Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Perfect Weekend of Grandparenting

It is Sunday night.
I am feeling tired, but full of blessings.
We have just had the very best weekend with Tizita and Soliana.
This is what being a grandparent is supposed to be all about.
Courtney had a craft show this Saturday and Sunday at Ebert's here in Watertown.
We decided to take the girls to the Milwaukee zoo on Saturday.
We were so lucky that one of our Christmas gifts was a zoo pass for the year.
We usually only did one zoo trip per year with the girls due to the cost, but this year we decided to do another one just because we had free admission.
We also parked a few blocks away to save the parking fee and we packed our own lunch to save the high cost of zoo food.
We decided to let Tizita be our tour guide and take us to her favorite areas of the zoo.
It was hard for me to give up that control especially to a six year old, but I did it and she did a great job getting us to all the places that we love to visit.
In fact, I may turn all the trips over to her.  She is a great guide and planner.
 Here we are!
 Tiz decided that we should start with the Merry go round and Soli was so excited with this decision.
 Tiz studied many a map to make sure we were on the right path and to plot our next stop.
 I bought this stroller for $5.00 before Tiz came home.
It is probably the best spent $5.00 ever.
Both girls can easily fit into it for the long walks between the areas.
 There were peacocks everywhere.
 Up close and personal with the giraffes.
 Lunch time

 Tiz decided we would ride the train after lunch.
 And here we are leaving the zoo after a great, fun filled day.
We also saw the sea lion show, bought cute little colored dolphins, played on the playground, and saw lots more animals.
When we got home we stopped at On the Rock for beer and pizza.  We met Courtney and Paul there.  Courtney had had a very successful day at the craft fair.
We were all tired but so happy after the wonderful day.
The girls are so easy to take places.  They both just love going anywhere with us and they are so appreciative of it all.
And they are very well behaved for us.  I have seen them give their parents a hard time, but for us, they are very good.
I am thinking they will remember this day for a long time, I know I will.
On Sunday, Courtney had to be out at the craft fair again, so the rest of us went to church.
After church, John and I took the girls out to Ebert's to see Courtney and to take part in their fall festivities.
It was another fun day.
The weather could not have been more perfect on both days.
 Both girls enjoyed time in the corn box.
 There was a cute little train ride.
And there were pumpkins everywhere!
Courtney and family headed home after the craft show.
This is the kind of weekend that I want to remember always.
It is what Grandparenting is all about!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lost in a Corn Maze at Waldvogel's

On the first Saturday in October, John and I will be taking the girls to Waldvogel's Pumpkin Patch near Beaver Dam.
We visited Waldvogel's for the first time last year.  Courtney and the girls came out and met John and I at the pumpkin patch.
We all had a fun time.
Well, most of it was fun, but getting lost in the corn maze was not so much fun.
We weren't actually lost, but it sure did take us a long time to get out of that maze.
This year I am trying to outsmart the maze.
I copied the map of the maze so I can study it.
That is it in the above photo.
Now I am not quite sure how that is going to help me once I am in the maze itself, because as I recall one cornstalk looks like just every other cornstalk.
It does look like one could just walk around the outside edge in a big square and make it out, but what fun would that be?
I just know we will get all turned around near that pig head!
I will have my cell phone.
Not sure who I am going to call, but there must be someone who can help.
No one has ever remained lost in a corn maze as far as I know.
my hope is that the corn maze pictured below will be an option.
If it is, I am going to wander through that one this year!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another Rummage in the Books

We had quite a successful rummage sale yesterday.
A complete success in my book would be that every single item was sold, so it was not a complete success, but we did sell a lot of the crap.
The weather was a bit chilly, but there was no rain.
Our best sales were the early birds.
We opened at 8:00, by 7:30, we had already sold a good number of things.
Courtney came out with Tizita and Soli.
Tiz set up a lemonade and cookie stand.
It was a bit cool for lemonade, I think hot chocolate would have sold better, but the bees did enjoy the sweet drink.
At one point there were at least a dozen bees hanging around the lemonade table.

We had a steady stream of customers all day long and it was fun to watch all the items being carried off to new homes.
Quite a bit of my clothes sold and I can guarantee that I will be looking for that clothes in the near future.
Always happens to me when I sell my clothes or shoes.

After we closed up shop, Courtney, the girls, and I went over to Pam Wilke's apple tree and picked three bags full of apples.
Looks like we will be busy making apple goodies today.

