Playful Days and Warm Nights

Playful Days and Warm Nights

Sack races, tag, and jump rope were the staple of my childhood summers. Sunscreen wasn’t a thing yet, so we smelled of fresh grass or sweat and sported pink cheeks as we panted through the heat. My mom made Kool-Aid which we’d gulp greedily on the back porch finding a sliver of shade to hide in. We’d capture tadpoles and observed as they transformed into frogs while the fields nearby grew long stalks of corn. The days were long and nightfall brought pesky mosquitos as twilight gently emerged. Our bodies grew, our minds were busy and the memories are mostly fond. 

There was that baseball game when my brother hit me on my forehead, full backswing with a bat, while I was the catcher. My parents were going out to a much-deserved-time-alone-dinner, away from their five children, until they heard everyone screaming. My mom in her dress and heels and my dad in his sports jacket came running out to find me knocked out with a giant goose egg on my forehead. I don’t believe they went to dinner that night.

A family cabin in Coeur d’ Alene is where we learned to work hard as my parents enlisted us children and built a cabin on the lake. Mosquito bites, rusty nails through our feet, too many hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire were common. We were occupied by swimming, fishing, and skiing behind a wooden boat. We were enchanted with the freedom and promise that summer brings, where everyone, children and parents, are relaxed and softened by the sun and warmth it brings to our lives. We were occupied by the immense amount of time we had to explore and find our happy.

As summer heat soars and days begin shortening, it gives way to fall and school bells. Tanned, tired bodies, head off with pencils and lunchboxes to learn how much they’ve forgotten since early June unless of course, they’ve participated in a summer program in between. Only about 30% of Idaho children have access to programs during the summer months and we at Giraffe Laugh are proud to provide a quality, enriching summer program to children who might otherwise not have access. 

Sending children into the world with the skills they need to be successful academically, socially and emotionally is our primary purpose. Doing this while holding onto the promise of a brighter future is our privilege to provide. We thank the teachers at our summer program that enriched the lives of so many and made it possible for 35 children to enter school ready, confident and with a bag full of memories to sustain them until next year. It will be here before we know it.

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30 Years

“To be good and to do good, is all we have to do.” – John Adams

As we celebrate another birthday of our great country, we also celebrate 30 years serving children and families at Giraffe Laugh. We wish to welcome all those who joined our 30th Anniversary Society at our Celebration in June. It allows us to continue doing good in this world to educate our youngest learners. 

We heard tales from the past from teachers, alum’s and our leadership. We talked about the future and we talked about the past. We displayed our 30th Time Capsule that we will open up in 30 years! There is still time to participate with your feedback on what you believe the future will look like and share your stories. Click here to take our survey.

30 years is a long time yet it also happened in the blink of an eye. The day to day tasks morph into events, graduations, Luau’s, Hyde Park Street Fair, more events, Santa Claus, food baskets, babies being born, new preschoolers, toddlers, and school-age children until the rhythm of an entire year has been played out. The years then pile up and before we know it we will be here again, celebrating 60 years.

My hope is that by then we are able, with the help of the State of Idaho, to provide preschool to all children in Idaho. The CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, the largest builder of military ships, states “The lack of early education in our country is the nation’s top national security issue. Study after study shows that the most powerful and cost-effective way to make our children lifelong learners is to start them on that path before school — when they are 2 and 3 and 4 years old.”

The United States ranks third from the bottom among 36 industrialized countries in preschool enrollment, meaning that we will be competing with individuals who have had years of learning before we even begin. Idaho falls behind even more than the national average.

As we celebrate 30 years of success in our community, we are excited to see where the next 30 takes us. There is an opportunity to become more involved and to join our 30th Anniversary Society by donating $30 for 30 months. A cool mug is involved and even a better, brighter future for children right here in our City. For more information, follow this link.

Have a very safe and happy holiday.

Lori

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A Mothers Time

As a mother of three May is one of my favorite months. We don’t just celebrate Mother’s Day at my house but also my birthday and wedding anniversary. It’s one of the rare times that all eyes are on me; the daughter, the wife, the mom. We as women tend to shift attention away from ourselves to concentrate on our kids, our jobs, our families, our friends, and our volunteer work. How lovely is it though to discover how treasured we are in the world? How lovely to recall all that being a wife and mother means.

