Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fun with PVC pipe:

Found this site and I think the boys are going to LOVE making these:

Marshmallow launcher: we had a BLAST making these last spring....I will have to pull out all the PVC pieces and do it again this year!

Laddar Golf: The kids loved this sure there are no overhead wires that the bolos can get caught in!

Lots of cool things, including furniture to make with PVC:

Friday, December 29, 2006

A final farewell

Dad's visitation, mass and burial took place today. I am exhausted, but it was a good day. Things started out on a frenzied note, as we had to be at my mom's at 8:45 AM to help set up for the gathering after the funeral, but calmed down once we got to her church. Poor Cade wasn't feeling good and fell asleep during the visitation. Will was fascinated with looking at the body in the coffin, poor little guy, it is a lot for a 2 year old to comprehend. The mass was nice, although I would have prefered to have someone speak who actual knew my father, rather than a priest who just reiterated what my mother had said the day before. At the cemetery a military honor guard presented a flag to my mother (following a flag ceremony) and a bugler played was moving and beautiful.

Once the services were over, we all gathered back at my mom's for lunch. My brother and his wife, my uncle, aunt and cousins and my family all spent a few hours together. Most of the chatter was mindless and focused on things outside of the events of earlier that day, very different from the gathering after my mother in laws funeral. At her gathering we all laughed and cried as we shared stories about her. No one mentioned Dad.

I cleaned up the kitchen and then we headed home. I received many compliments throughout the day on how well behaved the kids were and how well they interact with each other. I listened to my cousins talk about their own children and how they are never home, preferring to stay with friends rather than be at home and how that is fine with them. It made me sad. I am so blessed each day to be with my children, even more blessed that even those that are teens like being at home and being with their father, siblings and me.

Definitely a day for reflection...not just on Dad and his life, but on life in general!

Here is a copy of Dad's obit....I removed the last name, as my mother is ultra paranoid about her identidy being "stolen"....

David. Beloved husband of Wanda . Loving father of Laura (Jay) Riesenberg and Steven (Carolyn) . Dear grandfather of 8. Born on Sept. 15, 1944, he lived in Cincinnati. He was an electrical design engineer who worked in robotics and mill machinery. December 25, 2006 Age 62. Friends may call Friday from 10 AM until time of the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 AM at St. John Fisher Church 3227 Church St. Newtown. Internment will be at Gate of Heaven Cemetery. If so desired, memorials may be directed to the American Cancer Society or charity of one's choice. Witt, Good & Kelsch Funeral Home (Anderson Twp.) serving the family.
Here is a picture of the kids. They clean up pretty well! Too bad that the only thing they have had to clean up for lately is funeral! Looking forward to 2007, which I am sure will include at least a couple of joyous occasions! Or at least it better, I can't take a repeat of 2006!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Nutcracker Draws to a Close!
Emily's cast had the priveledge of performing in the closing show of this year's Nutcracker. Things have been so hectic here, Miss Catherine, Emily's favorite teacher at the dance studio, offered to take Emily to the show for us. She also invited Hannah to go with her and watch, a great treat since Hannah was working the afternoon that we went to the matinee.

Here are a few of the pictures from the show. None of the stage pictures are posted yet, but I will upload those once they are put on the website.

Pray for my strength

It has started as I have mother is already screaming at me, telling me that I am selfish (this to her kid that has been there at least twice a week for the past 20 monhts). Telling me that I am self centered and that I need to put HER first! I spent all last night picking out readings and music for the service. I told her I would meet her at the funeral home, but that isn't good enough, I am supposed to go to her house and RIDE IN HER CAR....forget that it isn't convient, that I can't stand her driving on a good day and that I have to manage to somehow find time today or tomorrow to cloth 10 people for a funeral. I spent the entire afternoon with her yesterday when all she did was criticize how active the kids were, how messy my house was (which wasn't messy but did need that deep clean, but given that I had spent the previous 2 days with her at the hospital, I never got to), and how I needed to go on a diet.

God forbid I be angry with her. She has KNOWN he was dying for almost 2 years but didn't bother to go and pick out a cemetery plot. God forbid that she didn't involve her parish priest in the dying process, so that he has no idea who she is. God forbid that the church office be closed today in observance of the holiday. God forbid that she never discussed ANY of this with my father, my husband and I, 25 and 30 years their juniors, know what each other want.

So if you live in the SW region of Ohio or in NKY and you see a blurb for the news....daughter kills mother and you see police tape and a Union Township police cruiser in the background....stay tuned...and count your pennies, there is no way we have the $$ to bail me out of jail!

Enough of my venting......focus is going to be on my dad today!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Dad passed away peacefully at 3:45 AM this morning.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Thanks for the warm thoughts. Ironically we lost my grandmother (mom's mom) 5 years ago on Christmas day. We were all together on Christmas Eve and she died in her sleep overnight. Dad has been in so much pain, endured so much suffering over the last 20 months, I believe his Christmas miracle is being released from all of it. Not that it makes it any easier.

And guess what??? My ass of a brother called this morning and said he is going to "try" and show up this afternoon....I am not holding my breath, but at least I know he knows this is the end. Him showing up for 10 minutes once in the last year will do more than the fact that I took care of dad 2x a week and that I have been running back and forth trying to comfort mom and help her mom make plans.

Plans are in place. Dad is being transported within the hour to hospice...I have to run and grab a last minute gift for the kids and then I will head down to spend some more time with my mom and dad.

Warm christmas wishes to everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It appears that my father's battle with cancer is coming to a close. We are meeting with hospice in the morning (we were supposed to meet with them today but they were so backlogged the earliest they can get to us is sometime tomorrow morning) to make arrangements to keep him comfortable in his final hours. Apparently he had a brain bleed yesterday and it is pretty much the icing on the cake. According to both his kidney and cancer doctors, given that he was not dialysised today, things should progress rather quickly. The kidney doctor (while my mother was out of the room) told me that he felt given dad's lack of urine output and his current state, he would give him 3 days, and that he should slip into a coma rather quickly and die peacefully. My mother thinks dad will make it another week or so.

If you are the praying kind, please pray for my father, David H that he die peacefully and that he be welcomed home by our Heavenly Father. Pray for my mother, Wanda H, as he has been her world for the past 45 years and he is the ONLY thing that has kept her connected to me and my children. Pray for my children, as they deal with losing another grandparent, only 4 months after losing their Grandma Riesenberg.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Great Kid Activity Blog: The link for this blog came from my friend Min! Thanks! Check it out!

Kiddley is published almost daily and is brimming with bright ideas, fun projects, links to great web finds and quick tips for parents to take away and enjoy with their kids.

I can't wait to try the Pecan Pretzel Chocolates....very similar to the pretzel treats listed in an entry below, only you use ROLOS and PECANS.......YUM, YUM, YUM!

You will need:
Small square pretzels
Pecan halves
Rolos or a similar chocolate candy (something with caramel is extra good)

Heat your oven to 400°f (200°c) and have the kids stack the pretzels and then Rolos on a cookie sheet. This may take awhile, let them have fun with it. It’s the easy non-hot part.

Pop them in the hot oven for 3 minutes. Different candies take different times, but you want the candy soft enough to be squishy.

Take them out on the oven and transfer to a plate so the kids don’t burn themselves on the tray and have them push the pecan half on top of the chocolate, squishing it down. The chocolate will be hot, so supervise closely. I have never had any burns, but if one goes in the mouth, that would be a big ouch. (OK sounds like too much work to transfer them to a plate...I opt to just let the BIG KIDS do this part!).

Chill the candies in the fridge and when they are firm put into baggies, making decorative labels if you wish. Now give away as gifts (or keep!).
Holiday Pretzle Treats: These are super simple and REALLY cute, and how can you go wrong with pretzels and chocolate!

Bite-size, waffle-shaped pretzels
Hershey's Kiss or Hershey's Hug
M&M's candy

1. Heat the oven to 170º. Set a number of bite-size, waffle-shaped pretzels (one for each treat) in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, then top each pretzel with an unwrapped Hershey's Kiss or Hershey's Hug. 2. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes (the white chocolate will melt more quickly), until the chocolates feel soft when touched with a wooden spoon. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and quickly press an M&M's candy into the center of each Kiss. 3. Allow the treats to cool for a few minutes, then place them in the refrigerator to set, about 10 minutes. Place handfuls of the candies in clear plastic bags and tie on colorful ribbons.
Free ACT, SAT test prep

Brett really hasn't made a decision as to what he plans to do once he is "finished" homeschooling, but I feel that taking the ACT and SAT are probably good ideas if any of his plans will lead to a traditional learning environment like college. Most of the test prep places I am aware of charge big bucks and work on their schedule. This link came through a homeschooling list I am on. It might not be the strongest way to prepare, but it if free and you can do it on your own schedule.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Rice pads:

I mentioned making these in the post below as great homemade gifts....thought I would include some details:

Here is the post from when I first made these:

We decided that a 15" square piece of cloth works PERFECTLY! If you make "pillowcases" for your bags, cut that piece 16" square. These have been wonderful for pulled muscles and sports injuries around here!

