My Stoop

My Stoop

Copy Rights for Laura

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Open Closet Night

What a blessed night for our homeless women in recovery. At my place of work, we put on an open closet night twice a year for the women that live in our housing program. Lastnight was such a hit. From 4-9:00 P.M. we opened our doors for a styled life for our women.




These women walk in the door in sweats and walk out dressed up smart and classy. They will be going out in the community for interviews for jobs/colleges. The transformation of these women is awe inspiring. Here are two men that own a high fashion store and donate their time and energy to serving our women. They dress our women for success. http://www.styledlife.com/ The women are so beautiful and know it when they walk out the door. It is amazing how much better we all feel when we are dressed smart. Kevin Quinn, the founder of Styled Life says that what he does with his entire staff is more about what they don't do, than what they do. They are wardrobe experts, they do not sell clothes because they want to educate the public on how to dress with the clothes they have.



I am priviliged to work with our at-risk families. I am also blessed to work and partner with those in the community like Tim Creagan and Kevin Quinn who care so much about our women in our housing. They are such great role models about how to give back in the community. Tim and Kevin want the women in our housing program to look and feel like every other woman out in the community. These men are so generous with their time and their donations of clothes. I would never be exposed to this kind of generosity if I did not have a career at Perspectives Inc. They also hold a health and wellness group here at Perpsectives for our women so they can see that self care is a daily, minute by minute choice.



We are a family center that serves the forgotten and the toughest part of all of us. We need to remember that we all have our wounds. We are all broken in some way, shape or form. I am just reminded of this day in and day out because of the work I do with this homeless population. Trust me, I am the better for it. We all have issues and it is what it is. To have community and people you care about you helping support you in those times of trouble is what makes us humans so amazing. That is why you must check out Styled look website.



Please know that the homeless and families in poverty live right next to you. They are not some population out there. They are your neighbors, your friends, your relatives.



Why not get out there and volunteer or donate now to your favorite cause. We all need eachother. We are all a family in this world and are much more alike than we are different. Please, just watch and learn from Kevin Quinn, founder of a thriving business about using the clothes and accessories you already have. See that to give back is sometimes greater than being given to.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stairway to Healing

I feel alone this house, so dark




I am afraid where do I step?



The stairs are falling underneath



I feel the pain it is so deep



I am in a game of survival



I see in the distance the misty sillouette



It is my mom she says It will be ok



I am a stranger in my own home



I have my faith I am not alone



My twin sister lifts me up



We take eachothers hands and flee



Life is a journey and gratitude is free

Come Walk With Me- Journey of the Lost Child

Women in recovery. How brave are they? I have the utmost respect for them in their journey. I just came home from a night serving our women that live in our housing program. I am a director of volunteers at a human service agency.I had fifteen volunteers in the kitchen with me tonight. The theme for the recognition dinner was a Hawaiian Luau. We served terriaki chicken skewers, vegetable fried rice, baked yams, and coconut pie. It is amazing how God knows just where to put your spirit. You will see what I mean. I work at a human service agency serving at risk families and children. I love it so. I feel so blessed God put me here at this agency, and it was not a coincidence. It was Godcidince.




This is a very special night that we put on for our women in recovery twice a year. It is truly my most favored and inspiring night that I love to participate in as a director. Personally, I feel so blessed on this night because I see the pain and the joy these women transition through in their fight to stay sober and maintain a healthy life style. Each and every woman is recognized for the months of sobriety, their child's attendance at school, volunteerism, and more.



Let me take you back, come and walk with me. I am the youngest of five children. I am two minutes younger than my identical twin sister. We lived what looked to be the story book life. If you looked from the outside and saw our beautiful home on Lake Minnetonka, the boats, our tennis court, the phone that was right next to our dock we called the "St. John's Yaht club", our spacious home with eight bedrooms and three bathrooms, you may even have a glean of envy. Let us not forget the verse in the bible that speaks the truth about money and power and how hard it is for a rich person to get into heaven.