I recall a time that I was frustrated I had to rock the baby to sleep and now they aren’t even in the same house to hug.

I recall a time when I didn’t want to feed hungry people, and now I invite them to come over and look forward to feeding them.

I recall a time that I just wished the house was quiet and I could watch my show in peace. Now I record shows so we can watch them together.

I recall wishing I didn’t have to watch another Disney movie, and now my husband and I attend them together with no kids in tow.

I recall a time that I just wanted one minute in the bathroom alone and now that always happens and I kind of like that.

I recall a time I hated changing diapers and tying shoes and zipping zippers and finding mittens and yanking on boots and hollering, “It’s time to go!” Now I only do those things for me and it’s so simple and fast and how did I ever do all of that?

I recall a time that I just wanted to snuggle with them a little longer and they squirmed out of my arms to run and play or explore the world.

I recall a time I was so proud of them and wanted to yell to the world, “That kid is mine.” I still do that thankfully.

I recall a time that I held them close and whispered all of my dreams for them, and now so many of those dreams have come true.

I recall a time I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have grown children and seeing that we’d done a good job. Now I can see that every day and it feels amazing.

I hope that your Mother’s day is blessed and full of whatever makes it special. I hope you recall that none of it lasts forever but as it changes, it’s still good, it’s still motherhood and it’s still important. Enjoy!

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Our Hope

April is upon us and with it comes Child Abuse Awareness month. It’s a difficult subject but an important one that requires careful attention.

Parents or other adults living in a household are the number one abuser of small children.

  • The highest rates of child abuse occur under age one (23.1 per 1,000 children).1
  • More than one-quarter (27.3%) of victims were younger than 3 years.1
  • Almost 70% of children that are victims of child abuse are under the age of four.2

Parenting is difficult and can be challenging and adults need support through the early years in order to prevent child abuse. Some important strategies are parents understanding child development so that expectations are realistic. Part of the reality of an infant and younger child is that they cry. If parents don’t understand that, children can be at risk for abuse.

Through the Strengthening Families Institute and the Idaho Community Foundation, Giraffe Laugh has been able to provide a crying plan to our parents. These plans are designed to not only inform parents about crying with statements such as babies cry, some more than others, and babies cry because they can’t talk or babies don’t cry because they are mad at you. Get your plan here: https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Portals/0/Children/EarlyChildhoodInfo/CryingPlanBrochure_Print%20version.pdf

These simple statements not only educate but beg the question, what can I do about it? The next part of a crying plan has four elements.

1)  Check the baby’s basic needs (with a list of things to look for),

2) Try soothing your baby (with tips on how to do that),

3) Statements about if your baby won’t stop crying including, it is okay if they cry, stay calm, and never shake a baby,

4) Find back up. Find family and friends you can call if needed because your baby won’t stop. Put them on your crying plan and share it with them. Make copies of your plan and hand it out to people caring for your baby and be sure they understand who they can call in step four.

The crying plan empowers parents and ensures they not only understand crying will happen but that they know what to do about it.

Our hope is that no child is ever abused and this is just one tool that provides us with a hope that we can move the dial on statistics and strengthen families in a simple, yet meaningful way.

Please feel free to share the plan with family and friends and join us in preventing child abuse.

https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Portals/0/Children/EarlyChildhoodInfo/CryingPlanBrochure_Print%20version.pdf

I hope you all enjoy your spring with your little ones and that our community can work together to keep all kids and families safe and healthy.

 

  1. http://www.caichildlaw.org/Misc/Shame%20on%20U.S._ExecSumm.pdf
  2. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cm2013.pdf
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L-O-V-E

Welcome to the month of LOVE. One thing I love about this month is that it’s also sports the Early Childhood Legislative Day at the Capitol which was this Wednesday, February 6th. We took our preschoolers from GL2 and GL4 to participate in BLOCK Fest and to demonstrate how powerful a quality early education is. This day is dedicated to young children and their importance in our state and our world. Idaho is still one of only five states in the union without any state funding for early childhood.

C:\Users\Lori\Pictures\Day at the Capital 2.2019\IMG_2032.jpeg

Children are important. When we, at Giraffe Laugh, say, “We can see the future from here.” we truly mean it. Children are our future and they will be carrying us into a future someday that is unimaginable right now. I want the best for them and I know you do as well.

