Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy First Halloween Reef

Reef Indy - Pumpkin Boy

Halloween is the night of October 31, the eve of All Saints' Day, commonly celebrated by children who dress in costume and solicit candy or other treats door-to-door.

Reef Indy will be observing his first Halloween dressed in his Baby Shark Costume from Chasing Fireflies. 

Oma and Opa had to help Reef try on his costume earlier this week. Although he is only seven and a half weeks old, the 0-6 month size outfit was a tad snug.

Nevertheless, he was super cute and ready for Trick-or-treating. This costume is very well made and of great quality.

Reef's Dad's Zack-O-Lantern
Reef's Dad's Zack-O-Lantern

Gold Takes Silver
In First College Competition

Lily Gold, a VCHS graduate from the class of 2013, recently competed in the Mid-America Open for the Lindenwood University Olympic Weightlifting team. It was her first competition at the college level.

Lily Gold competed in the 58kg class and took second place.

The Lindenwood Lions are coached by Jainping Ma, a former Olympic athlete on the Chinese team in 1988.

Check out this video of Lily's lift: 

Lily Gold will be competing again this weekend at "The Lab Open" in St.Louis with the Lindenwood University team 53kg Division

Oma has had the pleasure of knowing Lily for a while and has always been in awe of her determination.  We look forward to seeing her lift in the Olympics one day!

You Are What You Eat And Drink

The Story of Cinnamon in America

Cinnamon and Cassia are not obtained from the same plant.

When shopping for your family, you have to be diligent to insure that you are really buying what you think you are buying. After reading about the benefits of the everyday spice Cinnamon, Oma took to the habit of drinking a hot cup of cinnamon and honey every morning.

However, imagine Oma's surprise to learn most cinnamon sold in supermarkets in North America comes from the less expensive variety, Cassia which is actually a cousin of cinnamon. Due to the presence of a moderately toxic component called Coumarin*, European health agencies have warned against consuming high amounts of cassia.

Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), sometimes called true cinnamon, has a long history. It originated in Asia, mostly Sri Lanka and India. Now, cinnamon shrubs are grown in almost every tropical region of the world.

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known. It was mentioned in the Old Testament. In the book of Exodus, God instructs Moses to make a holy anointing oil out of cinnamon, cassia, olive oil, myrrh, and hemp.

From the 16th to the 19th centuries, there were power struggles among European nations over who would control Ceylon and the lucrative cinnamon industry. In the early part of the 19th century, other countries began growing cinnamon and it became available to everyone.

Today, Ceylon cinnamon is produced in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean, while Cassia cinnamon is mainly produced in China, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Although related, cinnamon and cassia are not obtained from the same plant. They should be treated as separate foods, both from a nutritional and a health standpoint. Ceylon cinnamon is typically more expensive than any of the cassia versions, and it is also the cinnamon more closely associated with potential health benefits involving blood sugar regulation. 

Jimbo’s is a natural foods grocer.

Oma special orders her Ceylon cinnamon from Jimbo’s. Jimbo’s is a natural foods grocer with locations in San Diego/Del Mar and Escondido. For 25 years, Jimbo’s has proudly supported local organic farms.

Organic means food is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. Organically grown foods are higher in nutrients, including antioxidant vitamins, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Over 95% of Jimbo’s produce is organically grown!

Both honey and cinnamon have been used to heal for centuries, on their own and as in combination. In Chinese medicine, following Yin and Yang principles, cinnamon is used to cure conditions of cold (excess Yin) as it is considered to be Yang (heat). In this case, honey is seen to be neutral, in balance.

Oma enjoys her cup of “Cinnamon and Honey Tea” every morning. In addition to the health benefits of this concoction, this simple beverage serves as a reminder to pay careful attention to the sustenance you choose for your body. 

* Coumarin is known to cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Reef Indy Smiles

Oma loves it when Baby Reef Smiles!


Dad and Baby Reef Enjoying Their Sunday

Many babies treat their parents and grandparents to their first smile when they're between six and eight weeks old. (Reef Indy is seven weeks old.)

By encouraging Reef Indy to smile, you are helping him develop self-esteem. It lets Reef know that his feelings are important and that he can affect his environment. It's also important for his overall brain development.

At around one or two months, babies will gradually start to respond to environmental stimulation. Here are some tips to coax a baby grin:

  • Choose a period when your baby is relaxed. A hungry baby isn't inclined to smile.
  • Take your baby in your arms with his face very close to yours. Remember, at this age your baby sees best at 8-12 inches away.
  • Smile widely at his and offer a warm "hello" in that sing-song pitch parents do so well.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October is SIDS Awareness Month

 Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Reef Indy - Place baby to sleep on his back at naptime and at night time.

Did you know that 80-90% of SIDS-related deaths are due to unsafe sleep practices?


