Archive for October, 2013

Take a Time Out!

Time for Family
by Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

Hansen Rueben

Rueben Hansen 1931-2013

Yesterday we buried my uncle.

My Uncle Rueben lived a long life of 82 years. He leaves my dad, his younger brother, as the last survivor of their immediate family: The Hansen’s of Covington, Michigan. Never heard of Covington, Michigan? Have you heard of Yoopers? Yeah, there’s a band that put out a song called “Second Week of Deer Camp”. Those folks, Da Yoopers, also hail from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

I am Yooper offspring. Read more… And yesterday, took my immediate family, the Hansen’s of Green Bay (my mom, my dad, my older sister, my younger sister, my brother, and myself) piled in my brother’s minivan up to the celebration.

As kids in the seventies and eighties, we Hansen’s of Green Bay (HGB), took many a trips up north. We have a vast number of relatives from both sides of my family: My mom’s, who with her father and siblings settled in Covington from Finland in the 50’s. And my dad’s whose U.P. heritage goes back three generations. My great-grandfather, Hans Vaaja, came to settle smack dab in the middle of the U.P. in a place called Bruce Crossings. Our biggest hangout, was at our cousin’s place in Michigamme, Michigan. My mom’s younger sister and her husband had 3 daughters. Ages lined up pretty closely with me and my sib sisters. I’d say this family, the Wiljanen’s, was the family we spent the most time with and have most of our childhood memories with. We’re obviously all grown now. 5 of us 7 cousins in the Hansen/Wiljanen team have children. One is a grandmother.

Hansen Wiljanen

Hansen’s of Green Bay visiting Wiljanen’s of Michigamme ’71
(our other cousins, the Tarvainen’s at that time of Columbus OH also pictured)

Hansen Wiljanen reunion 2010

The Hansen’s of Green Bay (and a few offspring) reunite with some of the Wiljanen’s of Michigamme on the 2010 Hansen Pasty Tour

My dad is the youngest of 3 brothers.  I never met my grandpa. He passed away years before I was born. I did meet my dad’s oldest brother. I was 6 when he passed away (he has 3 kids all who are 10-15 years older than I). 3 years later, my Mummu (meaning grandma in Finnish) passed away. And now, 40 years later, her #2 son, dies. There had been that long of a time span between deaths in this Hansen’s of Covington family. My Uncle Rueben lost his 3rd wife in ’06 and his oldest son who tragically committed suicide at the age of 19. That latter funeral took place not too long after my Mummu’s. He is survived by a daughter and his youngest son and numerous grandkids and great-grandkids.

Hansen chatting with the Aunties

Visiting with Hansen Aunties in Baraga Michigan during our 2010 Hansen Pasty Tour

Hansen grave

At my Mummu’s and Grandpa Hansen’s graves in Covington Michigan during the 2010 Hansen Pasty Tour

My fondest memory of my uncle I posted to Facebook, as it has remained one of most memorable conversations from my wedding day. The minute I saw his obituary picture, it led me to reflect: He said to me  “Your eyes are twinkling”. He knew how happy I was, which I thought was so profound, as the first time my hubs had caught my attention, I SWEAR his eyes twinkled at me (and I shared that with him). I love this picture of Uncle Rueben, it just captures his twinkling expression perfectly. Interestingly, he died 1 day after mine and my husband’s 20th wedding anniversary.

We gathered in a small funeral home. Reintroduced and reunited with familiar faces from the past. Met others who I might’ve heard had been born in the last 30 years or so. Looked over 5 picture boards of memories put together by my Uncle’s local family, of course, his daughter, his son and grandkids, I imagine. Out of the numerous pictures, there were no pictures of our family, with the exception of a couple of pictures with my dad as a youngster, wedding photos from the 50’s. Now my dad and his brother were close. My uncle spent time down here in Milwaukee at the V.A. hospital for some pretty long extended stays attributed to some heart surgeries. And sadly, I think one of those stays, I found the time to go and visit. I can’t pinpoint. Probably 10 years ago? My parents make a couple of trips up to the U.P. to visit relatives each year. My sister tagged along in early June and thankfully spent some time with Uncle Rueben at his last residence…a nursing home. Knowing that his health was declining, my parents had planned to see him this weekend.

Hansen bros

Uncle Rueben and my dad this past June.
That would be the last time they were together.

