Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Not exactly a fairytale royal wedding

Family, Special events, World News

One can hardly turn on the news without hearing some buzz about the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate. I even witnessed a young mother today, shopping with her toddler, for an expensive hat and shawl to wear to her friend's royal wedding party on Friday.

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How about a little Love & Respect?

Family, Religion, Special events

Doesn't everyone want a little love and respect?

The Apostle Paul in the Bible tells husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands in Ephesians 5:33. Two short little commands that are often difficult to carry out.

And because husbands and wives often stumble in these 2 areas, Elmbrook Church is holding a Love and Respect Marriage Conference with Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, the author of the book Love & Respect, this Friday, April 8, from 6:45pm - 10pm and Saturday, from 8:45am - 1:30pm. The cost is $45 per person.

If you are thinking this is one of those marriage conferences aimed at what men do wrong, think again. I have heard good things about both the conference and the book from my own pastor and from a girlfriend who attends Elmbrook. She told me that Dr. Eggerichs recently spoke at their church and was very funny. He uses many humorous examples to illustrate his points and is pretty even handed when it comes to helping each of the sexes see where they could improve how they relate to their other half.

Elmbrook Church is located at 777 S. Barker Road in Brookfield, WI, south of Blumound Road, north of Greenfield Ave.

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Come out and play at the Midwest Gaming Classic, March 26 & 27

Brookfield, Family, Just for fun!, Special events

It's that time of year again, the Midwest Gaming Classic comes to Brookfield's Sheraton Hotel, 375 South Moorland Road this weekend. Pay one fee and play all day: $20 Admission on Saturday, March 26th, 10am - 8pm, and $10 Admission on Family Day, Sunday, March 27th, 10am - 5pm. Children 12 and under are FREE if accompanied by an adult with paid admission.

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Midwest Classic. Billed as "The largest all-encompassing electronics gaming trade show", it has grown quite a bit since its early days.  They are also offering a bus tour to the Stern Pinball factory in Illinois for $95 on Friday, March 25th. (Stern is the last of the pinball manufacturers in the US.)

There are tournaments, $5,000 in prizes, speakers, vendors, 100s of games to play, vintage games and computers museum section, and games to purchase. If it plugs in and has buttons, it probably will be at the Classic! The weather this weekend returns to the low 30s, so I would think attendance would be up. Check out the Event Guide for specifics.

Have fun!

Past Posts: Midwest Gaming Classic weekend, play pinball, arcade games & more!
Play pinball and arcade games at Midwest Gaming Classic .

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Shades of Mr. Popper's Penguins, meet Lala

Just for fun!, Family, Movies & Books, Pets, Weather

On a snowy day like today, wouldn't it be nice to have someone go to the store for you? Check this out.

As a child, I enjoyed reading Mr. Popper's Penguins. As a mother, I enjoyed reading it again to my son. The story held up well over the years; he thought it was a real hit too. (It is available at the Brookfield Library.) But never in my wildest dreams did I think anyone would ever have a penguin for a house pet! Yet there he is on YouTube.

Unlike Mr. Popper, who kept Captain Cook (his pet penguin) in a freezer, the Japanese family seems to have an air conditioned porch for their pet. I hope you caught that the family gave Lala his freedom after they rescued him and nursed him back to health, but he chose to stay with them. Don't you love his backpack?

By the way, the story of Mr. Popper's Penguins makes it to the big screen this summer, starring Jim Carrey. (Though I am not a Jim Carrey fan, I do like penguins.) The story has been changed some in that this Mr. Popper is a single businessman who inherits several penguins. Hope the movie version maintains the charm of the book. The preview pictures look cute.

In the meantime, stay warm.

Mr. Popper's Penguins book review

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Love that lasts a lifetime, still holding hands at 90

Family, Holidays, Just for fun!

Today is Valentine's Day, a day that celebrates LOVE.

It is also a day that makes retailers happy if they happen to sell greeting cards, candy, flowers or jewelry! While those items might help show how much you care on February 14th, the other 364 days are equally, if not more, important.

Shortly after Christmas, I was privileged to witness a very dear couple (my aunt and uncle--both 90 years old) silently express their love for each other after nearly 65 years of marriage. My uncle was in the hospital and not expected to recover; my aunt was sitting next to him holding his hand. Our family was visiting.

There seemed to be something going on between them beyond just hand holding, which was touching in itself. They were playing the squeeze game: One party squeezes 4 times, the other answers with 3 squeezes, the reply is 2 squeezes, followed by a long squeeze answer.

Don't you know this? my aunt asked. We were clueless. No, we said. She joked Oh, you young people don't know everything and explained they had been doing this game for years--even before they were married.

