Friday, August 29, 2014

Gone Fishing

Gone Fishing

Belinda @ Kids Matter

Just because summer is winding down, doesn’t mean that the beautiful, enchanting Kentucky state parks are closing! What if you didn’t have the opportunity to get away for a summer vacation? How about a nice relaxing weekend in one of the parks’ cabins or lodges? To find a state park near you just click on this link: Find a KY State Park. Even if you can only spare a few hours, there is plenty to explore in the parks. Maybe you just want to take a couple of hours; listen to some great music or go for a hike through the woods. There is something for everyone! Relax, kick back, and enjoy a bonfire at one of the park campgrounds. Savor those last few minutes of some smoky barbecue on the grill. Get acquainted with the creepy crawlies on the hiking trails. Are you into scrapbooking? Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park even has a scrapbooking weekend planned. Make a pledge to yourself, and your family, to go “unplugged” for a weekend! No phones or computers… hang a shingle on your life that simply reads, “Gone fishing”.

For a complete listing of all events please visit the Kentucky State Parks website. Here are some of the highlights:

·       Labor Day Celebration: Aug 29 - Sep 1, 2014 Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park 

·       Fraley Festival of Traditional Music: Sep 3 - Sep 6, 2014 8:00 P.M. - 11:00 P.M. Carter Caves State Resort Park

·       Summer 2014 Concert in the Park Series: Sep 05, 2014 6:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M. Rough River Dam State Resort Park

·       2nd Friday Bluegrass Jam: Sep 12, 2014 6:00 P.M. - 11:00 P.M. Rough River Dam State Resort Park 

·       Fall Camper's Yard Sale: Sep 12 - Sep 13, 2014 8:00 A.M. - 8:00 P.M. Fort Boonesborough State Park

·       Scrapbooking Weekend: Sep 12 - Sep 14, 2014 Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park

·       Monarch Butterfly Migration Mysteries: Sep 13, 2014 8:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. John James Audubon State Park

·       Jam Session: Sep 16, 2014 6:30 P.M. - 8:00 P.M. Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park

·       Autumn Weekend: Sep 19 - Sep 21, 2014 8:00 A.M. - 8:00 P.M. Fort Boonesborough State Park 

·       Trashmaster's Classic: Sep 20, 2014 8:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M. Barren River Lake State Resort Park

·       Backyard Concert Series: Sep 20, 2014 7:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M. General Butler State Resort Park

·       Monarch Butterfly Migration Mysteries: Sep 20, 2014 8:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. John James Audubon State Park

·       Western Kentucky State Parks Race Series- Run through the Forest 5K Run/Fun Walk: Sep 20, 2014 8:00 A.M. Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park

·       Elk Viewing Tour: Sep 21, 2014 5:30 A.M. - Noon Jenny Wiley State Resort Park

·       Why I Love the Old Mulkey Meetinghouse State Historic Site: Sep 24 - Sep 28, 2014 10:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. Old Mulkey State Historic Site

·       Halloween Lights Drive Thru: Sep 26 - Oct 25, 2014 8:00 A.M. - 8:00 P.M. Fort Boonesborough State Park 

·       Great Outdoors Weekend: Sep 27, 2014 Noon - 4:00 P.M. Big Bone Lick State Historic Site

·       Tygart Gorge and Arches Hike: Sep 27, 2014 9:30 A.M. - 3:30 P.M. Carter Caves State Resort Park 

·       Trails and Trenches Preservation Day: Sep 27, 2014 9:00 A.M. - Noon Columbus-Belmont State Park

·       Natural Bridge Trail Trek Series: Sep 27, 2014 9:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M. Natural Bridge State Resort Park 

·       The 1778 Siege of Boonesborough: Sep 27 - Sep 28, 2014 9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. Fort Boonesborough State Park

·       Great Outdoors Weekend: Sep 28, 2014 Noon - 4:00 P.M. Big Bone Lick State Historic Site 

Happy September to you and your wonderful families from Kids Matter!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Jamie L.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

This week I introduce Jamie, a Claims Specialist, who has been with the CCC for the past five years. Jamie is the twin sister of Amie, who also works for the CCC. What career path led her to the field of child care assistance? She responded, “I was working as a pharmacy tech before I started with the agency. I wanted a job that I could work 8-4:30, so I could be home with my daughter. I applied for the job in 2009 and served Rowan, Morgan, Menifee, Elliot, and Carter Counties as an Eligibility Specialist. In May 2013, I started working as a Claims Specialist at Central Office.”

I asked her what she loved about her job to which she replied, “Everything!! I have never had a job until this one that I truly loved. I am proud to say that I work for the CCC. This place is such a great place. It’s warm, friendly, and you know that you are cared for.” She went on to say, “I love helping people because it is such a great feeling knowing that something that you have done made someone’s day. Ultimately, the greatest job to have is one that you love; one that you are proud to say where you work and don’t dread coming into work.”