After the service, we headed to the cemetery where my uncle, a veteran of United States Air Force, was honored with a 3 volley rifle salute and the customary presentation of the U.S. Flag with the shell casings to my cousin’s Debbie and Jeffery. While there were tears at the funeral home, emotions poured here. I clung onto my daddy so firmly. This part was hard. Most participated in putting dirt over my uncle’s urn that was placed in the ground for burial.

Family and friends then headed over to Debbie’s home. We ate, socialized, and really had a great time with people, we, my sibs and I, the HGB, really never got to know well, or really ever knew. Our family…the offspring of the Hansen’s of Covington.

I am happy to say, and I am sure my Uncle Rueben would be smiling if he knew how his celebration of life, his funeral, brought family together. I’ve got new friends (family) on Facebook. There is a plan to meet my cousin’s ex-wife (yup, she was there) with their daughter in Chicago, as she checks out colleges and talks of a Hansen Family Meet Up in the dells in 2015. I have a feeling that this second half of my life, will be filled with creating memories with this other half of my family. I’m glad I can say, now, it’s not too late.

Thank you, Uncle Rueben. I love you.


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Rate This!

This Blog is Rated PG for Parental Guidance
by JAK’s guest mom, Nicole Hunt, of Racine

You may be surprised to know that, in part, we have Steven Spielberg to thank for the existence of the PG-13 rating.  In the early 80’s the films Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Poltergeist and Gremlins all received a PG rating.  I know that Poltergeist is not appropriate for my 8 year old; in fact it would freak her out.  So as a result of how violent these films were people started asking for a rating between PG and R; shortly after PG-13 was born.

This brings up a very interesting question.  How do we know what is okay for our kids to see?  I am in no way a “you must be 13 to see PG-13 movies” type of parent.  In fact, as a kid I always thought that was kind of a weird rule.  I am also not a liberal as some of my friends who are watching the rated “R” Matrix with their 2 and 6 year old.  I am not judging parents on either side of this spectrum.  I have cousins who were watching the Chucky movies at age 3 and neither one, to this point, have turned into violent killers.  I am, however, a big movie buff who is counting down the day when I can share great films like a Clockwork Orange and Apocalypse Now with my kids.  That being said, my husband and I spend a lot of time discussing what our kids are and are not ready for.

This has become increasingly challenging with our youngest.  It seemed like my oldest was watching Nick Jr. until she was at least 8, but my youngest, promptly at 6, sent all her Dora stuff packing.  Part of this has to do; I am sure, with the fact that she is copying her older sister.  I couldn’t believe it when she quickly became obsessed with Hannah Montana and Justin Bieber in the 1st grade.

 Eris and Trillian with Woody lego

I also think we are partly to blame.  I find we are always looking for things to watch as a family that is appealing to everyone.  This means less Nick Jr. and more Discovery Channel.  We went through a long run of nature documentaries, and now I feel like the only things we watch are Myth Busters and Pixar movies.

What makes it more difficult is that the 8 year olds’ favorite things now are Anime and Super Heroes, and we are quickly running out of things appropriate for her age.  You would think super heroes would provide a plethora of viewing options, but we have found they are getting more violent with each film.

Trillian dressed as Sailor MoonMy husband has been a big fan of the series of straight to video, animated movies being released by D.C. including a great Wonder Woman movie.  I have to say the feminist in me was super happy when Wonder Women became my daughter’s new favorite hero.  They are all rated PG-13 and on a whole we have found them acceptable for our youngest, but we recently were shocked by newest one, Flashpoint, focused on an alternate universe where the Flash isn’t the Flash (I am embarrassed I know this much about the plot).  The movie ends with a shot of a bullet wound through someone’s brain.  We both agreed we would rate this film an R and it was not appropriate for our 3rd grader.  Of course I can hear the parents yelling at me through the computer that it was rated as PG-13 or “Parents Strongly Cautioned-Some Material May be Inappropriate for Children under 13”.

So what is a parent to do? Do we break down the ratings system even more?  Since the implementation of the V-Chip in 1999, TV has added ratings for shows by each individual age.   One answer is the websites that give you a synopsis of every questionable section of a film so you can read up before deciding.   Two I can suggest are: and  Commonsense Media gives you ratings and reviews on everything from language, sexual content and violence with review from parents, the general public and kids.  I like it because you can get feedback from a variety of perspectives and you are sure to find some that match your opinion.  Kids in Mind gives you a point by point description of anything questionable in the film which allows you see if there is anything you are not comfortable with.  We recently used this for the film “Warm Bodies,” the zombie romance.  After reading about the one zombie ripping his face off on camera, we thought it might be a bit much for our youngest daughter.