    Reef Indy - Place baby to sleep on his back at naptime and at night time.
  • Place baby to sleep on his or her back at naptime and at night time.
  • Use a crib that meets current safety standards with a firm mattress that fits snuggly and is covered with only a tight-fitting crib sheet.
  • Remove all soft bedding and toys from your baby’s sleep area (this includes loose blankets, bumpers, pillows and positioners). The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using a wearable blanket instead of loose blankets to keep your baby warm.
  • Offer a pacifier when putting baby to sleep. If breastfeeding, introduce pacifier after one month or after breastfeeding has been established.
  • Breastfeed, if possible, but when finished, put your baby back to sleep in his or her separate safe sleep area alongside your bed.


  • Never put your baby to sleep on any soft surface.
  • Never dress your baby too warmly for sleep; keep room temperature 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Never allow anyone to smoke around your baby or take your baby into a room or car where someone has recently smoked.

Nothing else should go in the crib with your baby
no blanket, pillow, bumper pads or toys. 


What SIDS Is and What SIDS Is Not


  • The major cause of death in infants from 1 month to 1 year of age, with most deaths occurring between 2 and 4 months
  • Sudden and silent - the infant was seemingly healthy
  • Currently, unpredictable and unpreventable
  • Determined only after an autopsy, an examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history
  • Designated as a diagnosis of exclusion
  • A recognized medical disorder listed in the International Classification of Diseases, ( 9th Revision)
  • An infant death that leaves unanswered questions, causing intense grief for parents and families.

SIDS Is Not:

  • Caused by vomiting and choking, or minor illnesses such as colds or infections
  • Caused by immunizations
  • Contagious
  • Child abuse
  • The cause of every unexpected infant death

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Non-Support Continues

Read Part One of this Saga by Clicking Here

Bad - HP 3005 PR USB 3.0 Port Replicator
Bad - HP 3005 PR USB 3.0 Port Replicator- Ignominy  
8:00 a.m - Finally found time to call the special number Tina, my HP Help Expert gave me.  I was hoping to get my HP 690650-001 SPS-Assy USB 3.0 Port Replicator up and running quickly.

Oma got to Hugo who told me that I had the wrong department (of course). He does not know why Tina sent me to him.  Oma was on hold for 30 minutes then Hugo transferred me to tech support at 800.334.5144.  Yup that is the same number I started out with.

Shruthi asked me all the same questions regarding the issues I was having.  I have answered these question numerous times with numerous people.  After Shruthi heard my story, she stated she would have to put me on hold so that she could collect information from the senior technician.

I asked to speak to the senior technician personally. Shruthi could not do that however, she was going to put me on hold so that she could get a supervisor. Shruthi promised it would be no longer than a three minute wait.

9:01a.m. placed on hold

9:06 a.m. Shruthi asked me to wait a minute.

9:07 a.m. Mathew came on line.  He is a Supervisor Case Manager.  After hearing the entire story again regarding my HP 690650-001 SPS-Assy USB 3.0 Port Replicator, he placed me on hold so that he could get more information.

When he returned, he stated that the replicator would will not the run the laptop power; the laptop power cord would have to be connected to run the laptop. 

Mathew connected with my laptop to trouble shoot.  

  • 9:27 AM You have granted full permission to Technician. To revoke, click the red X on the toolbar or press Pause/Break on the keyboard. 
  • 9:27 AM Checking configuration... 
  • 9:27 AM Checking configuration... 
  • 9:27 AM Connecting... 
  • 9:27 AM Connected. A support representative will be with you shortly. 
  • 9:27 AM Support session established with Shruti. 
  • 9:27 AM Remote Control started by Shruti. 
  • 9:33 AM Shruti has ended the session. 9:33 AM Remote Control by Shruti stopped.

He worked on the settings for the display but made it worse. Now my second monitor had poor quality of display and did not match what we were doing on the laptop.  Mathew was not sure why it was doing what it was doing and frankly Oma got scared. After all - Mathew had previously informed me that he was a Case Manager and not a computer tech!

After a discussion with Mathew and Opa - Oma decided that the HP 3005 PR USB 3.0 Port Replicator does not work at all!

We are shipping it back today and demanding our money back!  It is a shame that Oma could not be reimbursed for all the time wasted on this fiasco!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Should Baby Reef Indy Wear Sunglasses?

Should Baby Reef Indy Wear Sunglasses?

While enjoying Fun Family Friday, I noticed that baby Reef Indy was closing his eyes while outside with his Opa. Reef just loves being walked outdoors, but he always squints or closes his eyes. It is very sunny in Southern California, so Oma started wondering if it was ever too early to introduce Reef to sunshine.

Oma learned that it is a good idea, because exposure to ultraviolet rays may raise his risk for cataracts and other eye problems later in life. However, it is advised that if the baby resists, you shouldn’t push it. A visor or a hat could also be utilized to keep the sun out of his eyes and might be a more workable choice than shades for babies, toddlers, and even some older kids.

