Sunday, October 30, 2011

Door County, still there, still as beautiful as ever

After spending a day with Tizita, we headed to Door County. It is just as beautiful and relaxing as we left it after our last visit. There is just something about Door County. It just never gets old. We started out in Sister Bay with a walk along the shoreline which has really been improved since our last visit. In fact, we were wondering where the Helm's Motel went, we had stayed there on two previous occasions and were sure of its location, but there was nothing there but green space. We asked a local at the Confectionary and he filled us in on the details. The owners of the Helm's Motel sold their establishment to the DNR and they used the area for improvements along the shoreline. It really was beautiful and we were so glad that the land was not used for condos.

We made a stop at the Ellison Bluff County Park which has also been much improved. I remember when it was just an overgrown area where it was almost impossible to see the bluff and water, but now it is all cleared out with new boardwalks and great views of the bay.

The sun was just starting to set which made for a pretty picture. We had our dinner of burgers and beers at Husby's in Sister Bay. We really enjoyed our dinner there and I want to document this so we can go there again next time.

We stayed at the Voyager Inn in Sister Bay. We really enjoyed this place, very simple, rustic, and inexpensive. We will definitely go back again.

Here is the front of the motel, our room was actually around the back on the second floor with a beautiful view.

There was a nice meeting room where the continental breakfast ws served. We were very pleased with this motel.

On Saturday, we started our day in Bailey's Harbor at the Ridges County Park. Here is the Coast Guard station.

After Bailey's Harbor, we stopped at Cape Point County Park, always a favorite spot of ours. As usual, it was not disappointing.

Here is the cave where the water comes crashing in and making huge splashes.

Then it was on to Whitefish Dunes State Park for some hiking. This is another one of our favorite stops.

The color was on its way out, but there was still a good amount of yellow along the path.

Here we are on top of Mt. Baldy, the highest sand dune in Wisconsin. After our three mile hike, we had lunch at J.J.'s in Jacksonport, our first time eating there. It was yummy and we would like to return for an evening meal to enjoy some margaritas.

We ended our Door County trip with a stop at Peninsula State Park. We drove through the park, made a few stops, took a few photos, and stopped at the lighthouse.

After that, it was time to head back to the Van Auken B and B for one more night of our mini vacation.

It was a great little get away.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin patch, carving, baking and other fun

Since I had Thursday and Friday off for a teacher's convention that I do not attend, John took off, too and we both took off for Oshkosh to spend time with our favorite granddaughter, Tizita.
We decided that a trip to the pumpkin patch was in order. The day started out rainy and cool, but the sun was shining by the time we arrived at the The Little Farmer. It took us a little while to get acclimated, but once we got our bearings we were on our way. Here we are headed out to the pumpkin patch to choose our perfect pumpkins.

We needed to rest on this nice swing for a little bit on the way to the patch.

There was a huge play area with Trek Trikes. Tizita had the best time riding the bike around the track.

And around and around and around. It took a bit of convincing to have her move on to other activities.

After a nice picnic lunch we followed her through the corn maze. It took us awhile to figure out how to get around, but we finally

made it to the exit. It was a fun maze with many cute little signs to point the way. Tizita really enjoyed it and would have enjoyed doing it again, but we had other things to do.

There were cute little goats to feed.

This was a cool way to feed the goats. You had to fill the can with feed and wheel it way up to the top where a goat would climb the ladder and eat your feed.

Tizita would have taken all these pumpkin homes, but we limited her to four.

On the way home we stopped at the lighthouse in Fond du Lac. Unfortunately, we were not able to climb up to the top due to its closing early, but it was till fun to see a lighthouse up close and personal.

As soon as we got home, we started the process of carving our pumpkins. It is a messy job, but somebody has to do it. Tizita was a great helper and she made my job easy.

Here are the finished products. That is mama on the left, then Tizita who happens to be the biggest and the only one with teeth, then papa who has a disappointed face because of his students, (not sure what that means, I just do what I am told), and finally, the last one is Nathnael.
And there you have it, the Van Auken family in jack-o-lanterns!

After the carving, we made Halloween cut out cookies. There was flour everywhere, but the fun we had more than made up for the mess.

Courtney helped with the frosting as she always does and true to form, it took her a long time to finish just one cookie. Sure her cookies might look better than ours, but we have to keep the line moving!

Here are a few of Tizita and my cookies

and this is one of Courtney's masterpieces! No matter who did the best decorating, we all were sugared up by the end, which is what makes a successful cookie baking/decorating event.

And here is our little princess all ready for a Halloween party!

It was another great time with Tizita.

Note to Natnael: Grandpa and I cannot until you join us at the pumpkin patch, too. Tizita talked a lot about how it will be when you are with us next year. Stay healthy and happy until your family comes for you. See you soon.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Visiting Pops

On Friday, Courtney and Tizita were coming out to Watertown for lunch and an afternoon of play with Gigi. They were expected to arrive close to noon, but they were running ahead of schedule and surprised me by stopping in at school by 10:00. I was so excited to see Tizita and it was so nice to see her interacting with her old friends from last year. I think they miss her as much as she missses them. They are singing a song here and that is why they are looking so serious. This photo doesn't really capture the excitement they had in seeing Tizita again.
She spent Friday night with us. We had a pizza party and movie night. It was a good night.
On Saturday we went to the Care Center to visit Pops.

Pops had two Halloween presents for Tizita which made her very exciting. Here she is filling Pops' candy jars with candy corn and m&m's. She really interacted with Pops this time. I know Pops really enjoyed his visit with Tiz.

