24 January 2010

Little House on the Prairie Musical with Zoe

When I was a little girl, growing up in Wisconsin, I discovered "Little House on the Prairie" book series by Laura Ingles Wilder. I loved those books and read every one. I still remember how sad I was when "Jack", Laura's dog died. When the TV series aired with Melissa Gilbert starring as Laura, I was thrilled. I watched every week. I don't think I missed an episode.

When I heard that Little House on the Prairie, the musical was coming to Madison's Overture Center, I wanted to go. So, Zoe and I went to the Sunday matinee on 24 January.

Prior to going to the show, we went across the street to the Orpheum theater and restaurant for Brunch. (Here's the brunch menu, if you're curious). We had first discovered this brunch before attending the Nutcracker at the Overture in 2007. It was Zoe's first experience with smoked salmon - and she reminds me of our experience regularly. Plus they were playing "The Grinch" on the lobby wall during brunch and she liked that. The brunch was a delicious and I had remembered....and they were playing "Casablanca" but only after I had reminded them.

Melissa Gilbert had been ill during the week and missed many performances. Fortunately, she was in the first half of the performance we saw on Sunday afternoon. Her son, Michael Engelbright was in the performance as well. It was a delight! We loved the show. The person playing Nellie Oleson was hilarious!

During the intermission, we had our picture taken in an old buckboard from the early 1900s. The Wisconsin Historical society provided the website to view scanned original letters from Caroline Ingalls to other relatives in Northern Wisconsin.

I bought Zoe a set of Little House on the Prairie paper dolls. When we got home, everyone helped cut them out and set them out. Zoe said she wanted to share her dolls with Grandma Stallman.

Clara's Friend from Out of Town

While Clara was going to school at Shorewood Hills elementary, she made many friends. One of her best friends was Sahalie Donaldson, who moved away at the end of 4th grade. Sahalie lives in Utah. She came to visit her friends in Madison over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Sahalie boarded a plane alone and came to visit Clara, Maxine, and Elena. She chose to come at this time because Elena, another good friend of Clara's was about to depart for 8 months in Italy. (She left on 19 January)

Clara had the privilege of hosting Sahalie beginning the afternoon of 16 January, Saturday through the afternoon of 17 January.

Saturday afternoon the girls "hung out", went to the library, and looked at pictures on the computer. After supper, they got out the "Harry Potter Scene It" game and played with Tristan and Zoe.

On Sunday, we backed a lunch and drove to the Wisconsin Dells for a day at Mt Olympic indoor waterpark and indoor theme park. I was concerned it would be packed - but it was a light day. The girls were able to go on every waterslide without lines. Tristan also had no difficulty go on as many waterslides as many times as he wanted.

Zoe, Neo and I stuck to the kiddie slides, the lazy river, and the hot tub!

The indoor theme park was a lot of fun. It was small and enclosed. The crowds were small and I wasn't worried about the whereabouts of the children.

Tristan headed for the arcade and spent most of his time there.

Clara and Sahalie had fun going on all the rides. Sahalie treated Clara to dippin dots ice cream.

Zoe was cautious about going on rides to begin with. But once she tried things, she was very happy to go on a 2nd and 3rd time - alone.

I took Neo on the Go-cart and the bumper cars. I gave Tristan and Neo some money for skeet ball while I took Zoe on the roller coaster. Later, Neo played mini bowling while I took her on again. He loved he mini bowling!

There was also a ball zone that Zoe, Neo and Tristan enjoyed playing at.

Neo pleaded to go on the indoor roller coaster "The Mouse" but he was too short. No amount of showing him the height requirement or explaining to him would satisfy his demands to go on. So I took him through the line. When the attendant told him he was too small, he sobbed! Half an hour later, he was begging to go on again! By the time we left, he was screaming and crying that he wanted to go on the mouse! He screamed all the way to the car! I guess we went out with a "bang" not a whimper. :)

Thanks for coming to visit, Sahalie!

11 January 2010

Zoe's 7th Birthday

Zoe with the fruit kabobs we made, Neo with his own creation

Zoe (with Erin) blowing out her candles....

Zoe turned 7 on Sunday 10 January 2010. To celebrate, she had her first friends invited party at Madtown Twisters, a gymnastics facility in Madison. She invited her entire class - 13 children (7 boys and 6 girls). Plus her best friend, Erin. In addition, her 3 siblings (Clara 12, Tristan 9, and Neo 3) came along. All attended, save one little boy who wasn't able to attend, because his sister was having a birthday party on the same day.