Jamie lives with her daughter, Sarah, her boyfriend, Ken, and his two children, Chloe and Dalton, on weekends. They have three cats who she described, “My first pet is Emma, who I nicknamed Lou Lou. I actually got her when I lived in Hawaii. She loves to steal food: no matter what it is you are eating. She is a sweet cat who loves eating treats and chasing balls. I also have, Kallie and Annie, who came from Hawaii as well. Kallie is a shy kitty and Annie is a feisty cat who will love you then turn and bite you the very next minute.”

She said, “My greatest achievement is being the mom to such an awesome child. She is so sweet, kind, funny, and smart. I love waking up every day knowing that I have someone to love with my whole heart and soul.” She said Sarah makes her laugh when she acts goofy and is the funniest person she knows. Jamie has done something special with her daughter and mother for the past two years and I think that it is so cool, to share such a special bond. She said, “I have gone on vacation with my mom and Sarah the past couple years. Last year was Florida, and this year was Gatlinburg. I love being able to spend time with my mom and daughter. Life gets too busy sometimes and it’s nice to take a break from it all with people you hold so dear.”

Jamie is a lover of music and said, “Pretty much all the bands I listen to help me when I feel gloomy. The music that helps me get through the day is Folk Pop. Some bands I listen too are Ingrid Michaleson, Jamestown Revival, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, Scars on 45, and The Wind and the Wave.” She uses Twitter to tell people about all the awesome bands and new songs they have out. Where does she get her love of bands? It possibly comes from the years she and her best friend, Peggy, spent in band and color guard. She and Peggy spent many weekends at competitions and had a blast doing it and are still friends to this day.
She also loves UK basketball and cheering for the Indianapolis Colts. She shared, “My stepdad, who passed away eight years ago, was a huge fan, so I support the Colts in his honor.” She attributes who she is today to the love and support she received from her parents. She said, “I think they did all they could do to make sure we had a good life.” Her advice to parents would be, “Every child is different and they don’t come with manuals. My advice is to teach them manners; teach them to love, and to help others.” Love and charity begins at home; that’s a great piece of advice.

Monday, August 25, 2014

On Your Mark, Get Set, “GO” ing to Kindergarten!

On Your Mark, Get Set, “GO” ing to Kindergarten!

Alyssa Schneider (Guest Blogger) @ Kids Matter

As I stroll up the aisle of Target in mid-July, I cannot help but begin feeling the buzz about the upcoming month, the month that children return to school.  For those parents whose child will be entering school for the first time, as a kindergartener, there is an elevated level of organization, excitement, and maybe panic. I remember when my own children were at this stage; I was busy making lists.  Lists of back to school clothes that they needed, the endless list of school supplies, and of course we cannot forget the new backpack and lunch box featuring Spiderman or the newest disney princess. Preparing for kindergarten, as a parent, seems to be getting the needed items on the list, just in time for the first day.  Have we asked ourselves a bigger question; is my child really ready? Not just ready to begin waking up at the crack of dawn and getting on the school bus; but, is my child ready socially, emotionally, and skilled enough to have a successful transition into the world of  school?

School readiness in Kentucky means that each child enters school ready to engage in and benefit from early learning experiences that promote a child’s success. The developmental areas for school readiness are:  (

·       Approaches to learning.

·       Health and physical well-being.

·       Language and communication development.

·       Social and emotional development.

·       Cognitive and general knowledge.

Many, many years ago this definition had not been adopted by the state, so there I was wondering. And by wondering, I mean worrying; is my child ready for kindergarten. Fortunately, he was, although we still had things that were “in progress”.  He had these skills not by chance, but rather, I and the quality childcare providers had been strengthening these skills since he was a baby.  As an early childhood professional, I knew the importance of quality pre-school, language development, self-help skills, confidence, and allowing my child to move at his own pace.  It was not about reciting the ABCs and 123s, although knowing them is important; it was about fostering the skills of the whole child. My child was excited to go to school. He was curious, always asking questions, and by answering his question with more than just a yes or no answer he was gaining broad and colorful language.  We read books daily, and in turn he also shared stories with me. We had conversations that were turn taking with listening and speaking. As I read to him, I realized we worked on being able focus for ten minutes; which supports skills for following directions.  We worked on him being able to articulate his needs to an adult and control his emotions.  We encouraged other self-help skills such as using pencils and scissors, and putting on a coat.  All these daily skills that were poured into him were building a boy ready to make a successful transition to school.

The first day of kindergarten came with much anticipation. There he was: new clothes, back pack, and a cute little haircut, smiling with excitement and confidence for this new adventure. The bus came around the corner and stopped just long enough for him to board and wave from the window.  As I got back into my car and wiped away the tears, I realized that over the last few months while I was busy checking items off my list of “back to school to dos,” I had not added preparing him for kindergarten. Thankfully, I had been doing that since birth. He was kindergarten ready!


