January 30, 2009 by Robin Beckett
By Debbie Vuillemot
We are the parents of 4 children: Orion,7; Anais, 5; Elias, 3; and Akira, 1.
When Orion was 3, we were overwhelmed with how many choices there were for preschool. We started off in a twice-weekly church preschool and quickly realized he needed more stimulation. One of my co-workers told me about Montessori School of Yakima (MSY) where her child attended.
The focus is hands-on, concrete learning by the child and child-driven choices from activities made available by the teacher. Teachers are trained to observe the child and provide what the child needs at any given time, changing as the child changes. This education technique was developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, who became interested in the plight of children and changed her career focus to understanding the true nature of the child. She was also active in the women’s rights movement in the early 1900s and was an advocate for peace.
The classes are set up in three-year age spans (3-6 yrs and 6-9yrs) so children can learn from each other as well as from an adult. The adult serves as a guide to help children learn to do tasks by themselves. In preschool and kindergarten, lessons are given individually to the child and then the child can choose which “work” to engage with during the day. There is also music, circle time (or triangle or square time), books and games. In the elementary class, the children learn in a more social setting and lessons are usually in small groups. The child self directs but does have requirements in standard academic areas.
The great thing about the Montessori way is the spill over to our home. We hear the way the older children teach the younger ones when we listen to their play. In recent conversations between our 5 year old and 3 year old: “Let’s count our fruit snacks. Now eat one and let’s count again.” “I say a word, now you rhyme it.” “Elias, did you have a lesson today?”
The other thing we love is community. We’ve developed friendships with other families and their children who are all learning in the same way.
MSY is non-profit and has been in operation for more than 40 years. All of the teachers are Montessori certified — and wonderful! Before- and after-school care is available. There are four preschool/K classrooms and one first-through-third grade classroom. Parents are part of the board. Visitors are always welcome by appointment. Call 966-0680. We’re located in Englewood Christian Church at 511 N 44th Ave in Yakima. Website: www.msofy.org
Debbie Vuillemot is a mother of four, professional midwife and serves on the board of the Montessori School of Yakima.
January 29, 2009 by Robin Beckett
But I’m not pregnant! I’m just running behind getting everything loaded onto the Internet. But it’s coming soon — I promise!
In the meantime, while I’m running around here like a chicken with its head cut off, perhaps you’d like to wander about town and pick up a copy of the latest issue of Playdate. It came out yesterday. Lots of sports in this issue! And, did you know Thomas the Tank Engine is coming to the Capitol Theatre? Well, now you do.
January 28, 2009 by Robin Beckett
Many children balk at swallowing pills or dislike the taste of liquid medicines. If that sounds like your kid, the pharmacists at Yakima’s Apothecary Compounding Solutions have a few tricks that might be able to help.
Compounding pharmacists Bob Murdock, R.Ph., and Marc Murdock, D.Ph., specialize in working with doctors and patients to customize medications. For kids, that can mean medicated lollipops, gummies, topical creams or a special medication-dosing baby bottle.
For folks with allergies or other special needs, the apothecaries can avoid dyes, fillers and preservatives found in traditional prescription medicines. Their shop, located in the Creekside Business Park at 40th and Washington avenues, also stocks a limited line of over-the-counter drugs as well as children’s vitamins that aren’t loaded with aspartame or high-fructose corn syrup.
For more information, call the pharmacy at 248-9065 or visit apothecarycs.com.
January 20, 2009 by Robin Beckett
By Lisa Garrigues
Are you tired of begging your parents for more allowance money?
Take matters into your own hands and become a “Biz Kid” with the help of KYVE’s new television show “Biz Kids.” Sponsored by the Catholic Credit Union, the show debuted this month. It teaches kids, teens and maybe even a few adults how to make and manage money.
Click here to read Unleashed reporter Lisa Garrigues’ review of “Biz Kids.”
In the midst of the current economic crisis, the need for “Biz Kids” couldn’t be greater.
“I think the financial situation is teaching us a lesson,” says Paul Regimbal, the 60-year-old chief executive officer of Catholic Credit Union. “We need to get more kids financially literate.”
‘Biz Kids” is a place to start. The show, geared toward 10- to 14-year-olds, covers a wide range of topics.
It starts out with the basics: What money is, how to get it, what to do with it. Then it moves on to other important lessons, like starting a business, achieving financial goals and saving money. These lessons are often hard to come by in schools.
“Schools just don’t have the time to teach financial education,” says Cecile Anson, marketing director at the Catholic Credit Union.
The show emphasizes that any kid can be a “Biz Kid,” whether it’s by starting a lemonade stand, selling goods at the local farmers market, or even raising money for charity. “Biz Kids” provides youths with all the information and tools necessary to start their own business venture.