Not just any sunglasses will do, though. Putting low-quality sunglasses on your child is worse than his wearing no glasses at all. That's because poor-quality sunglasses can cause your child's pupils to dilate – therefore letting more UVA and UVB rays in – without offering protection.

When choosing sunglasses, buy a pair with a label saying it blocks 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Labels that say the glasses meet ANSI (American National Standards Institute) requirements or block UV absorption up to 400 nm (nanometers) mean you're getting this protection, too. You can trust the labeling in reliable stores, but not necessarily with a vendor on the street.

Oma learned that baby sunglasses come in various styles and are designed with the baby’s specific needs in mind. Unlike adult sunglasses that come as one size fits all, baby sunglasses come in various sizes to ensure a good fit for every baby's face.

Oma rummaged the internet. Baby Banz Sunglasses - Age 0-2 boosted rave reviews. 

Should Baby Reef Indy Wear Sunglasses?
Reef Indy's New Baby Banz

They have:
  • Plastic frame 
  • Plastic lens 
  • non-polarized 
  • Lens width: 60 millimeters 
  • Silicone Nose and Brow Piece is embedded into the glasses for added comfort 
  • Material: 82% Polyamide 18% Spandex 
  • Neoprene elastic strap matches chosen color of sunglasses and allows for flexibility, breath-ability, and comfort 

They were super cute too. Oma bought a pair for Baby Reef Indy. I will let you know how he likes them.

Friday, October 18, 2013

All*You - Grocery Circular Roundup

If you like shopping for deals at the grocery store, but have limited time, this free computer app might prove both fun and helpful! (I tried it and enjoyed both its ease and productivity!)

What is Grocery Circular Roundup?

Saving on your groceries just got a whole lot easier! Grocery Circular Roundup lets you browse both coupons and your local grocery circulars online, or search for deals and coupons based on your weekly shopping list. We designed it with one thing in mind: to make saving on groceries quicker and easier.

How do you get started?

Start by entering your zip code and clicking “Update.” The first results to appear will be items on sale at stores near you, as well as coupons. You can sort the results by store, category (bread, meat, pasta, etc.) or both.

You can also search for deals on specific items and brands on your shopping list by clicking the "Search By Item" tab. Type your grocery list or individual items by type (cereal) or brand name (Cheerios) to see what's on sale near you. Hit return after each item. When you click “Find Savings,” you’ll see all the stores in your area with deals on the items you searched, followed by specific deals organized by category.

Click here to go to All*You Grocery Circular Roundup

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Education Is Very Important for Your Little Star (Part 3)

This is the last installment of the three part interview Oma conducted with the founder of Little Stars Academy of Temecula. This is a must read as Jessica’s advice is both prolific and profound!
See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here


Question Three of Three:

Oma: Is there any advice you have for a first time Oma and Opa? What can a grandparent do to prepare their grandkids for school?

Jessica: The advice that I would give to any parent or grandparent to help prepare a child for school is to NEVER EVER think that it is too early to start educating your child. As soon as a baby is born they are ready to learn and I have seen so many times that if you wait until they are 5 to try to teach them it is too late!!!

Talk to your child. What? Crazy you say but I actually had kids in my class who I could tell had never really been talked to by their parents. I talked to my son all the time as a baby. Did he answer me? Nope but it filled the hours when we were alone in the house together. J And guess what? When he started talking not only did his vocabulary grow on a daily basis but he spoke in complete sentences. This is so important. When you ask your child a question like “Would you like some milk?” Please expect an answer like “Yes mommy I would like some milk”. Just yes or a nod is not acceptable. Expect them to talk and they will learn to talk. Give them everything without having to speak and they won’t learn to speak. It is so simple.

As for baby talk…just don’t do it. When your child is learning to talk and says a word wrong, politely tell them the right way and move on. Don’t harp on it but don’t ignore it because you think it is cute. Bad habitats are hard to break! We all know this. My husband and I have been asking our son the same question every night since as soon as he could talk. We ask him, “What was your favorite part of the day?” I love the answers that come out of his mouth. Sometimes it is just as I would expect, Going to Disneyland or playing at the park and then sometimes it is what I would consider the most insignificant part of the day like going to the store and then there is the all-time favorite “Spending the day with you!”. You and the people who you allow the privilege of spending time with your child become their first teachers so choose wisely.

Read to your children! Read to them a lot. Make it part of your daily/nightly routine as soon as they are born and it will become a habitat that sticks. My bookcase of children’s books was full before my son was born because it is just that important. Children have to hear stories in order to learn how to read. It is just that simple. Maybe you say okay fine but what do I read? My first recommendation would be to read rhyming books. The ability to rhyme is a strong predictor for success as a reader because kids who can rhyme truly understand the way words work and that makes them good readers. My second recommendation for books to read to your child are books that you get enjoyment out of which means you need to read it before you buy it. Did you like it? Did you enjoy reading it? The more into the story you get, the better the child will like it. When your child is old enough to talk you need to ask them about the story and just talk about what happened. Just doing that is HUGE!