I am an identical twin. Her and I believe we must have asked to be together in this life time since we do not know if we could have endured it as singletons. Again, the look alike story book fairy tale had many dimensions of the allure. My mom and dad met at the airlines. They both flew for a living. My father was an airline pilot in the days that being a pilot was a very prestigious position. My mother was a flight attendant. They lived the high life which included lots of drinking and partying. They married in Tokyo since they were very fond of a japanese man there. He was something of a kindred spirit and found my mom and dad just the right church to marry in. The church or chapel was inlaid with gold all around the saints and the angels. The stained glass was profound and moving and made you feel like you were in the presence of God. My father had always been deeply religious and had a special relationship with St. Theresa, the little flower. Dad in a "God cidence" moment, found a chapel of St. Theresa, the little flower and that is where my parents wed. Please see the link on St. Theresa and her inspiring life and death. http://www.littleflower.org/abouttherese/learn/index.asp



Everything about this day is burned into my psyche. I was nine years old. I remember the song that played on the radio, the smells in the air, the dark, heavy energy in the car as all five of us young children rode to the funeral home with our dad.



I walked into the funeral home. It looked too bright, too nice, something was just wrong about how fake it looked. As we walked in to the room, that room where my mom lay, I could feel all the eyes upon me. My aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, looked at me and wept as they touched or carassed my hair. They felt sorry for me and all my sibs, I could feel it. I walked to the front of this depressing room. In the coffin, there she was, my mom. Now I knew why my relatives were looking at me like this. I felt that my heart would just stop right then and there. I felt dizzy, hot, scared, like, why would anyone want me to see this? This is not my mom. This was a body of her, laying still. Her lips were pale and looked unreal. I wept for hours, not stopping. I paced around that funeral home like I was lost. I was lost. My mom was gone. This would change my life forever. Before we left, I laid a clay heart that I had made just for mom, in her coffin. It said " I love you mom". I painted it bright colors, hoping it would help my mom see it.



My mother died from the ravaging disease of alcoholism. Some Chronic alcohol abuse exacts a greater physical toll on women than on men. Female alcoholics have death rates 50 to 100 percent higher than those of male alcoholics. Further, a greater percentage of female alcoholics die from suicides, alcohol-related accidents, circulatory disorders, and cirrhosis of the liver says researchers from the NIAA.



At some point I will write an entire book on my mothers death from alcoholism and its effect on myself and my siblings. Rest assure that I am ok. I have a strong faith in God and he has put me in a career that I love helping women just like my mom. The difference is they are getting help. My heart that was broken from her death has been transformed. I can give back in my career and help women that ask for help, survive this Hell from addiction.



I know my love for education stemmed from the hardships I endured as a child of an alcoholic. I pursued my bachelors degree in psychology, then a masters in counseling psychology. I always wanted an answer, to figure out WHY? Why would my mom die if she loved me. I can now say that life is full of peace. The peace one can only feel from a generous creator who has put me in a path of fulfillment. A path that lets me heal while others heal.



Every event that I work for these beautiful women that want their life back is a healing for my soul. I miss my mother, but she did not die in vain.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Butterfly

I was amazed
This butterfly fluttered, floated, played
In the air

It was celebrating
The butterfly looked for playmates
No giving up

Happiness was within
flutter and play all day
I felt grateful

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Poor Families Manicotti Meal- Very Kid Friendly

I would like to share an fantastic easy recipe for all you who have picky eaters in your home as I do.  My kids are 12 and 13, Girl and boy respectively.  My kids are picky but a rule in our house is whatever is made for dinner is what you will eat. 
  • One bag any styled noodles you have in your kitchen.  I used Penne and mixed that with elbow macarni noodles. 
  • Two bottles of Ragu- Again any style you have in your home.  I used one original bottle and one garden vegetable.  It is hard to get my kids to eat any veggie.  This recipe rocked their socks off.
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Colby jack cheese or any type you have in the house.
  • Italian seasoning
  • garlic powder
  • Chunk chicken can (Add Garlic powder on this)
Get casserole dish and spread ragu on the bottom of pan.  Add in the chunk chicken and spread it evenly around casserole dish.  sprinkle cheese, parmesan and italian seasoning, add noodles, do this pattern again. 

Put in oven at 350 degrees and keep in for an hour. 

I served a baguette I had in my freezer and olive oil in a small dish that my kids dipped in the oil and sprinkled parmesan on top.  I lit a candle and had a rose in a vase on the table. 

My kids thought I worked all day on this and told me it was their favorite meal.  Each child had three servings.

