Archive for June, 2011


Parade, Picnic, Play, Pyrotechnics  

I love the 4th of July.  It’s the only day of the year you’ll catch me (and my entire family of 6) in a red, white, and blue clothing and accessory ensemble.  But it’s tradition.

As I write the commentary, the first of the family influx into town begins. I get to meet our family’s next generation, my neice’s toddlers.  They live in Texas and it’s their first trip up to experience the 4th of July the Racine-way!

After what I anticipate to be a fun-filled day on Sunday, I’ll drag my butt (though my husband and kid’s will be raring to go) up out of bed, and maybe we’ll make the pre-parade.  You know it’ll be my fault if we don’t.  I’ll park in the same illegal spot as I do year after year.  I cannot believe I am confessing that.  Tell you where that is?  I think not!  Read more…

We’ll meet up on our same ‘ole corner on Main Street, with the same ‘ole gang (give or take whatever relatives made it into town) that  we do every year.  Gosh, I LOVE our parade.  Should be in it, but, I can’t fathom the thought of not enjoying it with my family.  Been there, done that.  Another story.

After the parade, we’ll head on over to the family bash, hosted by my amazing patriarch father-in-law, and perfectly complimenting matriarch mother-in-law.  Our party takes place on the family property right on Lake Michigan.  You cannot ask for a more awesome location.  Of course, we’ll enjoy great food and conversation.  Then at 2:00 or 3:00, “the play” will begin.  Time depends on how ready the kids are.

It’s been a tradition since 2004.  The kids (now ranging from 17 years old and down to whatever little toddler wants a piece of the action) put on their annual production under the tent.  My neice takes the lead with script writing, song selection, and costume creating.  Productions run the gamut from original works “Mara” to last year’s “Phantom of the Opera” which highlighted my husband and his brother as the “opera house owners” and the girls’ handsome 3rd cousin appropriately cast as The Phantom.  And speaking of “tradition”…this year they are staging “Fiddler on the Roof”.

Things will wrap up at about 6.  We’ll regroup (my husband will catch a cat nap, most will change clothes, spray bug spray) and head on down to another same ‘ole corner on Michigan Avenue, with the same ‘ole parade group.   A couple of years now we’ve broken the tradition, after mingling on our fireworks corner, we head down to the Racine Yacht Club and lay under the spectacular display.  You’d do it too!

One of the most memorable 4th of July scenes imprinted in my mind is the trek back to the car after the fireworks.  The town is not wanting to wind down.  Tell you what…my body is!

Some family members will book on the 5th.  Others will linger for a week.  We’ll get some kid sailing in, a trip to Six Flags, then soon things will return back to normal.  Post Fourth Blues will settle in.  It’s tradition.

Well, thanks for allowing me to share with you my family’s customs during the fourth.  I am sure something out of the ordinary will happen.  It always does….plane in the lake, gunpowder in the eye…trip to ER, why break tradition?  Enjoy!


Leave a comment »

Five Bucks


4 Dinner & Wishes 

Today I sent my teenage girls over to the Dollar Tree to pick up some poster board.  (2 for buck, you can’t beat that!)  They came back and told me about a man’s request to help him buy some chicken so that he could feed his kids.  My girls then walked over to the Piggly Wiggly, and bought it for him.  Five bucks.  That’s what they donated to this man’s family’s dinner table.  It broke my heart and made it smile, all at the same time.

So many people have so many different needs. And to think what a difference $5 could make in some strangers’ lives…

Please read more as JAK sprints to the finish of promoting this weekend’s Minute to Wish It event benefiting Make-A-Wish Foundation ® of Wisconsin .  We’ll also introduce you to local “Wish Kid” Scott!

I know the dynamics of a busy family schedule first hand.  I know the desire of wanting to do and participate in many things, and yet, sometimes you just can’t.  You’ve seen the promotion Just Add Kids has done for Sunday’s Minute To Wish It event, though you just want to chill or you’ve got other plans.  All is good!

