Tag Archive: fun

Keep Wearing the Hat

So this past weekend, we put on our hats. We marched in our cities, and big towns, and small towns, and on a boat. We held all sorts of signs letting people know that women’s rights are human rights.

But the days following has seen plenty of blow back.

“Why are these women marching?”

“I have plenty of rights.”

“Those hats look stupid, take them off.”

“After marching, the ladies were home in time to make supper.”

“Why don’t they just give the money it cost to go to the march to a charity?”

Don’t get discouraged. Saturday was a great and terrible day. I was amazed by all who showed up to protest, to make our voices heard. But I was saddened that we still need to do this, tell people that women have rights and deserve rights. Women is our country do not deserve to be beaten by significant others. Women in other countries deserve to move freely, go to school, and receive proper medical care.

However, if you are reading all of the stories and some fighting within march participants, don’t give up. This is only the beginning and the start can be rough. Now is the time when we congeal and find our collective voice.  An article in USA today gives some ideas on what to do next.

I like this because we need to have a direction for our anger and frustration. We need to be focused. So let me add my list to what we can do until the next march in April.

  1. pussy-hatContinue to wear the hat. Yes, it is awkward and not in your usual color.                                                                                                                   So what!                                                                                                                Someone made that hat for you. It may not have taken a lot of time on their part but wear it with pride. Until you put away winter stuff, wear your hat wherever you go. Bring it our again in the fall. You are sending a signal to others who wanted to go and couldn’t. You are that safe person they can talk to. And when the haters come to yell at you, don’t yell back, don’t swear at them. Tell them you believe what you believe and move on.
  2. Put your senators and representative on speed dial on your cell phone. Call them daily or weekly, especially when an issue you cherish is on the line.
  3. volunteer-graphicPick an issue and work for it. Maybe it is Standing Rock or Planned Parenthood or Immigration Rights. Find one that speaks to your interests and passions. Then do the hard part and give them money and/or your time – every month.
  4. Build your community. Volunteer at a food pantry or mentor program or youth program. Be a coach or a helper for the Girl Scouts or tutor school children or help seniors in your neighborhood. It can be something short and sweet or a longer commitment but do something that makes you feel better about where you live. Grab some friends to join you in this endeavor.
  5. Help get people out for the vote. If you know someone who is not registered but wants to vote, take them to get the paperwork completed. If someone you know had issues with their registration, help them get it sorted now so they can vote in upcoming primaries. Voters need to develop a pattern of voting and by taking care of that now, those votes will matter more next time.  Imagine if each of us helped one person to have the right to vote.
  6. iPhone crass

    Picture by Crass

    Plan one day a week to be totally offline. No social media, no phone games, no texting or e-mail (maybe just reduce this last one to the most important stuff.) Use this time to relax, sleep late, walk the dog, or clean your home.

  7. Lastly, plan one day a week to have fun. You can do this on the same day you go offline. Plan a visit with friends. Take in a meal or go to a museum or the library or a long walk in a state park. Throw a pot luck game night. You need to do this to re-charge and take care of yourself. After all, if you spend all your time being earnest, you become of bit dull and overbearing to your friends.

I know some of you are frustrated. I know some of you are feeling disheartened. Maybe this list is overwhelming. Start with baby steps by starting with the hat. Every week add one of the steps until you have all of them. Soon, you will know that you are doing something – a lot of somethings – to improve your immediate world and the bigger issues.

Just remember to be kind, to make your message without swearing, without profanity, without sexual innuendo. We don’t need to be violent or destroy property.  We are doing something infinitely much scarier.

We are speaking up, together.



Homage to Lego-My-Photo

My kids go with me on this blogging journey every time they ask to see the blog of  “the Lego Guy.” 

They love the pictures that Dan puts up of Lego figures in different scenes. They love the cool set-ups while I am impressed by the emotional depth you can get from a Lego figure. Then one day my youngest decided he wanted to do his own Lego scenes.

At first it was simply creating shapes. Then I told him he had to come up with a scene. Every day Sam makes something up using his limited collection. I know we have more figures but where they’ve disappeared to I have no idea. Luckily a friend of my 14 y.o. has been bringing over more people, including a pirate and an alien.

So here are a few of the scenes he has made that may not be up to the standard Dan has created; I am still trying to get Sam to see that we have to get really close up on his scenes. But it has gotten better.