To You an Yours
Respectfully,

Laura

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The worn out shoes

Buzzing in the background of my humble kitchen, I heard my TV set murmuring the nightly news. As I finished drying my last dish and put it away into the light oak cupboard, I felt transfixed, glued to the sound of the storyline. I could not even see the tv set from the kitchen to the livingroom but there was something so familiar to this story and for some reason my spirit was telling me not to look up. I moved my gaze only for a moment. I looked down to the floor. I felt so afraid, so vulnerable. What was happening? My heart started pounding and I felt my throat close as dizziness set in. I was not sure what my intuition was trying to tell me, but I had come to rely on my God given instincts which I have learned through experience, to trust. Chills crawled from my head down to my toes and I started flooding with visions. So many memories flashed before me, memories too hard to deal with that I had sworn I would never pull up again. They came and went fast and furious. I felt like someone had let all the air out of me. My legs gave way under me, I felt as if they were spaghetti noodles and I fell to the kitchen floor. Still hearing the news in the background on the 1991 Hazeltine Golf Course Golf Open, I realized why I felt this way. I sobbed for what seemed forever.



As Duran Duran played in the sun tan booth I laid in, a news flash was broadcast over the radio. Five minutes into my tan, that feeling came over me. The kind of feeling I have come to know and listen to.



It was June 13th, 1991. I had been with my new husband for one year now. I met him right after I graduated college from University of Wisconsin Stout in Menomonie Wisconsin. Billy and I had just broken up after many of years of dating. It was one of the hardest times in my life. Billy and I had talked many times of life together as man and wife. Well, those dreams never came to fruition. We just drifted apart and took different roads. Bill and I met and started our courtship young. We were in the seventh grade. He was the good looking shy boy that sat in front of me in math class. I loved to kick his chair so he would notice me. He did not say much. I was bound and determined to get him to notice me. He was so nice and patient. He never got mad at the obnoxious girl who kicked his chair for a reaction.



One day as we sat in math class, I looked at Billy and said " Billy, I want you, so I will break up with Troy." I was a complete extrovert and a very typical middle school student except for the fact that my big head assumed he would like me too. He actually asked if I had ever been in a french fry challenge before. First of all, I almost fainted that he said more than two words to me. This was a victory, I said to myself. I told him I had never been in a challenge over french fries before but I loved the idea of it. I loved french fries and knew I could eat an entire boat of them no problemo. He wanted to meet me that weekend on Friday night at the local burger joint called the Soda Fountain. I was so excited I could not wait to tell my twin sister Linda. Linda knew I had been vying for Billy's attention. She would not believe it.



The Soda Fountain was a popular hang out in the day. It was close in proximity to our home and many of the students that went to grandview middle school. I was very good at acting strong and confident, but here I was, having to actually follow through and go on the date. I had waited and dreamdt about this moment for so long. We did not call it a date though as that would be way too embarrasing. I had butterflies in my stomach thinking about how the night would play itself out. Would he like me? Perhaps once he got to know me, he would think I was really boring or worse yet, just would not be interested. Oh well, it was worth the wait and the butterflies.



Friday night came and went and I can say was a great success. Billy was such a gentle, loving soul and we talked like crazy at the Soda Fountain as we ate our fries. " I told you Billy I said, I told you I would eat all my fries." He seemed genuinely surprised that a girl could finish an entire basket of fries. We both giggled as we left the fountain. I was suprised we had so much in common. On the outside it seemed Billy and I were so different. I mean, he was so shy and I was kind of hyper and outgoing to put it nicely. I did not know then, he was to turn out to be the love of my life.



Well, I must say that was pretty much that. Billy and I were inseparable. We spent most of our time together. He and I were eachothers first love. We wrote eachother what we called, "love poems" almost daily, since we were in a class learning how to type. I still read those letters now . I recently read them to my daughter who is twelve years old and she cried and said she wishes she could have met him. It is hard to believe that was 19 years ago.



Well, like I mentioned earlier, it was 1991 and I got the in the tanning booth. My husband and I were at our year anniversary and going to the bahamas. I needed to tan a bit before we got there since I was as white as a ghost and needed a base tan. "Oh God, I know this feeling." I felt as if I was going to die. My soul felt my highschool sweetheart say goodbye. I threw open my tanning booth, got dressed and literally ran out the salon door. I can't to this day tell you what the salon owners thought of me. I did not care what they thought. As I headed toward my home, my heart pounded. I was so dizzy I did not think I should be in a car. My breathing was so heavy. What is happening to me, I asked myself. "God, please please don't let it be what my heart feels". I felt as if Billy came to say good bye to me and I did not understand this at all. It did not make any sense logically so I just kept praying that my mind was playing tricks on me.