Give kids exposure to new experiences. You do not need money to do this. Visit the park, grocery store, museum, or anywhere really and set out to make it a learning experience. Comment on the birds you see or the color of the clouds. It really doesn’t matter what you are doing. Maybe getting the tires changed on the car, you could talk about how a car has four tires. Lets count them, 1, 2, 3, 4 then compare…a motorcycle only has 2. Exposure to letters, print, and numbers is important. If you are going to watch TV make it educational and watch it with them to a certain extent. TV can be great to put on while you are making dinner but you better know what that TV is saying to them. If you are hoping it is teaching them something then you need to at least follow up and say “So what was the letter of the day on Sesame Street today?”

These are things that grandparents and parents can do but you know what I love most about what grandparents can give to their grandkids is a stress free environment full of love. Life can get busy for parents when they have bills to pay, kids to take care of, houses to clean, jobs to maintain, and more and kids feel all of that. What I love most about when my son is with his grandparents is that he doesn’t have to feel any of that. They put everything aside for my little boy and just make him feel loved. They say Yes I will play with you now, read to you, or go on a walk with you. Spoil them….definitely but not with toys or gifts….with love and attention. Being with grandparents should feel safe like a home away from home. Grandparents need to share their stories and experiences with their grandkids so they learn their values as well as those of their parents. Kids learn life lessons through experiences and the more they have with quality people the better off they will be!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Up-Date - Hewlett-Packard (HP) Non-Support

Read Part One of this Saga by Clicking Here

UPDATE:  Wed 10/16/2013

Good News - I received my 690650-001 SPS-Assy USB 3.0 Port Replicator as promised.

Bad News - I still can not get it to work.

Unfortunately I can not waste anymore time on this right now - However, will call HP Tech Support again after I catch up on work a bit!

It seems simple enough, however the software will not even download on this on???????

UPDATE:  Tue 10/15/2013 1:48 PM

Well I stayed home waiting for that promised phone call in vain!  However, I did recieve this email:
Dear z smith, We are glad to inform you that the following parts from your recent Customer Self Repair (CSR) service event, 0624333068 have shipped through UPS, Next Day Air Service. Part Number: 690650-001 SPS-Assy USB 3.0 Port Replicator.
Will let you know if it arrives tomorrow!

Tue 10/15/2013 4:13 AM

Email from HPSupport_Global
Subject: HP - Confirmation of Parts Order

Dear **********,

This e-mail is to confirm your Customer Self Repair (CSR) service event with HP Services created at 10/7/13 15:07:00 for:

Serial number - **********
 Product ID - **********.

The following parts were request: 
 Part Number: 690650-001 SPS-Assy USB 3.0 Port Replicator
And will be delivered to: 
z smith
city, state, zip,

Phone: +1 **********

If any of this is incorrect, please contact our support team at +1-800-474-6836. When you call, please have your order number, ********** and case number, 4712051556, at hand.

This e-mail does not confirm that any of your requested parts have shipped. When your parts ship, a separate e-mail will be generated that will detail which parts were sent and provide the associated tracking numbers.

After your part has shipped you can expect a caIl from your Customer Care Advocate to ensure that the service event met all of your expectations and to assist in your part return. HP requires the return of the good and/or defective parts associated with your CSR event. The timely return of the part allows HP to handle them in an environmentally friendly manner and improve the quality of HP products. HP encourages you to return the part within 5 calendar days of receipt. A courtesy phone call will be made to you if the part is not returned within 5 calendar days

There was lots of other verbiage attached to this email – but the synopsis is HP will be shipping the replacement HP 3005 PR USB 3.0 Port Replicator – however it has not been shipped as yet. 

Not sure if they are going to call me or not - so I guess my plan to stay home and wait for that "phone call in 24 hours" is still on the agenda for today.

However,  the good news is they have all the photos they need. Oma will keep you updated. My guess is that I should see a working HP 3005 PR USB 3.0 Port Replicator within two days to a month! What is your estimation? 

********** was used on sensitive data

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Non-Support

HP Computer Support Does Not Have the Right Department

Where to start . . . . well let’s start from the beginning. I ordered a new computer from Cost-Co. I use my computer on the average of ten hours per day seven days a week and it was time for an upgrade.

My HP ENVY 15t Quad 1080p TouchSmart Laptop, Intel® Core™ i7-4700MQ 2.4GHz laptop arrived as promised and I am very happy with it. It is easy to use and so much faster than my old computer.

My sweet husband Paul suggested that I get a docking station so that the laptop could be used as a desk top as well. I called HP Support; explained what I wanted to do; and the nice lady sent me a link for a HP 3005 PR USB 3.0 Port Replicator. She explained that it would do everything I wanted!