John and I went out to On the Rock for some much deserved beers and pizza after the girls left.
There was a lady there who had to have the Heimlich performed on her.  I missed it, 
Ask my husband and daughters, I miss everything.  I had my back to her table and John could not get my attention to turn around.
At any rate, John said the whole bar was watching as her husband, very calmly did the Heimlich and she proceeded to sit back down and continue eating as if nothing unusual had occurred.
Very strange, sorry I missed it, glad she was okay.

Over the beers, John and I were discussing our role as grandparents and how we feel things are going.
I am always wanting to be in control of all the situations.
It is hard for me to step back and just let it all happen without my input.
Recently, Courtney made plans to go visit Paul's family on a long standing weekend of ours.
See, I have "our" weekends and "their" weekends.  (Their, being the other side of the family)
We have always, as in forever, celebrated my mom's birthday on the first weekend in November.  It is a longstanding weekend.
This year she will turn 85.
Sometimes we celebrate with overnights, sometimes with just a nice dinner at a restaurant of her choice, and sometimes just with a fun dinner at home.
The big thing is, that we always celebrate it on the first weekend in November.

Well, suffice it to say that I am sad, mad, and disappointed about this turn of events.
How do we proceed?
I am completely out of control of this situation.
Of course, I already let Courtney know that she made a big mistake here and she will hear about it until I die.  She can add it to the many other things she will hear about till I die!
I decided that we will celebrate on the first weekend in November just as we always have minus Courtney and her family.
There, I took control back.
Lissa and Nathan will be here to celebrate and that will be enough for me to have a great time.
I did ask  Courtney to pencil us in on this weekend until Marge is dead so this does not happen again.
I won't even go into the reason they are heading to Iowa but let me just say, "Who really needs to go to a Junior College homecoming?"

As John and I were discussing this unfortunate turn of events, which by the by, he agrees with me, I asked him how come it doesn't bother him as much when the girls talk about the other grandparents and all the things they get from them and do with them.
He said, "When Soli and Tiz crawled up on his lap today and snuggled into his warm chest, he could care less about anything else, because for that moment, they are totally
"with" him and nothing else matters."
I think I need to heed this good advice from my husband and just eat up the good moments that are just mine and the girls.
A few beers doesn't hurt either!
Happy Grandparenting to all.

Friday, September 20, 2013

House sold!

Before you get all excited and think, "Wow, I didn't even realize her house was on the market," let me explain.
The big city wide rummage sale is tomorrow.
Yep, the day I love to hate is almost upon us and I made an early sale.
Early sales are probably against all rummage rules, but I don't look cold hard cash in the face and turn it down.
My neighbor who has pulled me into this rummage madness, listed our sale on Craig's list and a lady was interested in my Little Tykes playhouse.
Yes, it is the same one that I purchased just last summer.
Just didn't get much use, too small for the girls, and took up valuable patio space, so its time was up.
I am hoping I found it a nice new family.
I texted back and forth a few times with the lady (at least, I am hoping she is a lady, you know the stories you hear about Craig's List gone wrong) and she is coming out this AM to pick it up.
Sale final!
Now let's hope the rest of my sale goes as well as this first item.
At least I have enough to pay for the ad now.
Plans for today, did I mention I have a day off of school due to teacher work day?
Well, you can find me in the garage setting up a rummage and probably pulling my hair out in the process.
You may also hear mutterings about, "Why am I doing this?"
I will keep you posted on how it all goes.
And if you are in the area, please stop over.
I have lots of cheap stuff that has to go.

The house lady came and we struggled together to get the house into her van.  Finally had to remove the roof and then it fit.
Got my money.
Transaction went well.
She was indeed who she portrayed herself to be on Craig's List.
I have been out in the garage working for four hours straight.
I am taking a small break now and plan on going back in later.
It is starting to come together and should be ready for the sale tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What do you call a post that has no main topic and is all over the place?

I don't know what to call this post.
I have a feeling it will cover many topics.
Let's just go with it and see where it takes us.