I got to my home on Ford Road in Minnetonka, Minnesota. I opened up the garage and pulled the car in swiftly. I ran inside to my kitchen and heard the phone ringing. Again, my heart was racing and I was praying that my soul had heard it all wrong. I answered the phone knowing what I would hear. " Laura, Hi, this is Judy from high school, have you heard yet?" Have I heard what I said as I panted loudly over the phone not wanting to listen. "Laura, Billy died today at the US Open golf tournament at Hazeltine golf course. He was struck by lightening and died." There was a long pause... I can only tell you that my heart sank, I dropped the phone and fell to the floor.



Here it is 12 years later and as I write this, I am crying. I cannot tell you how many times I have started to write this and publish it, but couldn't bear feeling all that pain again. I am now a single mom with two fantastic kids. I think and talk to Billy close to every day. I know he was my soul mate. Billy and I could tell eachother anything and everything and we were so compatible. Each time in my life when I am bearing a big burden, Billy comes to my dreams. I either see him in a vision or dream talking to me. Carl Jung calls these Big Dreams. He was a swiss psychologist and wrote many essays on how we walk on the other side with our loved ones in our Big Dreams.



In my grief I had learned that a family friend of ours helped work on Billy at the hospital. She was a nurse and was there the moment the ambulance rushed him into the hospital. She will never forget seeing him just three years earlier with me. Billy died wearing his favorite pair of shoes. They were his Minnetonka Moccasins and I remember him wearing them when we were together. These shoes were made of leather and they can last forever. I always admired the fact that Billy didn't follow the crowd or worry about what other people thought of him. Looking back, He was very mature and old in soul, so why not wear holey shoes to a golf tournament. Little did Billy know that his choice of shoes that dreadful day in Chaska, Minnesota, would be the reason he was the only person at the golf course that would die from lightening. Billy was wearing his worn out shoes...



I remember two months after Billy died. I was crying relentlessly and crying out to God to let him and I talk and spend time together. That night I got such a gift and I know it was real. Bill and I were walking on a beach with white sand. It was so lovely where we were. I told Bill that I could not believe we were together because he had died. He told me we really were together and that it would feel like seconds to him when we were back together. He told me at the end of this big dream, that in his time it would seem like a moment and I would see him in the physical millenium. I told my dad of this dream and found out that the millenium was after the 90's. He was right, of course I would die in the millenium. I knew Billy and I had been together. It helped my grief to know he was so happy.



The channel nine news rang out the story as it did each and every year since his death. It is June 13th and the anniversary of a Spring Park resident named Billy Fadell who died at the 1991 US Golf Open at Hazeltine Golf Course. It is because of this man that we now have lightening strike prevention rods in the ground to help prevent deaths on the golf course. As I heard this story again I felt sick like I did every year. This was my Billy. I still love him so. He is not a news story, he was the love of my life. The man I loved so much. I heard the end of the news story. The man with the worn out shoes. The hole in the leather shoe had taken this Spring Park mans life since the lightening had nothing to bounce off of. The Spring Park resident died due to the worn out shoes he had on his feet. The lightening went through him, leaving this man with no chance of survival.......