My other and more important suggestion is to sit with your kids when they might watch something questionable and talk to them about it.  We do this with the 13 year old to the point that she didn’t think 28 Days Later was even scary because we spent the entire movie talking to her about break down of societal norms instead of the cool zombies.  She rolled her eyes at us when we gave her a twenty minute speech about how Kill Bill would be the most violent movie she has ever seen and how violence is really bad in reality but in some movies its awesome.  To quote Cher in the classic film Clueless:  “Until mankind is peaceful enough not to have violence on the news, there’s no point in taking it out of shows that need it for entertainment value.”

My final word is to wish all parent’s good luck regardless of what you decide is okay and remember it is only entertainment.

Eris and Trillian dressed up as Disney Princesses

Nicole Hunt works full time as the Employment Specialist at Human Capital Development Corp./First Choice Pre-Apprenticeship.  She lives in Racine with her husband and two daughters, ages 13 and 8.  In her free time she volunteers with her daughters’ Girl Scout Troop, The International Parents’ Travel Club to fundraise for youth international travel through McKinley Middle School, and the LGBT Center of Southeastern Wisconsin.

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Sweet Talk

Whoo R U, Sweetie?
Cookie Momster owls
by Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

This week in particular, we’ve added a lot of new subscribers to our weekly e-newsletter. Whether it be by the luring of the sweet tooth, or we met you recently at one of the events that our Just Add Kids team participated in and you signed up there, we welcome you!

This is a great time for us to get to know who our Just Add Kids audience is a bit better, and in turn, offer this sweet confectionary treat as your possible reward. And who can resist?  Read More…

Just Add Kids has teamed up with The Cookie Momster to giveaway a dozen custom designed sugar cookies to one lucky winner. To qualify, all you have to do is take our quick survey (<click there). The survey will remain open through the end of this month, with the winner of the cookies being announced shortly there after.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on these delectable creations….

Cookie momster deer hunting

Cookie momster Legos

Cookie momster Monster High

Thank you, Cookie Momster!

The Cookie Momster

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.  ~Author Unknown

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Oh, How Sweet It Is!

Trick or Treat! Smell My Feet!trick or treat feet by Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann
Tis the season! Last week Just Add Kids brought you up to speed on many of the area’s festive fall family destinations. With this amazing extension of beautiful warm weather, I hope that you have gotten a chance or plan to head out with the family soon to take in a pumpkin farm or haunted house, or both.  My family…we’re in both boats (mellow & frightful) with the age ranges we’ve got. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we Herrmann peeps haven’t waited too long and we can sneak in our seasonal fun this weekend. I don’t hold up too well in cold, damp weather. Uh uh.
So let’s fast forward to the big gig: the day/night of your community’s big candy haul…Trick or Treat! And this year, with Halloween landing on a Thursday, your kids could go trick or treating multiple times, multiple days. And no, I am not suggesting that. To each his own. Check out our listing of southeastern Wisconsin Trick or Treat times. Read More…

Big Bend, October 31st  6 – 8pm

Bristol, October 31st  4 – 7pm
Burlington, (City and Town of), October 31st  5:30-7:30

