are very versatile; you can make faces in them, add anything you want into them, and a variety of things on top of them!  You can add chocolate chips, whipped cream, fruit, or the typical butter and syrup. Oh, and the syrups, there is every flavor you can imagine out there… strawberry, blueberry, and good ol’ maple.  Pancakes are just FUN.
Pancakes can make a rainy day, or any day better. They are a great project to do with your children or grandchildren.  Better yet, if you don’t want to make them yourself, you can always go to IHOP. That’s fun too!
Tiramisu Pancakes
3 large pancakes
1 c heavy cream
3/4 c sugar, divided
1 pkg cream cheese (8 oz.) room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c espresso, brewed
cocoa powder (for sprinkling on top)

1.     In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, 1 cup heavy cream, vanilla and 3/4 cup of sugar. Whip with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
2.     Lay 1 pancake down on a plate or in a pan and pour Espresso over top of it until pancake is moist, Spread 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture over the top of the pancake. Lay the 2nd pancake on top and pour more of the Espresso on top of that pancake then the cream cheese mixture on top. Repeat with the last pancake, making sure to use the rest of the mixture on top of the pancake. 
 3.  Put the cocoa powder into a small sieve and tap it gently over the pancake to dust the top. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy!

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Father’s Tips for Raising a Toddler Girl

Kids Matter
A Father’s Tips for Raising a Toddler Girl

Eamonn @ Kids Matter

Full disclosure, here is a bit about me:
·       I am 33 years old.
·       Married for soon to be six years.
·       I am a first time father of a little girl.
·       Not much scares me outside of clowns (not really I just think they’re creepy).
·       Raising a little girl SCARES me to death.
·       I don’t have all the answers, let alone the bulk of them.
·       I am a bit of a feminist.
·       I chose a profession, Early Childhood Education, that is roughly 97% female and I have funny and horrific stories to boot.
·       I was blessed with a very understanding and supportive wife.
When we found out that we were having a child, I was ecstatic. When we found out we were having a girl, I was terrified (but still ecstatic). People would tell me, “With your early childhood background, you’ll be a great father. What they failed to tell me, was that all the literature and quotes from the Piaget’s and Gardner’s did nothing to help my lack of sleep from trying to rock a crying little girl back to sleep at 3 A.M. (In order for my wife to get at least two solid hours of sleep). What did help was listening to Howlin’ Wolf on our iPod. Mozart, Bach, even Sarah McLaughlin didn’t help, Howlin’ Wolf did the trick. It worked for me, but I can’t guarantee it will work for you.

Here is a short list of tips for raising a toddler girl adapted from Rules For Dads Raising Daughters: The Good Men Project's List.

1. Tell her she’s beautiful, but tell her other good things about herself MORE.

It’s not that telling a girl she’s pretty or beautiful is bad. It’s not. Trust me; if you don’t say this to your significant other they will remind you that you didn’t. It just doesn’t need to be the only kind of compliment your daughter gets. She needs to understand that appearance isn’t the only thing that matters.  Compliment her intelligence, resourcefulness, imagination, hard work, and strength. I compliment her when she outsmarts or outthinks me. Trust me; kids will do this to you every now and then. Don’t pretend that her looks will never matter, but teach her not to judge herself or let herself be judged only on looks.

2. Teach her that handymen don’t have to be men.

I am happy to fix things, but if she notices something is broken and automatically says, “Daddy fix”, I reply with, “Mommy and/or Daddy can/will fix that”.  If Mommy fixed her broken night light or fixed a toy by replacing the batteries I let our daughter know.

3. I feel fat.

Let’s be honest, body image is an issue that both males and females go through. Our current society however, is more critical on female’s age, weight, and appearance. When we are full or overindulge in front of our daughter, we never say, “Gosh, I feel fat after that meal,” or “These clothes make me look/feel fat,” even if we think/feel that way. We try to be very aware of our own self-esteem and self-confidence and try not letting that be a negative influence on our daughter. Our problem should not be hers.

4. Remember that the way you talk about and treat women will have a lasting impact.

Your daughter will pick up on generalizations you make about women, whether positive or negative. Intentionally or not, you shape her identity about what it is to be a woman and how to expect to be treated for being one. Say positive things about women without pedestalizing. If you can’t be nice, at least be respectful and steer clear of the derogatory terms, and other words that may put down her entire gender. “All this goes double for talking about her mother.” -Williams and Schroeder
5. Indulge her imagination.

While it felt a little emasculating at first, when my daughter handed me two baby dolls and said, “Daddy nurse… its yummy, yummy right”. While I sat ‘crisscross applesauce’ on the floor in my Steelers t-shirt and ripped jeans, I realized it wasn’t because she was trying to take my “Man Card” or emasculate me,  she wanted to me to take part in one of the most loving experiences between her and my wife, breastfeeding.