Alyssa Schneider is the STARs Quality Coordinator, Quality Enhancement Initiative

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Amie C.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

After interviewing Amie, I can assure you the picture above represents her very well. Amie, a Claims Specialist serving all of Kentucky, has been employed by the CCC since July 1, 2009. She said she got her start in child care assistance when a former coworker told her of an opening while she was working for a pallet company and a home improvement store. She said, “I quit my job at the pallet company, and eventually quit my other part-time job to work for CCAP and another social services organization part time. I had the opportunity to move to Covington, in 2009, and work in the Kenton County office. I moved up there, only knowing a handful of people but, decided I needed a fresh start. I lived there for a year and a half, and then moved down to Lexington to work at our central office.”

When asked about her job she replied, “The one thing I love about my job, well, is really everything! I like how the CCC is like a family. We are a huge family now; we just keep growing! I like how management takes an interest in your personal life, asks how you and your family are doing, and they know you by name. We aren’t just another employee to them. They care about our well-being and it shows every day. If I weren’t working in CCAP, I would want to be a speech pathologist. I have always wanted to learn and teach sign language.”

Amie has a twin sister, Jamie, who is also employed with the CCC. She told me a funny story about when they were in middle school that I just have to share. “We were in 7th grade, I think. Everyone had just gotten their yearbooks and I wanted to see both of our pictures. Well… whoever worked on the yearbook that year, evidently couldn’t tell us apart, and they used the same picture for both of us!” She said there are many more funny stories like that!

Amie grew up in Paris, KY. Her family moved to Mt. Sterling, KY when she was 10 years old, then moved to Owingsville, KY when she was 14. She graduated from Bath County High School in 1997 then graduated from Morehead State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. She was trying to fulfill her dream of becoming a radio DJ. She was a member of the Delta Zeta sorority and made many friends who she still remains in contact with today.

When Amie is not working, you can usually find her at home running around in gym shorts, T-shirt, and flip flops. She stated she absolutely hates closed toe shoes. She lives with her girlfriend, also named Amy, and they spend quality time traveling, camping, attending concerts, and yes, even meeting celebrities such as Wynonna Judd, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Kelly Clarkson, and Sophia Bush. Amie is an avid sports enthusiast supporting the UK Wildcats and the Cincinnati Bengals. She laughed when she said, “I usually have no clue what is going on, but I do like to cheer for the teams.”

Amie has a funny, sweet, and understanding personality; she contributes her mother with being who she has become at this point in her life. She says her mom has, “…taught me strength, courage, and how to stay strong during any situation.” Amie has two sisters, two brothers, three nephews, one niece and another niece on the way. Since she doesn’t plan to have children of her own, she plans on doing everything she can to spoil those nieces and nephews.
I asked about her most favorite vacation. She replied, “I went to Myrtle Beach this past May for my girlfriend’s 40th birthday; it was probably one of the most relaxing vacations ever. We had an ocean front view and the beach wasn’t very crowded.  It was just nice to get away for a week.” The picture above is from that vacation. As you can see, she had a great time. We should all just get away once in a while. Wouldn’t that be so relaxing?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Parenting in the Tech Age

Parenting in the Tech Age

Julia @ Kids Matter

          As a child who grew up in the 80’s, I am always fascinated by the behaviors of kids today. I guess I understand now, why my grandfather would shake his head in disgust at my torn jeans and Pink Floyd T-shirt. I’m starting to understand his way of thinking as the torches are passed to the children of the “Gen Xers” generation.
           Last time I wrote to you about “#LookUp”, so it is only natural that this blog would follow that course. My blog is in response to the tragedy in Wisconsin; two 12 year old girls attempted to murder their “friend” in order to be accepted into a fantasy website.

          I am not going to give you the gory details of this gruesome and morbid tale. What I will talk about though, is how we as people, in one of the most technologically advanced societies in the world, can work to not let something like this happen. To keep children from being engrossed and lost in a website that is FAR above their emotional and mental capabilities.
          I have to wonder if technology, social media, and accessibility are making us lazy. (We don’t have to work hard for anything.) Kids don’t ask what a word means anymore, they simply “Google it”. They use search engines instead of adults as a source of information.

          Do you ever think about what our grandparents went through compared to what we go through? Our grandparents starved during the Great Depression. They faced throat ripping dogs and fire hoses to keep them from a “whites only” drinking fountain. They fought in WWII and brought a tyrant to his knees. What can we take from our grandparents and their struggles? What would our grandparents say about how parenting has changed? Are there ways to plug in their teachings and parenting today? Absolutely!
          First, take control; our grandparents were always in control. You are paying for the internet and electricity, so you make the rules. Kids despise but require rules, so stick to your guns no matter how they protest. Don’t let your kids have a computer in their bedroom. Have a family computer in a neutral zone of your home. Work with computer experts on how to monitor your child’s online activities. Sit near your child while they do homework on the computer.  