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Inside Scoop--Intuition



Intuition, psychic ability, God given Instincts, ESP, inner voice. There are so many ways we can perceive the process or gift of intuition. I will be clear from the start that I believe there is no magical way we can learn this ability, as I believe It is God given. I think we can learn to fine tune this gift from our creator, but let me be clear that we all have some intuitive abilities. You heard me right, we are each born with intuition, it is a matter of whether we pay attention or not. I know we all have different levels of this gift. As young children, we are more open to feelings of intuition because we have not learned the social norms yet that get in the way for us as adults. My own children are highly intuitive, but the older they get, the farther away from their intuitive nature they get. I mean, they are still intuitive, but not as open and connected to that realm since they need to be grounded in their daily lives. I know the older I get I have found my balance of the intuitive and the logical side of me. It is not healthy to be too far on either side. One needs the ego strength to go through this life on the physical realm. We also need the other side of us, the more creative side. I really think in these times of hardship in our world, we need to see how important intuition is for all of us. My instincts or my intuition has helped me and those around me more times than I can count. It is part of me just like my limbs are a part of me.
I was born highly intuitive and felt it was normal because it is all I knew. I could see colors around peoples heads, have gut feelings about others when I met them and see energy. I believe this creative energy I see everywhere, is God. As young as three years old I used this ability to help me in life. I don't get too caught up in what others call it, but I know and feel it is energy from our creator. I do not like the word psychic or any of that baloney as I do believe some frauds have made money off the idea of intuition and have done damage to the real gift that it really is. Some have made the intuitive side of our being a mockery.
The Wikipedia definition of Intuition is this: Knowledge or understanding without apparent effort. The word intuition comes from the latin word 'intueri', which is often roughly translated as meaning "to look inside" or 'to contemplate." Intuition provides us with beliefs that we cannot necessarily justify. For this reason, it has been the subject of the study of psychology, as well as a topic of interest in the supernatural. As, a psychology student and then a masters student in counseling psychology, I, along with my classmates learned right away that the "right brain" is popularly associated with intuitive processes such as aesthetic abilities. Some scientists have said that intuition is associated with innovation in scientific discovery and the subject of new age writings. How many times have we heard that innovations came in dreams. I know my best works have come from my dreams. I now know why during my masters program I was so enthralled in the learnings and teachings of quantam physics. I felt I was home hearing about how normal the intuitive nature of human beings was.
I know I am not rare having the gift of intuition but I wanted to write and educate others about the subject since I believe others are so frightened by it. There is nothing unnatural about knowing before the phone rings that it will ring or knowing some how that a friend you have not seen in many years comes to visit. I believe intuition is as natural as breathing. I want others to feel comfortable with the gift of intuition. I know many who are so afraid of their intuition and I think that is so sad. I believe it is our birth right and it protects us. I know it has helped shape me and my life and the direction I took in my life. I am happy to say that at my age of 47, I am very pleased with where my life is. There was an age where I fought the feelings and inklings of intuition. As one ages, wisdom does temper the feelings of thinking that one must hide this side of our nature.
Let me give you an example of one of many intuitive experiences I had and listened to. Now, I will tell you that I always have to temper the fact that I can share my knowledge or not with others. This is something I will always have to look at.
I worked with a woman who helped me co-facilitate parenting groups. We sat in my office going over the curriculum we would be presenting for that night. I had my candle lit and my soft jazz music on. I like to be very relaxed before I present and I know it brings me peace and I am more grounded in my trainings. I had a choice, I could let her know what I was being told or just keep it to myself. I have had the greatest spiritual mentor who taught me to use it ONLY FOR THE GREATER GOOD. I put my hand out and pointed to her abdomen. I said, " Julianne, I am feeling as if there is pain in your abdomen." She said, how did you know that." I said, I just can see it and it feels cold and I really think you need to get it checked out." That is when she shared with me that she had been experiencing this pain for weeks and did not think it was anything serious. She told me she would wait for her next doctor appointment to get it checked. I told her I hope and will pray it is nothing serious and encouraged her to get it checked as soon as possible. Julianne called me four weeks later to tell me she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Now, I don't know how I could feel it or see it, but I did. Some of us listen to our inner voice and have a strong, vibrant connection. I liken it to tuning in a radio and being on a certain frequency. At times it comes through very loud and clear and other times it does not. I do know that I cant keep quiet if I believe I may help someone. My friend and coworker started treatments right away and was able to get the help she needed. I was there for her during her entire journey. She thanked me often and told me she would have let it go too long for any treatment to work. We became very close because of this incident.

I really want to share with you a fantastic, mind expanding, very gripping show I watch at night that has helped me feel as if intuition is getting it's due. The show is called "Medium." It is a show that mimics a womans real life journey as an intuitive. People really love the show or really hate it. That is why I wanted to critique this show because I think we all need to realize how important our right brain is. Why do we give our logic so much attention. I am asking you to open up your heart and mind for a moment and just look at another way of thinking, or better yet, feeling. I can only tell you that whether others believe this woman in the show or not, does not matter to me, but I do.

I stay up late to watch this show with my twin sister that airs on the lifetime channel. I am not asking anyone to believe or not believe, but I am writing this to make you think and hopefully listen with that intuition that we all have. In the show, Allison Dubois, a normal housewife who works with the district attorney as a consultant does what she does best. As an intuitive, she knows whether or not a person is involved in the crime or not and can see it in her waking hours and in dreams. In this show, the district attorney has seen over and over again how important her intuition has been to solve cases in the Phoenix Arizona area. The show and her real life is getting a lot of media attention. Also, cynics, skeptics and believers are going at it like crazy trying to pull others to their side. See a article here:

Allison DuBois

Medium TV is Show Based on Her Life

By Judy Hedding

•Allison DuBois is an Arizona native. She was born on January 24, 1972 in Phoenix, Arizona.