This is the game:
Person 1 squeezes 4X, this asks the question, Do you love me?
The other person, Person 2, squeezes 3X in reply, Yes I do.
Then Person 1 squeezes 2X again to ask, How much?
The final answer from Person 2 comes in the form of 1 l-o-n-g, firm squeeze to say, THIS much.

They sat there and exchanged squeezes for quite some time as we chatted about the fun times we all had together.

The game was just a silly little thing, but it was special for them. I'm glad we were there to witness it. Their game showed that telling each other they loved each other was as normal for them as breathing.

You could tell the nurses thought they were a special couple too. One asked the secret to their nearly 65 years of marriage. Auntie said, Well, we put the Lord first, we're committed to each other--to being married... we love each other.

The book of Proverbs says, A friend loves at all times. And they have loved through good times and bad, through the ups and downs of marriage, a son's serious car accident and hospitalization, a granddaughters long recovery after being struck by lightening, 2 great grandchildren in neonatal ICU, my uncle's and their son's cancer, and financially challenging times. You know, life.

This dear couple would have been married 65 years this February, shortly before Valentine's Day. Unfortunately they didn't make that date; my uncle died the morning after our visit. But their love still lives on and will for eternity.

Be sure those you love know it today, and next time you hold hands with your sweetheart, maybe you want to introduce the squeeze game. XXXX, XXX, XX, X!

On Valentine's Day, Share the Word About the Benefits of Marriage.

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A St. Nick morning surprise

History, Family, Just for fun!, Holidays

In my childhood days, I would have raced downstairs on this morning to check my St. Nick stocking. These days, I often remember the day with a little treat for my family, even though we are all adults.

Somehow, St. Nick always forgets ;-) my stocking, but this morning, I found a very pleasant surprise in my email in-box that put me in the Christmas spirit. Here it is:

"This flash mob was organized by to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!" The clip information stated there were over 100 participants in the production. This would be one of the few times I wish I had been shopping!

Happy St. Nicholas Day and Merry Christmas

Do you celebrate St. Nick on Dec. 6th? It's very Milwaukee

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What's on your Thanksgiving menu? & Recipes

Family, Holidays, Good food / recipes

Recipe links below

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Learning to live without "man's best friend"

Family, Pets

Ten years ago, just before the 2000 election, we did something I never thought we would ever do...we became dog owners. My husband had dogs as a child and a cat when we were first married but never wanted to have a pet again--he didn't want to go through the heartbreak at the end of their short lives. I was not a dog person and had become allergic to cats, so pets were not on my bucket list either.

Our resolve quickly weakened, however, when our son started hinting he wanted a pet. (The popular TV show Wishbone and movie My Dog Skip, along with a field trip to the Wisconsin Humane Society added fuel to his pet passion fire.)

Maybe a dog would be a good companion for him, since he was an only child. We set aside all of our reasons for not wanting to own a dog, the nuisance, the expense, the work, and the heartbreak at the end, to give our child something he wanted so badly. We reluctantly agreed. And yes, we did get the usual promises that he would walk, feed, let the dog out, and clean up the yard, knowing full well they were just promises. (Just ask any mom who usually ends up doing all those tasks.)

The search was on.

Our son immediately started scouring the Internet for adoptable dogs. The price-tag for a purebred was out of the question; this dog would come from the humane society. Soon we were bombarded with an assortment of pooch profiles.

The first dog came from the Humane Animal Welfare Society in Waukesha. He was a 7 year old Silky/Yorkie mix charmer named Willie. We all fell in love immediately. Willie came home with us and seemed to fit right in. As time went on, however, our charming Dr. Jekyll turned into an evil, growling Mr. Hyde. We got pet counseling but it was too little too late; he bit my husband and drew blood. Hardly the pet you want for a young boy, and we knew we couldn't trust the dog again. Willie had to be returned and by law was destroyed. We were devastated. (We later found out H.A.W.S. didn't tell us of the problems at his former home that led to his surrender in the first place.)

Now we were approaching Christmas--not exactly the time to be getting a new dog. I kept assuring my son that God willing, we would find the right dog. Just pray and be patient.

Four days after Christmas, our son showed us a new dog profile. This one was at a rescue house in Aurora, Illinois. She was a 2 year old Westie we named Zoe, who also turned out to be a disaster. We soon found out she hated men. She hated boys. She only loved me! Hardly the right dog for our son. Two weeks later she went back to Aurora.

I still believed and assured my son that the right dog was out there, if we were patient. My son really didn't buy that but shortly after Zoe, the call came from the Wisconsin Humane Society. We have a Maltese mix young male dog here that meets your pet profile preferences. Since you are first on our list, when can you come in?

