Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Alissa and Nathan

Happy Fifth Anniversary
my lovely daughter, Alissa and her handsome husband, Nathan.
Our family on the big day.
The day after the wedding, Courtney and Paul left for Ethiopia to bring Tizita home.
There was a lot of excitement that weekend,
first a big wedding celebration
then the waiting for my granddaughter.
I wish them a long and happy life
as they walk off into the future together.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hot Summer Days, Bring on the Fall/School starting weather

After our day at the Circus World Museum
John took me and Tizita to Oshkosh on his way to Iron Mountain.
It will be his last week up there, then he starts in Pewaukee.
The six weeks have gone fast and it was not as bad as I thought it could be.
Anyway when we got up to Oshkosh, Soliana wanted to go to ride the merry go round at the park, so John and I took Tiz and Soli to do just that.
We all rode the train, then the girls rode the merry go round, and we all enjoyed slushies and a snow cone for Tiz.
It was a good afternoon.
The heat had already set in.
We have not had heat like this all summer and now that school is starting it is in the high nineties and very humid.
John left around five for Michigan.
Courtney made us sweet corns and hot dogs for dinner.
She almost died from heat over the boiling pan.
We ate on their porch, it was hot.
They live in an big, old house that does not have air conditioning.
Most of the time it is fine, but when this summer heat sets in, it is HOT!
As much as I love being there, I was missing my AC on this visit.
Sleeping was hard on Sunday night due to the heat, but they do have ceiling fans and the little hot breeze there was coming in the windows flows through the upstairs.
We did survive, but Courtney and I decided that we needed to go somewhere with some AC on Monday.
We decided on Monkey Joe's.
The admission is all inclusive except for food and we knew we could kill a few hours there easily.
We pulled up to an empty parking lot, wow, we would be the only people there, great!
No, guess again, it was closed for remodeling.
Now what?
Well, we decided on Chuck E. Cheese.
Of course, Tiz was fine with that, Soli didn't care, and Courtney and I sucked it up.
It cost about three times what Monkey Joe's would have cost.
Doesn't help that Tiz goes through the tokens like they are free.
While we were eating our small over priced lunch, there was an announcement that Chuck E. himself would be making an appearance in five minutes.
They counted it down like it was some huge deal.
Well, he appeared for at most five minutes, led a lame dance, and threw out some free tickets that grown ups grabbed from little ones.
It was quite comical.
We finished our visit there by spending our 280 tickets (which cost us at least $30.00) on four rubber bracelets, two rolls of smarties, and one peace sign bracelet.
We headed back to Oshkosh, still too hot to go home, so we went to TJ Maxx.  Tried on lots of clothes, bought little, but stayed cool.
After that we picked up Paul and went to Glass Nickel for pizza.
It was there at Glass Nickel that I was totally ignored when I could not get my Miller Lite.
The waitress was all over Courtney and Paul and their fancy beers, but could care less about my Miller Lite.
Paul had to go get it off the bar at one point.
She also forgot to put in our pizza order, but that did work to our advantage since she did not charge us for it.
Needless to say, she did not get a very big tip.
Here I am with the girls at the restaurant.  As you can see, I have no Miller Lite to speak of.
After we got home, we all tried to sleep in spite of the sweat.
We did manage somehow.
Sometimes I don't know how we survived back in the day when no one had air in their homes.
Somehow we all did survive.
Now, it is not so much fun when it gets so hot.
We are spoiled I guess.
Today, it is still as hot.
Courtney brought me home.
I love the AC.
Soli came to visit my classroom because she will be starting in my class one day a week this year.
I feel so blessed to be able to be my granddaughters' first Preschool teacher. 
Soli has a lot of spunk, so ask me in about a month just how blessed I am feeling then.
At any rate, even with the heat, it was a fun few days.
It was a nice way to end the summer.
Now bring on the fall weather and school.
I am ready!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

May All you Days Be Circus Days-Baraboo Circus World Museum

Yesterday we may have found the best value for a full day of family fun in Wisconsin.
We have an annual "before school starts" outing with Tizita.
Last year we all enjoyed Little Amerika and the year before that we did Monkey Joe's, Build a Bear, and Mini golf.
This year we chose Circus World Museum in Barboo.
It was the best choice ever.
I had been to Circus World as a child and our we had taken our girls there, too, but this was our first return trip there in about 30 years or so.
The admission for the three of us was $33.00, not bad for a day full of fun activities.
We began our day with the magic of Tristan Crist.
Tiz is an apprentice magician and loves all things magic so this was right up her alley.
Here Tristan is signing her magic wand after the show.
Of course, there are lots of these fun signs all over to stick  your head through.
After the magic show, we headed to the big top for the circus performance.
It included dog acts, monkey acts, an elephant, unicyclists, trampoline acts, clowns, and a few other fun things.
It lasted an hour and was enjoyed by all.
We felt the circus alone was worth the admission price.
And we enjoyed  cotton candy and soda and popcorn during the performance.
Tizita's favorite part of the performance was the contortionist who got himself not only through a tennis racket but into this little box as well.
The only extra charge besides our food was face painting.
Tiz chose to be tiger.