Thought these were cool ideas from one of the websites:
Rice (long grain, not minute rice or instant)
Rice bags may be made in any desired shape or size(my first one was simply an athletic sock that was filled with 3 cups of rice and knotted closed). Using an all cotton material (synthetics will fry in the microwave) make a pillow type shape and turn leaving an opening for filling and fill about 2/3 full of rice (long grain, not minute rice or instant). Sew the opening closed and you are ready for use. You can also make a pillowcase type cover that can be placed over your bag and closed with a fold down top or velcro. This can be washed as You should never wash the rice bag itself because then you would no longer have a rice bag, you would have dinner. Flannel and cotton make great comfy covers. Below are some of the limitless uses.

Heat - Rice bags can be heated in the microwave for 1-3 minutes and will retain that heat for 20 - 30 minutes. Use as heating pad.

Cold - Rice bags can also be kept in the freezer to use when cold is needed. It is not as messy as ice bags. It can keep swelling down, etc. Use as ice pack.

"Boo-boo bags" - I keep small rice bags in my freezer (about the size of a CD case) to put on bumps and bruises that my children (OK, and me too) get. They are perfect and not hard to handle like ice packs.

Sinus and allergy relief - I used one of those Lone Ranger type halloween masks as my pattern and made a rice bag that rests comfortably over my nose and eyes for relief from sinus pressure.

Colicky Babies - Much safer than a heating pad and very comfy to snuggle with. Place warmed rice bag on babies tummy. WARNING! - DO NOT HEAT FOR MORE THAN A MINUTE AS BABIES FEEL HEAT AT A LOWER TEMPERATURE THAN WE ADULTS. How hot your microwave gets the rice and how fast depends on many variables such as power and wattage. Always test on wrist or other sensitive area before using on babies, children, or the elderly.

Bed warmer - My husband likes to crawl into a warm, toasty bed. I made a couple that were hand towel size and filled them very loosely with rice. I roll them up and microwave them one at a time and slip them between the sheets so that his space is warm. My, am I a great wife or what?!

Foot and hand warmer - great for after playing in the snow.

Bread warmer - I make bread cloths with a little pocket in the center and a removable rice bag that fits into the pocket. Warm the rice bag and insert in pocket. Then add your fresh bread and rolls and wrap up. Will keep warm a long time.

Food warmer - I made one that is a sandwich of a dish towel, two to three layers of Warm and Natural cotton batting, rice and another dish towel. After warming, place batting side down on table to protect table and place hot dish on top. Keeps food warm.

Mug Warmer - same as food warmer but the size of a coaster to keep coffee, tea, etc. warm.

Cooler cooler - I place a couple of the frozen ones in my ice chest or cooler to keep things cool longer.

Neck and shoulder stress releaser - put a long one under your neck and across your shoulders as you lay down. The stress of the day drains away.

Gift tag for bags:

Rice Bag, made for you with love by (your name here)!

Place your rice bag (without cover) into microwave and heat 2-3 minutes. The time will vary depending on the microwave. Start at 2 minutes and if its not hot enough increase by 30 seconds till you get the desired warmth. The rice bag should stay warm for about 15 to 20 minutes which is the recommended amount of time for heat therapy. Place the cover on your bag and apply to where it hurts. You can wash your cover but NOT the rice bag itself. Rice bags can also be kept in the freezer. Sometimes the cold feels better than heat.
Christmas shopping:

From a list I am on...a little insight into shopping!

1) Are you finished Christmas shopping? No, I still need to finish up Brett (16) and Cade (6) and get a gift card to finish up my parents. I need to pick up a couple more things for Jay.

2) If you have children:
a) Do you spend the same amount of each of them No, I can get everything for WIll or Sophie for less than one thing the older kids want!

b) Buy them the same number of gifts? Yes, same number. After all, they can count but the younger ones have no concept of how much things cost!

c) How many gifts do they recieve? Differs from year to year, but this year they each have 10 things to open(unless my husband goes out and does more shopping, bless his soul!), plus we are getting them a group gift. They also each recieve 3 gifts from my parents....a clothing item, a fun item/toy and a mental item (book, educational game, membership, magazine subscription) to represent the three gifts of the wisemen.

d) Are gifts they get christmas morning from you or santa? Santa (although half of them know who the real jolly old elf is).

e) Do you wrap their gifts? yes! I think it adds to the excitement....I can't imagine not wrapping presents!

3) Do you buy for your husband/SO? This year, yes, usually small things as we tend to buy what we want throughout the year. In years when money has been tight, we have forgone buying things for each other!

4) How many other people do you buy for? my parents, my friend and her two children, our favorite dance teachers. We also buy for some gift exchanges. The kids buy gifts for some of their friends. We don't do gifts with my husband's family (there are 33 grandkids and 4 great grandkids plus 18 adults), honestly a blessing as it would be such a financial strain!

5) Do you ever make handmade/homemade gifts? yes, we made ricepacks this year (heating pads) and are making candles on Wed. These will go to my parents and in with the gifts for our favorite dance teachers!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dad in the hospital:

Dad had been acting strange since last week. As a matter of fact I took him to the ER on Tuesday when I picked him up from dialysis, much to my mother's dismay. Anyhow, he kept getting worse so Mom took him back to the hospital on Saturday. They decided to admit him.

Turns out dad is now having seizures! They are going to start him on depakote and see if that can control them. Fortunately they are the petit mal variety, not grand mals like Brett has! Even my mom laughed when I told her at least we don't have to worry about the biggest side effect of the seizure meds...they tend to cause kidney and liver damage.....too bad, the cancer beat them to it!

Good news is that there are no signs of NEW CANCER...just the same old leisons! So all the chemo and radiation seem to be keeping things at bay!

Hopefully they will get his meds regulated and the seizures controlled so he can get out of the hospital before the weekend! Christmas in the hospital would just suck! I would LOVE him to get home too, because he CALLS here at all hours of the midnight and 5 AM...because he is AWAKE and wants to talk (although it is about like having a phone conversation with a 2 year old, it never goes anywhere!).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Nutcracker 2006:
The Nutcracker is in full swing! Here is the blurb I sent out to our homeschooling group....

Emily Riesenberg will once again be preforming in the Cincinnati Ballet's The Nutcracker. She has been cast as a soldier with a rifle (she was a soldier with a sword last year) and appears in the battle scene in Act I. She would love for her friends to come and see her perform.

She will be appearing in the following shows.
Thursday, Dec. 14th 12 PM Student Sampler Performance ($5 tickets)
Thursday, Dec. 14th 6:30 PM Kindervelt Benefit performance
Friday, Dec. 15th 7:30 PM opening night performance
Sunday, Dec. 17th 2 PM performance
Sunday, Dec. 17th 7:30 PM performance
Thursday, Dec. 21st 7:30 PM performance
Saturday, Dec. 23rd 2 PM performance
Saturday, Dec. 23rd 7:30 PM performance
Tuesday, Dec. 26th 7:30 PM closing night performance

If you are interested in attending the Student Sampler (one act performance, approximately 1 hour in length) the tickets are $5 and can be ordered by contacting Terry Honebrink in group sales at 513-562-1114 or by email at . We also have an order form (Nutcracker Kid's Cast and Friends discount form) that I would be happy to copy for any family that allows them to purchase tickets for 20% of the regular price (except Callery C which is always $12). Discount prices range from $19 to $38 and are subject to a $2 service fee.

All the kids minus Hannah (who was teaching at the dance studio) and our friends Deanne, Sarah and Chris went to the 12 PM student matinee to see Emily perform. There is something about seeing your daughter on stage, doing what she loves that pulls at a very special place in your heart. She LOVE dancing, she LOVES being on stage! I love seeing her this happy!

Here are a couple photos from last year's show...I just found them on the website. Emily is the soldier closest to you in the photo, look at the Nutcracker with the sword dancing in the background:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Great Wolf, Great Time!

