Milwaukee Pt. 1

This past weekend we took our first family road trip to Milwaukee.  Since we can’t afford big expensive trips we decided it would be fun to take the boys to different stadiums to watch the Twins play.  So for the first one we picked Milwaukee because of the the retractable roof…in case of rain.

We left on Friday morning…not as early as intended but we got off about 8 am.  According to MapQuest it was a 6 hour drive.  We had loaded up the trunk with all of our bags and packed a box of things for the kids to do.  We also brought along the DVD player to keep the kids busy…which lead to our first stop.  Just outside of Owatonna Mike asked the kids what movies they were going to watch…CRAP, forgot the movies!  My brain jumped to having to go buy a movie at Target but my smart husband suggested stopping at Redbox and getting a few movies.  DUH!  So that is what we did and saved ourselves quite a few bucks.

Once we got back on the road and the kids got all hooked up things went smoothly.

 

We had packed a picnic lunch and stopped at a rest stop a little while into Wisconsin.  That was a quick stop and we were back on the road.  We got to the hotel by early afternoon and the kids were very excited to see that our room looked out over the waterpark.  Of course they couldn’t wait to get their trunks on and go swimming.  So we headed down to the waterpark for a little while so they could run off some steam.

After the waterpark we were all hungry so I tried to decide where to eat.  No one wanted anything specific until I decided I wanted a BBQ pulled pork sandwich.  I looked through the city guide provided by the hotel and found a place that sounded good.  I looked it up and found out they had a pulled pork sandwich on the menu.  Chancery’s Pub was delicious and we would highly recommend it.  The kids were especially excited to find out they have a ‘build your own’ sundae for kids.  Comes complete with cups of sprinkles, gummy bears, chocolate, caramel and crushed m&ms along with the ice cream that is topped with whipped cream and a cherry.  I, of course, had to try it too so I snuck a couple bites of the kids’.  Look at these babies…makes me reminise about the times we ate at Golden Corral when I was a kid.

We had no definite plans for the night after supper so we decided to find a theater and take the kids to see Cars 2.  We were lucky enough to find one close to our hotel and it actually wasn’t packed as I had expected.  I wasn’t too impressed with the movie due to all the ‘shoot em up’ stuff in the movie but the kids enjoyed it!

After the movie we headed back to the hotel and off to bed.  As we laid down to sleep we all realized it was kind of hot in the room.  We tried to no avail to turn on the air conditioner.  I suggested we call down for a fan and it would have helped the terrible night’s sleep but we didn’t do it and were all up and down all night.  In the morning we decided to call the front desk and were informed that there is a slot for the key card that you must leave the key in in order to run the air.  It is a way for the hotel to save energy which I think is great but it would have been helpful to have a sign by the slot in the room so people know what to do!  I did see a sign at the front desk about it but didn’t really read it or pay attention.  Guess we know for future….

To be continued…

Camping

For some people camping is not their idea of rest and relaxation.  However it is mine!  It takes me away from our home which I am in all the time, constantly seeing that ‘to-do’ list that needs my attention.  It makes our family connect like we don’t when our lives are so busy and we are running in different directions all the time.  It forces my kids to play games they normally wouldn’t, play outside instead of playing the Wii, and ride bikes.

This is the camper that we use.  Mid-70s version of the Mallard brand camper.  Complete with 70s colors on the cushions of the seats/bed.  This is the camper that my dad has had as long as I remember.  It is the one that I grew up in and have made lots of memories in it.  Now my kids and husband have been lucky enough to make more memories with me as we camp a few times a year and sleep in this camper.

The camper isn’t ideal as far as room for all of us to sleep where we’d like, for instance Mike sleeps by himself on one of the beds as the biggest bed just isn’t big enough for the two of us and he winds up tossing and turning all night keeping us both up even with me hugging the wall as much as possible;)  I usually sleep with one of the kids on the ‘big’ bed and the other sleeps on the small bed next to me.  It works for us right now.

Mike and I just started talking about getting something a little bigger in the next year or so…whenever we find the right deal.  It would be nice to have our very own functioning bathroom and not have to borrow or hump it to the campground bathrooms.  But then it is camping and it isn’t that big of deal!

So do you camp?  How do you relax?

Light Bulbs

We’ve all seen them and heard all the hype.  Mike and I decided to switch over to these bulbs a few years back to see if they really would save us money.  While it is hard to say if they save us energy money monthly and sometimes the bulbs are not as bright until they warm up but we like them.

Today one of the bulbs in our kitchen went out.  When we started using these bulbs we decided to write the date we installed them on the bulb…partly because they have a warranty of some sort on the package.  The one that I changed today was one of the original bulbs we put in place.  The date on it is 1/24/07!  The bulb has lasted us nearly 4 and a half years!  I am super amazed.

I know for sure that these bulbs are saving us money even though they cost a bit more up front!

RECIPE: Rhubarb Jam

When it comes to summer one of my favorite things is rhubarb.  It isn’t something we get to have year-round so it is a special treat.  I have many recipes for rhubarb and get some from this website dedicated to rhubarb.

This recipe is from my grandma who is one of the best cooks I know!   It is super simple and so delicious!