You can participate and support the Minute to Wish It event without stepping foot in the YMCA on Sunday.  We’re running a weekend-long marathon on-line on Saturday & Sunday.  Please consider joining the race and contributing a mere $5 to help grant wishes for Wisconsin’s children with life-threatening illnesses.

If you are on Facebook, “friend” JAK and participate in the marathon, by donating here, then sharing the $5 contribution spree from the Just Add Kids Facebook wall.

When you donate via online donation page, please note in the comments: “referred by JAK“.  Please ask those friends that you refer, to include “referred by JAK and (your name)”.  All JAK referred donors (just names, not donation amount) will be posted on our website’s CONTEST page, Facebook page; and weekly e-newsletter, JAK Happenings.  For each donation you make, or donation made by your referral, you will be entered into a drawing for a $25 Creative Memories gift certificate.

Say you’d like to step foot in the YMCA and attend the event as either a spectator or participant!  Fantastic!  Let us know that you will be coming by RSVP’ing  via email to  Just Add Kids will then respond with your drawing entry form that you will deposit at the JAK display table at the Minute to Wish It event on Sunday between 1 and 4pm.

Why donate? Endless tests, hospitalizations, pain, fear…
Wishes granted can provide a reprieve from the realities of the health challenged lives of Wisconsin’s children.  Meet Scott, an area “wish child” who has Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.

Scott is a 16-year-old from Burlington who enjoys camping, swimming and watching TV. He wishes to have his own study/rec room where he can focus, rest and relax. His wish will come true next week.

His wish experience began when Make-A-Wish® volunteer wish granters sat down with Scott and his family to determine his wish. They put together a list of everything Scott wanted in his new rec room and then the wish granters and Make-A-Wish staff went to work to bring this wish to life. His new room will include a large screen Plasma TV; a 3-piece sectional couch with recliner and ottomans; coffee table, end tables, lamps and an area rug and a game table, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

On his wish day, Scott’s wish granters will throw a special party for Scott, his family and friends, celebrating his wish come true. It will be a priceless moment when Scott enters his new room for the first time. This wish will not only give Scott a special place away from his medical worries, it will also give him and his family hope, strength and joy.

To learn more, visit

A mere $5...donate online TODAY!

Leave a comment »

JAK ♥ Dads!

Awesome Dads in Abundance      

Have you checked out the “Color Dad Awesome” Portrait Gallery yet?  Even if you are not a JAK Facebook friend, you can check out the fantastic artist’s renditions of dads from all over our area by clicking here. And while you’re there, why not “friend” JAK?!

Don’t know what I am talking about? Well, check it out quickly if you’d like your child to enter for a chance to win $100 and their daddy to win a 6 pack of haircuts!  Read more…

For the second year in a row, Just Add Kids has partnered with Educators Credit Union and Sport Clips of Racine to bring you, your kids and their daddy a fun contest in celebration of Father’s Day. Kids color a portrait of their dad, grandaddy, or other fatherly figure (portrait frame and entry form available on the Just Add Kids website, or via link below) for a chance to win a gift package including $100 Visa gift card for themselves and a product gift basket along with a card good for 6 MVP haircuts for their dad.

Yeah, time is a ticking, but thank goodness for modern technology, you can download the entry form by clicking here:  “Color Dad Awesome” . Then simply, scan and email  the portrait of dad on over to by midnight Friday!

Enjoy Father’s Day, and every day!


Leave a comment »

Who’s Your Daddy?

Join JAK dads

What’s Your Daddy?  Welcome To My World.
Just Add Kids welcomes Toby Mueller, a Raymond dad, as JAK’s guest blogger

It seems like I say “Welcome to my world” at least once a day to my wife when she returns from the world previously known to me as outside employment. I am sure I heard my mom say it to my dad during my formative years. Now, ironic as it seems, I am saying it like I mean it. And I do mean it.

If you would have asked me ten years ago if I ever thought of being a stay at home dad (SAHD), I would have looked at you and said “a what?” I didn’t know any SAHD’s when I became one in 2006 and I still know very few in the area. And this is for a good reason. There are not many in the US.