•Allison graduated from Corona del Sol High School in Tempe in 1990.

•While going for her degree, Allison DuBois was also an intern at the District Attorney's office in Phoenix

•Allison received a B.A. in political science with a minor in history from Arizona State University.

•Allison DuBois spent four years participating in various tests at the University of Arizona to assist them in their studies of mediums and psychic phenomena.

•Just as depicted on the TV show Medium, Allison DuBois' husband is named Joe. He is an aerospace engineer. He recently retired from that career.

•Allison and Joe DuBois have three daughters in real life, as depicted in the Medium TV show.

•Allison became aware of her special talent when she was 6 years old. She believes that her three daughters have inherited her gift.

•Allison DuBois refers to herself as a medium and profiler. She doesn't use the term 'psychic' because of the negative connotation associated with it.

•One variation from the Medium TV show: Allison DuBois says that although some of her visions come to her in dreams, most of them come to her when she's awake.

Quotation from Allison DuBois' web site:

"Every episode is not a biography of my life, it is simply based on my life experiences. It is an accurate portrayal of my life and the people who share it with a little Hollywood magic thrown in."



Read a review of Allison DuBois' book Don't Kiss Them Good-Bye .



Read a review of Allison DuBois' book We Are Their Heaven: Why the Dead Never Leave Us .



Get the details about Alison DuBois' 2010 Family Connections Tour .

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memorial Weekend Trip 2010- Family Vacation on a Budget


What a fantastic memorial weekend family trip.  My identical twin sister Linda, and my two kids, Jacob and Ellie, all went to the Anglers Haven Resort in Hayward Wisconsin.  We left the Thursday night before and did not come back home till Memorial day.  I used to own a cabin up in this area with my childrens' dad.  We sold our family cabin around 2003 after a bitter divorce and the kids and I vowed we would  continue coming up to visit with all the people who made the cabin such a strong family/friend connection.  It was hard to sell it but on the other hand, it was a great relief. 

I don't ever remember a better family vacation.  We did so many different things and even on a budget.  We had to go to our favorite local restaurant called Marie's as we pulled into town to have their famous burger baskets.  Yes, since we were in Wisconsin, we had to have the cheese curds.  Here at Maries they are so big, soft and chewy.  Yum Yum!

We had to buy our go cart family package that saved us $25.00 for the go carts that are in downtown Hayward.  This is such a fun family activity.  Again, we were on quite the strict budget, so Auntie Linda, my twin and I, really worked hard on knowing the activities and treats the kids loved most and put our energy there.  We went into Hayward each day to ride one to three times on the go carts.  Hayward is buzzing with folks from all over and the atmosphere in this quaint town so positive.  We got to know many others that were up for their memorial vacation.  The kids tease auntie Linda and I and say we know everyone and those we do not know we get to know.  They are right, we love to get to know as many people and families as possible.  What is funny is we always see at least ten people we know from home.  This year Ellie saw one of her friends at the go carts that use to attend her private catholic school.

 While in Hayward, we love to stop at least once at the West Dairy Ice Cream Shop.  It is owned by the nicest couple that also owns the McCormick house.  It is a bed and breakfast right down the street from their Ice Cream store.  You have to try this place as it is incredibly quaint and a very unique experience. It used to be a beautiful mansion to a family back in the day.  It is told by the new owners of seven years, that it is haunted. 

We went on a pontoon boat that Anglers Haven rented to us.  Again, on a budget, we knew one day on the boat would be workable.  What a time it was. We brought our own drinks and treats on the boat so we wouldn't be tempted to stop at a dockside restaurant.  On the Lake we were on, called La Coute O'Reilles, it is normal to be at 40 feet one moment and down to 3 feet the next. I really had to watch the depth finder closely so we would'nt do any harm to the new pontoon propeller Anglers had just put in.  The family jumped out at one point and swam at the sand bar which gave way to lots of water fun.  Ellie was hoping for a special treasure from a clam.   Auntie Linda elected to go under water to find a clam for Ellie in hopes of finding "the magical pearl." Well, there was no pearl but it was a memory none of us will soon forget. The kids fished the lake over half the time we spent on the lake.  Jacob got to captain the boat and did so with great pride and a big smile on his face. 