There is a new resort (Great Wolf Lodge) near us opening tomorrow and they invited 17 kids to come up to take photos for a press release....well, my kids are among the 17 kids that were invited! We were SO EXCITED! According to the website ( the resorts gives new meaning to the term "year-round family resort," Great Wolf Lodge defies the weather outside with an indoor waterpark experience that has young and old soaking in the fun! Whether it's 10 degrees below or raining cats and dogs, it's always a balmy 84 degrees inside the resort's mammoth, 78,000 square-foot indoor waterpark. Bear Track Landing puts the emphasis on fun with 11 waterslides, six pools and a four-story treehouse waterfort. The state-of-the-art facility utilizes nearly 380,000 gallons of water that is splashed, sprayed, waved and played in by both kids and parents alike. Bear Track Landing is an ideal escape for both parents and kids, offering an environment that allows for both bonding together-time and safe, supervised yet independent kid-friendly fun that gives parents time to relax with children in sight.

We had to be there at 3 PM for the 3:30 photo shoot and then we got to stay and play until 10 PM. They got us into the waterpark pretty quickly but it took them about 45 minutes to get the pictures taken. I managed to keep my fat butt out of any press photos! Then we found out that the fire marshall was there and we would have to evacuate the pool area for a fire drill....YIKES...the kids were SOAKING wet, so we hurried to cover everyone in towels and waited for the alarm to sound...luckily when we got to the door to exit they realized the kids were soaked and allowed us to stand by the door instead of going outside!

The kids absolutely LOVED it! Too bad that you have to have a room there to get to use the facility usually....there is no way with a starting room rate of $289 for 4 people it will EVER be in our budget, but at least we got to experience how the "other half" live!

Poor Emily had mandatory Nutcracker practice so she couldn't go!

The kids played until about 6 PM when Brett, Grant and Jacob left with Jay to go to the UC/XU crosstown shootout basketball game. Then Deanne, Sarah, Chris, Hannah, Sophie, Will and I went up and had dinner....we were all STARVING! The service was really slow and the food was just OK, certainly not worth the prices we paid, but given that we were swimming for free, we really couldn't complain! After dinner it was right back to the pool!

The kids LOVED the slides and Cade and Chris LOVED playing basketball in the water. Will loved it too, they had a special little hoop in the kids area! Of course Will gets the distinction of being the first kid to poop in the pool! At least it didn't go EVERYWHERE like the time Jacob pooped in the pool as a baby after eating CORN for dinner! There are no diaper changing decks in the restrooms, obviously some childless man designed them...not a good plan for a place catering to families!

We stayed until about 9:30 PM and everyone was wiped out! All in all we had a GREAT TIME and the kids would LOVE to go back!

Blogger won't cooperate, I will post pictures later!
Blogger wouldn't let me add these the way I wanted, but here they are!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Geenacres Foundation Programs:
Co-ordinated by Sally

The first program is Tues., Dec. 12th 10-12 (includes a half an hour lunch) "Simple Machines"

The second program is Friday, Jan. 19th 10-12 (including lunch) Proposed theme is: "Winter Ecology"

Third program is Friday, March 2nd 10-12 (including lunch) Proposed theme is: "Succession"

Fourth program is Tues., May 1st 10-12 (including lunch) Proposed theme: "Map and Compass"

Please e-mail back with which programs you plan on attending and how many children will attend and their ages. We need about 10 children (grades 2-6) minimum. Remember to bring a packed lunch, dress for the weather (1/2 the program will be outside.) ALSO- ideas about the proposed themes or other ideas. Only set theme is "Simple Machines." All programs are free!

Take Loveland-Madeira Rd., toward Indian Hill. Go about two miles, through stoplight; turn right onto Spooky Hollow Rd.
Old Church: Turn right into first drive.
Pond Site: Located at first drive on the left.
Administrative Offices (for Greenacres Farm product purchasing): Go about 0.75 miles; turn left into fourth drive on the left (note the split rail fencing). Office is marked by sign on left. Parking is available in the front and rear of the office. Farm customers and all other visitors may use front entrance.

We attended our first program at Greenacres today and it was absolutely awesome. The program was about simple machines, and bad mom that I am I didn't even bother to tell the kids the topic, let alone EXPLAIN what a simple machine was! Emily, Grant, Jacob and Cade attended the program. Emily absolutely LOVED it. The staff was great about engaging the kids and involving them in all the activities. Because they were able to touch, to feel, to participate, the concepts stuck with them! The only bad thing was that they had to divide the kids into 2 groups and since there were only 8 kids, Grant ended up with the other group!
I can't speak highly enough of the experience! I can't wait until the next program to see if it is anywhere near as good as this one!

And what's even nicer? The place is only a couple of miles away! Have to love a great activity that is so close to home!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Too funny not to share!

A first-grade teacher, Ms. Brooks, was having trouble with one of her students. The teacher asked, "Harry, what's your problem?"

Harry answered, "I'm too smart for the 1st grade. My sister is in the 3rd grade and I'm smarter than she is! I think I should be in the 3rd grade too!"

Ms. Brooks had had enough. She took Harry to the principal's office. While Harry waited in the outer office, the teacher explained to the principal what the situation was. The principal told Ms. Brooks he would give the boy a test. If he failed to answer any of his questions he was to go back to the 1st grade and behave. She agreed. Harry was brought in and the conditions were explained to him and he agreed to take the test.

Principal: "What is 3 x 3?"

Harry: "9."

Principal: "What is 6 x 6?"

Harry: "36."

And so it went with every question the principal thought a 3rd grader should know. The principal looks at Ms. Brooks and tells her, "I think Harry can go to the 3rd grade."

Ms. Brooks says to the principal, "Let me ask him some questions." The principal and Harry both agreed.

Ms. Brooks asks, "What does a cow have four of that I have only two of?"

Harry, after a moment: "Legs."

Ms. Brooks: "What is in your pants that you have but I do not have?"
The principal wondered why she would ask such a question!

Harry replied: "Pockets."

Ms. Brooks: "What does a dog do that a man steps into?"

Harry: "Pants."

Ms. Brooks: What starts with a C, ends with a T, is hairy, oval, and delicious and contains thin, whitish liquid?"

Harry: "Coconut."

The principal sat forward with his mouth hanging open.

Ms. Brooks: "What goes in hard and pink then comes out soft and sticky?"

The principal's eyes opened really wide and before he could stop the answer, Harry replied, "Bubble gum."

Ms. Brooks: "What does a man do standing up, a woman does sitting down and a dog does on three legs?"

Harry: "Shake hands."

The principal was trembling.

Ms. Brooks: "What word starts with an 'F' and ends in 'K' that means a lot of heat and excitement?"

Harry: "Firetruck."

The principal breathed a sigh of relief and told the teacher, "Put Harry in the fifth-grade, I got the last seven questions wrong."

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Downtown Holiday Trip
Friday, December 8; 10am - ?
Organizers: Julieanne & Laura

We will meet at the Duke Energy train display at 10 AM (CG&E Building, 139 E. Fourth St.Corner of 4th & Main Sts) and then we will head to Tower Place for lunch and a visit with Santa. Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding, the Cathedral will not be hosting the display of nativity scenes. So after lunch, if nothing downtown appeals to anyone, we will head up to Krohn Conservatory to see the live nativity(which happens to open that day) and Holiday Floral Show (1501 Eden Park Dr. Cincinnati, OH 45202 )

Last year many of us found that parking in the public lot across from Macy's to be convient. It isn't too far of a walk to the trains or back from Tower Place. The lot seemed far less crowded than the other public lots and since it is a "open" lot, not a garage, didn't pose a problem for those of us driving larger vehicles that can't make clearance in the older garages!

For more info on the events and displays in downtown Cincinnati, check out

RSVP to: Julieanne or Laura so we know to watch for you. Feel free to join us at the last minute if you suddenly feel the urge to look at christmas displays! We will probably stay at the trains until about 10:45 and then be at tower place until at least noon.

