Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is summer really almost over?

My mom always said that she saw summer as a big weekend; June was Friday night, July was Saturday, and August was Sunday. We're almost to Sunday already. Target's back to school area is filled with school supplies and we are already digging our school backpacks out of the closet. But, don't pack the swim suits away yet! Summer programs are winding down, and your back yard may be getting a little tired. You might be out of ideas for activities or getting a little bored, but this might be the perfect time to head out and try something you have been putting off.
Here are a couple options you may never have thought of or tried, and they are all within a few minutes of the Winona area:

-Check out our fantastic Aquatic Center or hit LaCanne Park's beach.
-Hike up to the Sugar Loaf. (Its not that hard, really!)
-Check out Garvin Heights. (For the less adventurous.)
-Try spelunking at Mystery Cave or Niagara Cave, both easily doable with small kids.
-Head to Pepin, WI and hunt down the "Little House in the Big Woods" Laura Ingalls Wilder wayside rest.
-On your way back, stop by the Nelson Cheese Factory for some gourmet cheese and a delicious scoop of ice cream. Yum!
-Speaking of ice cream, when was the last time you went to The Penguin Zesto or Lakeview Drive in?
-Or how about walking to Bloedow's for a sweet treat?
-Head on down to WSU. Did you know they have a koi pond and several fountains including a children's fountain? They have lots of lush grass to frolic on, too. Head to Mugby Junction on Huff Street for frozen hot chocolate or a frappe for a treat when you're done.
-Check out Levee Park.
-Check out Windom Park.
-Go to Lanesboro and head down their fantastic bike trails for some fun.
-Or just bike around our lake!
-For a special night out, head to the Trempealeau Hotel for one of their famous walnut burgers and enjoy the trains that roll by.
-Take a short trip up Hwy. 61 to Kellogg. Take a spin on the HAND CARVED carousel and check out their toys and toy museum!

So there are a few more ideas for you. Now get out there and make the most of the rest of the summer!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Parent's Night Out

Have you ever seen signs for Parent's Night Out around our community and wondered what the heck it is? Have you heard about it at ECFE and thought a free night out sounded good but were a little nervous to try it out? Or are you saying to yourself right now, Parent's Night Out?! Yes, please! Where do I sign up? Well, have no fear, and no need to sign up! I decided to get to the bottom of it and find out what Parent's Night Out is myself.

Parent's Night Out is a free (yes, free) service to the community provided by Community Bible Church. (They are located at 69 East Third St.) They do this as a simple service to the community because they care about families and children in Winona. They know it can be hard to find time to get away by yourself. It can also be hard to pay a sitter if you do find the time to get out for time away. Hopefully this will help out a little.

I contacted the church and talked to Craig Hensel, one of the pastors there. I asked him a few questions and he was happy to share some of the details of Parent's Night Out.

Who will be watching my kids? Eager adults and child care professionals. We can't wait to have a good time with your kids while you get a break!

Why are you guys doing this?
We are passionate about families and children. We know it is difficult to find time for yourself and we want to help make that easier! We want parents to be able to have a free place to send their kids while they spend time together, kindling their marriage relationships or just getting a chance to recharge. You can even go grocery shopping or go home and clean your house if you want to!

Does it cost any money?
No! This is a free service for you and your family. If you want to give a donation, though, that’s just fine.

If I give a donation, what will you do with the money?
Your gift would help us make sure there are more Parent's Night Out in the future!

You’re a church. Will you “convert” my kid?
No, that is not the point of Parent’s Night Out. We simply want to offer a service to the community. However, being that we are a church, your children may be exposed to biblical truths (we may watch a Veggie Tales or sing a bible-based song.)

And finally, what do the kids have to say about all of this? I asked two "regular attenders" of Parent's Night Out and here's what they had to say:

“I love it. And my favorite parts about it are watching Charlie Brown or Veggie Tales. And maybe like the snacks." -A.F. age 5

“I like it because we get to watch a movie and and we get to eat a snack; sometimes my friends from school come. And we get to stay up really late and we get to have fun!" -M.H. age 7

So what's not to love? Take advantage of a night out!

Here are the specifics:

Who: Winona area kids ages birth- 5th grade

What: Parent’s Night Out!

When: Friday July 24th from 6:00p-8:30p

Where: Community Bible Church located at 69 East Third Street

Why: Parent’s Night Out offers free child care at a safe venue with a movie, snacks, games, activities and more for kids while parents enjoy an evening out.

For questions or if you need more info, go to cbcwinona.org or contact Craig or Michael at 507-454-3703.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Berry Picking!

Sunday was a lovely, sunny, summer day. We decided to make the most of the afternoon by venturing to The Berry Patch, a quick drive down Highway 54 about halfway between Winona and Galesville, WI. We arrived and picked up our berry boxes, happily marching up and down rows and rows of fragrant strawberry plants. In Swedish, the word for strawberry is "jordgubbe" which literally means "earth fellow." It is hard not to feel a little closer to the earth when you go berry picking, if not a little more aware of how farmers feel when their hard work of planting finally pays off.

We didn't have to pick very long until we had over 5 lbs of delicious berries. Even though my two oldest are seven and five, we started the tradition of berry picking when they were much younger. If you've shied away from this activity because you think it might not appeal to a younger child, think again!! As my almost 6 year old helped to fill our boxes, it seemed like just last week when he toddled up the rows at age 2.5, filling his box one berry at a time.

We made our way to the counter to weigh and pay for our strawberries. The total price per pound was $1.15! The 70-something man who helped us was festooned with a colorful plastic lei and Mardi Gras beads. He informed us that he never washes a berry, unless it has dirt on it of course! I asked if these berries are sprayed with pesticides and he said, "No! We spray once before the berries pop out, and that's only for mold." I was happy to hear that!

They also have pick your own raspberries and I asked when they will be ready, he said on Labor Day. (If you want the already picked kind, those are ready the middle of August, our knowledgeable informant told us.)

If you want the strawberries, however, you've got to hurry! We were told that strawberry picking will only last until this Friday.

The Berry Patch is owned by Brian and Becky Kriesel and the number to call for more information is 608-539-5541. Happy berry hunting!


This site is for you if you're a parent, grandparent, professional, or community member who wants to support Winona's youngest citizens--kids ages 0-5.