The HP 3005 PR USB 3.0 Port Replicator was delivered last week on 10/07/2013. Paul and I tried to set it up but it did not work at all. Therefore I called the HP Tech Support. After they tried unsuccessfully to help set it up, they said that the replicator was faulty.

Ari, HP Tech Support person, issued me case number - #4712051556. They promised a replacement replicator which would reach me in two days.

10/08/2013 I received this email from CSR Order Validation :

Good Day: You have ordered 1 SPS- USB 3.0 Port Replicator on 10/7/2013. Please follow the attached link below and fill out the web form so that your order may be processed. Please submit your verification form today to ensure your order is processed in a timely manner. Please ensure that you are filling out both of these sections correctly in the URL.

I completed their form immediately and attached the photo they requested.

HP 3005 PR USB 3.0 Port Replicator
(Numbers Blurred On Purpose)

Two days later, another email was received. This one, also from CSR Order Validation, stated:

Greetings, Thank you for your response, however we need a picture of the serial number tag that is affixed to the outside of your Hewlett-Packard device you are requesting warranty parts for.

Please reply directly to this email and attach either submit a copy of your proof of purchase or a picture of the serial number tag.

Therefore I sent them this photo:

HP 3005 PR USB 3.0 Port Replicator
Numbers Blurred On Purpose

10/14/2013 - I was patiently awaiting the arrival of my HP 3005 PR USB 3.0 Port Replicator. Therefore, imagine my disappointment when this email arrived:

Greetings, Thank you for your response, however we need a picture of the actual serial number tag that is attached to the HP computer you are requesting warranty parts for. Please reply directly to this email and attach either submit a copy of your proof of purchase or a picture of the serial number tag that is affixed to your Hewlett-Packard device you are requesting warranty parts for.

Okay, now I am confused – do you want a photo of the HP 3005 PR USB 3.0 Port Replicator that I am requesting you replace because it is defective and never worked? Or do you need the serial number tag that is attached to an HP computer?

I have a brand new HP Laptop, however I am not requesting warranty parts for it . . . .

I thought I had better call the tech guy again and get clarification as to what they really want.

Conversation with HP Computer Tech #1

It is now 10/14/13 and I still do not have the replicator. I tried to call the tech that helped me first (Avi 1-800-334-5144). Off course the HP telephone lines were experiencing heavy traffic and I had to wait my turn.

Even though I called the telephone number I was given by my original tech, once I spoke to a person, I was told I got the wrong department; they transferred me to 1-800-474-6836.

Conversation with HP Computer Tech #2

Again the lines were busy and I had a lengthy wait. After explaining my situation again, Mathew told I had the wrong department and transferred me to 1-888-237-8454. 

Conversation with HP Computer Tech #3

After yet another lengthy wait for a tech, I explained my situation and give my case number to Angel. You guessed it, Angel put me on hold so that she could connect me with the right department.

Conversation with HP Computer Tech #4

That brought me to Lope at 800-474-6836. However, she could not locate my case number. She wanted to start over. Nope I said, Mathew found it and Angel found it – try again . . . . Awe she found my case number . . . . yup you guessed it – she has to transfer me to the right department

I told Lope enough – please give me a supervisor – she did not do it . . . she quickly transferred me to Lata at 1.800.334.5144.

Conversation with HP Computer Tech #5

So then I was speaking to Lata (not a supervisor a tech support) whose phone number is 1.800.334.5144.

Wait a minute - 800.334.5144 is the first number I called on this gloomy odyssey. 


I begged to speak to a supervisor. Lata could not do that – I was required to give her all the info I supplied all the other techs I spoke to.

Lata sees that I have sent in the photos requested . . . . Lata (you guessed it) put me on hold so that she could talk to the “right people” in the right department to help me with my problem!

After another lengthy wait on hold, Lata says that she found the right department but now they are closed! She will call me back within the next 24 hours after the right department opens and she can talk to them and find out why they are not sending me the replacement.

You have to admit that this tale is sadly funny. I was going to get my nails done tomorrow, but had better wait by the phone for my “transfer to the next right department!”

How has your experience with HP Support been? Leave me a comment – Positive or negative. 

I will post an update as soon as my adventures with HP Tech Support progresses.  However, at this point Oma does not love  Hewlett-Packard Support.

Free Christmas E-Book
But Hurry

A House Before Christmas
It is really never too early prepare for Christmas. Especially when there is an awesome opportunity for a FREE Kindle Christmas Book for your favorite toddler!

I downloaded and read, “A House Before Christmas” this morning. It is a short quick read – perfect for a rainy day activity with a curious child. Be forewarned however, this story mirrors some stark reality not usually in children’s stories.

However, that is one of the main reasons I found this story so refreshing! What an awesome introduction for youngsters into the all too adult reality of homelessness!

Correctly utilized, this book could be a meaningful tool to invite dialog, learning and understanding of homeless people, friendship, and kindness.