Please take some time to let our state leaders know how you feel about our kids and their future. The Capitol is yours and the Legislators want to hear from YOU. They work for you, and it’s never too late to get involved.  Check here for information on upcoming bills in Idaho: https://legislature.idaho.gov/

If you aren’t sure how you feel about a certain subject, learn about it. There are so many resources out there however be sure you fact check what you read. Facebook is not always the best source for accurate information. Reputable sources include:

Center on the Developing Child: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/ with a really cool video on brain development.

Idaho Kids Count: http://idahokidscount.org/ for statistical data that is local.

National Association for the Education of Young Children: https://www.naeyc.org

Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children:  http://idahoaeyc.org/ a great local resource for parents and teachers.

United Way of Treasure Valley: https://www.unitedwaytv.org/ They have great information on A.L.I.C.E.

Have a happy, wonderful, love filled month and if you dive into issues and learn something new, please share it with us. We want to hear what you think and what you’ve learned. Thank you for your part in helping us raise healthy, happy, loved children that we are sending into the future.

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Starting New in the New Year

The promise of a new year is upon us and with it comes the knowledge that we all love new beginnings. It could be the new beginning of finding out one is pregnant. It could be the new beginning of a newborn and the gifts they bring to the world. It could be the new beginning of a job or school that will earn us what we crave most, stability, independence or both.

Whatever your new beginnings are this month, we wish you the very best and want you to know how wonderful it feels to be a part of your journey in the coming year. We are grateful that you trusted us with your children, your family, your resources and your time this past year and we hope we honored your gifts with our work.

We are incredibly grateful for all of the gifts, surprises, and people that entered our lives in 2018 and look forward with that universal excitement to the new beginning of 2019 and our time with all of you.

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you from the board and staff at Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Centers where we ensure school readiness, empower families and build strong futures.

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Being Present is the Best Present

The holidays are upon us whether we are ready or not! I hope that all of you find the joy you seek most during these, sometimes, stressful times for family. It can be difficult to spend too much time with relatives, but also a blessing in so many ways. I hope your balance is just right!

Our tradition is to play games and watch movies together. These have been long standing activities for young and old. Finding common games and movies with kids 11 years apart was often a challenge, but also reminded us of childhood when we watched an old favorite that was appropriate for everyone. This family time is one of my favorite, and my children’s favorite memories.

When I ask them to recall what they got for Christmas, or what Santa brought when they were children, they rarely remember any specific gifts. They reflect more on the time spent with grandparents, cousins, each other and friends. They recall gathering together to celebrate in so many wonderful ways and sharing special holiday dishes that only appear that time of year. They recall being surprised by something they were sure they would never get, but often don’t remember what that item was.

Whatever your traditions are, remember it’s more about the feeling everyone has during the holiday, than about the gifts. A friend of mine once told me that her present that year to everyone was her presence. When she heard from a friend, she’d really listen. She sent cards, she sat with sick people, she reached out when others were hurting, she was present when people needed her.

As the year wraps up, I want to be her. I want to be more present. I hope to spend less time on my phone (Yes, the iPhone is tracking my time and it’s too much) and I want to really look in the eyes of my loved ones and truly be present when they want my attention. Undivided attention is what we all want and deserve.

Happy holidays to you all.

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Fall is Finally Here

We are all so fortunate to live in a place that has a true autumn feel and nothing feels more like fall than the month of October. Some of you may be clinging to your flip-flops, while some of you had pulled out the fall clothes the day school started. Still, the rhythm of back-to-school helps us move forward one way or another.

Many of our children have moved up to new classrooms with new teachers and new fellow students. Some of our kids moved on to their first day of kindergarten and we will miss them! Some of them just started, carried in by their moms or dads in their carriers. It’s a fresh beginning for all and we are grateful to our parents for trusting us with these important milestones.

We have so many wonderful events to look back on this summer such as the Annual Luau (one of the hottest days of the year) and Hyde Park Street Fair (one of our biggest fundraisers and volunteer events). We were so fortunate to have so many parents attend both events to support our programs but also to connect and enjoy time with others, so thank you!

