Posts Categorized: Julie Cole

Cracking the Code: Computer Programming For Kids & Learning Code

I own a web-based business and I’m an avid blogger/social media type. One would assume that I would be quite the tech savvy mama. The truth is… I’m not. Luckily when I’m hanging around the office, there are a plethora of smarty-pant nerd types who can help me out. When I’m at home, I have to pull in the big guns for tech support help. And when I say big guns, I mean my tweens.

Let’s face it, it makes sense that they’re my tech support – kids are on gadgets from a pretty young age. They’re exposed to everything – from iPads to gaming gadgets. And while they indulge in all of these digital pleasures, what do they actually know about building technology?

My best guess is not much. Schools are doing their best, but unless your child’s school has a teacher with a coding background to champion an initiative, they’re not likely to ever see a computer literacy & coding program. Although the job market is desperate for folks trained in computer science, it’s not part of the standard curriculum and continues to be marginalized in the school system.

But not all is lost. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the Case Foundation are amongst the founding funders of – a non-profit organization dedicated to growing computer science education degrees by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. And learning to code using is 100% free and available to anyone.

Mabel’s Labels recently met another advocate, Gillian Gutenberg. Gillian is a software consultant concerned with the lack of programming and coding education for kids in schools. She started to offer kids of all ages the opportunity to learn the basics of coding, how to build robots and the chance to take field trips to tech companies – all in the spirit of striking an interest and appreciation for what goes into the apps and programs we take for granted.

Camps and programs such as exist in many cities. A few great organizations you can check out include:

And now, Mabel’s Labels is helping bring programming to more children by purchasing Robot Kits that can be used in summer camps and PA Day Camps.  The number of children that can participate is limited to the resources available. So, our hope is that Gillian can expand her business to more cities to inspire more children.

We recently hosted a “Learn to Code a Robot” day at Mabel HQ. Staffers and their kiddos had a fabulous day of learning with Gillian. My kids wouldn’t stop talking about it and have been re-thinking their original career plans.

You never know… My tween tech support may one day become the Bill Gates’ of the future!


About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six. Happy Hockey season – grab your Hockey Label Combo today!

Three’s Company

There have been studies that indicate that three children is the most stressful number of kiddos to have.

Three is no easy feat. As the picture shows, I had my hands very full back when I had only half the number of kids that I have now. As you can see, I’m sitting in my yard, looking happy but a bit tired and maybe like I could use a good meal. That time was a bit of a blur – new baby, a toddler with a broken arm, and a bigger toddler smack dab in the middle of getting an autism diagnosis. Those were trying times.

Despite those trying times, I went on to have three more kids. I guess it goes to show that there’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to having kids. So, what makes a parent think they’re ready to go on and have another baby?

There are so many factors in determining how easy or difficult it will be to add another to the family.  The three biggest factors for me included:

1)      How close in age the kids are. Packing them in tight is my preference but it means several consecutive years of diaper changing and night time feeds. Although the years seem to zoom by, trying to get through a day with children after having only a couple hours of sleep can drive a mama towards the edge.

2)      Is there a bigger health or developmental issue to be dealt with? Raising babies is tough enough. Imagine having to go to appointment after appointment, sitting in waiting rooms, having your baby poked and prodded, living in fear of what is going on – all this while possibly dragging small siblings along to all of these appointments.

3)      What is the child’s personality? I’ve often seen first time parents experience the joy and pleasure of a settled and uncomplicated baby. I’ve seen these babies develop into sensible and fairly unadventurous toddlers. Parents of these children take great pride in their parenting savvy, wondering why all parents don’t have the mad parenting skills they have. Then the most amazing thing happens – they have a second child and are faced with the shocking reality that not all kids are the same. Not all the same strategies and tactics work for each of them the same way. I hope it’s not wrong to say that I get a bit of pleasure watching these parents tumble off their parenting high horses when they realize that some little personalities are more difficult to manage than others.

What helped you decide you were ready for another one? Do you have children with very different personalities, making you have to parent each one very differently?


About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six. Happy Hockey season – grab your Hockey Label Combo today!

My Santa is better than your Santa.

What's on your kids' list?

There is one big problem with the awesome and much adored Santa. Mainly, that he is fictional. This becomes problematic because it means every family has a different Santa, which causes consistency issues.

We’ve all run into this problem with the Tooth Fairy as well. I know a kid who gets $20.00 for every lost tooth. Short of banning said kid from my home, I had to do some expectation management with my little tooth losers. Unlike their friend, they would not be able to save enough Tooth Fairy money to buy a laptop. With six kids, dishing out that kind of coin for pearly whites would require a house remortgage. I tell them that I’ve got a deal with the Tooth Fairy – she knows I don’t think it’s appropriate to deliver more than a few coins so she honors and respects that.

The same can be said for Santa.

Did the kids down the street get a puppy from Santa last year? Did the cousins all find laptops and iPads under the tree? And lucky you – now some of these big ticket items have turned up on your kids’ lists, too.

Around here, my kids know that mama has final approval on all lists before they go off to the jolly guy. Kids may attempt to sneak a secret list past me, but I’ve got that system beat.  My kiddos know that I always consult with Santa before present delivery day and Santa always respects a parent’s wishes.

So, if you don’t think electronics, live animals, or trips to Disney are appropriate gifts from Santa for your little ones, tell them so. Remind them about the Christmas spirit and help them form a list that is more reasonable and affordable. I’d avoid telling them that the elves don’t make electronics or other items because undoubtedly they’ll have a friend who gets the very thing you say the elves don’t make.

Have you had some unreasonable requests from your kids or perhaps some unfortunate Santa precedent set by other families? How have you dealt with it?


About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six. Happy Hockey season – grab your Hockey Label Combo today!

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