Tiz the Tiger!
There was a time for the kids to all come out and try the different acts.
Hula hooping,
Walking on a big ball,
And trying the tightrope, plus juggling.
It was a lot of fun for the kids.
Tiz felt she could have walked that rope without help, but I am not so sure.
Next on our agenda was a kids circus.
Tiz was chosen to be a pony.
The ponies came out and performed for all the audience.
It was so cute.
There was a grand finale parade of all the performers in the kids circus.
This sums up our day at the circus.
I am ready to join the circus, I think.
We took the Merrimac ferry home.
Something else we had done many times as a family.


And we ended our perfect outing we pizza at the Blue Moon in Lake Mills.
May all your days be circus days!

Friday, August 23, 2013

For my Daughters

A promise for my daughter

I’m tired and she’s tired. And she’s been weeping with frustration, her face a smudge of red cheeks and snotty trails.
I go down on my knees beside her little, chubby legs. They’re curving over the edge of her green froggy potty stool and she is glaring hot blue eyes into my face. I reach for her and she swats at me and doesn’t want the comfort I know she wants.
I gently take her hands and pull her up. Her tender self all frustration and sweat and nakedness melting into me. I cup her with my arms and my words and slowly stroke those damp curls back from her cheeks.
I’ve got deadlines and to-do lists and no clue what to make for dinner. There is one quiet window before the boys come home and Pete has made it back early and we’re hoping for a snatched ten minute nap. But she’s inconsolable for reasons she can’t put into two-year-old words yet and I’m on my knees reaching for her.
I will always come, baby.
She’s in my arms and slowly beginning the ritual of stroking my right arm. Her curls are warm and sweaty and that pudgy baby cheek fits just under my chin.
I will always come.
I dance with her slowly – the rock and roll of motherhood – and I know this is a promise I can stake my life on.
I will always come.
When you forget your lunch. When you are sheep number 5 in the Christmas play. When you take up the recorder and bleat all the way through the Easter service. When you get that bad hair cut. When you think you want to be a beauty queen, when you swear off fashion altogether.
I will come.
When the mean girls make you want to shrivel inside your skin. When a teacher intimidates you. When you intimidate the teachers. When you think you can sing and try out for a musical, when you get laughed at and people point fingers at your hair and your shoes and your too bony hips.
My darling, I will come.
When that boy breaks your heart and you’re stranded at a college miles away, I will come. When the internship you thought was part of your calling falls through. When a friend gets sick. When the car crashes. When you have more long distance charges than you thought possible. When you run out of gas, chocolate chip cookies and faith.
I will be there.
When you say your “I dos,” when you you start your happily ever afters, when none of it quite feels like you thought it would. When you don’t know how to pick a mattress, when the sofa is in the wrong place, when you regret what feels like signing your life away to someone else. When you keep on keeping on. When you remember how to say sorry. When you need a safe place to say how cliche you feel all “barefoot and pregnant” I will so be there.
When the baby won’t sleep and the world’s on fire with sleep exhaustion.
Sweetheart, I will come.
When your husband’s out of work. When you’re down to one car and have moved in with his in-laws. When your job threatens to break your heart. When toddlers make you question your sanity. When you realize that you’ve made the worst mistake a woman can make. When you’ve run out of tears and still the tears keeping coming.
I will come.
When you move and move and relocate again. When you pack boxes and dreams and hope. When your life is a world of duct tape and questions. I will still come.
And when your home is warm and your heart is full. When you’re at peace. When you need someone to share the joy, to watch the kids, to admire the dimples. When you want to remember that old recipe for melktert, when you still can’t pick a sofa, when you wish you’d never said yes to the dog.
When you don’t know where you’re going. When you’re the most sure of yourself you’ve ever been. When you’re holding onto faith with just your fingernails. When you’re singing, “Jesus loves me this I know” and you mean it with every tiny, beautiful, miraculous part of your DNA -
Zoe, always I will come. One hundred different ways I will come when you call.
I will rock and roll you with my love and the promise that I will help you get back on your feet. I will hold your hand. I will rejoice. I will babysit. I will pass the tissues. I will wash the dishes.
I will come.
And the day after. And after.
And then some.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Good bye summer, Hello Puzzle Pieces

Last night we had registration at St. John's.
Registration is a bittersweet time.
It means the lazy, relaxed days of summer are quickly coming to a close.
It means I have to get things ready for my new students.
It is sad to think that summer is winding down.
It is exciting to think that I have a brand new bunch of Puzzle Pieces coming into my classroom.
My students love to work on puzzles together.
It is fun to see their concentration as they work at trying to fit pieces together.
It is rewarding to see their pride as they see a picture forming from their hard work.
My students are like those puzzle pieces.
Everyone of them is different, different ages, different sizes, different colors, different stories, different on so many levels just like the pieces of a puzzle.
Yet, each one of them is special and has a unique spot in the puzzle.
The puzzle cannot be  complete without each and every piece.
My class cannot be complete without each and every student.
Together we make a beautiful picture.