The weather outside was FRIGHTFUL(ly) cold, in the single digits, but since all of the displays were indoors we headed downtown. It was a bit nippy walking to the train display, but nice and toasty once we got inside! On the way to the trains we passed a company with a bunch of gingerbread houses in their lobby so once we finished at the trains, we stopped by and asked if we could come see us. Apparently the company had hosted a contest for local marketing firms to make gingerbread houses related to children's story books to be displayed (and I believe raffled) at Ronald McDonald House! As luck would have it we got there at exactly the right time as they were sending the house up to RMH that afternoon! I later told Deanne I want to host a contests for the homeschooling families next year to do something similiar! The houses were SO COOL! Take a look:

After we saw the gingerbread houses, we went to Tower Place to see the Jolly Ol' Elf, Himself! Will LOVED Santa and I managed to get an AWESOME picture of all 8 kids (yes even the teens humored me) that I plan to use in the Christmas cards to our families! After seeing Santa we had lunch and then went to the Hilton to see the gingerbread houses they had there, certainly not as cool as the ones at the other place, but still neat to see! From there it was back to the car and up to Eden Park/Krohn Conservatory to see the live nativity and christmas floral display!

All in all a GREAT DAY! Really put me in the holiday if all that christmas shopping could be that much fun and as easy!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Volunteering at Ronald McDonald House!!!

Posted here more for my records, than anything else!

Thursday December 7th 4:30PM-7:30PM
Location: Ronald McDonald House 350 Erkenbrecher Ave (next to Children's Hospital)
Organized by: Hannah Riesenberg and Sarah Leland
Why: Because it is FUN!
Ages: 13 and up (no toddlers or younger siblings please!)

Through the youth group at our old church we learned about this wonderful volunteer opportunity at Ronald McDonald House. What our group would do is prepare dinner for the house (approximately 50 to 60 guests). This month we will be preparing comfort foods! Each participant will bring items for the meal (see menu below!). We cook the food (either on site or brought already made from home) for families staying at Ronald McDonald house. It is unbelievable how much fun it is cooking in the big kitchen (5 ovens, 5 microwaves, 5 sinks, 5 dishwashers) and how rewarding it is to serve the guests of Ronald McDonald House. Typically, if there is enough food left over, the volunteers eat dinner once the houseguests are finished. After dinner is over, we clean up, put the leftovers away, load the diswashers and head home!

If you are interested in joining us, please email Laura at to express your interest. Deanne and Laura will accompany the kids (we can talk about carpooling, etc when we know how many kids are coming). Moms (or dads) are welcome to join us, we just ask that no toddlers or younger siblings come as the house often has kids over from the hospital and the last thing we want is to make anyone sick with a flurry of germs!

If you would like to help out, but can't come down and prepare dinner, we will gladly accept your donations of food! Email Laura at to let her know you want to send in food and we will work out arrangements to get it from you. Food can be dropped of to me Monday, Dec. 4 at Monday School or on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at the Beach Waterpark.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ronald McDonald House check out their website at

RSVP: Laura, Hannah and Brett , Sarah, Norma, Debbie, Eva and Daniel , Misty and Rachel, Josh

This month we will be preparing comfort foods, like chicken noodle soup, vegetable soup, chili, baked potatoes, etc. We are hoping to secure a donation of bread from Panera. Donations of christmas cookies/candies would also be appreciated!


Chili: Riesenberg
4 lb bag of frozen boneless chicken breasts or thighs:
4-16 oz bags of extra wide egg noodles:
2 bunches of celery:
2 to 3 lb of regular carrots (not baby carrots):
1 jar chicken bouillon cubes (makes 25 cups):
4 bags of frozen mixed vegetables:
2 bags of frozen chopped onions:
2 bags of frozen hashbrown potatoes (cubed not shredded):
3 large cans of tomato juice:
4 cans diced tomatoes:
2 boxes of quick barley:
2- 10lb bags of baking potatoes (Costco):
4-16 oz containers of sour cream:
6-8 oz bags of shredded cheddar cheese:
large container of margarine:
disposable plastic (or chinet) bowls (50 +):
brownies: 2 boxes (we will bake them at RMH)
Rice Krispie Treats: 2-9x13 pans
cookies: 6 dozen "break and bake" cookies (you can either bake these at home or bring them with you and bake them at RMH)

Special thanks to everyone who donated items or came to help! It was a great evening and christmas music played by our very own Daniel, filled the air, setting a wonderful holiday mood!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Holiday Fest at the Beach Waterpark!

What: Holiday Fest at the Beach Waterpark (open to homeschoolers only)
When: Wednesday, December 6th; 10am - 4pm, lunch at 11:30 AM!
Where: Beach Waterpark Mason, Ohio
Cost: Admission $6.50 ages 13 and up, $5 for ages 5-12!!!, optional lunch $6, Parking free. Platinum pass holders get in FREE, regular pass holders need to pay admission price!
Organizer: Laura Riesenberg please RSVP by December 1st!

The park has agreed to open the park EXCLUSIVELY FOR OUR GROUP on Wednesday December 6 from 10 AM until 4 PM. The offer is incredible (includes everything) and we will have the park entirely to ourselves. This should be a great activity for everyone...toddlers, preschoolers, elementary schooler and especially the teens.

There are activities for ALL ages, including's what your admission includes: Skate Rental, Carriage Rides (pulled by tractor), Paddle Boats, Toboggan Slide, Santa’s Maze, Live Nativity, Polar Pearl Palace, Santa’s Sleigh, Holiday Lights and Dazzling Animated Lights Displays, South Pole Petting Corral, Holiday Railway, and Festhaus Pavilion. Kate, the coordinator at the Beach is going to try to arrange for Miles and Shivers to visit once again and is going to see if Santa can make an appearance!. She is also going to set up a craft area for the kids to make a small Christmas craft!Admission $6.50 per person (ages 5 - 12 are $5) , children under 4 free. Free Parking! Typically, admission and to do all activities at Holiday Fest at The Beach is $25.00. Your school’s proposal includes a savings on admission of $18.50 per person. Parking is $5.50 per car on any operating day, but will be waved for our field trip.

MEAL $6 per person (optional)*Holiday Fest at The Beach Catering Staff will serve the All-You-Can-Eat buffet style meal in an exclusive pavilion during a specified time frame (starting at 11:30 PM) which includes your choices of..Nathan’s World Famous Hot Dog or a ¼ lb Hamburger or Cheeseburger, mac and cheese, Bag of chips and drink for $6 per person*participants are welcome to pack lunches, but meals will need to be eaten in the picnic area outside the park. The only food that can be consumed within the park, is food purchased from the Beach.All You can drink wristbands $3.00 (they have guarenteed that drinks will be available the entire time, even at the end!). Coffee will be ready the minute we enter the park!I will need to know approximately how many families will want meals. I need to arrange this ahead of time. So if you think your family will want lunch, please let me know how many meals you might want. (

We had an awesome time last year, despite the COLD weather! It was VERY WARM in the tents and the kids didn't seem to mind! The icerink this year will be double the size it was last year and they now have over 500 pairs of skates!

What an absolutely AWESOME TIME! Can you believe that over 300 people attended the event????

One mom sent the following email after the event:
This is the first year we went as last year the kids were drywalling. The kids had a blast and so thanks Laura for this fabulous time. I am also thankful that You were able to scrounge up enough interest to even do it again this year, as I have heard people don't want to do it two years in a row. Wish we could have stayed longer!

Anyway thanks again Laura for doing this! It was so much better than even I expected. Julieanne tell George thanks for all the things he did to help us today. What a trouper. And tell him to stay out of the garbage too. LOL.

From another mom:
I just wanted to tell you that we had a wonderful time today. The girls loved it (despite E's nose bleed). We did not get to go last year, but we will be there from now on. It was a wonderful event. Thank you for all your time and effort.

We got to the park around 9:30 AM to make sure that everything was in order and at 10 AM my kids went in and made themselves at home. I even had one mom pull me aside and tell me how wonderful she thought my kids were and how well they seem to get along, like they are a real team! What a great compliment! I didn't do too much walking around, but managed to socialize quite a bit and really enjoyed seeing everyone enjoy themselves!

Jacob and Cade really loved the pedal boats.....Sophie loved the ice rink, the craft and having Sarah dote on her the whole day. Will wasn't feeling well so he stayed home with Jay, so I had a really EASY day! Em and Grant managed to stay busy!

Of course all my kids LOVED the one perk they got for their mom organizing the event! First in line for the LUNCH BUFFET! The food was hot and it tasted so good after a busy morning!