We had filled out a preference card with them back in November. Now they were calling because they had a dog who met our requirements: small and hypo-allergenic.

Come in? My son and I can be there now!

I still remember seeing "Walter" for the first time. (Walter was the name they assigned to him. We later found out he was a stray, so his real name was unknown.) He was in a small glass fronted room and ran up to the window to greet us. We could see he liked to play with stuffed animals. They let my son and I into the room and he promptly jumped up on us and wanted to play. He seemed very friendly. This one might be the one.

Unlike H.A.W.S., where you had to wait a day or two for adoption, the W.H.S. wanted you to make the adoption decision on the spot. We called up Dad and he came to meet Walter too. This one seemed right. Third time is a charm? And that is how we got Walter. Also unlike the other 2 adoption agencies, W.H.S. does extensive personality testing*. They don't adopt out problem dogs.

We brought him home trying to think of a better name for our new scruffy, white, dust mop of a dog than Walter! The first thing he did when he came in our home was mark the refrigerator 2 times. (We were told to expect that since he was 1 or 2 years old and was just neutered.) The next thing he did was run around the living room; he zipped around like he was running in the Kentucky Derby. So in a way, our dog named himself, with a little help from Dad, who suggested we call him Zipper because of it.  His zippin' became his trademark.

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The "Cheap Date" - dinner & movie under $14

Family, Brookfield, Living well on less $, Just for fun!, Movies & Books

Last Friday night, my husband and I went on a cheap date. We had had a busy week getting our kitchen emptied out for the floor re-finishers, so cooking was out of the question. We were both too tired to go out for dinner at one of our favorite places like Singha Thai,* but we did need to eat dinner.

How about going to that new Asian place at Brookfield Marketplace?, I asked.  That seemed to click. The Asian Chef, the latest addition to Brookfield Marketplace on Greenfield Ave, east of Moorland Rd., just moved in a few weeks ago and so far, is getting rave reviews--at least from us and some of our neighbors.

Asian Chef offers a wide variety of choices and even lets you choose white or brown rice. The cost/value quotient seems right too. You can get a very adequate lunch or dinner for $4.75. (Some choices are more.) Since there really wasn't a good place to eat amid our chaos at home, we chose to dine in.

After our tasty dinner we went over to the Pick 'n Save to see if they had one of those Red Box movie rental for a $1 kiosks. Yes, they did. We picked out Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. That proved to be a winner too. It was a great story of South Africa during their early post apartheid days in 1995. Freeman plays President Nelson Mandela; Damon plays Francois Pienaar, the nation's Rugby star. Mandela uses the country's nearly all white Rugby team to unite the country.

The closeup shots of the Rugby games were reason enough to watch this movie. (Yikes, they make American football players look like wimps!) But watching a segregated nation come together was the real story. Invictus was inspiring.

Spoiler alert: My favorite scene was when the underdog South African team played New Zealand, the favorite, in the World Cup. New Zealand attributed their success to the Maori war dance that they did just prior to every game. It was very intimidating. In contrast, the South African team got on their knees on the field and thanked God for their win. It was one of those good vs. evil moments.

Rating: Invictus was rated PG-13. There was only 1 F-bomb that I heard, and it was said with a rather thick accent. There was one scene where Damon and his wife are shown in an embrace and they fall onto a bed in a hotel room. The audience doesn't see them on the bed though. So as movies go, it is pretty tame. Check out what Common Sense media has to say about the movie if you are unsure your teens should watch.

So that was our cheap date. Sometimes simple is simply perfect!

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Sat. June 12: 'Volksfest' celebrates all things Volkswagen at Concours Motors

Just for fun!, Family, Free, Special events, Transportation, WISCONSIN

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Midwest Gaming Classic at Brookfield's Sheraton Hotel - March 27 & 28

Brookfield, Family, Just for fun!, Special events

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It's Elmbrook's Human Growth & Development (Sex Ed) public review time again

Education, Elmbrook, Family, HG&D (sex-ed)

Elmbrook School District residents may look over the Human Growth & Development materials at the district offices at 13780 Hope Street, just a few blocks north of Capitol Drive.

Daytime Sessions: Jan. 11 - 15, Jan. 18 - 22 and Jan. 25: 9 a.m. - Noon and 1 - 4 p.m.
Evening Sessions: Thursday, Jan. 14 and Monday, Jan. 18: 5 - 7 p.m.

New for this year is the proposed packaged curriculum by Holt for the middle school students. I believe this is the first pre-fab curriculum our district has ever had for health instruction, which is the broader term for sex ed.