Clara and Tristan on the trampolines.

Zoe with her friend Erin (Erin is 10 days younger)

We made fruit kabobs. Neo made his own version with apple wedges. We also had a veggie and apple platter. (I didn't think the apples would spear well - but Neo showed me otherwise).

Neo landing in the foam blocks

The party started at 11am with 1 hour of time in the gym. There were trampolines, foam block pits, balance beams, bounce house, a rope to swing from, and a maze. The children had a great time.

Soulara, Grace and Ellie enjoying pizza

At noon, Papa John's made the pizza delivery - 6, 14" pizzas. Zoe had "My Little Pony" paper plates, cups, and napkins. We went with "generic" party hats - that the children had fun with. One girl wasn't able to play in the gym so she joined us in the party room for lunch.

Lorelei made this great pillow for Zoe :)

We had cupcakes with 7 candles plus the number 7 candle. It took Zoe several trys to blow all the candles out, perhaps because of all her missing teeth?

Jackson, Arun, Aidan, and Samuel

Afterward, some of the children wanted to go back to the gym...while others wanted Zoe to open the gift they had given to her. Zoe received many lovely gifts with many proud prouncements of "I picked that out myself".

Zoe and Ella

The party was a good opportunity for me to put names with faces in Zoe's class - and to meet their parents. I haven't met many since Zoe started at St James school in October.

When we got home, Zoe opened a few more gifts. We had more fun with the birthday hats. Then we wrote the thank you notes and took them to school on Monday.

Zoe's new robe and "paper dolls" book from Grandma Stallman

03 January 2010

Last Day of Winter Break

Neo and Tristan with their snow creatures
Tomorrow, Monday January 4, 2010, we get back to it. The kids to their schools and Dave to his work. Neo will begin a new preschool program on Tuesday. It will be good for him to have other kids to play with. He will miss his siblings very much on Monday.

On the first day of break, December 21, we drove down to Mineral Point to reclaim Apt 3. I had evicted the tenant in court on November 24 and spoke with him immediately after the hearing. He promised to be moved out by the 30th. The court ordered he leave the apartment in 10 days, or December 3rd. On December 4, I showed the apartment building to prospective buyers and the tenant was still living in the unit. I went to the court, secured an order from the judge to have the sheriff evict the tenant. Sheriff spoke with tenant and he agreed to be moved by December 14. On the 15th, they called to say they thought he was gone. On the 17th Sheriff called to say he wasn't gone, we'd have to change the locks. On the 18th, I had my handyman go with the Sheriff to change the locks. On 31 December, I showed the apartment to a young couple who were thrilled! The new tenants and their 2 cats have moved in.

Rain turned to ice

December 24th, and it's raining again. Neo and Tristan were playing in the yard. Neo was waving a stick around when he got a piece of bark and ice in his left eye. Finally, after Christmas eve service, we took him to the urgent care. The looked for any foreign object but didn't see anything. He was very brave as they put in two different drops - first to numb, then to test for a scratch. He broke down when the were in the middle of irrigating his eye. Poor boy.

Clara with her Coal
On Christmas eve, our tradition is to open the stockings which always have a small treat and new pajamas. Clara's pajama bottoms fit, but the top was too small - the sizes were mismatched! So she ended up with a "lump of coal"

Standing water on path at Vilas
The day after Christmas, we went to the Hallmark store for our annual "special" ornament purchase. We each pick out an ornament, write the date on it. When they are grown, the children will take their collections with them. We went to a few sales - and Tristan bought some special coins at the coin shop as part of his Christmas gifts - he had received money from grandparents.

December 26 was very warm. It had been raining for 2 days and above freezing so the snow cover was beginning to melt, causing backups in the sewer and standing water everywhere. It was strange to see the ice rink melted again. We went to Vilas park to walk in the slush and played on the playground.

The kids and I went bowling. Neo loves to bowl! They played two games. Neo bowled a higher score then his siblings in the 2nd game. Tristan was not amused. We bowled again with my dear friend Kathleen and her children on January 2nd. Neo and Rachael tied. Neo was using bumpers, Rachael wasn't.

Took Clara and Neo to see the Holiday Fantasy Lights - you can see the capitol in the background

During the 2nd week of break, I took the kids to the bargain movie theatre ($2.50). They saw "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and I took Neo to see "Julie and Julia". I really like it. Neo ate his popcorn with cheese flavoring, then went to sleep. The other patrons were surprised at how good he was.