6. Have a dance and jam session.

Children can be taught rhythm and dancing, they only need the opportunity. They need the freedom to experiment with sound from banging on pots and pans to playing a kazoo. It’s the same with dancing. For children to learn control of their body they need to practice. So, dance to any type of music. Change it up from time to time, something fast, like Caribbean or Afro-Cuban music, to something slow like classical or twangy country music. The catch is… you have to dance also.  Don’t worry about looking goofy. The bulk of us look goofy dancing anyway. Children appreciate the effort as much as we appreciate the children’s effort.

7. If she’s still little enough, hold her until she falls asleep sometimes.

Williams and Schroeder said, “You’ll miss it when you can’t”. I honestly tear up thinking about this.  Don’t skimp on those tender moments. Children are only small for a very short period of time so remember, what works for me may not work for you, but keep trying. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Sharrion E.
Belinda @ Kids Matter
If I had to sum up Sharrion in one word, it would be focused. Meet Sharrion, an Eligibility Specialist for the CCC, serving Fayette County for the past two years. Sharrion is a sweet person with intense focus on her education. Matter of fact, in addition to her working at the CCC, she is a currently a full-time student at the University of Kentucky, where she is pursuing her Masters of Social Work Degree. When asked where she sees herself in five years, she stated, “Hopefully married with at least one child and working on my PhD.” Focused! That’s exactly what she is and making her Mom, also an employee of the CCC, very proud.
When asked what motivated her to venture into social work she replied, “My Aunt Mattie, she is a social worker and she advocates for the troubled youth in Lexington.” Sharrion aspires to proudly follow in her aunts footsteps. Though she holds true admiration for her aunt, she says the person who has most influenced her life is her mother, Sharon. She says of her mom, “She has shown me the true definition of a strong woman and has been the best mother. I love her for it.” She is also very close to her grandparents and spends as much time possible creating lasting memories with them.
Sharrion defines family as, “more than people who are related to me genetically. My definition of family is the people who are there for you in life no matter what happens and provide spiritual and emotional support. Family consists of people that you can depend on.” Included in her family are two dogs, Amor and Zoey. She says her dogs have her personality so, “I guess it’s true that dogs are like their owners.”
I had to laugh while I was interviewing her because she is so focused on school, yet her favorite thing about elementary school was recess. Jumping from elementary school to middle school triggered a special memory of a special teacher in her life, Mrs. Fields, “She was so kind, supportive, and always had my best interest at heart. She passed away a few years ago and I regret that I never got a chance to tell her how important she was to me.” That makes you stop and think doesn’t it? Let us all just say “thank you” right now for all the teachers that have made such great impact on us.
Moving on to high school, with her great sense of humor, she told me a story of her most awkward moment. “I was in marching band. During a half-time show, I forgot where I was supposed to go in the formation so, I just made it up. Needless to say it was very noticeable!” So, if you happen to catch her wandering the halls, smile and give her a hand for great effort.
Going into the field of social work, she is concerned with the needs of children. She also says, “It takes a community to raise a child because a child’s life is influenced by the community.” She also supports the March of Dimes as much as possible because, “its goal is to decrease infant mortality and help mothers have full term pregnancies, as well as research the problems that threaten the health of the babies.” Sharrion is a wonderful, understanding person who is focused on her education for the betterment of the children and families in her community.

Monday, March 17, 2014

One Day We Are ALL Irish!

One Day We Are ALL Irish!
Julia @ Kids Matter
       One day a year, March 17th, we are ALL Irish. That is St. Patrick’s Day; a fun, festive day when, if not festooned with green, you may get pinched. But, what is the history of this holiday? Who was Saint Patrick? Are the legends true? Did he really rid the Emerald Isle of Snakes?!
          Actually no, that is not why we celebrate the official Apostle of Ireland. He is celebrated for bringing the Catholic Church to Ireland and teaching his faith using the three sided clover as a visual aid. The clover is still the country’s official flower.
          His death on March 17th, 461 A.D. is the day we celebrate to this day. But, how did the Irish in the first century celebrate compared to how we celebrate today? The Irish would attend services in the morning. They then had celebrations feasting on bacon and cabbage, then dancing and singing well into the night! There were no parades, no wearing of green, or cheering lads with a pint of green beer! Those traditions didn’t come until much later and were initiated by Irish immigrants in America.
          The first celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day in America was in the early days of the thirteen colonies. It was organized by The Charitable Irish Society of Boston. The society's purpose for gathering was simply to honor its homeland; however, they also coordinated charitable works for the Irish community in Boston. They attended services and had a special dinner later that night. These celebrations were very similar to the traditions of the ‘Old Country’.
          The first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred in New York City in 1762, when Irish soldiers, serving in the English Army, marched the American streets reconnecting to their Irish roots. This act inspired all those of Irish blood to participate. Today, it is not only the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade, but also the largest parade period in the world, hosting 150,000 people and taking five hours to complete! Other major cities that have large Irish populations such as, Savannah, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia have parades of upwards to 50,000 participants each year.
          In Chicago, they dye their river GREEN, with vegetable dye! It is the most fantastic shade of green and lasts for several hours. As you can see from the picture above, it’s amazing! As part of the Washington D.C. celebration, the White House also dyes its front fountain green.
          So, join me and thousands of others this Saint Patrick’s Day. Put on your best green shirt and dance a jig to celebrate the life of one of the most beloved Saints in the world!
For additional information on St. Patrick’s Day please visit:'s_Day_in_the_United...