Book Description:
A House Before Christmas is a children's Christmas Story about Tommy Mouse and his 2 friends Mary Cricket and Purdy Mole. 2 days before Christmas Tommy has lost his home in the old farmhouse he loved. He was planning a Christmas Eve party for his two friends. Now he has to find another place to live, and before Christmas Eve! For ages 3 and up. Charming hand-drawn and hand-painted illustrations.

FREE Christmas E-Book (Click Here) 

 If you want this book for free,
hurry because it will only be free today and tomorrow.

After downloading and reading this book, please take a moment to give this author a review on Amazon.

Also, please leave a comment on this post and let me know what you thought of “A House Before Christmas” (You could just copy and paste your Amazon Review!)

I cannot wait to read this with Reef Indy.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Reef Indy at the Valley Center
Skate Park Fundraiser

A beautiful SoCal Saturday - Skateboarding at the Park
A beautiful SoCal Saturday - Skateboarding at the Park

Skateboarding is a 2.5-billion dollar industry and has become a vital part of urban communities. A skatepark can attract skateboarding tourists and with national health issues looming for today’s youth, it’s time to offer a greater number of healthy, athletic choices.

Healthy fun for kids of all ages!

In 2006, 42 people riding skateboards died. Of those, 40 of them were not in a skatepark and 27 of those involved a motor vehicle. In other words, of these 42 deaths, 40 of them might have been prevented had the person been skating in a skatepark instead of the streets.

Activism and change come in a variety of venues. To truly create social change, activism must happen locally as well as nationally. It can happen in small, everyday actions as well as creative ways using large-scale or far reaching venues like the media or social networking. 

Opa With Reef Indy
It is never too early to instill a sense of community awareness and activism in a child.

Reef Indy came out to ‘Support our Youth and Help Make Change Happen’ at 28246 Lilac Road Valley Center CA 92082.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Education Is Very Important for Your Little Star (Part 2)

Little Stars Academy

The teachers and staff of Little Stars Academy are committed to helping every child develop to their own individual potential in an atmosphere that fosters a balance between each child’s social, physical, intellectual and emotional development. We provide a well-balanced curriculum supported by a professional staff dedicated to encouraging each child to reach their maximum potential.

Oma’s interview with Jessica, the founder of “Little Stars Academy Temecula”  continues. (See Part 1 here)  

Question Two of Three:

Oma: Please give us the “The Little Star” story – the when, why, how . . . . .

Jessica: After having my own son I ended up working as a part-time job share teacher for 3 years. I loved the kids that I worked for and the parents I met but I quickly started to dislike the system. I experienced an environment where many coworkers were not there to put kids first, were not there to help shape lives, or to help them learn the things they needed to know. I experienced bad and in some cases downright scary teachers, principals who honestly cared more about bullying staff then they did about changing a school’s culture, and a district that was determined to change the system every year just because they could. I knew in my heart as much as I loved my school that I would never send my son there. I couldn’t stand the idea of not being comfortable with him being in every classroom on campus.

I started to look elsewhere for job options and school setting for my son. I became involved in the would be start-up of a charter school for our community that just never seemed to go anywhere or get enough support. My amazing partner teacher who knew of my frustrations finally encouraged me to look into starting a private school. When I did I discovered that it actually could be a possibility.

I am a strong believer in the importance of a good foundation in kindergarten and 1st grade. Kindergarten today is essentially what 1st grade used to be. Kids learn to read in kindergarten now and if a child enters kinder without preschool they start out at a disadvantage. I also believe in small class sizes, which with budget cuts you will not find often. I wanted a school that provided that strong foundation in a small group setting that kept learning fun and engaging. I wanted a place where I could connect with parents and help them learn to help their children.

So with the help of my husband and the dream of the school that I would want for my own child we started putting the steps into motion in November 2011 while I was still working in public school. We started looking for a location and I started researching curriculums. We worked on the website, handbooks, and our philosophy for the school. In March of 2012 we moved into the space and started painting, building, and buying. We began taking appointments for tours and started to take students for our first year.

The 2012-2013 we had 6 kindergarteners and 1 first grader. We were a tight group from the beginning and the thing I loved most about our group that every child in there was there because their parents were looking for something unique and as special as their child was. Isn’t that exactly what I wanted for my son? It totally was. One of my former parent volunteers came to work with me. She is honestly the most hardworking dedicated person that I have ever known. She homeschooled two of her own children and knew the basics of teaching but set to work that year learning everything she could about what the kids needed and how to present the information in a beneficial and meaningful way. Once again I found the most enjoyment out of teaching and guiding her to be a better teacher!

Overall the year was hard, scary, and stressful but amazing at the same time. Going into our 2nd year we have 23 students in transitional kindergarten, kindergarten, and 1st grade.

