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Archive for the ‘J’ Category

Well, here we are at the very end of our second Alphabet Summer. First Day of School’s Eve is filled with lots of mixed emotions. No, that’s not true. I actually feel like rejoicing and there’s no other emotion present at the moment.

Forget about the separation anxiety we both had when she started kindergarten and the residual that followed it in first grade, now, it’s just good old fashioned happiness that I will have a wee bit of spare time to take a shower without someone barging into the bathroom to tell me something I didn’t want to know and/or something I really should know, like what her baby sister is doing with my sewing thread all over the dining room floor.

I will miss the long summer days filled with sunshine and fun time, but right now, with the air turning crisp, I’ve got fall fever and can’t wait for the shorter days, longer nights, warmer clothes, and trips to the apple orchard.

As a career counselor I worked at a few different universities and I never got tired of that “new dormitory smell”. It always brought back nostalgic feelings and memories of when I first started college. I don’t quite know how to explain that one but it’s similar to the excitement I feel when it’s time to do our back to school shopping. A fresh new year to learn and grow. Brand new notebooks with blank pages to write and draw upon. Anything can happen and it usually does.

So, we officially ended Alphabet Summer today with the letter UUnfortunately, my elder daughter was pretty sick for a few days, we thought it was a UTI that unfolded itself after holding the urge to urinate (DANG! I am on a roll tonight!)  too long and avoiding the BFI-atmospheres at the State Fair, but the test results came back negative and so the cause of her symptoms is still uknown. So we rested most of the day after suffering the ill effects of pain and other yucky symptoms that typically occur with such an infection. Not the best way to end the summer but it could worse.

While we finally have a finished garage and green grass; the house is a disaster and I’m excited to have a little down time to put things back into some order without having a certain seven-year-old tornado following right behind me and undoing everything. At least the 22 month old hurricane gives me a break when she takes a nap.

On Saturday night, our favorite GUY, Daddy suggested a place he’s been trying to get his girls to go to all summer called The Galaxy Drive In.  We finally said yes because the stars aligned (get it? an outer space joke?) and we were on the letter “G” of course.  It was an absolutely gorgeous night. After we ordered, we spotted a jukebox which technically, we were still celebrating the letter “J” so I had to include that here.  I felt a little old as I had to explain to my little girl who was born in the 21st not the 20th century what a jukebox was and what a “vinyl record” was and had a fun discussion with Daddy about how the Country Kitchen restuarants we used to go to had little personal jukeboxes at each booth. Those were the days!


Maddie got turned into a downright goofy goof ball and let me take a bunch of pictures of her with various sculptures:

We also had a great time playing games in the lawn including tic tac toe, checkers, and stress.  It really inspired me to want to install a checker board in our backyard, that way, we’d never have to mow back there again because the garage ate up more than half of our little city yard.

On Wednesday, we had gave our last storytime at Bellies to Babies and I got to shop the whole time.  We had only one audience member, the store owner’s son.  I turned the storytelling duties over to Maddie and I checked out the 2T rack of clothes for the baby who is rapidly growing into a toddler.

Later in the day we backed up the summer a bit and focused on one outing that we’ve been yearning to do for over two years now. We toured the oldest house in our little city called The Barthlemeow House which is less than a mile from our house and we pass it nearly every day on our way to and from various errands around town.  It has very limited hours so it’s been difficult to find a time to visit.  I spotted the OPEN sign on Wednesday morning and decided, that’s it, we’re going to do this thing right now. So we jumped on our bikes and headed out.

We stopped briefly at Maddie’s friend Elia’s house to pick up a few stuffed animals that were left behind earlier and they were game for joining us. So we stuck the littles: Angie and Michelle in the blue Burley and biked over to our local history center.  A gal named Jodi was very kind and generous with her time and gave us a great tour of this house that dates back to 1864.

The girls learned about all kinds of interesting things including something that is just plain yucky to me: hair art. I had no idea about this until the tour but women used to collect their hair from their hair brushes and store them in little ceramic pots, then they would wind up the various hairs into different shapes and make art work with them, frame and hang them up on the wall. That’s just gross. Here’s a picture, just for you, dear reader:


After the tour, Maddie headed straight to the modern bathrooms with running water from a sink and a flushing toilet, we couldn’t quite talk her into using the chamber pot.  Then we headed off to our favorite little library called Augsburg and tipped our hat off to last week by running into school friends Kayla and Karolina. Of course, we had to stop at the park located next door where the girls could have played all day if someone hadn’t needed a nap so much.

Not only are we sad about the end of summer and going back to school, we are downright grumpy that we had to say goodbye to our favorite neighbors the Gilchrist family who just moved last week.  We all got a bit giddy when they stopped over on Wednesday night after their move for a little chat. I gave little Ella a dress that matched Angie’s that I had made last spring to sell at Bellies to Babies.  The girls looked really cute dressed all matchy matchy and I think it’s hilarious how different in size they are. Despite the fact that she is only six months older than Angie, Ella looks like a giant next to my little munchkin. I guess this one is very likely to take after my side of the family.

