Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween

Tomorrow is Halloween.
I dislike anything Halloween.
I think it stems from the fact that I could never come up with a great costume either for myself or for my kids.
I didn't sew, therefore I was not able to create anything exciting for my girls.
They were gypsies.
It was easy to be a gypsy, long skirt, scarf on head, and big hoop earrings with lots of necklaces.
Yep, my girls were gypsies a lot.
I don't even think they knew what a gypsy was.
Oh well, we survived many Halloweens and enjoyed lots of treats over the years.
I remember one year, I dressed Lissa like a princess.
She wore one of my mom's red negligees over her big winter coat.
I don't even know if she had a wand or a crown.  I think Courtney was a gypsy that year.
One year, Lissa (why is it always Lissa?) went as a witch.
Her hat was so big that she took it off halfway through trick or treating.
At one house a lady actually asked her what she was.
I think she may be scarred for life.
I bet she doesn't like Halloween either.
I do remember one year where both of the girls had outstanding outfits.
Courtney made herself an old lady complete with gray wig and cigarette holder.
Lissa was Pippy Longstocking.
I put bent hangers in her long braids.  They curled up and out just like Pippy's.
Yep, that was a good year.
So, Happy Halloween to all.
Just remember, if you can't think of any costume, just be a gypsy!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Can a Smart TV outsmart two college graduates?

John's laptop is paid off
As soon as we made the last payment, we decided it was time to step into this decade and buy ourselves a new smart TV.
You know, we can't go too long without a payment on some item.
John had done some shopping previously and was ready to go pick up the TV on Sunday.
The Packers were playing the Vikings on Sunday night so we knew we had until kick off to get the TV up and running.
John had gone to Best Buy in Delafield, but they did not have the sound bar so he ended up going to the Best Buy in Brookfield adding some time on to his shopping trip, but he did get home a good two hours before game time.
We had already gotten the spot ready on top of our of our old entertainment center for the new TV.
We had lugged the old dinosaur out to the curb in the hopes that someone would pick up the old TV which, by the way, still worked fine.  our hope was that it would
find a new home and give someone else some happy times.
I am happy to report that someone did, in fact, pick up the old TV.
Let me explain our entertainment center.  We purchased it when we moved into this house and once we got it to the basement man cave, we knew it was not ever coming out of there.
The only option we have is to chop it up and burn it in our fireplace, but we don't have an axe and that seems like such a big job.
It also stores so many things in its large drawers and cupboards, so where would I go with all those treasures?
It really is no problem to use it for our new TV.  We just filled the hole with our record player.
We did reminisce about our very first "entertainment center," which was made of three boards set up on cement bricks.  This shelf was with us in our first four homes and we still have the bricks in the garage.
That little entertainment center held our little record player and our 14 inch black and white TV.
Life was simpler then, but I digress.
Anyway, John brought the TV home.  I helped him get it set up and he turned it on.
It worked.
It did outsmart us in a few areas, but John persevered and by the time the Packers took the field, he had all the ins and outs of the smart TV figured out.
And to make the evening perfect, the Packers beat the Vikings in a sweet victory which I know John enjoyed on his new TV.

This is the man cave with the new TV.
I think it looks pretty good down there.
I especially love the knotty pine paneling which just screams my dad.  The basement is full of happy memories of him.  I think he would have loved this new TV.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Monkey Joe's yet again, Discovery World, and Watertown Halloween fun

I had last Thursday and Friday off.
It is teacher's convention, but I stopped going to those a few years ago.
It was the year that I sat in the most boring sessions and came to the realization that I already know all I need to know about teaching young children.
After 30 years in the field, I know what works and what doesn't work, so therefore I decided to stop attending these conferences.
A great benefit to not attending is that I get to spend these two days and the weekend with Tizita and Soliana doing fun things.
John was able to get these two days off, too, because at his new job, he actually gets vacation.
It seems like I had been planning what to do these days for such a long time.
John and I threw around many different ideas, but finally decided on a trip to Monkey Joe's in Appleton on Thursday, pizza at Glass Nickel in Oshkosh on Thursday night, Discovery Zone in Milwaukee on Friday. Halloween fun in Watertown on Saturday, and Kione (rock band) in church on Saturday night.  After all this fun stuff, we would return the girls to their home.
Now looking back it was the perfect plan, but why does the time have to go so quickly.
So much time to plan and then before we know it, it is over.
 Anyway, nothing we can do about that except enjoy the time together.
We got up to Oshkosh on Thursday in time for Courtney to teach Zumba and Paul to go to school.
We headed up to Monkey Joe's and spent four hours there.
Tiz was so cute, trying to help Soli do all the "big" stuff.   Soli had a great time trying but her little legs get tired quicker than Tiz's, so Soli and grandpa took a nap right at Monkey Joe's and Tiz found a friend to hang out with for the next hour.
 Here is Tiz helping Soli find her way around Monkey Joe's.
 I did have to give Soli a few pushes to get her up the rather steep steps on one of the slides.

 Lunch time!  Prices are good on the kid friendly food at Monkey Joe's.