What makes Little Stars better than public school is that we cater to each child. I often compare it to homeschooling but with a real teacher and peers in the mix. Each child in getting a variation of the Common Core Standards at the level they need. In public school most of the kids are being taught at the exact same level because there are so many kids in the class that the teacher could not possibly teach at all the levels needed. 

Most of the time you teach to the majority of your class and then work your butt off to bring up the low kids leaving the high kids to fend for themselves because you know they are fine and are not going to fail. It is these kids that I always felt the most disservice to because I would wonder if I really ever challenged them, ever taught them anything that they didn’t already know. Our small class environment means that we get a lot more work done in less time, which leaves more time with the subjects like science and social studies. These are the subjects that are often getting left behind in public school. 

With our multi-age peers in the room the kids are learning how to be more responsible like the older kids and more caring to the younger kids. We teach about respect, courtesy, and kindness not just about the academics.

(The Last Installment - Part Three – Will be Published Next Week)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

FREE Box of Kraft Mac & Cheese!

If your name is Smith – You can get a free coupon (arv $1.65) redeemable for one Kraft Macaroni & Cheese product today!

FREE Kraft Macaroni & Cheese product

Every day through October 16th, you can head over to the Kraft Noodle Reunion website and check to see if you can score a FREE Box of Kraft Mac & Cheese! You will be eligible ONLY if your last name matches. Be sure to check back every day to see if your last name matches! You must verify your last name via Facebook.

It was easy and it was fun. I got my FREE Box of Kraft Mac & Cheese! Now I am going to let all my fellow SMITHs know about this freebie!

FREE Kraft Macaroni & Cheese product

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tummy Time for Reef Indy

What is tummy time and why is it important
 to your infant's development? 

Reef Indy - Ready for Tummy Time
Reef Indy - Ready for Tummy Time

Today marks Reef Indy’s first month. This month has been both busy and joyful. What a delight it has been learning to communicate with the infant. Loving the grandbaby was easy and came so naturally.

Reef Indy’s first month birthday started Omas thinking about “Tummy Time”

During tummy time, the baby lays on his belly to play while you supervise. Since your baby sleeps on his back to help prevent sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), he needs to spend some of his awake time on his stomach to develop physically and mentally.

The Benefits

On his tummy, Reef Indy will lift his head, which strengthens both the neck and upper back muscles. Tummy time also gives your little one a different view of the world.

“Babies need to learn how to support their heads when they are still, says Tanya Altmann, MD, a pediatrician in California. “They also need to be able to turn their head in response to what's happening around them and hold their heads steady when they're moved."

Lastly, spending time on his stomach will also help Reef Indy’s head become round instead of developing flat spots on the back of his head.

When to Start

“Tummy time can begin right after birth or definitely by the time your baby is a month old.” According to Chris Tolchis, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician in California,

For the first few weeks, you may want to delay tummy time until his umbilical cord stump falls off. As long as your baby is comfortable, though, you can safely let his play on his stomach right away.

How Frequently and for How Long

Some pediatricians suggest having your baby play on his stomach five to ten minutes a couple times a day. However, there are no set amount of time.

"I usually recommend starting to offer tummy time at least once per day," says Scott Cohen, MD, FAAP, an attending pediatrician at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. He suggests leaving your baby on his tummy as long as he accepts it – be it fifteen seconds or fifteen minutes.

Some babies initially resist tummy time because they don't have good control and find it hard to lift their heads. But the more practice your baby gets, the better he’ll like it.

How to Make Tummy Time Fun

Turning tummy time into playtime is as easy as lying on your belly and facing your baby, Jana says. Tips for making Reef Indy's tummy workout fun:
  • When your baby can't support his own head yet, put his on your chest tummy down. Or put his across your lap on his stomach for burping.
  • Get on the floor with your baby. "Make faces, talk to them, get a tummy time mat, and hold colorful toys or a rattle in front of them." Cohen says.
  • Encourage your baby to look up by talking or singing above his head.
  • Place your baby next to a mirror or musical box -- or something else he’ll want to reach for.
  • Place your baby's upper body and arms over a nursing pillow. This elevation gives a nice view and may be more comfortable.
  • If your baby starts to fuss, divert his attention. Turn him on his back, then blow "raspberries" on his tummy. Flip his onto his stomach and make the same raucous noises on his back. That’s distraction at its silly best.
  • Some parents suggest waiting an hour after your baby eats to start tummy time, for the baby's comfort and for mom and dad -- less spit up to clean up!

Tummy Time Trouble Makers

Some babies have strong opinions about being on their stomachs. After all, tummy time is hard work! Just keep trying . . . Reef Indy will meet this milestone when he is ready. It is part of Oma’s job to give him the opportunity to make tummy time "a fun part of every day."


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Education Is Very Important
for Your Little Star

One of the greatest regrets Oma has in childrearing
 is not taking her sons out of public school.