Daddy took Maddie to the State Fair and all I can say to that is “Yippee!” because I was too tired to trek around the place with a bunch of crazy Minnesotans.  Daddy went on the Tilt a Whirl with his girl and just about yacked.

I’m having a really hard time with the letter “U” this week.  I guess last week’s umbrella purchase is going to have to do. Oh, I know, I’ve been doing U-turns all over the place because of all the construction going on around town.  The city has some major gas line replacement and repair work (as I’ve mentioned earlier) going on and it feels like the whole city is torn apart.  Better than the alternative I suppose, letting everything rot and blow up. Now, that would be yucky! Speaking of yucky, I finally got around to bringing all of our out dated and unused (woo hoo! there’s another “U”, that rhymes) to our local hazardous waste place. I tried to do this back during “T” for toxic week and “H” for hazardous” but it never happened.  I got rid of my 1999 computer ($600, there it goes, boom on a huge pile of other old electronic crap, geez), spray cans, paint cans and household cleaners that others may have a better use for.  It felt really good just to get rid of all that and put it in the hands of people who can find someone else to reuse them or deal with them in a way that isn’t harmful to our water systems. I also started gathering up items for a fall garage sale.

On Friday, our friend Julie and her daughter Bridget and Nick invited us to meet their Grandma Jana at her house and to take a tour of the wonderful miniature worlds she has created. This woman is brilliant and has the most beautiful and engaging creations I have seen.  Julie and I struggled to figure out how we could fit this little venture into the letters for the week and I started to compromise by going back a week to J for Jana and Julie (who also happens to have a sister named Joan and a brother named Jeff – jeez!). But it finally hit me tonight….the word that fits best is GIANT! These miniatrue worlds, some of them are on a 1/4 inch scale make us feel like giants. I always say, we can always find a word to fit the letter of the week and if we can’t, we make it up! I tried to take as many photos as I could of her lovely creations, but I have to admit, my pictures really do no justice to her work.

We spent Saturday with Elia and Michelle while their dad worked at the Renaissance Festival and their mom worked at the hospital.  I found a very uncostly way to get our ice cream fix for this final week by gathering up all the kid’s meal custard coupons for Culvers (meant to go there for “C” week but we had already gone to Cone Brothers that week).  Our school often has fundraisers at Culvers but we don’t eat the custard because it’s just too much for all of us.   So we got free custard from Culvers and hit our last park of the summer by going to Garfield Park which was kinda gross.  There were beer cans and graffitti, old equipment, and worst of all, burs everywhere that kept getting stuck to our clothes, socks, shoes, and even skin. YUCK!  We didn’t stay there long.

On Sunday we celebrated my dad’s 69th birthday. My aunt and uncle from Washington were in town to celebrate the life of my uncle’s mother who passed away on Wednesday.  She was a beautiful and very spiritual woman named Jan.  Their three sons joined them. It was fun to see them as it had been many years since I saw them last. They played a great game of  soccer. I gave my dad a green poncho that I got for free at Menard’s last week, he loves it when I give him thoughtful yet frugal gifts..who wouldn’t want or need a rain poncho?

We finished our second year of counting yellow cars and made it to 262.  Last year we counted 363.  Either there aren’t as many yellow cars on the road this year or we’re driving less.  I’m guessing that we drove a lot less this summer because we did less field trips and focused on our craft camps at home instead.  I also tried to bike more but got thrown for a loop by having my bike in the garage for nearly two months.

Last year we celebrated the letters G, U, and Y by making a gnome home, gettin’ new glowing goggles, singing the Goodnight Song, spending LOTS of time pushing the baby around in the umbrella stroller, singing our song about unconditional love, and counting yellow cars and playing with yo-yos.

The next thing on my list is to have a garage sale and write a lot of letters of gratitude to all the wonderful individuals who participated in Alphabet Summer.  Thank YoU for reading about our alphabet adventures this summer!

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The end of summer is quickly approaching and this week in particular flew by.   We kicked off the week by inviting our cousin Katie (who will be going into 3rd grade although she is just six weeks older than Maddie, that’s what you get when you have an August and a September birthday!) over for a sleepover.  She was a total angel and even played “First Communion” to get Maddie excited for her upcoming sacrament.  We treated Katie and ourselves to a little Jamba Juice action then walked around Centennial Lakes and jumped ahead to next week when we sat in the Gazebo.  Katie in particular really liked the place and said she enjoyed how calm it was with the classical music playing and thanked us for taking her there, like I said, a real angel. However, she is an angel who sleeps like nobody’s business.  The morning after the sleepover we were scheduled to have a new gas line put in to replace our old one and they moved the gas meter from inside the house to outside (oh the joy of living in an old house!).  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when they pulled the tractor right into my precious green grass and tore it right up. I had been seeding and watering the lawn for at least five week.  The words I used under my breath were not in the least bit kind. I am glad that I kept them to myself and didn’t say them aloud given the fact that these men were working with our gas line!!!!