I like the idea of a packaged curriculum because it is easier to see exactly what will be taught. The Outcomes, I have heard, are tied to specific chapters and pages, which should help parents see what subjects are emphasized and taught.

One of the challenges in reviewing the HG&D materials is to match the Outcomes with the actual instructional materials. Another would be to look at how much time is devoted to a subject. For example, the curriculum may include teaching abstinence and birth control, but how much time is devoted to each? Hypothetically, if there is one mention of abstinence and then 10 lessons on contraception, are we really covering both subjects? Is instruction glossing over the importance of abstinence in preventing sexually transmitted diseases, many of which are incurable?

As you review the material, keep in mind the state graduation requirement for sex ed is 1/2 credit in the subject of health. Period. Every classroom hour devoted to HG&D takes one hour away from some other subject such as science, math, English, or history.

If you have children in the Elmbrook School District, I urge you to go take a look at what materials are there for your child's present and future grade levels.

Past Posts: Still time to review Elmbrookd's HG&D (Sex-Ed) materials:


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Do you celebrate St. Nick on Dec. 6th? It's very Milwaukee

Just for fun!, History, Family, Holidays

Did you grow up celebrating St. Nicholas' Day? If so, you know to hang your stocking by the chimney on the eve of Dec. 5th!

St. Nicholas or St. Nick is relatively unknown in most of the United States. He was a Christian Bishop living in the Roman Empire in the early 300s AD. The holiday is a German custom and very much part of being a Milwaukeean.

When I was a little girl, we didn't celebrate Santa on Christmas morning, but we did enjoy hanging a clean sock up on the eve of Dec. 5th. Since we didn't have a fire place. we improvised by hanging our socks on the drawer handles of the mahogany knee hole desk. Hey, it kind of looked like a fire place!

It was always fun the next morning to see what mom and dad put into our stockings. Sometimes we would get a stuffed animal; sometimes golden foiled chocolate coins*--those were always intriguing. Once they forgot all about St. Nick until we hung up our socks. That year we got bags of home-popped popcorn, a pack of gum? and some quarters.

Why the chocolate coins? If you know the St. Nicholas story, you would know that he was said to have thrown money through an open window of a poor family's home, during the night. The family was poor and had no dowry money for their 3 daughters. Having no dowry back then meant they probably wouldn't marry, which also meant they would be sold as slaves or go into the oldest profession. The money was said to have landed on their socks and shoes drying by the hearth. It is interesting to me that he did this secretly--no pompous show of his generosity.

In remembering St. Nicholas' Day, oranges or apples often were given. They were to represent the gold St. Nick gave. That is why an orange frequently was put into the toe of a Christmas or St. Nick stocking. (Oranges used to be pricey fruit before the days of improved transportation and considered a real treat.)

I kept the St. Nick tradition alive with my son too. Unlike Santa's visit, which occurs on Christmas Eve, St. Nick occurs early in the month. There is no confusion for children as to where St. Nick fits into the nativity story. (It is rather like celebrating George Washington's birthday with cherry pie.) St. Nicholas Day is a just-for-fun holiday commemorating a real person, who was known for his kindness and good work. No need for all the tall tales, deceit, and subterfuge about how St. Nick is omniscient or makes it all around the world in one night delivering presents to good boys and girls.

No, St. Nicks can be celebrated and enjoyed in the full light of the truth and used to illustrate an important biblical truth that it is more blessed to give than receive. In fact, you could incorporate a secret good deed for a needy family as part of your celebration with your children.

Giving, rather than receiving, after all, is a message we all need to remember every day of the year.

Have a happy St. Nicholas Day!

St. Nick's Day Can be a Nice Little Surprise Milwaukee Journal, 1999 - Lots of nostalgia about Winkies and Drews Variety stores. (I still love to visit Winkies in Whitefish Bay!)

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Of Skunk Cabbages, streambanks, and summer reading fun

Family, Just for fun!, City of Brookfield, Library, Nature

(More photos on Brookfield7)

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Ahoy Kids, there be Buried Treasure in Brookfield!

Just for fun!, Family, Special events

That's right. For children going into K4 through 6th grades this fall, there be Buried Treasure to be found in Brookfield. Actually, Buried Treasure is the theme of this summer's Vacation Bible School at Brookside Baptist Church next week, July 13 - 17th, 6:25 - 8:30pm.

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This mom says thank God for sisters and aunts

Family, Holidays

Today, I would like to say thanks to all the aunts: the sisters of moms and dads who lend a hand, pinch hit, take the kids where mothers fear to tread, and generally add so much to their nieces' and nephews' lives. Some of these ladies never get a Mother's Day card, tribute, or gift, yet they contribute a great deal to both their siblings and their sibling's children's lives.