This year, I decided to plant a row of sunflowers in our garden.
We had a bumper crop of tomatoes, cukes, and these sunflowers.
Not sure what to do with them now that they are drying up and falling over, but they were very pretty for little while.
Next year, no sunflowers, been there, done that.
Dress up

Here is my sweet little Soliana dressed up in one of Mallory's old Halloween costumes.
I remember how cute Mal was in this costume back when she was three and now to see how cute Soli is in it just makes my heart happy.
Back to Walking
John is enjoying his new work.
He especially enjoys the nice short commute.
He now gets home by 4:40 as compared to 5:50 from his old commute.
I will be the first to admit that it took me a good week to adjust to having him home so early.
I blame the fact that it was my first week of school, too, and there is stress that goes along with that without a husband who is now home an hour earlier than I am used to.
We have now found our groove and have been enjoying a nice, long walk as soon as he gets home.
My mileage app on my phone was really screwed up tonight.  Luckily John had his phone, too, which was keeping track of our mileage correctly.
I cannot complain about my phone because it made us look like star power walkers.
According to my phone we were walking a mile in less than 13 minutes which while very commendable, is certainly not doable by the likes of us.
The mileage counter was so far off, too, I watched the hundredths of a mile just click on at record speed.
It was both bizarre and amazing at the same time.
At any rate, we actually walked 4.25 miles in just over one hour and we did not walk 4.65 miles in an hour as my phone indicated.
I am looking forward to walking on a regular basis.
We plan to bike ride next week, but right now the bikes are buried in our rummage in the garage.
School News
School is moving along swimmingly this year so far.
I love having Soli there with  me one day a week.
 She brings such a sweetness to my classroom.
Her smile is full of sunshine.

We have been doing so many fun things in school already this year.
The parachute is always a favorite activity!

We have also had fun with shaving cream and we fingerpainted.
I am so proud of myself because I have done this so early in the year and I plan to do it much more this year.
It is messy, but it is so good for their fine motor development and they love it so much.
My favorite part of the day is Jesus circle time.
I love sharing Bible stories with the kids and knowing that I am helping them learn about their Savior.
I love knowing that if, God forbid, something happened to one of them, they would go to heaven.
Our theme this year is:
Walking with Jesus and I love this poster I found of pinterest.
I  should end on that perfect note,
but I will end on  my obsession that is:
Candy Crush
I have been playing candy crush for quite sometime now.
I usually play a game for awhile, get bored, or am unable to pass a level at which time I quit, but candy crush is different.
I am hooked,
I need to crush candy.
I used to have two farms, one in Farmville and one in whatever the other farm game was, see I can't even remember.
Those two farms were taking up so much of my time.
They were really driving me crazy.
I could not keep up with the planting, watering, feeding, I had to quit cold turkey one day.
Funny thing is, I never really missed it.
I wonder if I would miss candy crush if I gave that up.
Who knows?
Well, that is what I am sharing today.
Back to one topic next time I post.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Another Successful Tiziversary in the Books

 Everyone is on the road home after a very fun filled, wonderful weekend celebrating our sweet Tizita.
She is posing with her drum cake that I made for her.
 Here she is, trying to decide what might be in the big box.
I think she had a pretty good idea since she had been talking a drumset for months.
 Posing with Aunt Alissa while Uncle Cheddah put the drum set together.
 Reading the sweet card from Gigi.
 Lucky us, we had a drum concert for the next hour or so.
Tizita has some really good rhythm so we really did enjoy the concert.
I had brought other instruments home from school so we could all be part of the band.
It as a good fun night for sure.
 On Saturday, John and I took the girls to Monkey Joe's while the girls and husbands went into Milwaukee for some shopping and bar hopping. 
We were all going to meet up at the Ethiopian Cottage for dinner.
 Monkey Joe's was lots of fun.
It took Soli a little bit to warm up, but once she got into the bouncy things she loved it.
I did have to rescue her once and I have to admit, walking on that bouncy stuff is a weird feeling.
We had lunch at Monkey Joe's and were just about ready to leave when a big fight broke out.
It was pretty scary and we left really quickly when that happened.
So sad that something like that had to happen at a place where kid's have fun.
The fight was not between children either.
We still had some time to kill before dinner, so we went to Frame Park in Waukesha.
The girls enjoyed the play area.
 There is always time for a beer stick snack, too.
Both girls love their beef sticks.
We saw six brides getting pictures take at the park, too.
After the park, we headed over to the Ethiopian Cottage where we enjoyed some authentic Ethiopian food.
Tiz loves it, but Soli wasn't too interested in it.
Today we did church, lunch, and just hung out until everyone hit the road.
Such a fun way to celebrate our Tizita!
Such a wonderful family with which to celebrate!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Happy 5th Tiziversary!