“I think there’s something for everyone to learn from this show,” Regimbal says. “Knowing where to start a business or how to start a savings account is very important.”
“Biz Kids” teaches more than just finances. The program encourages kids to branch out and try new things. It stresses the importance of a good work ethic and being thorough in everything you do — inside and outside of the business world.
It also demonstrates the importance of exploring all of your options before making a decision.
Although new to the Yakima area, “Biz Kids” has been broadcast for three seasons across the nation.
“The producer of ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’ came up with the idea. He had the concept for about 15 years,” Regimbal says.
The lessons taught in each episode were developed by Junior Achievement, one of the show’s financial backers. The majority of funding for the show comes from America’s Credit Unions, a national association of credit unions.
The producers liked the small-town appeal credit unions had, something that was lacking in the bigger banks, according to Anson.
It was Anson, and Ken Messer, the general manager of KYVE, who helped bring “Biz Kids” to Yakima.
Although the Catholic Credit Union was willing to fund the show, there were several factors that had to be determined before KYVE could bring “Biz Kids” to local audiences.
“First, we had to make sure the show had a stable time period,” Messer says.
Once KYVE was sure the program was going to last for a full season, the primary obstacle was finding the right time slot. Because the show is geared toward young teens, finding a time when teens would be watching was crucial. With that in mind, KYVE officials settled on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.
“The show is so fun, kids don’t even know they are learning,” Anson says.
• Lisa Garrigues is a member of the Yakima Herald-Republic’s Unleashed team. She attends Naches Valley High School.
January 10, 2009 by Robin Beckett
MOPS is an international Christian organization that seeks to build community and provide support for mothers of infants through kindergartners. Some groups have programs especially for teen mothers and grandmothers raising grandchildren.
Local groups meet once or twice a month, in the mornings or evenings, throughout the school year. Meetings typically include a speaker or program, refreshments and time for fellowship, games or crafts. Childcare is provided during meetings.
MOPS International dues are $20 per year; scholarships are available. Benefits include a book, a subscription to MOMSense Magazine and weekly e-mail encouragement. While your first visit is always free, most groups have dues of $4 or $5 per meeting to help cover expenses.
Here’s a list of local groups:
- FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. 9-11:15 a.m. most first and third Fridays, September through May. About 95 moms attend, including a special table for grandmothers raising grandchildren. Meeting dues: $5. Meets in the First Presbyterian Church gymnasium, 9 S. Eighth Ave., Yakima. Call Julie: 307-4887.
- LOWER NACHES (MEMORIAL BIBLE CHURCH). 9-11:30 a.m. third Fridays, September through May. About 25 moms attend. Meets at Memorial Bible Church, 111 Old Stage Way, Gleed. Call Mandy Rowe, 930-6441.
- MOMS IN TOUCH INTERNATIONAL. 10:45 a.m. to noon, first Mondays of each month. East Valley group. Moms, grandmas, aunts and others are welcome to join in praying for children and the East Valley schools and staff. Bring snacks or a lunch for the kids. Baby-sitting is provided for a small fee. Terrace Heights Presbyterian Church, 4303 Maple Court, Yakima. Contact Julie Byers at 453-0741.
- MOMSNEXT. 7 p.m. Open to all mothers with children in grades K-6, and mothers of preschoolers and homeschooled children are also welcome. Free. No childcare. Meets at Westside Church, 6901 Summitview Ave., Yakima. Contact Tera at 972-3001 or email@example.com.
- MOUNTAINVIEW CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP. 6-7:30 p.m. second and fourth Wednesdays, September through May. About 15 moms attend. Meets at Mountainview Christian Fellowship, 7105 Alpine Way, Yakima. Call Tabitha at 972-3723 or Danielle at 833-2228.
- NILE VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH. 8:45-11:15 a.m. third Fridays, September through May. Speakers, crafts, food. Free on-site childcare. Meets at Nile Valley Community Church, 60 Bedrock Lane, Naches; 509-658-2904.
- TEEN MOPS. This group provides a non-threatening environment where teen moms are encouraged by Christian women; see Mothers of Preschoolers. Open to teen mothers through age 21; about 15 moms attend. Meetings are free, including dinner and on-site childcare. Meets at Stanton Academy Alternative School, 901 W. Whitman St., Yakima. Call Holli Wolcott at 453-4206.
- WEST SIDE BAPTIST CHURCH. 9-11 a.m. second and fourth Mondays, September through May. About 85 moms attend. Meets at West Side Baptist Church, 6901 Summitview Ave., Yakima. Call Tera at 972-3001.