According to the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), there's a number of reasons some parents are choosing the pricier option. These include high academic achievement (the National Center for Education Statistics has found that private school students in grades 4, 8 and 12 score well above the national average in reading, math, science and writing), a safe environment, high parent and teacher satisfaction levels, a focus on civics, community service and a values-based setting.

If only I knew then what I understand now . . . . . . As a new Oma (Dutch for Grandmother), I do not wish to make that same mistake twice. After interacting with a child who has attended “Little Stars Academy Temecula,” Oma hopes that Reef Indy can someday attend this excellent learning milieu. 

Little Stars Academy Temecula
Little Stars Academy Temecula

During her research, Oma interviewed Jessica, the founder of Little Stars. The best part of that interview will be presented in several installments. Please take the time to read what this innovative educator has to say. It will positively change your life and the lives of your children and/or grandchildren significantly. Much of her advice, covered in part three of this series, can be accomplished with little or no monetary cost.

Question One of Three:

Oma: How was your experience as a traditional teacher? 


Jessica: I have been teaching for eight years. Six years teaching public school kindergarten in a rural, program improvement (means the school had test scores that No Child Left Behind Act deemed as failing), low socio-economic, high English as a second language population school. I started teaching at the public school the first year that it was in its program improvement status, which meant that the school was in for a lot of changes. The school became part of a grant program called Reading First where we were given an academic coach and a lot of training. As teachers we were expected to follow the curriculum exactly as it was laid out with no deviations. The premise of the Reading First program was that if you follow the program, you would see results. So I set out to do just that.

I was fortunate to have a partner teacher who had many years’ experience teaching preschool and kindergarten and was very well known and respected in the community. In that first year together we changed everything about the way kindergarten was taught in that school. My partner was so supportive and open to every new idea that I had. We taught the program exactly as designed and definitely got results. Pretty soon our kindergarten was scoring some of the best test results in the district. In my 2nd year of teaching I became a model teacher. Other kindergarten teachers in our district would come to observe my implementation of the program. This was such a great experience for me. I enjoyed helping teachers, learning from them, and making their lives a little easier. I came to respect and understand how important it was for a teaching staff to work as a team and be on the same page. (More about this later & why I left public school 

I learned from him about our community and that the most important thing you could give to any student was love, understanding, and a safe place to be because the bottom line was that a lot of our kids didn’t get that at home. He had always done home visits as a preschool teacher because it was required and continued to do them in kindergarten. I watched the relationship that he developed with kids and parents, the way they trusted him, and let him in to their homes no matter what their home life was like. I learned that gaining the trust of your student’s parent was the best way to get results and make a difference for them. I learned early on that I loved kindergarten so much because you were laying the foundation of schooling for kids and parents in so many ways. I learned that I loved educating the parents and helping them help their kids just as much as I loved teaching.

(Part Two – Will be Published Next Week) 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

America takes notice of Joey Prusak

Joey Prusak with Queen Latifah
Joey Prusak is only nineteen years old and already an inspiration to the youth of America . . . . well more accurately to Americans of all ages.

Just in case you missed it, Prusak’s name went viral when he displayed good morals and good manners while performing his job.

The Hopkins, Minnesota Dairy Queen employee saw a blind customer drop a $20 bill, which promptly found its way into the purse of another customer -- after she picked it up and slipped it in there. When the woman attempted to order her food, Prusak refused to serve her unless she returned the money. Claiming it belonged to her, Prusak asked the woman to leave.

The 19-year-old then gave the blind customer $20 out of his own pocket, and the world took notice. After another customer witnessed Prusak's kind act and sent an email to Dairy Queen, his story quickly went viral and caught the attention of mainstream media, who hailed the good samaritan.

Queen Latifah, a noted NASCAR fan had Prusak on her show to congratulate him for doing the right thing and to reward him for his courageous actions.

Kevin Harvick, winner of the 2007 Daytona 500, recorded a message for Prusak, played on Latifah's show.

NASCAR is proud of your recent acts of kindness and courage," said Harvick, "On behalf of NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway, I'd like to personally invite you to attend the Daytona 500. As a past Daytona 500 champion, I look forward to seeing you at the Great American Race.

Many have reached out to Prusak, but perhaps none more high-profile than Warren Buffett, whose company owns Dairy Queen.

I started laughing (when he called). Who knew it was going to be the real Warren Buffet?" Prusak told Latifah that Buffet said to him, "I'm really proud of what you did and I'd like to invite you to our shareholders meeting in May, you can be Dairy Queen's guest.

@joey prusak currently only has 608 Followers
 Let’s get that number higher.

Please Follow @joeyprusak on twitter and ask your friends and family to do the same!  Leave me a comment if you started following this amazing example of American NASCAR Youth!

You can also connect with Joey on his Facebook page.

I will be sure to continue to follow Joey Prusak and hope my grandson will grow up  as ethical as Joey.

(Prusak is also an amateur racer, running some events at Minnesota's premier NASCAR Hometrack venue)