Caledonia, November  3rd  4 – 7pm

Cudahy,  October 27th  2 – 4pm

Dover, October 31st  6 – 8pm

Elmwood Park, November 3rd  4 – 7pm

Franklin, October 27th  4 – 7pm

Greendale, October 27th  4 – 7pm

Greenfield, October 27th  4 – 7pm

Kenosha, October 31st  5 – 8pm

Lyons, October 26th  3 – 5pm

Mt. Pleasant, October 31st  5 – 8pm

Mukwonago, October 27th  4 – 6pm

Muskego, October 31st  6 – 8pm

North Bay, November 3rd  4 – 6pm

Norway/Wind Lake, October 31st  5 – 7pm

Oak Creek, October 27th  4 – 6pm

Paddock Lake, October 31st  4 – 7pm

Pleasant Prairie, October 27th  3 – 6pm

Racine, November 3rd  4 – 7pm

Randall, October 31st  4 – 7pm

Raymond, October 27th  5 – 7pm

Rochester, October 27th  3 – 6pm

Salem, October 31st  4 – 7pm
Silver Lake, October 31st  4 – 7pm

Somers, October 31st  5 – 8pm

South Milwaukee, October 31st  5:30 – 7:30pm

Sturtevant, October 31st  5 – 7pm

Twin Lakes, October 31st  4 – 7pm

Union Grove, October 31st  5:30 – 7:30pm

Vernon, October 27th  1 – 3pm

Waterford (Town of), October 31st  5 – 7:30pm

Waterford(Village of), October 31st 5:30-7:30pm 

Wheatland, October 27th  2 – 5pm
Wind Point, November 3rd  4 – 7 pm
Yorkville, October 31st  5:30 – 7:30pm

 Wheatland, October 27th  2 – 5pmWind Point, November 3rd. 4 – 7 pm 


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Tis the Season – Pumpkintime 2014

All Signs Point to… Pumpkins! pumpkin patch
by Just Add Kids founder, Paula Herrmann

Autumn is in full swing with leaves changing color, a crisp breeze blowin’, and our favorite restaurants offering all of those spicy frothy sweet satisfying drinks. So, a lot of fun and a lot of yum on tap!Fall is so delectable!

In the spirit of keeping “Family Fun @ Your Fingertips…” Just Add Kids has put together a listing of area destinations to help you make the most of creating fall memories with the kiddos. So jump in your minivan, your suv, or on your broom, momma. Let’s go! Read more…

Festive Fall Family* Destinations

Apple Holler – 5006 S Sylvania Avenue, Sturtevant WI

Borzynski’s Farm & Floral Market – 11600 Washington Avenue, Sturtevant WI

Busy Barns Adventure Farm – W7675 US Hwy 12, Fort Atkinson WI

Elegant Farmer – 1545 N. Main Street Hwys ES & J, Mukwonago WI

Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America*- 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee IL

Green Meadows Petting Farm – 33603 High Drive, East Troy WI

Godsell Farm –  S105 W15585 Loomis Drive, Muskego WI

Happy Jack’s Pumpkinland & Pumpkinfest – Basse’s Taste of Country Farm Market – 3190 County Road Q, Colgate WI

Haunted Hayrides at Grand Geneva’s Dan Patch Stables* – 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva WI

Haunted Woods at Bear Den Zoo* – 6831 Big Bend Rd, Waterford WI

Hauntfest at Wisconsin State Fair Park* – 1200 S. 84th Street, Milwaukee WI

Jamestown”Spooktacular” Light Show (scheduled to open Oct 17) – Taurus Drive (south), just East of Highway K and 38, Caledonia WI

Jerry Smith’s Pumpkin Farm – 7150 18th Street (Hwy L), Kenosha WI

Kemper Center Haunted House* – 6501 Third Avenue, Kenosha WI

Kroll’s Fall Harvest Farm – 13236 W. Townline Road, Waukegan IL

Land of the Giant Pumpkins – 11823 Durand Ave (Hwy 11), Sturtevant WI

Mars Haunted House* – 734 W. Historic Mitchell, Milwaukee WI

Old World Wisconsin – S103 W37890 Hwy 67, Eagle WI

Racine Factory of Fear* – 615 S. Marquette Street, Racine WI

Pumpkinfest at Basse’s Country Delight Farm Market – S70 W16050 Janesville Road, Muskego WI

Richardson’s Adventure Farm – 9407 Richardson Road, Spring Grove IL

Schuett Farms – W299 S6370 Hwy 83, Mukwonago WI

Stades Farm & Market – 370 W. Miller Road, McHenry IL

Swan’s Pumpkin Farm – 5930 Highway H, Franksville WI

The Rock presents: The Hill Has Eyes*- 7900 W. Crystal Ridge Drive, Franklin WI

Thompson Strawberry Farm – 14000 75th Street, Bristol WI

Wisconsin Feargrounds at Waukesha County Expo Center* – 1000 Northview Road, Waukesha WI

Now go.
Git outta here!

Have fun!
And don’t forget to let them know that Just Add Kids sent you!


*attraction probably too scary for the littles. You know, use your best judgment.

UPDATED 10.01.14

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