Couldn't have asked for better weather, friends, or a great time....well, actually, Deanne didn't make it because Chris was sick, that is the ONLY thing that would have made the day BETTER!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas crafts:

Hannah and I have been trying to find christmas crafts to do at home, with Sophie's dance team (at their team party) and for our 4-H christmas party. Here are some that we thought were worth sharing.

cute twist on the standard pipe cleaner candy cane ornament:

Puzzle Piece Tree Ornament:

very cute spider tree ornament:

santa face christmas coloring page:

christmas tree coloring page:

Advent coloring pages:

Jan Brett Gingerbaby coloring page:

Button wreath:
Handwriting pages:

Sophie LOVES handwriting pages. I try to pick up any books I can find at the dollar store, but was thrilled to find this site. As an unschooler, it is so neat to watch her investigate and explore her interests, her 3 older brothers would have never asked for handwriting books or constantly asked how to spell words, especially not at 4!



I also found printable sheets here:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Basketball Schedules: So far we have schedules for Brett, Grant (one of two teams) and Cade. Still waiting on Jacob's and Grant's Loveland Schedules. Guess it is a good thing there isn't too many conflicts with dance, because it looks like we will be going in a couple different directions!

Cade's Schedule:
Sunday Dec 3 3 PM, Courts 4 Sports Mason
Sunday Dec 10 3 PM, Courts 4 Sports Mason
Sunday Dec 17 3 PM, Courts 4 Sports Mason
Sunday Jan 7 3 PM, Courts 4 Sports Mason
Sunday Jan 14 3 PM, Courts 4 Sports Mason
Sunday Jan 21 3 PM, Courts 4 Sports Mason
Sunday Jan 28 3 PM, Courts 4 Sports Mason
Sunday Feb 4 3 PM, Courts 4 Sports Mason
Sunday Feb 11 3 PM, Courts 4 Sports Mason
Sunday Feb 18 3 PM, Courts 4 Sports Mason
Sunday Feb 25 3 PM, Courts 4 Sports Mason

Grant's Schedule:
Sat 2-Dec 3:00 PM at All Saints All Saints-vs-St. Columban
Fri 8-Dec 7:00 PM at St. Columban St. Columban-vs-IHM
Sat 16-Dec 10:00 AM at Sports Plus #5 St. Columban-vs-St.Ursula Villa
Sun 7-Jan 1:00 PM at Holy Trinity Holy Trinity-vs-St. Columban
Fri 12-Jan 6:00PM at Sports Plus #2 St. Columban-vs-Guardian Angels
Sat 20-Jan 11:00 AM at St. Bernadette St. Bernadette-vs-St. Columban
Sat 27-Jan 9:00 AM at Sports Plus #5 St. Columban-vs-Cardinal Pacelli
Sat 3-Feb 12:00 PM at St. Columban St. Columban-vs-All Saints
Sat 10-Feb 11:00 AM at IHM IHM-vs-St. Columban
Sat17-Feb 12:00 PM at St. Ursula Villa St.Ursula Villa-vs-St. Columban

Brett's schdule:
Sun 3-Dec 2:00 PM at Sports Plus #6 St. Columban-vs-St. Vincent Ferrer
Sat 9-Dec 8:00 PM at OLSH OLSH-vs-St. Columban
Sun 17-Dec 4:00 PM at Princeton HS (Main Gym) St. Michael-vs-St. Columban
Sun 7-Jan 3:00 PM at Sports Plus #5 St. Columban-vs-St. Susanna
Sun 14-Jan 2:00 PM at Sports Plus #5 St. Columban-vs-St. Max
Sun 21-Jan 12:00 PM at Sports Plus #6 St. John WC-vs-St. Columban
Sun 28-Jan 12:00 PM at Princeton HS (Small Gym) St. Columban-vs-St. Marg/York
Sun 4-Feb 3:00 PM at Sports Plus #6 St. Gertrude-vs-St. Columban
Sun 11-Feb 11:00 AM at Sports Plus #6 Nativity-vs-St. Columban
Sun 18-Feb 12:00 PM at Sports Plus #6 St. Vincent Ferrer-vs- St. Columban

P.S. Found out from Jay that the Loveland League (Jacob and Grant's other team) does not start playing until early January and then the season runs for 8 weeks, followed by a one and out tournament.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Even more upset with my stupid brother

I went to pick my father up today from dialysis. The man that met me, was not the same man I left last Thursday after Thanksgiving dinner (I didn't pick dad up Tuesday as I had the stomach flu and didn't want to risk exposing him). He was hunched over a WALKER (the man NEVER uses a walker) barely able to make it the few steps from the scale to the waiting room. I managed to get him into the van (always a monsterous task) and he complained how bad he hurt and yelled each time I hit a bump in the road. As we sat in the drivethru line waiting for his lunch (he always wants something after dialysis, like a small child who expects a treat for being!) he sat tense, his eyes closed, you could just read the pain in his body. When we got to the house, he could barely get in from the van. He collapsed immediately in the chair in the family room (he usually eats at the table with me) and barely ate half of the sandwich we had just picked up. He looks ghostly, I think he has probably lost 10 lbs in the last week or so.....

OK, to the title...I BLAME MY BROTHER FOR THIS SUDDEN DECLINE....yes, I hold him responsible....the dumb ass couldn't make it for thanksgiving, he said he had to work, and maybe he did.....but since when between the time you get your ass out of bed and your put your ass back in it can you not find 5 minutes to pick up the phone and call and wish your father a happy thanksgiving....believe me, that is all it would have taken! Short of me finding a cure for this damn cancer that is killing him , a phone call from my jerk of a brother would do more than anything else I can do. Doesn't matter how many times I see him a week, or how often I bring the kids to visit, a PHONE CALL is all it takes......

He is fading fast.....I hope that something stops this decline.....

Mom is waiting on results of tests they did this week to see if the cancer is spreading...I am not sure it really matters....his spirit is dead and the only person capable of reviving it doesn't seem to give a crap.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More Christmas events:

Free Call From Santa:
This holiday season, Cincinnati Bell will send a personalized phone call from Santa Claus to your good little boy or girl. In the spirit of giving, the call will be FREE of charge. Just fill out the form below, select your child’s name and a time to receive a jolly call from the North Pole.

Living Nativity at Loveland United Methodist Church:
There is a wonderful "Living Nativity" at Loveland United Methodist Church this Sunday, Dec.3, from 4:30 - 7:30. We attended this event last year and are looking forward to going again this year. A costumed interpreter leads you station to station as actors (church members) reenact the Nativity story. At each booth or station a segment of the story is told. It is very well done. The church members really work hard to memorize their lines. The kids do well with it because you are outside, you only stand at one area for a short time, and there are live animals at the end. Small children are also participants and are a wonderful highlight at the end. Free candy canes, cookies, hot chocolate and coffee are available inside afterwards. They stagger small groups through the stations. 10975 S.Lebanon Road, not far from Loveland Madeira Road. 683-1738

Monday, November 27, 2006

Some local upcoming Christmas Events: I am not sure which of these we will be attending (other than the one in Downtown Loveland, as it is literally just blocks away), but I thought I would share these as I became aware of them.

Ohio National's Victorian Holiday Village

Wanted to let you know about a free Christmas village at Ohio National Financial Services. It is located right off of 71 on Pfeiffer Rd. Supposedly, it is really really cute. They set up little playhouses that include a post office to write letters to Santa, Gingerbread house where they have free cocoa and cookies, and many others. At the end, you can have your picture taken with Santa and get a copy of the picture for free. They also have a train you can ride which the kids always love

This event is outside, so dress appropriately. In addition, you walk along a gravel path – so strollers can be difficult.

Ohio National's Victorian Holiday Village is open on the following evenings:

Friday, December 1 from 6-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 2 from 5-8:30 p.m.
Thursday, December 7 from 6-8:30 p.m.
Friday, December 8 from 6-8:30 p.m.

Back by popular demand: the kids' train, the best cocoa ever, free, high quality photos with St. Nick (one per family, please), elf balloon makers. ONFS carolers (on Fridays, December 1 & 8 ) ... and more.

As always, the Village is free to Ohio National associates and the public -- it's a very special way of giving thanks and sharing the holiday spirit with our Greater Cincinnati community.

Christmas in Loveland:

Amazingly, it seems we are free this evening...Emily doesn't have Nutcracker, Grant's game is early that day (10 AM), Brett and Cade play on Sunday, so as long as there isn't a conflict with Jacob's game (we get his schedule soon) we plan to attend this event (weather permitting of course!)

Christmas in Loveland on Saturday Dec. 16 from 4 to 9 PM. Live Nativity, free horse wagon rides in old downtown, historic museum all dolled up for holidays, hot drinks and a campfire, different local groups singing Xmas carols, ornament making, Santa Claus walking around, live music, shows and storytelling at other places in old downtown, antique shops and furniture store to walk through and all is free.. Grailville (across from Leaves of Learning) is just 1/2 mile away and every Christmas they display crèches from around the world.