Friday, March 14, 2014

100 Ways to Show Kids They Truly Matter

100 Ways to Show Kids They Truly Matter
Bradley @ Kids Matter
I was super excited when our “Blog Squad” asked me to write the 100th blog. I wasn’t sure what to write, but knew I wanted to include “100 of something” in my blog. It didn’t take me long to decide what that “something” would be. As an agency, we use the phrase “KIDS MATTER” often in our daily conversations. It’s a very common phrase around our offices. In fact, our staff often wears shirts with that phrase printed on them. So, for the 100th blog I decided to list 100 ways to show kids they truly matter. Pick a couple and do them today!
I love everything about those two words and have written a couple of blogs on my personal blog site ( around the words “KIDS MATTER.”
100 Ways To Show Kids They Truly Matter.
1.     Give them a sincere hug.
2.     A special kiss on the cheek.
3.     A special day of celebration.
4.     Buy a special new toy.
5.     Take a trip to the movie theater.
6.     Buy them a new outfit.
7.     Take a trip to that special grandparents’ house.
8.     Have lunch at their favorite restaurant.
9.     Have a slumber party.
10.  Buy or make a personalized book.
11.  Spend quality time reading books together.
12.  Get a special ice cream treat.
13.  Have a fun day at the park.
14.  Make a special craft together.
15.  Create a holiday to celebrate the child all day.
16.  Take treats to school.
17.  Eat lunch at school with your child.
18.  Fill the child’s room with balloons.
19.  Cook their favorite meal.
20.  Bake their favorite dessert.
21.  Do a science project together.
22.  Go on a class field trip as a chaperone.
23.  Take a walk together.
24.  Make time for a conversation.
25.  Listen to your child.
26.  Tell the child how special they are.
27.  Take a special photo.
28.  Give the child a camera for a day and make a scrapbook with them.
29.  Go fishing.
30.  Make a t-shirt in their honor.
31.  Go bike riding.
32.  Do relay races.
33.  Color a picture of your child’s favorite thing… butterfly, superhero, firetruck…etc.
34.  Invite the child’s friends for a small party.
35.  Play a board game.
36.  Go shopping together.
37.  Let them spend a little extra time on the Play Station (I like limits).
38.  Get down in the floor with them and spend time playing cars, Barbie’s…etc.
39.  Take a trip to the zoo.
40.  Visit a museum.
41.  Play ball.
42.  Go to a sporting event.
43.  Play miniature golf.
44.  Teach new tasks like shoe tying.
45.  Play dress up.
46.  Go to the batting cages.
47.  Do hair and nails.
48.  Have a pizza party.
49.  Do face painting.
50.  Redecorate their room.
51.  Spend quality one on one time with them.
52.  Tell them stories of your childhood.
53.  Give them stickers.
54.  Write a story about them then read it to them.
55.  Tell them you love them.
56.  Brag about them to your friends in front of them.
57.  Let them go first in that day’s events.
58.  Spend time building something with them out of Playdough, Lego’s, or Lincoln Log’s.
59.  Go bowling.
60.  Swing together.
61.  Smile and laugh with them.
62.  Allow them to choose that day’s activities.
63.  Let them go to their friend’s home for a sleepover.
64.  Schedule a special play date.
65.  Make a video together.
66.  Create a fort with blankets in your living room.
67.  Go on a scavenger hunt.
68.  Plant a garden together.
69.  Listen to their favorite music.
70.  Dance together.
71.  Go kite flying.
72.  Have a water balloon fight.
73.  Go walking through puddles after a rain.
74.  Tell jokes.
75.  Make paper airplanes.
76.  Have an ice cream party.
77.  Go swimming.
78.  Go on a picnic.
79.  Shoot water guns at each other.
80.  Bake cookies.
81.  Do sidewalk art.
82.  Switch roles; let the child be a parent and you be the child for a while.
83.  String beads into necklaces, bracelets, and key chains.
84.  Visit a fire station.
85.  Catch lightening bugs together.
86.  Have a tea party.
87.  Pitch a tent in the backyard and camp out.
88.  Visit the public library.
89.  Get a big cardboard box and play house.
90.  Play hide-n-seek.
91.  Make instruments out of household goods and form your own band.
92.  Pick out cloud shapes.
93.  Go outside and see who can hear the most sounds.
94.  Visit a water park.
95.  Go bird watching.
96.  Paint a family portrait.
97.  Jump rope.
98.  Spend computer time searching for things that interest them.
99.  Blow bubbles and chase them.
100.  Go exploring the neighborhood.

Thank you for reading our 100th blog.  I hope you will continue to visit our blog site in the future. Please feel free to share and spread the word of Kids Matter. What other ways can you share that you use to show kids they matter?  We’d love to hear from you!