Tizita pushed Pops all by herself all the way to the recreation room where she needed somethings from the vending machines and wanted to see the Halloween decorations in there.

Here we are posing with Scooby Doo.

Hugging a mummy.

And finally, a picture with Frankenstein.

After our visit, we went over to John's folk's condo to continue our cleaning.

Here is Tiz sitting in the garage on Pops' chair. She found many, many treasures and had her boxes filled with them.

Courtney and Alissa were checking out Grandma's blue collection and choosing a few special pieces for themselves.

And, of course, Tizita had to climb up there and join them.

It was easier cleaning things out this time. The memories were happier ones and we had fun talking and laughing about them. We still have a long way to go in the cleaning process, but each time we go gets us a little bit closer to our goal.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Silent Auction Items

This year, John and I unfortunately were not able to attend the Alpha Resource Center's Silent Auction. We had attended the event for the last two years as guests of Ruth and Larry Parker and we had thoroughly enjoyed the event. I planned the trip up to see the Hubbards without consulting the date of the event this year and I did not want to cancel our trip to Medford since those are so difficult to schedule, too.
I donated two baskets to the auction this year, too. Both included hand made hats by Tizzy Dee and other fun items. I would have enjoyed seeing my items as they were bid on.
I came up with an idea. I asked Ruth and Larry if they would be willing to bid on some items for us. I gave her my limit and was even able to obtain a list of the auction items so I could indicate which ones I was interested in. My idea worked like a charm. John and I now have eight baskets of goodies in our possession and we were able to give a sizable donation to the Alpha Center, too. A win/win all around. This basket was called "from her to him," and included men's after shave, lotion, shampoo, and shaving cream as well as two bottles of wine, cheese, and a bread mix.

This is a chocolate lovers basket full and I mean, full of chocolates, all different kinds of chocolates! The basket is a small bushel basket and it is filled from bottom to over the top.

This is a Packer lovers basket with Cheesehead wine, Packer chocolate bars (yes, more chocolate), an ornament in green and gold, two wine glasses, and a Packer coaster. I am so thankful that the Packers are doing well this year or John may have not been thrilled with this package deal.

This was one of two coffee baskets. I do not like coffee, but I have plenty of people who do enjoy it, so it will not go to waste. Besides coffee, there are two mugs and cute coffee napkins in here.

This is a basket of toddler books which the teacher in me could not resist. Tizita already has many, many books in her library, but we need some boy type books for Nathnael and there are a good number in this basket about cars, trucks, trains, and dinosaurs. This is not to say that girls cannot read those books or that boys cannot read about princesses, but I still observe that Preschool boys like the typical "boys" things and Preschool girls prefer the typical "girls" things.

Our second coffee basket filled with Berres Brothers coffee made right here in Watertown.

This is goat's milk soap and lotions. I have recently read a lot about how wonderful goat's milk items are for one's skin, so I am anxious to try them out.

And, finally, my favorite basket is called a Busy Box for Grandkids and it is filled with so many fun items to keep a child busy. There are crayons, markers, coloring books, tablets, googly eyes, beads, craft kits, a juggling book and balls, a few easy readers, pencils, and many more great items. I am excited to use these with Tizita. I think we can get a full year out of this basket. New things each time she visits.

I have already marked the calendar for next year's auction. I am not going to miss it again, but I am so thankful that Ruth and Larry were so willing to bid for us.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Long overdue visit with the Hubbards in Medford

We just returned from a very nice Saturday night and Sunday morning visiting Terri, Vanessa, and kids in Medford. Terri and I have been friends ever since we met as neighbors in Elkhorn when our baby girls were just four months old. We have kept in touch over the years, but our visits have been few and far between lately. After reconnecting on FB with Terri's two daughters and having Vanessa's family stop in for the fireworks on the fourth of July this year, we decided to set up a date for a get together with Courtney, Tizita, me, Terri, Vanessa, and her two kids. Three generations of good friends spending time together. We started our night with a dinner at Happy Joe's where the kids had a ball playing all the arcade games and the grandmas had time to sit and catch up.

Here we are with our grandkids, Tizita, Ezra, and Raina.

The kids all got along so nicely. Tizita enjoyed holding Raina and she enjoyed being silly with Ezra.

And here are our babies who are now 33 years old and all grown up with babies of their own. They have come a long way since they danced to Tiffany's "I think we are alone now," in Vanessa's basement bedroom in Waterford. They both get along very well and have many of the same philosophies on the important things in life.

After Happy Joe's we took this self portrait in our motel room which was very nice.

The next morning we returned to Terri's for a delicious brunch. Tizita just loved brushing Raina's hair. Raina seemed to enjoy it because she did stay seated and smiley the whole time.

Here is a picture of the Hubbard home. It is a beautiful hundred year old home.

After our yummy brunch we went over to Eartha Naturals for a tour. Eartha is a salon/spa owned by Terri's daughter, Chelsea. Vanessa works at the salon, too. It is new to Medford and is doing a great business thus far.

Since Tizita says she wants to be a stylist when she grows up she decided she needed to try her hand at sweeping up the hair.

Since Vanessa is a massage therapist, Tizita decided she needed a massage which Vanessa gave her. She loved that.

And of course, Tizita thought the chairs were the greatest thing ever!

We had treats in the Tea Room at the Salon. After that it was time to head back to Oshkosh. The time went so quickly, but that is the way it usually goes when you are having fun.

Tizita and I decorated two little pumpkins for her and Nathnael.

Note to Nathnael: Here is the little pumpkin that Tizita and I painted for you today. We cannot wait until you get home. By next Halloween you will be able to carve your own pumpkin! Stay safe and healthy and we will see you soon.

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