St. Nicholas Eve:

St. Nicholas will be riding his horse-drawn sleigh through the streets of Madeira on Tuesday, Dec. 5. Beginning at 5:00pm, St. Nicholas will be stopping at a variety of locations to distribute surprises to children. The Madeira recreation department does a nice job on this. St. Nicholas is dressed with mitre and staff. He travels with some Madeira High School band members who play Christmas carols as they go. At each stop St. Nick passes out bags of treats (raisins, animal crackers and/or mints) with a note telling a LITTLE about his life as a bishop who helped those in need. It's a simple and fun way to celebrate St. Nicholas Eve. Here is the schedule - note that the times are approximate:
Mapleridge & Kenwood Hills 5:00pm
Kenwood & Cherokee 5:15
Navaho & Apache Circle 5:30
Rosecrest (off Dawson) 5:45
Pineneedle & Juniperview 6:00
Summit & Laurel 6:15
Mayfield & Southside 6:25
Fowler & Mar Del 6:35
Miami Hills & Timberlane 6:50
South Mingo & Shewango 7:05
Greenbriar & Mapleleaf 7:20
Madeira Elementary 7:30
Thomas & Dee 8:00
Berwood & Homart 8:15
Sanoma & Iuka 8:30
Maxfield & Longfield 8:45
Municipal Building (Miami & Euclid) 9:00

Neiderman's farm
Open the day after Thanksgiving through December 30th
5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Display is FREE to the public
Wheelchair accessible

Walk through this free, unique outdoor display located in Liberty Township, just off of State Route 4 in Butler County Ohio. Thousands of lights illuminate the path as you travel through the Bible. Come relive the history of the silent, holy night, which was the beginning of Christmas so many years ago. Sprinkled with the Christmas theme, begin by walking through some of the great events of Biblical history. See God's love as shown through the stories of the Creation, the Flood, and the Ten Commandments. Share the joy in the birth of Jesus, see the wisemen as they travel to worship the new King, and rejoice with the shepherds who first heard the good news. See the feeding of the 5000 and many of the miracles performed by Jesus. Join in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus praying in the garden, as well as His death and burial. See representations of the cross and the tomb where His body was laid. Stand in awe with the angels who announced the glory of His ascension into Heaven.

From I-75 take exit 29, go west on State route 63 towards Monroe. Go approximately 3.5 miles. You will pass under a bridge. Take the next left at the stop light. This is Salzman Rd. Follow Salzman to the end. At the stop sign turn right. This is Hankins Rd. Follow Hankins until it dead ends into Lesourdsville West Chester Rd. Turn left. Gregory Creek Inn and Niederman's Christmas Farm is the third drive on the left.

From Hamilton take Route 4 North towards Middletown. When you pass State Route 747 take the next road to the right. This is Lesourdsville West Chester Rd. Gregory Creek Inn and Niederman's Christmas Farm is the third drive on the left.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Geocaching, Round #2

Here is the email that I sent to Deanne, Sheryl and Carole:
Well, we appear to be on the one has been sick today, so I think tomorrow is a go for us.

Did we decide on Stansberry Park in Mt. Washington? They have picnic tables and playground equipment. I believe there are 5 caches there? I printed off the ones I could find BSA Tenderfoot, Get the Lead Out, Lair with Legs, Stanbery Cache, and Lil Stanbery Hollow. I also printed the ones for Withrow Nature Preserve, again I found 5....Church in the Vale, Lu-lu's Stash, Wishing You Well, BSA First Class, 10-10-220 but Withrow doesn't have any picnic tables or playgound equipment.

What time? I was thinking 10 AM....I have to leave by about 2:15 PM as I need to pick up a girl in Milford at 3:15 to take her down to Nutcracker practice with Emily.

I tried to figure it out from the map....cincy parks website is the best I can figure it, coming from 275 you would get off at the Five Mile Exit (Carole and Sheryl, you would turn left onto 5 Mile, Deanne, we need to turn right), follow to Beechmont Ave and turn LEFT onto Beechmont Ave, follow for a ways (couple of miles, you will pass McNicholas High School) and turn LEFT onto Corbly Rd (I believe there is a Kroger on this corner) and then make a RIGHT onto Oxford (first street), it looks like this is how you get into the park.....

Saturday, November 25, 2006

December Unschooling Voices:

I have been a bit behind in answering the monthly question for the unschooling voices blog circle, so I thought I would get a jumpstart on December's topic, especially since the answer comes so easy to me!

December topic: What interesting activites, projects or experiments have your kids done this past year? We've gotten some really cool ideas from other unschoolers so tell us what you've done in 2006!

There are so many things that I can think of that fit this topic. I thought the easiest way to answer was to draw some of my favorite activities together in one post. These are really just the highlights from this "school" year (starting in July). You are welcome to search the archieves to find out more of just what we have done in the past!

Geocaching: what kids isn't up for a treasure hunt? This is by far my favorite of our new activities! The kids and I can't wait to find more local caches and to use our new GPS (I got one for my birthday, days after our first adventure) to find caches as we travel!

Homeschool Biography Fair: it is quite interesting when kids are free to pick their own subjects and present them how they chose! Even the youngest of children seem eager to participate! Although this could be quite "schooly" if run by someone with a differnt agenda, it is an awesome experience for all the kids. We also host a science fair (Jan), Architecture fair (Feb), Geography fair (Mar), Art Fair (May) and a writer's tea (June).

Pioneer Village Tour: It is funny when you attend an event run by homeschoolers, how they just UNDERSTAND what you want to get out of a fieldtrip. I can't recommend this event highly enough!

Red Hall of Fame Tour: My boys LOVED this program, little did they realize what an intensive math program it was!

Vactioning at Long's Retreat: The joys (and ADVENTURES) of vacationing off season!

4-H: Obviously we are a bit obsessed as there are 3 posts related to this,, and I can't encourage unschoolers and homeschoolers enough to research making 4-H part of your lives! It has been nothing but a WONDERFUL experience for us.

Monday, November 20, 2006

12483! That is the hit count when I update to beta!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Climb-Ucopia at RockQuest

Flyer at the website, info on this event is half way down (not the $30 one at the top)

RockQuest is having an event from 4pm Saturday, November 18th until 4pm Sunday the 19th. For an entrance fee of a few canned goods, you can climb all you like during the 24 hour period

Entrance: 3 canned goods
Harness Rental: 1 canned good
Shoe Rental: 1 canned good
Belay Lesson: 2 canned goods
One climb: 1 canned good
Overnight fee: 5 canned goods

As you can see, for 6 cans per person, you are able to try indoor rock climbing (regular price would be $22)! The facility is located on the south side of East Kemper Road between Tri-County Mall and Reading Road (near Scarlet Oaks). 3475 East Kemper Road · Cincinnati, OH 45241 · 513-733-0123

WOW! What an absolutely AWESOME time. Deanne and I agreed to meet at RockQuest at 10 AM on Sunday (we were going to go at 9 AM but Emily had to go to the dance studio). I was a bit apprehensive about how crowded it would be, after all yoiu could get 6 canned goods for less than $3 and that was a savings of $19! So for less than $12 I was going to be able to let 4 kids climb (usually $88, a savings of $76!) . When I pulled into their lot, I actually wondered if the event had been cancelled because there was NO ONE there. We went inside and were greeted by an eager staff and found that only 1 other person was climbing (and had their own belayer) so for the 5 kids (Chris, Emily, Grant, Jacob and Cade) there were 4 belayers, so only one person ever had to wait (althoug the kids seemed to prefer climbing one or two at a time while they watched each other). Deanne and I both thought from the flyer that the kids would be permitted to climb the wall ONCE for our donation (we each brought some extra cans so they could make additional climbs) and were shocked to find out that they could climb as long as they wanted as long as a belayer was available and if a belayer wasn't available, they could boulder (free climb) with a mat under them. For over an HOUR AND 15 MINUTES we were the only ones there! As the kids approached what they decided would be their final climbs, 2 other boys came in. From talking to the staff they had been packed the evening before (running out of harnesses and people having to wait about 20 minutes to climb) so obviously early Sunday morning was the right choice (we had debated going up last night). On top of the great climbing experience (we have never rockclimbed at a facility like this) we were also FED, bagels and spreads from Panera!