And here are one tired out Grandpa and Soli.
John was not the only many sleeping in this parent lounge area, either.
There was a young dad sleeping, too.
It was pretty funny.
Note to self:  Except for the fight that broke out in the Monkey Joe's in Waukesha, I actually liked the lay out at that one better.
Second note to self:  Going to Monkey Joe's less than two months apart is not recommended.  A visit once or twice a year would suffice.
Third note to self:  Price is great.  Where else can you kill four hours and not spend a ton of money.
We enjoyed Glass Nickel with Courtney, Paul, and the girls.  We all went to bed early so we could be ready for the trip to Discovery Zone on Friday.
We left Oshkosh at about 8:30.
Got to the museum around ten.
Except for the fact that every middle school in the area was there on a field trip, we did have fun.
 There is a great aquarium in the Discovery Zone.
Here the girls are touching sting rays.
They did get a bit wet leaning over the touch tank, but it was worth it to touch the rays.
 Lots of cool guitars in the museum.
 Of course, we had to make the souvenir penny in the smashing penny machine.
 We are not exactly sure what the purpose of this thing was, but it was fun to sit in it and look out the window.  I am guessing it was some kind of echo chamber.
And, no, I could not find a sign explaining it.
 This was the way a bee sees things.  These mirrors all turned and no where did it say, "don't touch them,"  Soli pulled one off while turning it, but a nice museum man came and put it back on and assured us it happens all the time.
 Tiz enjoyed all the things to do in the guitar area.  Here she is watching her fingers strum the strings with a magnifier.
 Lunch was overpriced kid friendly food.
Twice as much as the same food cost at Monkey Joe's.
 Tiz and another little girl working the gerbil wheel to make energy to fill up a water tower which they did.
 I explained what a telephone booth was.
 Soli and I sang into a homemade microphone.
 Here Grandpa and the girls are trying to make a big fan go around with their foot power.  It was hard work.
 There is a great ship in one area.
Tiz enjoyed exploring the ship over and over again.
 Here Tiz is using a pulley system to give her sister a ride up in a chair.
Back to the Aquarium area.
Here Tiz is checking out the seahorses.
There was also an area where there were fish under your feet and above your head.  It was very cool.
Tiz loved her time at Discovery World, Soli said, "again," to Monkey Joe's but not to Discovery Zone.
Notes to self:  Do not go on a weekday during the school year, too many school groups who have no manners.
Take our own lunches next time.
Note to Discovery Zone:  Put things with knobs and handles a little lower.  Even Tiz could not reach a lot of things without a lift.
Label things that kids should not touch because they will touch everything if it doesn't say, "Don't touch."
All in all a good place to visit and we all did have a fun time.
Friday night we watched Disney and ate sweets.
On Saturday we checked out some of the downtown Watertown Halloween festivities.
 We started with a story time at the Library.
I did not know it was going to be bilingual and I don't think Tiz or Soli enjoyed that part of it very much.
The story lady was very heavily accented and hard to understand.
 After the story we went outside to watch a show with a horse.
Our friends, Mark and Mary Scherer were part of the show and it was good.
Learned a bit about horses and laughed at the jokes.
 We made a cute little owl at Rock River Pizza Co. and then we had lunch there.
Both girls ate very well and John and I enjoyed one of their yummy pizzas.

 We frosted and decorated little pumpkin cakes at the bakery.
 Both girls had their faces painted, too.
Here is Soli just before she enjoyed her little cake.
We took the girls home after our church service Saturday night.
It was a wonderful three days with them and like I said before, it all went to fast.
Such great memories to treasure with these two little treasures!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Alpha Resource Center's Silent Auction and Trivia Night = A Fun, Successful Evening

Five years ago, our friends, Ruth and Larry Parker invited us to join them at a Silent Auction/dinner to support the Alpha Pregnancy Center here in Watertown.
We said, "Yes," not completely knowing what was in store for us.
We did know that we could get on board with supporting an organization that not only supports young pregnant women, but teaches them about Jesus along the way.
The night was a huge success.
We found out that we are very competitive bidders and went after many items.
We spent over $300.00 that first night and it felt good.
A few things have changed over the years.
The location of the event has been moved.
The name of the organization has been changed to Alpha Resource Center.
Trivia has been added to the night's activities.
The dinner has been changed to appetizers.
But the main purpose remains the same, to help support this worthy cause.
We got there just as the doors opened so I could really stay on top of the bidding.
I immediately found numerous items on which to bid.
It is a full time job to keep on top of it.
There was one table of assorted purses.  Each purse contained either a gift card from a local business for at least $25.00 except for one purse that would  hold a one hundred dollar bill.
It was fun to watch everyone trying to decide which purse it could be.
At the end I won a little red sparkly purse.
It did not contain the money, but I did receive a gift card to a local health store.
Winners all around.
It felt like being on "Let's Make a Deal."
 John and I were especially happy with an annual family pass to the Milwaukee Art Museum which we bid on and got for much less than the actual value.
We also won some wine and cheese baskets, a gift card from my mom's hair salon which we will give her for her birthday in a few weeks, a movie basket with gift cards and treats, and a gift card to a local winery in Lake Mills.
It was a great auction and we feel like we got many good deals all while supporting a great cause.
The trivia game was much more difficult this year, but our table of eight came in fifth our of twenty teams.
Not too bad of a showing for us.
We have all decided we will brush up on our trivia for next year' event.
Not only do I love being able to support a cause that is near and dear to my heart at this event, but I love spending time with the people there.
It is a refreshing night out with very caring, fun people.
Looking forward to many more years of trivia with our team:  Larry, Ruth, Dee, Mark, Jim and Mary.
Good times.
May God truly bless the efforts of this evening and the efforts of all those involved with the Alpha Resource Center.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Our First Grandparent's Day at St. John's = A Huge Success