I can hardly believe that it has been five years since John and I first met our sweet granddaughter Tizita Desta as she walked off a plane that had just arrived from Ethiopia.
 I was so nervous waiting for that plane to land.
I imagine it was the same kind of nerves that a grandma has when her daughter is in labor.
So many  people were deplaning before we finally ask someone, "Was there a little girl on the plane from Ethiopia?'
Their answer was, "Yes, and she is just beautiful."
I started to breathe a bit easier, I knew they had at least made it safely to Appleton.
Then we saw her and oh, my goodness, she was a beauty!
We had no idea if she would be walking or not, she was 21 months old, but progress reports were few and far between from Ethiopia and the last reports said she still was not walking.
We were so excited to see her walking toward us from the plane, holding tightly to her mama's hand.
Can you imagine what it must be like to get on a plane and leave the only place you have ever known with people who you just met?
She held tight to her mama and papa as she looked us up and down with those big beautiful brown eyes.
 It had been a long pregnancy for Courtney and Paul, many, many months from referral to homecoming.
I have posted about this before, but the unknown is so difficult in adoption.
When a woman is pregnant with a biological child, you can bet you will meet that baby in nine months, more or less.
When a woman is "pregnant" with an adoptive child, you really don't know if you will ever meet that child.
Labor and delivery for a biological child involves hours of pain and then the joy of the birth,
Labor and delivery for an adoptive child involves months and even years of painful waiting.
The pain may not be physical, but it is hard all the same and long, very long.
I am guessing that the end joy is the same.
A baby in your arms, no matter how it got there, is a joy.
A mother of a biological child forgets the labor once that child is in their arms..
The mother of an adoptive child forgets the pain of waiting once that child is home and in their arms.
 This is me when I first met Tizita.
She was still not too sure about it all, but she was learning to love us.
I didn't know the first thing about adoption or Ethiopia before Courtney and Paul announced their plans to adopt.
I quickly did online research and devoured all the knowledge that I could.  I made it my mission to learn all I could about Ethiopia and adoption.
I joined a forum for Ethiopian adoptive families.  I met other grandmas of Ethiopian children.
I grew and learned and loved it all.
I became a grandma that night five  years ago for the first time.
Yes, it was not in the usual way, but I could not love any child more than I love my granddaughter, Tizita.
Our journey together started that night as she walked off that plane and it just keeps getting better and better.
Each year we celebrate that meeting with a Tiziversary party.
We always go to the Ethiopian Cottage in Milwaukee to enjoy authentic Ethiopian food together and talk about her homecoming.
Tizita remembers things about her homeland and she knows her birth story.
It is wonderful to hear her talk about those memories.
 Here she is on her first Tiziversary.
She was all about Curious George that year, so our theme was Geogio as she called him.
We had a panda theme at her second Tiziversary since she had just visited the National Zoo and was all about pandas that year.
Her third Tiziversary was all about Princesses.
And, last year, I struggled to create this Barbie cake for her.
That brings us to our celebration this year.
I will not spoil the surprise.
Come back after the weekend and read all about it.
So today would you all please say a prayer of thanks for your families because I know that I will be saying many prayers of thanksgiving for our blessing that we call Tizita.
Happy Tiziversary to Tizita, the Van Auken family, and the proud grandparents.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We Must Never Forget

It is September 11.
It comes every year.
We must ever forget the events that occurred on 9/11/2001.
It must stay forever engraved in our minds and hearts.
I know I will never forget.
This year, I am not going to write a big post about it.
I have already done that.
I probably have done it every year since I have had the blog.
So, this year, I am just going to say, "we must never forget."
I will leave it at that for now.
Please say a prayer.
Pray for our country pray for peace, pray for the families who lost love ones that day.
Pray that we never forget.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

School is in full swing

I have been back in the classroom with my 2/3K and 4K kids for a week now.
In some ways it feels like I  never left, but there is that excitement of being able to mold this group of students to fit my idea of the Perfect class.
Of course, that will never happen, but I enjoy the challenge.
Here are a few of the fun things we have been doing during these first few days.
 Soliana came to school again on Monday.
Of course, I need to feature her in a few photos here.
For just turning two in July, she does a fabulous job of listening and participating.
And she loves her snacks!
 We talked about circles this week.
We painted circles, drew pictures with circles, and danced with circles.
Here Soli is being a sleeping kitty on her circle.
 The kids love the circle dance.
 Since the parachute is a big circle we had to use that this week, too.
What child doesn't love a parachute?
 I bought a bunch of glasses at the dollar store and put them in the library area.
The kids seem to really enjoy wearing them as they read the books.
 More parachute fun.
 More dancing on circles.
And another cutie with reading glasses on.
In my classroom we have fun, we act silly, we giggle, and we play.
In amongst all of that, we still manage to learn, to pray, to love, and to forgive.
I think my classroom is a magical place!
I really love being back there.
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