Emily and Grant scaled the 40 foot wall their first climb. Jacob, Cade and Chris started out a bit slower on the 10 foot wall....believe me I'm not knocking it, I could have never even made it up 10 feet, I HATE heights! Cade never did make it to the top of the wall, but he had a blast. Everyone was asking in the van on the way home if we could climb again soon......unfortunately at the regular price, I doubt it will be something we do again soon, but I will stock up on can goods and we will definitely head back next year!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fujitec field trip!!!!

Friday, November 17; 10am – 12:30
Ages: geared towards 2nd grade, but older & younger children are welcome to attend
Organizer: Denise

Did you ever notice the Fujitec tower just off I-71 at the Lebanon exit? Fujitec is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial elevator and escalator systems. During National Elevator and Escalator Safety Awareness week Fujitec would like to host 2nd graders on a field trip of their Lebanon, location.
The field trip program would entail a 2-2 ½ hour visit to the company’s facility. It will provide a fun way for these children to become acquainted with basic tips and information on how to safely ride elevators and escalators.

While the children are at our facility they will:
*Be entertained & guided by Safe-T-Rider, the Safety Foundation mascot.
*View an eight-minute video that guides children through safety rules for elevators, escalators and moving walkways.
*Take an oral test of 10 questions that are geared toward 2nd graders.
*Be rewarded with a Certificate of Completion.
*Receive a coloring book that repeats scenes and rules from the video.
*Participate in a guided tour of the Fujitec Research Tower, which will include a hands-on demonstration on the proper use of escalators and elevators.
*Enjoy a movie while waiting for their group’s tour.

They are located at State Route 48 and I – 71 just north of Kings Island in Lebanon. I’m sure you have seen the tower just off of the expressway. If you need to map it, the address is 401 Fujitec Drive, Lebanon OH 45036. When you arrive at Fujitec, you will come to a guard shack. Just tell them that you are there for a tour and they will direct you where to park and enter the building.

You just have to check out this HILARIOUS video that they showed us: we came home (after hanging out at Deanne's for a while so she could cut the boys hair and the kids could play!) and the kids just had to find it on the computer. Emily and Sophie can now do the "dancing" in the entire is an absolute stitch!

The tour was really neat. They have an elevator that you can see the counterweights in (very cool) and a glass sided escaltor that lets you see where those steps go (anyone else ever wandered about that??). Even Sophie really seemed to enjoy herself. Of course the coloring book and crayons helped. They also gave everyone a lanyard and a tote bag. Always great to go away from a FREE tour with GOODIES!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tour the new Cincinnati Police Historical Museum
Tuesday, November 14th; 10 am
Location: 959 W. 8th Street
Cost: Free, but donations accepted
Maximum number: 25 people (group is full)

RSVP to Julieanne

This is a link to a Cincinnati Post article about it - some pictures to see as well.

It's best if you GoogleMap the address, as it's on the corner of W.8th and Freeman Ave.

OK, so my directions off of Googlemap totally sucked and I ended up making 3 wrong turns, but we found the place by accident and we actually got there EARLY! The museum is realatively small but is packed with history. Our tour guide was a bit hard to understand (he talked really low) but it was still really neat to walk around and read all the displays. Will of course was drawn to the motorcycle they had on display and really didn't want to look at anything that didn't have to do with motorcycles. Luckily since the place is small, I was able to sit with him in the waiting area and I could still see all the kids.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Yesterday a fellow homeschooling mom (Sheryl) and her kids met us at Symmes Park in Loveland to give us a taste of geocaching. Deanne and I had wanted to try it out ever since learning about the geocaching sites last year, but had never had access to a GPS receiver before. Neither of us wanted to invest the $100 or so it would cost to get one if it wasn't something that we would enjoy. Well, let me tell was a BLAST! The kids really enjoyed themselves and I have to admit that the lure of finding hidden treasure even inticed me! We found some small trinkets to exchange (Halloween toys on clearance for 80% off) and headed off for an adventure!

We found 4 caches yesterday, 3 in Symmes Park and one in Hidden Creek Park.

So for those of you that don't know.....What is Geocaching? Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for gps users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a gps unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache.

This is the site we used to locate our caches:

After all the fun, I came home and did some GPS research. Here is a great site with a Beginners Maual

Now if I could just figure out how basic of a system I can buy and still have fun! I found one at Walmart for just under $80, but I am not sure it will do everything I need it to do, so I have to do some more research. Right now the two cheapest units I can find are the Garmin eTrex GPS Unit ($80) and the Magellan explorist 200 ($118). Off to do some more research! Maybe I will find some other options!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Jerk of the year

My friend Julieanne and I grew up in families with amazingly similiar dynamics. We both have fathers who are wonderful sweet, mothers who are controlling and somewhat disappointed that their daughters see being mothers as a career and younger bothers that although they were the "golden child" of the family tend to be asses! We have a running competition to see who brother is being the bigger ass, and her brother was winning (with his refusal to show up for his own birthday dinner at her mom's house) UNTIL my brother sent the following email to my dad in response to an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner:


Unfortunately both of us work this day. I no longer get any holidays off. Also, I regretfully report that due to personal financial issues and decisions, that we will not be exchanging gifts this season. We also do not want nor expect anything either. I know this will not be a popular decision, but it is unavoidable. We wish everyone the very best.

Love Always,

Steve & Carolyn

Now don't get me wrong, I suppose my brother COULD have to work on Thanksgiving, but my understanding has always been he starts work at3 PM (he is a cop) then why can't you respond with something along the lines of "well I need to be back on my side of town by 2:30 so would it be possible to eat at noon instead?" or even "I can't make lunch but I would love to stop out and spend the morning with you" The jerk hasn't seem my parents in almost a year (last Christmas Eve for less than 2 hours to be exact), my father is dying, and he has no kids of his own...what the HELL is his problem? Oh yeah, I remember, his wife.

OK, now the second part about the gifts doesn't really bug me as far as it relates to me and my family....two less people for me to buy for, but it bugs the heck out of me where my parents are concerned. From what he wrote you would think he spends HUNDREDS of DOLLARS on each of us, not the case. He probably spends about $50 on each of my parents and about $75 on my what $175? You need to come up with $175 between now and Christmas? You both work FULLTIME and at least one of you have a decent paying job, yet you can't figure out how to save $25 a week between NOW and Christmas?????? Hell, he had almost 2 months (dad invited them the beginning of Nov.) that would be $200? He could have emailed me and said "I don't want to do gifts with your family, it is just too much" and I would have been fine with it (like I said, 2 less people to shop for!) but why did he have to do that to my parents? $25 is just one less carton of cigarettes or 2 less cases of beer a week...doesn't seem like a HUGE sacrifice now does it? And if he doesn't buy for us, he only needs to save about $15 a week......3 less trips to Wendy's. Yes, I am slightly PISSED....doesn't help that I now have to listen to my dad lament about it every time I see him. It is just crushing him.

When my husband read the email, he said "You realize that this means he isn't coming for Christmas at all" and I said "Of course I do. He put HOLIDAYS in there, not just 'I have to work Thanksgiving', I'm not stupid".

It just frustrates me. Yes, my mother can be a bitch (it is a family trait I wear proudly!) but if nothing else other than the fact that she gave birth to you, can't you show up for an hour? It isn't like she abused him as a kid, we both got whatever we wanted, went on nice vacations, she showed up at any sporting event we participated in, ok she isn't the most lovely dovey person in the world and she can't always keep her opinions to herself, but we all have our flaws. Is an hour of his time too much to ask? My dad shouldn't have even made it this long, statistically speaking, this may be his last holiday season with us. I guess what burns me up the most is that I KNOW they will spend time with her family over the holidays (and guess what, they have to drive right by my parent's exit to get to her parents house!) but they can't stop in an say HELLO???? Of course it always IRKS me that ANY time he spends with them, even a phonecall to my dad, is RAVED about, when I am the one there 2 or 3 times a week helping out, but I will take being IRKED if it makes my dad happy!

I guess I can just hold on to the old saying "what goes around, comes around". My brother's wife is significantly older than he is (think like 20 years) so chances are he will outlive her. He has no children. By then dad will be gone, most likely mom too (since she is almost 60! now). I have a VERY LONG MEMORY!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

At this very moment 16 years ago my oldest son came into this world, 10 weeks ahead of schedule and fighting for his life, a fighting spirit that he still posesses today! I thought the moment that he entered my life that I could never love a person more than I did at that moment, little did I know how that love would grow and multipy over the next 16 years!

Happy 16th Birthday Brett!
Where do these questions come from?????