January 2, 2009 by Robin Beckett
January and February are the best months for viewing elk at the Oak Creek feeding station near Naches. Kids will enjoy bundling up for a ride on the safari-style truck tours that provide an up-close look at the animals.
Each winter, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife provides a supplementary feeding program for up to 1,500 elk — including as many as 150 branched-antler bulls — to keep them from damaging private property. (Humans, you see, have inhabited the herd’s winter range.)
• Dress warmly.
• Bring a camera.
• Make reservations if you’d like to go out on the truck: 509-698-5106.
• Be quiet. Wild animals don’t like loud noises
For families, the feeding station is a cheap and easy field trip, located about 20 miles west of Yakima on U.S. Highway 12. The elk are fed daily at 1:30 p.m., though you’ll find animals there throughout the day.
A fence separates the elk from the viewing area, but the animals are free to head up to the hills, so their numbers vary throughout the season. More will visit the feeding station when snow and extreme cold prevents them from grazing naturally.
Also worth a stop, bighorn sheep are fed mid-morning at the nearby Cleman Mountain feeding site, just a couple miles up the road. Feeding season for both the elk and bighorns is typically mid-December to early March.
There’s a visitor center at the elk’s Oak Creek Headquarters, open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily during the elk’s feeding season. The center has a video program, exhibits and a hands-on kids’ corner where children can get a feel for elk fur and antlers. There’s no charge, but donations are accepted to help support the feeding program.
Volunteers can take you for a ride into the feeding area on an old open-air Army truck. Tours typically depart at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Tours are first-come, first-served, but reservations are accepted; call ahead at least 48 hours in advance if you’re visiting with a large group, as the trucks are limited to 14 passengers. Call 509-698-5106 for tour reservations.
During the tour, the truck will drive slowly out into the field and then kill the engine so you can quietly observe the elk. A docent provides some information and answers questions. Bring a camera, and be sure and dress warmly; the tours typically last about 30 minutes.
If you have preschoolers, please note that the volunteers prefer a 1:1 adult-child ratio for younger kids. Also, the children need to refrain from yelling or making other loud noises since the elk are easily startled.
If you’re hungry for more details, there’s a ton of information about the animals and the feeding stations on the Naches Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Web site. Or, call the Oak Creek Wildlife area at 509-653-2390.
HOW TO GET THERE
Oak Creek Headquarters (elk): Drive west on U.S. Highway 12 and continue past Naches. At the junction with Hwy 410, turn left, continuing on Hwy 12. About two miles past the junction, the feeding station will be on the right.
Cleman Mountain feeding station (bighorn sheep): Drive west on U.S. Highway 12 and continue past Naches. At the junction with State Route 410, stay straight, heading west on SR 410 for about one block, then make a sharp right on the Old Naches Highway. The feeding station is on the left.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FACTS
• Rocky Mountain Elk from Yellowstone National Park were introduced to Yakima County in 1913.
• Bulls weigh an average of 450-900 lbs.
• Cows are pregnant for 270 days (about 9 months).
• Twin calves are rare.
• Antlers (found only on the bulls) fall off in the spring and regrow by August.
• Wintering elk may eat 3 to 10 lbs of hay per day at the feeding stations.
— Source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
ABOUT BIGHORN SHEEP
• Both Rocky Mountain and California bighorn sheep are native to Washington.
• Can live up to 17 years, but general life expectancy is 10-12 years.
• Rocky Mountain bighorns are larger than the California sub-species. Rocky Mountain rams weigh 160-315 lbs, while a California ram weighs about 180-205 lbs.
• The gestation period for ewes is 180 days (about 6 months).
• Twin lambs do occur.
• Both rams and ewes have horns, which never fall off and continue to grow through the sheep’s lifetime.
— Source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
January 1, 2009 by Robin Beckett
I’m a total sucker for “Clean House,” the Style channel’s reality show in which host Niecy Nash encourages folks with incredibly messy homes to “stop the foolishness” and take control of their clutter.
In that spirit, I’m happy to announce Playdate’s MESSY CLOSET CONTEST. Just in time to help you tackle that New Year’s Resolution to get more organized, we’re teaming up with the professional organizers at Clutter Busters to help one lucky mama get a handle on her kid’s clutter.
Entering the contest is easy, and you could win a free closet makeover from Clutter Busters! Yay! We’ll take photos and show off your new, neatly organized closet — and your kid — in the magazine.
To enter, here’s what you need to do: Tell us in 100 words or less why your kid’s closet needs help. If you’d like to include photos as evidence, we’d love to see them!
Be sure to include your name, address and a daytime telephone number. The deadline to enter is Feb. 6.
You can submit your entry via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, mail us at Playdate, P.O. Box 9668, Yakima, WA 98909.
Happy New Year!