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Parental Rights Amendment to be introduced March 31

Conservatives, Constitution, Family, Legislation, U.S. Sovereignty

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Who chooses your child's education? N.C. children forced into public school

Creation Science / Intelligent Design, Education, Family, Homeschooling, Slipping fast!

We may be heading to the left, but last time I checked, it was a parent's right to decide how their child was educated.

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Elmbrook's HG&D (sex-ed) materials need more review time

Culture, Education, Elmbrook, Family, HG&D (sex-ed)

Wednesday, Jan. 14th, 8:30am to 4pm, is the last official day for interested Elmbrook residents to review the Human Growth & Development sex-ed materials. The HGD committee meets this Thursday to discuss the review comment forms. If you have looked at the sex ed materials, make sure your comments are submitted to Elmbrook's school offices by noon, Thursday, Jan. 15.

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Elmbrook Human Growth & Development Parent Review: Dec. 9, 12, and Jan. 6

Common sense, Culture, Education, Elmbrook, Family

File this under: Plan ahead. Human Growth and Development team member Cheri Mastel left a comment reminding us of these upcoming HGD meetings. Since I don't want any interested parents or residents to miss this opportunity, I am posting portions of her comments here:

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The movie "Fireproof" and the Pope encourage married couples

Family, Movies & Books, Religion

The movie, FIREPROOF opens today at 2 area theaters. From the previews, it sounds like a must see for any married couple, and probably would set a good foundation for anyone getting married too."FIREPROOF is the third feature film from Sherwood Pictures--the creators of FACING THE GIANTS and FLYWHEEL."

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Elmbrook 5K enrollement requirements + reading ideas

4-K, 5K, Education, Elmbrook, Family

My posting on Dr. Gibson flirts with 4K again to cure Elmbrook budget woes sparked a bit of a controversy regarding Elmbrook's 5K enrollment requirements in the comment section.

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2 H.R. Bills: bad idea and co$tly- Education Begins at Home Act & Pre-K Act

4-K, Education, Family, Legislation

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ ”
President Ronald Reagan

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My Dad, They Call His The Greatest Generation

Aging / Elderly, Family, Holidays

Last week, I watched The Journey of Natty Gann while making some muffins and cleaning up the kitchen. If you have never seen the movie, it is a period piece, set in the early 1930s, during the depression. An out of work widower must choose between staying with his daughter in Chicago, or going out to Washington state for a rare chance to work. He has little choice but to leave the daughter in the care of a floozy of a landlady. Natty, the daughter (14 years old?), runs away from the bad landlady and rides the rails all the way out to Washington. (Many adventures along the way. It ends happily.)

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McDonald's, I'm NOT lovin it! End Support of Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

Culture, Family, Homosexual agenda, Truth

McDonald's has been showing it's true rainbow colors as of late, and I'm not lovin it. What next? Ronald McDonald coming out of the closet? (Ooh, not ready for that!)

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Come to HG&D Work Session Tuesday, May 13, 6-7 PM

Education, Elmbrook, Family

(Be sure to contact our state legislators today about budget!)

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Thanks Mom

Family, Holidays, Living well on less $

My mom was an amazing woman. Her priorities were God, Dad, us, others, then herself. She was kind, generous, and a whiz at managing money. Since the economy is in the news so much these days, I will focus on her money management talents.

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She's only 15 for heavens sake!

Ethics, Family, Unintended consequences

UPDATE: Two world-wise, twenty-something young women today and I were talking about the Miley picture. Their reaction surprised me because they did not seem all that conservative. They both thought the picture was in inappropriate. Good, I thought, there is hope for today's youth. They then went on to tell me of another picture from that shoot that they both deemed "creepy". It was of Billy Ray with Miley draped over his leg--hardly a father daughter pose. This photo will be harder for Billy Ray to claim, I would not have allowed that pose had I been there. Obviously, he was!

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Easter egg tree countdown

Family, Holidays, Just for fun!

When my son was young, we dyed eggs for Easter. Oh my, what chaos! But he had so much fun, how could I say no? My sister would come over and join in the festivities (and mess). Our favorite dyes were those oily swirl type paints.

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New Year, clean slate

Family, Healthy living, Holidays

One week down, 51 more to go in 2008. Already I am thinking, where did the first week go? (I started the new year out a little under the weather, so that may account for feeling I missed out on something.)

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My dog got mail!

Entrepreneurship, Family, Holidays

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4K discussion reveals disturbing trend

4-K, Education, Elmbrook, Family, Homeschooling

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