Back to Katie, the kid slept so hard that she didn’t even awake to the jack hammering right outside the window.  I tried to wake her up so I could bring the kids to Perkins for breakfast. Even though they said the work was perfectly safe, I just thought I’d feel better not being there, what with at least three gas related explosions within 5 miles of our house over the past two years and all….but Katie slept and there were no problem. I guess the angels heard my prayers and protected us that and we had a really competent crew doing the work. Maybe they were the angels, you never know about these things.

I canceled next week’s craft camp because it was scheduled during our school orientation time so this week’s was the very last craft camp of 2011.  We had only 2 kids and 1 helper show up, most folks were AWOL at the State Fair which was fine by me because it was kind of nice to have it be a low key event.The kids worked on kindness coins based on our trip to Tucson, Arizona.  While we were visiting my Uncle Tom at his darling ooo! store right next to the University of Arizona, we stumbled upon this wonderful little courtyard with a blue water fountain and painting stations set up for anyone passing by to paint bells for wind chimes that are handed out every April to unsuspecting folks around town.  The idea is to pay homage to a little boy named Ben who died at a very young age.  The organization is called Ben’s Bells.  If you are the recipient of such a kind act you are simply asked to spread as much kindness as you possibly can.  Ben’s Bells also sells ceramic “Kindness Coins” which you’re supposed to spend when you see someone doing something kind. You give them the coin and tell them that you saw them doing something kind and now it’s there turn to pass it on when they see someone doing something kind.

Using Pluffy clay, the kids rolled it out and used cookie cutters in the shape of a little flower or a heart then we pushed the end of a straw into the middle of it to give it a hole to place a ribbon to connect a piece of paper that said, “I saw you do something kind. Please pass this coin on when you see someone do something kind.”  Then at the bottom of the paper was a quote like this one:  “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” ~James Matthew Barrie and this blog address. I baked the shapes for 15 minutes at 250 degrees and then they painted them after they cooled.

While we waited for the coins to bake, we prepared for the Smiley Face party by filling dozens of yellow water balloons.  It was tricky to tie them off, but I finally got the hang of it.  It was a big watery mess and the kids loved it!

The girls also worked on Goofy Glittery Glasses to honor next week’s letter “G”.  This craft was fun to do but was a total flop and the glasses didn’t work to well other than everyone looked like Elton John.

We made HUGE progress this week on ALL of our outdoor projects and I’m filled with joy to announce that we are all done with the garage and driveway as it was approved by the city inspector.  The porchio (patio + porch: thanks Jen B. for the name) was finished thanks in great part to all of the help of neighbor boy Brandon and our buddy Fletcher who both had previous experience with patio pavers.  Our friend Aly came over and stained the inside of the swing set and kept an eye on the baby while I ran a few errands.  I thanked the kids by buying them all lunch from Jimmy Johns.

One of my errands was to return eight pieces of particle boards to Menard’s. Speaking of Menard’s I made great friends with Ashinta at the Customer Service return desk, Justin, and Kevin who helped me haul all the crap I bought and returned.  I must have looked like a real jack ass carrying them in the van. Every time I stopped they pushed the back door open. I could only drive 15 miles an hour and had to cling to the stupid OSB.  Luckily I was able to take side streets nearly the who way there and only had to stop five times to push it back in. Of course, I found our rope and bungie cords later in the week in the basement where many of the contents of our garage have been stored all summer.

Speaking of storage, we finally moved all of our junk out of our neighbor Katie’s garage. She and her husband Paul were so kind to allow us to put so much of our crap in their garage nearly all summer long.  It’s been really nice to finally have all of our stuff in our own garage and to finally start biking around town.  The baby finally got to use her little red Radio Flyer bike that we gave her for Christmas.  She loves it and loves to zip up and down the driveway.

We finally made it to Sebastian Joe’s which is one of my favorite ice cream places.  I wanted to go during our “S” week but never got a chance. We went to the Linden Hills location and despite her lactose sensitivity, I gave in and let the baby eat a whole cone by herself.  The next day is never pretty but it was worth it in her eyes.  There was a lady sitting at the table next to us who looked at Angie and said, “She is doing justice to the ice cream cone, justice.”  I thought that was pretty funny.

After we finished our cones and hosed off the baby, we walked down to the Bibelot (where I used to sell my Meal Magnets) and Creative Kid’s Stuff in search of a new umbrella for those rainy days at the bus stop.  We found rainbow colored umbrellas (in honor of next week…at the end Alphabet Summer the whole thing turns into a big mish mash of letters as we’re trying to get it all done kind of like the grand finale of a fireworks show).  So now we’re all set for those worm filled street days coming up.

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J is for Jellyfin

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J is for Jamba Juice

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J is for Jammy Party

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