Another way for parents to connect is our Parent Café’s held at one of each of the three year-round centers. We have our last Parent Cafe of the year coming up in October at Giraffe Laugh 4, join us there if you’re able. Free childcare, free food, free conversations, and free fun are all included. Who doesn’t want that? Past parents and parents whose children have never attended GL are welcome as well.

In the coming months, we will have the pumpkin patch to visit, the Halloween Parades at the centers and then begins the holiday baskets and Christmas adoption programs. If you need some help, please reach out to your site director, and if you’d like to help, please reach out to our main office to sign up. Katt@giraffelaugh.org will send you the sign-up sheet.

Most importantly our Futures Begin Here Luncheon is coming up on November 7th from 12-1 pm at the Riverside Hotel. Please RSVP to cassandra@giraffelaugh.org if you’d like to attend. This is a free fundraising event that highlights our work! Please, join us if you’re able.

One way or another I hope I see some of you in what’s remaining of this year. I’d love to update you on the exciting news we have coming up. Join me to hear more at an upcoming Lattes with Lori at the main office on Tuesday, October 9th from 9-10 a.m. Please RSVP to our RSVP queen, Cassandra Wagner

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Vision 20/20

Strategic planning, evaluating, training and brainstorming describes the amazing things that happened at our board retreat this month. Our dedicated board members spent a Saturday together to plan for the future of our organization to better serve our children and families. Retiring members along with brand new were able to catch the excitement of this work of ensuring school readiness and empowering families. It was incredibly productive and humbling.

We have some wonderful new plans for this coming year that we look forward to sharing with you in the near future. With the theme of providing educational justice to low income children and their families in mind, which is always at the center of our work, we know our work isn’t done.

Having all of you coming alongside us to help make the work happen is incredible and so appreciated. We hope you are able to join us at an upcoming Latte’s, Lunch or Libations with Lori to learn more about what’s happening behind the scenes. We also have many fun events coming up that are a great way to meet other supporters and to help the cause in other ways.

If you haven’t attended a Little Shoes Big Dreams tour, please join us soon. They are twice a month and only one hour. We do not ask anyone for anything, it is simply a tour of our mission.

Please contact Simone Olive to attend any of these events and I hope to see your shining faces soon! simone@girafelaugh.org 208-954-5456.

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Giraffe Laugh Announces Three New Board Members

4094 West Chinden Blvd Suite 100
Garden City, ID 83714
www.giraffelaugh.org

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

For more information contact:
Tina Leoncavallo
Marketing & Volunteer Coordinator
Giraffe Laugh
208-954-5457  ●  tina@giraffelaugh.org

Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Center Announces Three New Board Members

Boise, ID (January 8, 2018) – Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Center announces the appointment of three new members for a three-year term to its Board of Directors. Joining the Board of Directors are Emily Solly, Maria Thomas and Julie Waters. “All three of our newest Board Members embody the spirit of the community and bring talent, expertise and energy to the table. We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to ensure school readiness, build strong futures and empower families in the Treasure Valley,” says Lori Fascilla, Giraffe Laugh’s Executive Director.

Emily Solly is a Commercial Lender of Mountain West Bank and has been with the company since 2005. She holds a Credit Risk Certification and is a graduate of Boise State University. With strong roots in the Boise community, Emily looks forward to identifying and forging new partnerships for Giraffe Laugh. She also volunteers for United Way, Girl Scouts of Silver Sage and Festival of Trees.

Since 2015 Maria Thomas is Senior Tax Accountant of Deloitte Tax LLP and represents them at the Association of Latino Professionals for America. Graduated from Boise State University with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting, Maria brings her 10 years expertise in compliance and finance to Giraffe Laugh. She also volunteers for United Way.

Julie Waters is employed by RecorGroup LLC, a premier consulting agency in the grocery brokerage industry, and owns Waters n’ Daughters Plumbing LLC with her husband. As a busy mom, Julie empathizes with many Giraffe Laugh parents who are striving for great childcare while bettering themselves. Julie looks forward to exploring new opportunities and using her experiences in event planning and social media for Giraffe Laugh.

About Giraffe Laugh: We are a local, non profit providing early education and nurturing to over 200 children in the Treasure Valley daily. We ensure school readiness, build strong futures and empower families.

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