First Picture taken by mom


Stormtrooper in peril, picture taken by mom


Alien on the Ship, picture taken by mom

Alien avoiding capture, picture by mom


Wait a minute, no one is in the ship! Picture taken by mom.

How are your kids/grandkids/niece-or-nephews being creative?

Just Who Can Hang With Harry?

Family Movie Night

Harry, Ron and Hermione in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, picture from IMDb.com

In case you have not been pay attention, next week is the opening of the latest Harry Potter movie as we move towards the end of the wizarding world saga.

Next Friday, or late Thursday night I assume, people who have followed this series will be standing in line waiting for the second to last movie. Finally we will be able to watch on the screen what we have tried to imagine in our feeble minds.

So the only thing left to do is have a Harry Potter


But wait — what about appropriate viewing ages? Good point and thanks for asking because not all Harry Potter movies are for all ages of the family members.  So let’s explore each movie for best viewing ages.


Hermione, Harry and Ron in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Picture from IMDb.com

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

In this movie we meet Harry and his friends, Hermione and Ron. We also see the beginnings of a great rivalry. Then there is Professor Snape whose dislike of Harry has everything to do with his father.

This introduction into the series is good for all members of the family. There are scary moments and scary creatures but those scenes are handled in a friendly manner that  makes them less scary.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Here Harry will learn one of his talents that is not popular with his school fellows. With the Chamber of Secrets opened, it is a race to save Hogwarts from a threat that could destroy the student population.

What is scary is a series of events leading to discover who opened the door to the chamber. This movie is still appropriate for early grade school students with some fun scenes dealing with magical creatures.

Gary Oldman as Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, IMDb com

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

A highly dangerous prisoner from the wizard’s prison has escaped and he may be coming for Harry. While third year students can go to Hogsmeade, the only completely wizarding village in Great Britain, Harry could not get permission from Uncle Vernon.

This movie shows the series starting on a path of darkness, with fear becoming a part of the norm. It is a film that is best suited for pre-teen kids and up as there are themes that need greater maturity to understand, such as long-held hatred and a need for revenge.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


I believe this chapter of the story is the last one that is suitable for anyone under the age of 13. There is a constant mood of fear as Harry competes in a contest to find the ultimate magical champion. We meet students from other schools as well as some very scary creatures. What Harry and Cedric face at the end of the movie can be terrifying to younger viewers under the age of ten.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Lord Voldemort, Picture from IMDb.com

These last two movies are best for the teens, especially those who have been reading the series all along. The fear level is intense in both movies as Lord Voldomort is back and ready to rule the world. The action scenes are potent and lives will be lost, people we have grown very attached. I do not recommend these two movies or the one coming out to younger viewers because I do not believe their maturity level can handle the fear, the sadness, the manic need to do something against the tide of evil.

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, picture from IMDb.com

If I am wrong, please let me know and I will include your opinion in next week’s column.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.  Become my friend on Facebook.

Scarecrows and Pumpkins

Last week, I had the pleasure of reading the delightful The Twelve Ways of Fall at Reinventing the We’ll.

Scarecrows at the campfire

So I was inspired to share the sightings of our town as we celebrated Pumpkin Fest. For the last few years we have been putting up scarecrows as a part of the festivities. The contest is judged on Friday and when the scarecrows come down on Sunday the fest is over for another year.

I got out and took a few pics of winning scarecrows, fun scarecrows and a few decorated pumpkins. And here they are:

Fancy Lady Scarecrow

Bank Scarecrows fishing for money

Florist Scarecrow

Leprechaun Scarecrow (because anyone can be Irish)

Scary Scarecrow

Painted Pumpkins (Look for the Green ribbon Winner)

Scarecrows Chatting

Scarecrows at Rest

Political Scarecrow

A Scarecrow Family (they had good seats for the parade)

Last but not least is the Scarecrow Family. So, how do you celebrate the Autumn Season?

TV Comfort with Glee

Family Movie Night

This past week was open house night at schools across the country. My friends on Facebook have all talked about meeting teachers and seeing classrooms.

Picture by K. Conners

I love this part of open house night. I like peeking into the rooms where my kids spend most of their day, seeing the special areas for reading. The science room had the new smart board which can print off what the teacher writes up on the board. Very cool.

Learning and finding out new factoids is one of my joys in life and I am glad that my kids get excited about doing that everyday. It is something that I wish more adults felt excited about as well. There is always something cool happening in the world and maybe knowing that little thing doesn’t change your whole world. But it can expand your thinking and how you do things on a daily basis.