Some puzzle pieces fit in the middle surrounded by many more pieces while some stay on the outside farther away from the center pieces.
So it is with my kids, some are right in the center of things, outgoing and leading the pack.
Others are on the outside, a bit on the shy, quiet side just taking it all in.

No matter where they fit in the puzzle, they are all important.
The picture cannot be complete without all of them.

I want to be the kind of teacher that recognizes all these differences and embraces them all.
I want to teach the children to value themselves no matter where they fit in the puzzle.
I want to teach them that they are all very special children of God and he values each one of them equally.
I want to teach them tolerance and kindness for the other puzzle pieces who are different than they are, to embrace those differences and love each other not in spite of those differences but because of them.

Hard life lessons for adults, but much easier for little ones.
To them each puzzle piece is pretty and necessary to complete the whole picture.

So, putting together a puzzle is going to take on a whole new meaning this year.
They will work together on the big floor puzzles that are so popular.
I will work on putting together the big puzzle with all the beautiful little pieces that are my students.
I will help them discover where they fit in that big picture.
They are not yet sure what kind of pieces they are.
I want to help them figure that out.

Best of luck to all the students who are beginning school in the next few days,
Whether it is pre k or grad school, may your year be blessed with puzzles that fit together in the best way possible.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

And yet, another step back in time

This weekend has been a step back into time on so many levels.
First, the REO concert on Friday night which brought back so many college memories.
Then our bike ride back in time on Saturday.
We rode the White River Bike Trail which is located just behind the first home we ever owned in Elkhorn.
Always bittersweet to go back and see all the old landmarks in that little town.
After we ride the trail. (17 miles) with a stop for lunch a little restaurant called "The Cup and Pedal," we take our bike tour of Elkhorn, stopping along the way to take photos and talk about our good times there.
We moved to Elkhorn in 1977, a year after we got married.
It was our first time moving "away" from our families.
Well, except for college, but that doesn't really count.
I vividly remember the first time we drove into Elkhorn.  Neither of us had ever been there or heard anything about the town.
We were so excited as we pointed out landmarks and took it all in on that first visit..
As far as we knew at that point, Elkhorn would be our home for many years to come,
We figured it would be the place where we raised our family.
That is where the bittersweet part comes in.
Life seldom goes as planned, there is always a bigger plan, God's plan, and that plan did not include a stay in Elkhorn, but for the two years, we were there it felt like home to us and we met so many people.
Wonderful friends who we still visit and with whom we are still in touch.
We lived in our first apartment and then went on to buy our first home,
we had our two babies there,
we loved every minute of those two years in Elkhorn.
Here are a few of the special things we saw yesterday on our bike ride back in time:
So, here is the trailhead.  I am ready to ride the 17 miles.
There are many pretty wildflowers along the trail and so many butterflies and grasshoppers.
 Here a very shady part ot the trail.
 Pretty berries along the way.  There were also many apple trees and we could smell the sweet apples as we rode.
We love to stop at the Cup and Pedal which is right off the trail in Springfield.
We enjoyed some wraps out on the rockers on the front porch.
 Back on the trail again.
 Lakeland Hospital where my babies were both born.
 This one is for Tom and Patti Kovach.
Tom came up to Elkhorn from Ohio to go to school at Getzen band instrument repair school.
We lived in the same apartment and became fast friends.
We may have been the only sane people in that apartment.
 And look Tom, they need some help.
I think you should come back up and work here.
This is where we purchased our first home.
Bob Getzen, as in the Getzen band instrument repair, was the developer of this area.  I am guessing he owns most of Elkhorn in one way or another.
 This is the home of our other good friends, Terri and Mark Hubbard.
They lived right behind us and Terri and I spent so much time together in our connected backyards with our little babies.
Their house still looks nice and well cared for, ours not so much.
Here is the backyard of our house.
 And here is the front of our house.
Very over grown.
 This is our church, First Lutheran.
Our girls would have attended school here if we had stayed.
 We found this labyrinth at the Episcopal church.
Of course, we had to give it a try.

 It took awhile, but we both made it to the middle.
 This is the location of John's first office.
The one where we figured he would stay for a long time, but it was bought our by a bigger company which moved it to Milwaukee, so began the job search that led us back to Watertown.
 Here is the courthouse.
I remember Mark Hubbard and I taking our girls there for their immunizations.
 This was our bank.
It appears that it has moved and left only its big pillars behind.
 A very famous restaurant on the square.
 A much more popular restaurant to me when Courtney was little.
We would head over here for breakfast or lunch with friends and all the kids got their milk in little cow pitchers that they could take home with them.
I wonder if they still hand those out.
 And here is our first apartment.
This is actually where Patti and Tom lived.
They were in the front of the building with their own balcony, we were in the back with no balcony.
There is the apartment where we first met Patti and Tom.
We sought each other out in amongst some unusual people.
Everyone else in that apartment had had their kids by age 16 or 17 and they found that perfectly normal.
Patti and I were definitely on the outs there. In our twenties and no kids, just husbands.
So, there you have it, our ride back in time.
It was a great weekend filled with memories.
John just left for his week up in Michigan.
This is his second last week, soon he will be in Pewaukee and I will be in school.
Time flies.
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