Yesterday the boys and I were running errands in a prodominantly black part of town. While we were driving around Grant (10 years old) posed the following question "mom, can a black person be president". I didn't really stop to think about what made him pose the question (most likely something about seeing election signs and numerous black people on the street) and simply answered "Grant, anyone who is born in the United States and is at least 35 years old can run for president" so then he decides to pose another question "then why hasn't a black person ever been president" which led me to describe how a canidate has to secure his party's nomination and although 10 or 15 people might want the nomination, only one preson is put forth from each party. I then added that since statistically blacks make up a smaller portion of the population that securing a majority of the votes might be more difficult. He then asked if it was because people are "racists" that they wouldn't elect a black president. I told him that I really wasn't sure, but that mamy people tend to vote for people they identify with the most, whether that be gender, race, political party or another factor. Still probing he asks me "would you vote for a black person" to which I answered that I had voted for a black man that morning (Ken Blackwell who was running for govenor of Ohio) and further added that I decide who I will vote for based on what a that canidate stands for.

So we reach our destination and go about our business. When we get back in the van the new question is "Mom, do you think a mexican could get elected president?" Again, I answer, "yes, if they were born in the United States and are at least 35 year old, I think they could get elected president. Why do you ask?" (I am looking around to see if he sees a Hispanic person). He answers "Because I heard on the radio that the mexicans have larger families than other people and that they will be the majority in the US within 30 years". This all from a kid who has never taken a social studies class!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What: Second Annual Biography Fair
When: Sunday November 5, 2006 3:00 PM
Who: ALL HOMESCHOOLERS (preschool to teen and anyone in between)

Cost: None
Organizer: Laura
Where: St. Bernard (directioned will be emailed when you RSVP)
What to bring: Your project and a dish to share*

Each child picks anyone, living or dead, and does a presentation about their life. The child chooses how to present the infomation. They can write a report, make a display board, a photo montage, a video. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. The great thing about this opportunity is that any age child can participate and present their research to the best of their abilities. No competing!

There is a great article online that explains the biography fair in detail.

Contact Laura if interested in participating. If you don't feel like doing a project but would like to come and check out the work of our aspiring biographers, feel free to join us for the fun. Remember to bring a snack to share.

*Please bring a nut-free snack to share. No popcorn please! It night be fun to try to tie your treat to the subject of yoru biography fair project, for example, if you did your project on George Washington, maybe a cherry pie or if you chose Johnny Appleseed, some baked apples. Plates, drinks, napkins, silverware and cups provided!

What a wonderful event and a great turn out! The kids were so proud of the projects. Two of the girls made dolls to represent the subject of the projects, they were just absolutely adorable....Johnny Appleseed, complete with a metal pot on his head and Pocahantas, complete with baby Pomp on her back! Two of the other participants decided to do a presenation about their subjects in front of the group. The one even made an elaborate costume to represent Queen Elizabeth. Another child made a book that illustrated the birth of her baby brother (her subject). In another family, the children portraited their subject and then were interviewed by another family member. The videotaped the interviews, very, very cool!

Sophie even did a project! On Thursday most of the kids were working hard to put together their projects for Sunday's biography fair. I was busy printing off pictures for one of the boys when Sophie (4...she wouldn't be going to kindergarten for another year and a half if we "did" school) asked me when I was going to help her with her project. I quickly answered "honey, you don't have to do a project, you are only 4" to which she answered "but I want to do a project. I am doing Nick Lachey". I chuckled and told her that I would help her in a bit and she ran off, I figured she would probably forget about it. About 20 minutes later she comes back in the living room with a HUGE stack of pictures she had ripped for magazines, all of Nick Lachey (remember she has teenage sisters). She then asked for the scissors and some glue and a poster board. She glued her WHOLE project together herself (which is more than I can say for her 6 and 8 year old brothers). She so proudly stood with her display at the fair and told everyone about "Nick A- SHAY" as she callls him.

So from my family you had Ashley Parker Angel (Hannah), Vincent Van Gogh (Em), George Washington (Grant), Willie Stargell (Jacob), Stanley Burrell (Cade) and Nick Lachey (Sophie).

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Clue to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

I am not typically one that watches the evening news, usually far too busy with life to spend those hours in the evening watching tv...but for some reason I caught the news tonight, not all of it but just enough to catch this little tidbit.

SIDS cast a huge shadow over much of my childhood. We lost my brother to SIDS in 1976 and life was never the same. It haunted me as a parent, the paranoia that kept me from ever allowing my babies to sleep in their own rooms, I had to be able to touch them, to hear them breath. After all the years of research, it is comforting to hear that they now have a clue to at least one possible cause. I pray, by the day I am graced with grandchildren that today's discovery may lead to a cure.

Monday, October 30, 2006

5th grade TIGERS wins Second Consecutive CYFL Championship!

From the team blog: The battle hardened Tigers won their second CYFL Championship in an incredible game against Loveland Team #1. Team #2 struggled the entire game on offense and with 2:37 left in the game, Team #1 scored to go up 6-0. Team #2 roared back with an incredible drive that put them on Team #1's three yard line with five seconds left in the game. The Tiger 'O' line held like a stone wall as Dean Meyer dropped back and hit Reid Waddell in the endzone to tie the game at 6-6, with no time left on the clock. The Tigers missed on their PAT and headed in to their first ever overtime game. Team #2 lost the toss and started on offense. On the third play of OT, Brian McElveen, behind great blocking, exploded for 15 yards and put the ball on the two yard line. A QB sneak put the Tigers in the endzone, but a false start call cancelled the TD and put the Tigers back at the six yard line. On the next play, the 'O' line blew everyone off the ball as Brian exploded through the three hole, untouched for a touchdown. The Tigers missed the PAT and the score stood at 12-6.Team #2 put the game in the hands of their defense, which has been the backbone of this team all year long. The defense pushed Team #1 backwards forcing a fourth and 16 from the 26 yard line. Team #1's desperation pass fell incomplete under an awesome defensive rush to end the game. Congratulations Tigers on winning your THIRD straight Division Championship and your SECOND straight CYFL Championship!

2006Undefeated Season
Division Champions
CYFL Champions
3rd grade TIGERS finish season with a tie!

Jacob's team didn't fair nearly as well as the teams that Grant and Cade played with, but Jacob loves the game and was eager to attend each and every practice and game!

Jacob wore #38. Here are a couple pictures of him deep in battle in the midst of the game!


From the Team's Blog: An outstanding finish to an outstanding season. Loveland's offense rolled up another 320 yards of offense with twelve different ball carriers, including 138 yards rushing and two touchdowns by Adam Clark on only three carries (46 yards-per-carry average). Trevor also had an outstanding day, rushing 83 yards on 4 carries, including two extra points. Cal Conley added 94 yards and a score. Tyler and Joey also ran the ball well, with Joey picking up our last PAT of the season. Also running the ball were Scheeler, Brannen, Newbanks, Flanagan, Webster, Garafalo, and Fredj, who finished the game on an excellent 20 yard run to the right. All of this was possible behind the outstanding blocking by our offensive line, including Niehaus, Wichmann, Riesenberg, Newbanks, Scheeler, McCluskey, Garafalo, Siekman, Little, Cloud, Flanagan, Smolenski, Glasby, and Sloane.On defense the Tigers were outstanding. Black defense held the Tomahawks to negative yards, and White Defense held off their starters in the second half, which gave our White Offense a chance to get in some plays. Sixteen different players were in on tackles, including Hankins (7), Conley (7), Little (5), Flanagan (5), Wichmann (4), Dombroski, Clark, Scheeler, Brannen, Garafalo, Riesenberg, Nate Webster, Natron Webster, Smolenski, McCluskey, and Sloane.Way to go Tigers!Thanks to all for a wonderful season. These little Tigers out-scored our opponents by a total score of 247-115. Wow!

Here is our record:
Loveland Tigers 1st Grade Team2006 Record
Date Opponent Win/Loss Score
Aug. 19 Kings Knights W 14-7
Aug. 26 Lakota Tomahawks Team #7 W 14-7
Sept. 2 Kings Knights W 20-6

Sept. 9 Lakota Tomahawks Team #23 W 31-12
Sept. 16 Milford Eagles Team #1 W 20-6
Sept. 23 Anderson Wildcats W 18-7
Sept. 30 Little Miami Panthers W 33-18
Oct. 7 Kings Knights W 25-13
Oct. 14 Fayetteville Rockets W 13-6
Oct. 21 Milford Eagles Team #2 W 32-19
Oct. 28 Lakota Tomahawks Team #22 W 27-6