That is what teachers do for our kids everyday.

I could talk about Mr. Holland’s Opus or Three Cheers for Miss Bishop or Goodbye, Mr. Chips or Music of The Heart as movies that honor and applaud teachers. I might have forgotten other good movies about teachers who strongly touch kids and make them better.

However, on September 14th the complete first season of Glee comes out on DVD and Blue Ray. Man oh man there is going to be a Glee marathon at my house. Every episode has a show stopping number that takes your breathe away while running chills up and down the spine.

When it comes to television that is like comfort foods, this is it for me this year. One of my favorite talk show hosts talked about how a Leave It to Beaver marathon on Nickelodeon got him through 9/11 in 2001. For me, it doesn’t get any better that seeing Sue Sylvester work her magic of evil and win or get burned. Jane Lynch deserves every accolade in the book for her performance.

But there is more than that to my love of Glee. I will admit to getting into the baby drama created by Finn, Puck and Quinn. I am glad that the focus is not always on Rachel and Mercedes knows how to push back. I am watching Kurt and hope that life doesn’t turn him into an evil manipulator. The love between Will and Emma is developing, showing the kids that life is messy no matter how old you are.

I am enjoying seeing Mike O’Malley and Charlotte Ross as parents who are making mistakes and trying to fix them. The guest stars have been great. Neil Patrick Harris, Molly Shannon, Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth were FAb-u-lous.

At this point I have two favorite perfomance pieces. Amber Riley was awesome when she performed “You’re Going to Love Me.” But the group performance that rocks beyond anything is “Bad Romance.” I can watch it over and over and over again.

Now the big sticking point in our house is just how appropriate is this show for kids under the age of 12 or 13. At first I let my 9-year-old watch it. But now, I am beginning to think that there is just enough adult drama and sexuality to ban it from that younger age group. Let me know what you think on the subject.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a suggestion below. Become my friend on Facebook.

Saying Goodbye to the Blue Belle

There are times in life when you have to say good-bye.

A recent family photo with the Blue Belle.

Our blue 2000 Chrysler Voyage Minivan finally died about a month and a half ago. The Blue Belle went with us hither and yon. To Texas, eastern Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri and all points in between.

She took many kids to youth group and on camping trips. There were times we had to over-stuff the poor girl. But she handled it all well.

We knew this day was coming though I lived in denial. My husband predicted her death for the last two years. I had told him to stop because she had surpassed so many of his deadlines. But, still, there were signs. A few years ago the hatchback stayed closed. Something was stuck deep inside and it was not going to open.

In the last year or so, the car would refuse to start, especially annoying when I had all of the kids with me. So I bought a wire brush to clean off the corrosion around the caps on the battery. That sort of helped.

When jumps from friendly strangers no longer worked, it was discovered a little shaking and pulling would click the starter back in place. Then magically, the car would start again. I even asked for a new starter for the girl as my anniversary gift.

But one morning, she wouldn’t start at all. The dashboard lights went on but nothing else happened. Shaking didn’t work. Jumping didn’t work. Nothing happened.

To be honest, we were wondering if one of the u-joints was going bad. There was problem with the brakes. It sounded as if new brake shoes were needed. Who knows if the various belts were about to go. We just knew it was time to say goodbye.

That's right! 324,007 Miles.

We had gotten a lot of use out of the Blue Belle despite her rusted-out parts and crack in the windshield.  We loved her even when the heat stopped working or when the air conditioning knew one temperature – artic cold.

We loved her for being able to hold all of our stuff.  For being able to separate kids and stop fights. Even when it was clear that her time was done, we still loved her. So we made the hard decision.

My husband took off the plates, I called the insurance company to take her off the rolls. We cleaned everything out, including the tollway transponder.  And then we called the Lung Association. They take cars for auction. The money goes to help their programs to help people stop smoking and kids with asthma.

Monday morning, before my husband drove me to work, we rolled it to the front parking space, made sure the paperwork and the keys were in the glove compartment. When my husband brought me home, it was gone. The oil stains are still there but the greatest car in our family has now gone.

Pint Size Perfection

Having one girl in a house of boys is a breathe of fresh air.

 Whereas the boys play yu-gi-oh, cars and beat each other up, my daughter wants to play dolls, games and cook. Granted she can get bossy with her friends and whining moves into an art form. Last week she performed her first “You guys hate me” melt-down because I demanded she come home at the time I set for her.