According to the 2009 US Census, there were 5.1 million women who identified themselves as a stay at home parent. While there were 158,000 men who identified themselves as a stay at home dad. That means that SAHD’s make up less than 1/100th of the total US population. Not much of a chance that you run into a SAHD on any given day. So if you do, enjoy the opportunity.

But, we are out there. We do all the things that stay at home mom’s do and then some. Cooking, cleaning, being a taxi, comforting a child who just skinned their knee. Plus, all of the dad duties don’t go away…mowing the lawn, landscaping and home maintenance still need attention.

I have been blessed to be able to raise my girls. Not every dad gets the chance to try it. It is not an easy career path and it is not recommended for every guy out there. Believe me, I have thought of handing in my resignation many times!  But, it is doable.

My hope is that I can share just a small part of the SAHD story through this blog and build a network of SAHDs or other dads who are actively involved in the primary care-giving of their children and want to connect with other dads in Racine and Kenosha County.

I have joined forces with Just Add Kids in launching a community called JAK dads, in an effort to connect our area’s SAHDs to each other with the purpose of providing a haven for support and friendship.

We’ll start our private group on Facebook, and see where it goes!  Kinda like the life we live as SAHDs.  So if you are on Facebook, go ahead and “friend” Just Add Kids then request to join our group JAK dads.

If you have any challenges there.  Just email

In addition to joining the Just Add Kids community as a guest blogger and JAK dads group administrator, Toby is a frequent contributor on the Caledonia Patch website.  You can catch the above commentary and more of his insights here:

Leave a comment »

Wishful Thinking

Putting Thoughts Into (60 Second) Action               

Just Add Kids welcomes Mollie Bartelt, a Caledonia mom, as JAK’s guest blogger

Do you want to make a difference in your life this summer? Or make a difference for a child who has a life threatening illness? Or win $1000 in a fun challenge?

Game on!

My story began six months ago, when my happy, healthy nine year old daughter came in from outside playing in the snow feeling dizzy. We became alarmed when she couldn’t stand up after resting a bit…her legs were wobbly and criss-crossing and she appeared to have no balance. A few short hours later in the emergency room, the situation looked worse as she was starting to slur her speech and not even be able to get words out correctly… and she couldn’t get her hands to work to put a snack in her mouth. Read more…

The hospital ER staff then sent us up to Children’s Hospital where Hannah stayed for nearly a week, undergoing tests and having therapy. While all the tests were negative, she continued to be unable to walk or stand unsupported and had trouble speaking. Hannah was finally diagnosed with Cerebellitis . . . a rare condition where a child’s immune system fights off a virus (i.e. cold, etc.) but then keeps fighting after the virus is gone and causes brain swelling. Fortunately, this is a temporary condition, but no one could tell us how long it would take for Hannah to talk and walk properly again.

While Hannah was on the Neurological unit at Children’s, we saw many children who were in much more severe situations. A child died while we were there. As a mother and a Creative Memories consultant, I knew that I wanted to give something to help these children who were suffering and their families who need something happy to get them through the tough times.

My fellow team of Creative Memories consultants and I have organized Minute to Wish It on June 26 at the Racine Family YMCA . . . a family fundraiser where families will compete in a fast paced series of challenges where winners will proceed to the next challenge. The final team left will have the opportunity to win up to $1000 in the Final Round of Minute to Wish It challenges.

Would you please consider giving back some of the blessings you have received by getting your family and friends together to be a team for this fun day? More details can be found on If you cannot, forward this email on to others who might be interested!

If you would like to contribute to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, please use this link:

As for my daughter, she came home with a pediatric walker, needed stand by assist for everything from eating to going to the bathroom . . . but her spirit and attitude remained wonderful. It took her six weeks to completely recover and now she is back out on the soccer field full force.

Making a difference in the lives of children in need of a wish . . . will make a difference in your life this summer . . . I promise you!

*Creative Memories formed an alliance with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help grant the wishes of children with life threatening medical conditions while also providing the tools needed to remember the past, cherish the present and be inspired with hope for the future.

Comments (3) »