Rhubarb Jam

5 c. Rhubarb, chopped

3 c. Sugar

1 small box jello (strawberry or raspberry)

1.  Combine rhubarb and sugar.  Let it sit until it ‘juices’ up.

2.  Cook on med-lo heat until rhubarb is soft.  Add jello.

3.  Let cool, then transfer to jars.  Let jars stand overnight to set up.  Then top with tissue paper dipped in vinegar to preserve.

Don’t worry if one batch is ‘runny’ and one gets super thick…happens to me all the time!SUPER simple!  ENJOY!

Butterflies

I saw a yellow butterfly like the one in the picture today…

I read somewhere a long time ago that butterflies are people in heaven coming back to visit.  Every summer since we moved into this house 6 years ago, we have had a yellow butterfly…like the one in the picture above…come to visit our backyard.  The first year Blake wasn’t even two (that’s my little buddy in the picture) and was chasing that butterfly all over the backyard.  It made me chuckle to think that it might be Mike’s dad coming to visit and playing tricks on Blake.  He’d get just close enough to touch it and the butterfly would take off.  So every year when this butterfly comes to visit I know it’s grandpa Dean saying hello.  It makes me smile every time I see one fluttering around the yard!

Peonies

This is my second favorite spring time smell!  I just LOVE peonies.  Unfortunately I don’t have any peony bushes so I stole these from the neighbors but they smell so good and are beautiful on my table!

Memorial Weekend

I know this is overdue but I still had to write about it.  It was quite a weekend.  Lots of family time, some minor ‘surgery’ and some life saving!

We started the weekend by taking the kids to stay with Grandpa Bruce and Grandma Patty so that we could go see Hangover 2.  TOTALLY worth it.  That movie is great.  As good as the first one.  Sometimes with sequels it is hard because the first was so good but let me say I laughed just as hard even though it was basically a copy of the storyline from the first movie which made it kind of predictable.  After the movie we met some friends for drinks.  It was very nice to come home to an empty house and get to sleep in!

Saturday morning we got up and got a few things done around the house and packed up the truck for the weekend ‘camping’ at my dad’s farm.  The weather wasn’t spectacular but it was good enough that we could be outside and got to have a fire.  At nap time we laid the kids down in the camper and as I was giving Blake a kiss he said to me that the bump on his head (which he had complained about earlier in the week but I never found anything) still hurt and moved!  I was confused so I examined it and found TWO ticks attached to his head along with dried blood from hundreds of bites from them.  One of the ticks had begun to suck his blood and was swollen up.  The other was attached but not swollen.  I kinda freaked because those are one ‘bug’ that I can’t handle!  We ran to the house to get them out.  Not knowing what to do to get them out without leaving the head in we tried vaseline which grandma Patty thought would smother them and make them back out…it didn’t work.  She called her dad who lives in an area with lots of ticks and he said to use alcohol to get them to back out.  It kinda worked but it still involved a lot of work to get them to come out.  The swollen one was pretty attached (if that is the right word) and hurt when we pulled it out.  I felt bad for the kid but knew it had to come out!  YUCK!  After that excitement our kids did not sleep, of course:)

The rest of Saturday was spent outside.  We had a fire, watched my brothers act like children and shoot a potato gun and made some smore’s before putting the kids to bed.  Then the adults sat around the fire and b.s.’d until late.  It was very nice to sit around and just be a family.  We don’t get to do that very often.

Sunday was not such great weather and we spent much of it inside.  The kids all got along well and having ‘new’ toys they don’t get to play with often helped them stay busy.

Monday morning we pretty much just vegged inside.  The kids watched some cartoons and I caught this cute moment with my nephew and Avery watching cartoons together.

We hung around until after lunch and then packed up the truck and went home.  On our way home we encountered a momma dear crossing the road with one of her babies (there was another in the ditch).  We stopped the truck to let them cross.  The momma kept going to distract us from the babies but the baby just stood in the road.  I couldn’t just leave it there so I got out to shoo it out of the road and into the ditch with its twin who was crying for someone to come be with it.  The baby didn’t want to go to the ditch..poor thing was probably just too scared.  So I picked it up and carried it to the side of the road hoping it would go down the ditch by the twin.  No such luck.  With another car coming Mike got out and carried it into the ditch with its twin and they both laid down.  I pray the momma came back for them but everyone we talked to seemed to believe that she would.  They were so adorable and had to be very new.  The baby was not even up to my knee and couldn’t have weighed more than 10 lbs.

After that excitement we brought the kids home so they could have a nap.  Then we took a trip to the cemetary to visit Mike’s dad’s grave and went out for supper at The Lake’s in Lake Crystal.  Overall it was a very relaxing weekend!

So that was our Memorial weekend.  How was yours?

 

Google Reader

I just finished reading through 133 new posts from 25 different blogs that I follow.  I used to try and go to each one every day to see if there was something new.  It ended up taking me forever!  Then a couple friends introduced me to Google Reader.  It is a feed that keeps tracks of all your favorite blogs for you!  It only shows me when I have a new blog post to read and they all stay neat and nice in one spot for when I have the time to read them.  Mine shows up on my home page on igoogle.com and it is right there everytime I open the internet.

If you don’t us a ‘reader’ I highly suggest it.  I know there are other ‘readers’ out there but I strongly urge you to find one that works for you!  It will save you so much time!