When we started making plans for our first ever grandparent's day at St. John's we had no idea how successful it was going to be.
What a joy to see all those grandparents coming to share a morning of worship, singing, snacking, stories, and crafting with their precious little ones.
Grandparents come with a whole different agenda than the one with which parents come to these events.
Grandparents have no judgment or competition.
It is all about fun with their little one.
I know this from being a grandparent.
Parenting is hard work, grandparenting is the reward for that hard work.
It is pure fun and happiness.
I loved seeing all the grandparents with their little ones just enjoying all the activities and watching the world revolve around their grandchildren.
Such pride, such joy, such blessings.
We started our day with a chapel service.
How wonderful to be able to share God's Word with your grandchildren.

 After chapel, everyone went over to the school cafeteria for some treats and talking.

 We had a sing along which featured songs that grandparents might remember from their childhood days.
By the loud voices and happy faces, I would say it was enjoyed by all.
We had a story about a scarecrow and ended our fun morning with everyone making a scarecrow.
What fun it was to watch the grandpas cutting with such precision and care, the grandmas gluing with such love and all while chatting with their little ones.
I think we all have an inner child just waiting to come out and cut, color, and glue.
This gave these grandparents permission to do so.

The scarecrows turned out as unique and creative as each of our children at St. John's.
It was such a wonderful morning that we are already making plans for the next annual Grandparent's Day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's Beginning to look a lot like Fall

After a beautiful run of nice fall weather, the tides are turning.
There is a coolness in the air letting us know that winter is just around the corner.
On Saturday, John dug everything out of our garden.
My bumper crop of sunflowers are now down.
The last of the cucumbers and tomatoes have been picked and the plants are gone.
It was a good year for the garden.
John also put away the birdbath, birdhouses, and lawn furniture.
That is always a bittersweet time for me since it seems like just yesterday that we were bringing all of it out in anticipation of the summer.
Summer came and went as it always does.
The Seasons clock keeps ticking and as much as I am dreading it, winter will arrive whether I want it or not.
The older I get, the more I dislike winter.
It is not so much the snow, but the cold temps that bother me the most.
Each year, I say I am going to embrace the winter and get as much enjoyment out of it as I possibly can, but I am not going to kid myself with that silliness this  year.
I will just go from car to school to car to home and look forward to curling up with a warm blanket on those cold evenings.
It is coming, I cannot stop it.
I am not ready or excited.
I do know that when my kids see those first flurries out of our classroom window, their excited squeals will more than likely rub off on me, at least for a moment or two.
They are young, they don't know what those flurries actually mean.
They will learn as they get older just like I did!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pumpkin Patch Field Trip

It is that time of the year again for my annual trip to Ebert's Pumpkin Patch with my Preschoolers.
This year was a special year since I had Soliana along for her first field trip.
I love how excited the parents are for this trip, for most of them it is the first time their little ones are going on a field trip.  I actually think the parents are more excited than the kids.
I am usually so pleased with how well Ebert's does a field trip.  I have been going there with Preschoolers for more years than I care to remember and each year I end up saying, "Wow, that was the best trip yet!"
However this year, I cannot say that.
I was told by an employee of Ebert's that they had overbooked for the day of our trip.
Since I had secured my spot in July, I was well ahead of the crowd.
The whole trip seemed so rushed to me.
I hope the kids didn't feel it like I did.
We started with a hayride to the patch to choose our pumpkin.
There is a banjo player who sings a song with each child's name as we ride out there.
Well, she has to sing so quickly because she had to jump off of our wagon and unto another one to sing with them.
After the pumpkin picking, we heard a story.
Again, it was done very quickly and started before we were all seated,
Definitely not the quality of other years.
The craft was a fun one this year, the kids made the square pumpkin from the story they had just heard, but again, the instructions were given before everyone even had a seat and I felt like the kids hardly had time to create their pumpkin before it was time to move out so another group could get in.
I have an evaluation to fill out and I plan on letting them know how I felt about this so they will be careful not to overbook again.
Will it keep me away from Ebert's next year?
No, it won't.
Here are a few pictures from the trip.

No matter what happens at the pumpkin patch, the best part of the whole trip for the kids is always the bus ride!
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