          Ask them what they are working on and discuss it. When I was in school, my mother and I would talk every day about my history class. We talked about Watergate, The Gettysburg Address, Vietnam, ‘One if by land, two if by sea’, and where she was on November 22, 1963. By engaging with your children during homework and computer time, you are finding out more about their lives and what struggles they go through with school work, as well as the cruel politics that are school life.
          Stay involved, ask hard questions, expect shocking answers, require honesty at all costs, build trust, keep and respect space, and most importantly, remember they are curious. They are designed to be inquisitive about everything. It’s up to us to talk to them about their curiosities and the consequences. Ask them their opinion of what happened in Wisconsin. What do they think about what happened? What do they think should happen now? Listen. Discuss. Learn. That is life at its zenith and worst. Avoid the horrors those three poor families are facing today.   Do your best to prevent having to one day say, “If only I had known, asked, or listened.”

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meet the Child Care Council Staff

Introducing Natasha H.

Belinda @ Kids Matter

Meet Natasha, the person working behind the Eligibility Specialist desk for the past year; serving the counties of Bell, Harlan, and Letcher. She said, “When I got hired on with the CCC, I went into training not having much of a clue what the job consisted of. I just knew it was something I wanted to give a try. I had seen the job posted on our local job search page and I applied. I am very thankful I did. I love my job. I love being able to be a help to families. I once heard that if you love your job, you will never work a day in your life. I feel like that’s where I am with the Child Care Council. I LOVE MY JOB!!”

Natasha has a beautiful, caring, and nurturing soul. I was in awe of her as she told me her life’s story. She is very family oriented and comes from a big family on her mom’s side. Her Mom has three sisters and three brothers who all have kids. When they all get together, which happens very often, “… there is never a dull moment”. She has four little cousins ages 2-7 that keep her on her toes along with her two nieces, Addison (5), and Elizabeth (2), and nephew Henry who is an infant.

She graduated high school and enrolled in Southeast Community College where she graduated in 2009 with an Associate’s Degree in Arts as well as an Associate’s Degree in Science. She said, “Probably one of the most proud moments of my life, was walking across that stage, getting my diploma. I felt like for once, I accomplished something that most don’t get to”.

When she graduated high school, she moved in with her Mamaw. After the passing of her grandfather, her Mamaw needed someone to help her out and Natasha quickly filled that role. She said, “I still live with her and take care of her. We had a scare in March and thought we were going to lose her, but the Lord spared her, and let us keep her a while longer. She and I are close; it’s like having two moms.”

Natasha says she is who she is, “…because growing up, I watched people I care about struggle. I grew up not knowing my biological dad. Never in my life have I met him and I’m 26 now. I know who he is, and I know his family. But, he lives in Chicago and never made an attempt to meet me until I was older. I decided not to meet him. Sometimes, I think it’s something I may want to do now that I am grown. But… I have mixed feelings about it. I have a step-dad, who has been in my life since I was a newborn. Growing up, I felt different because of that. It made me want to push myself so that when people would look at me, they couldn’t blame my life on my circumstances. I have a father who may not be blood related but he sure filled the father role. My Mom has always been there for me and did a very good job providing for me growing up. She fulfilled all of my needs, and most of my wants.”

When not at work what does Natasha do? She said she absolutely loves to cook and she gets a lot of her ideas from Pinterest. She is a Pinterest addict. I think many of us can relate to that. She also takes every opportunity she can to experience that care-free feeling in life. She loves the ocean and says, “There isn’t anything like the sand beneath your feet and the smell of salt water in the air”.

She said, “I would rather have a few best friends rather than lots of friends. There is a huge difference in my opinion. In fact, we are planning a get together soon. There isn’t anything like going to one of our houses after church, having some good food, and enjoying some night swimming. We act like kids when we are together and that care-free feeling is the best feeling in the world. It’s like for a couple hours… all of life’s problems just melt away.

Natasha loves children. She told me of a time when, after college, she got to go back to Wallin Elementary, her childhood school, as a substitute teacher. She said, “I learned, while working with kids, that some of them have a rough home life. I always hugged my school babies because most kids went without that at home. Hugs make kids feel safe; I learned that real fast. I would always take extra snacks to school for those who didn’t have a snack at recess. One thing I learned about teaching was that it wasn’t about the pay; it is about making a difference in those kids’ lives. When I’m around children, I encourage them. The sky is the limit. Go for what you want in life.”
I want to close this interview with a very powerful and touching quote from Natasha. I hope it touches your heart as much as it did mine. “Life is better when you are laughing. Make the best of what you have and be thankful… because, there are some that would be pleased with just a little of what you and I have.”