 Then there are those times are totally sweet and endearing, like last Friday night.

 One of our friends was having a birthday party for his wife, her fiftieth birthday, at a bowling alley on the near-north side of Chicago. The pizza was great with margarita, ham and pineapple, veggie and pepperoni varieties. The table also held chicken wings from mild to ‘OMG-my-lips-are-burning’ hot. The specialty drink was a pineapple-infused vodka.

Picture by Phae Wilk

 We were happy to be with friends, especially the ones whose daughter is about the same-age as our daughter. They get along well and as it turns out have the same taste in music. As the night went along, we found out there was going to be a karaoke time.

 Yes, I partook in the karaoke but only after sipping on that pineapple-infused vodka (tasty).

 Now the girls had been hanging out with us and looking at the karaoke list. disappointment came when the could not find Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana or Taylor Swift. I would say something else that was close but not for these girls.

 So people went up and down. Some of us were great, some bad and all having a great time. The girls, after a break in the game room, decided they were going to sing their song no matter what. However, they did not want anyone to see them. No way, no how. That is when A’s mom suggested they go under the table.

 We were sitting next to the stage. Plus, the microphone had a long wire. It could be done. All it took was someone getting the mic and handing it to them, which I did.

Picture by Monosodium

 The next thing that happens is the sound of girls singing but there are no bodies on the stage. They work through “You Belong With Me” in kid-flawless fashion and sound cute. Everyone else in the room is looking around to see where are the singers. A’s mom and I are pointing our fingers under the table and clued-in adults smile.

 Someone comes around with a camera and takes their picture but they keep going. Once the song is done, the girls hand back the mic and pretend it wasn’t them.

 We left soon after but not before our girl gives A a goodbye hug.

 We drove home admiring the city lights. By the time we had left downtown Chicago, the kids were leaning on each other passed out and the husband was sound asleep on my right.

It is what one calls perfection.

Picture by Mensatic


When summer hits, the one thing I can depend on is vacation bible school or VBS to the uninitiated.  

I may not be able to afford summer camp but my kids can go to one church for a week and have a boatload of fun. They make crafts, sing songs about Jesus, and have fun snacks.  

Some of my friends might think I am a little loony on this. After all, my kids will hit four VBS programs this summer. That can be a lot of schlepping around but it is totally worth it.  

They have been to programs with space themes, heroes, heroes and space, and, this week, a cowboy ranch. In years past VBS themes have hit the beach, gone camping and did a VBS in a neighbor’s backyard.  

Last week, the kids talked about how they had chicken nuggets at the church down the street from our house. There were cookies and other  

Picture by Xandert


goodies. Plus there were crafts and picture frames. One VBS made a door-hanger that had white board-like paper to leave notes.  

At our church, we put star sprinkles on small ice cream cups one night. Another night they had trail mix. There was a cheese stick combined with fruit. That was a mixed bag but for the most part, the kids loved it.  

Here is what I like. Many of these programs have a mission component. They are collecting money or canned goods or special items to give to people in our country or far away who need basic items we take for granted. Our church collects pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald Houses. It is important that my kids learn from me, and from others, that giving is the best thing that you can do.  

 Here is another thought. Who knew you could have fun at church? Many of us grew up being yelled for making noise or fidgeting or running in the church. But during VBS we encourage the kids to sing loudly, which they do and seldom on key. We encourage them to yell bible verses. Then they go outside to run, scream and yell a little more. Suddenly, being a Christian is not some solemn duty. You have real joy in your heart that is reflected in your actions.  

Furthermore, a church that has VBS tells me they are open to families. VBS may be a marketing ploy to get those families in the door. But you know if a church is right for you when you just listen and feel. That was one of the reasons we picked our church that we now attend. And it has nothing to do with other churches being bad because the other churches in our area have great pastors and good congregations. This one just struck our hearts in some way.  

Picture by Anita Patterson


One of those ways was welcoming our children who are rambunctious, to say the least. Many kids I know are that way. But by giving them the space to do that and teach them how to reflect of Jesus and their faith in him are two lessons churches should give. All of that can happen in VBS.  

So this week, as I send my kids to their fourth VBS program of the summer at the Baptist church, I know that they are having fun as well as learning lessons about faith.  

I wonder what crafts they will bring home this week…