After a few hours we were back at our home away from home, " Anglers Haven Resort."  This lovely resort is owned by the most genuine and sincere people, Sara, Bruce and Paul.  They make you feel special and very at home.  Paul, Bruce's brother is the one cooking each day and night and keeps the grounds and cabins in perfect shape.

Each night we light off fireworks like we do each year. We get a great price at the fireworks store right out of Stone Lake.   This is one of our favorite traditions among many, that we're involved in each year. It's always gratifying for my family and I to see how much tourist's and  customers enjoy our little display.  It felt really good for us when the people eating on the outer deck gave us a round of applause after each firework shot off.

  We also did something this year that we have never done.  We lit and sat by the bonfire each night.  It is so nice that my son is now at an age where he can help me with the bonfire and all the things as a single mom,  I normally do on my own.  It feels really special that we can do some of these things together.

We used to stay in cabin 6 that was not lakeside, but now that we were right on the lake, we felt compelled to bonfire.  I forgot to mention our smores, they were great too, but this year the kids did not partake in the tasty treat like they use to.  My babies are growing up so fast.  Like my twin and I say often, "These are the days."  My twin lives with my kids and I for the last six years now.  I invited her to live with us when she was diagnosed with lung cancer.  She had never smoked and was told she had a 25% chance of surviving five years.  She is a survivor of six years now.  The kids and I tend to dote on her now that she has some limitations.  She gets a lot of TLC from us.

Another tradition we have as a family is getting movie videos each night.  There they were after a fully sheduled day in Hayward and a night of barbecue, bonfire and fireworks, staying up late in our cozy cabin to watch movies. 

 The breeze blew in each night through our open windows, blowing our curtains back and forth.  You could smell that lake smell that I remember so well as a child growing up on Lake Minnetonka, in Minnesota.

 Popcorn is another tradition.  We stock up each year before we go up north so we can save on groceries. The kids sat on the beautiful leather couches as they watched their movies with the cozy blankets we brought from home.

One of the funniest incidences that happened on our trip included one of the owners Bruce.  Bruce is a man with a great sense of humor and used to do magic tricks for my kids during dinner, when they were younger.  I had shared with Bruce that Ellie's brother Jacob pushed her off the pontoon the day we were out.  He also accidentally hooked her with his fish hook that Bruce and his brother strung for them before our pontoon ride.  I told Bruce that Ellie wanted to play a trick on him to get him back.  I told Bruce, "I know your my guy and you will know what to do."  With that, Bruce looked at me and said, " no worries, consider it done."  Ellie and I had big smiles as we walked back to our cabin.

The next day Bruce came over to our cabin to light the pilot light that went out because of strong winds.  He asked Jacob for help and asked him to hold open the small door to the pilot light.  Now let me back up for a moment.  You need to know that the night before, Bruce taught Jacob how to use a BB GUN since we had bat droppings out on our deck.  They were shooting the bb gun in hopes of killing the bats that were a nuisance.  It was so neat watching Bruce teaching my son how to handle, in a safe manner, a bb gun.  He told Jacob that his dad taught him to shoot his bb gun at his age, which is 13. 

Jacob is holding the pilot light door open and Bruce shrieks and says, "OH NO."  He throws something up in the air and wails,  "we better make a run for it."  A bat was thrashing about, flying too close for comfort.   Jacob ran out of the cabin as fast as he could with eyes wide open that showed his fear.  Bruce said,  "it looks like we got our bat Jacob." This time it flew right near him and plopped on the deck.  Well, it was a rubber bat, but Ellie smiled and knew she got her brother back.  She thanked Bruce and we all said, " Jacob, remember your sister said she'd get you back."  He could not believe that we all secretly planned this inside job at the restaurant one night as Jacob built the bonfire.  We we're all gloating.
It was hard leaving Anglers Haven on that memorial day, but we wanted to beat the traffic.  We left at 9:30 A.M. and had no problems with traffic on the way home. 

One last tradition on the way home.  We stopped at the Burnett Dairy in Alpha Wisconsin for their fresh cheese and ice cream.  We sat on the deck and slurped and savoured our ice cream in the hot sun.  

I really wanted to write this, since as a single mom, I wanted to share with other families how to go on vacation on a tight budget. We really thought we may have to skip our annual family Memorial weekend trip.  We proved to ourselves that it can be done and we not only felt we weren't deprived but felt it was the Best trip ever.   We were all feeling more grateful for every experience.

  •  We brought up most of the food we would need.  (At Anglers resort, they provide all the dishes and paper ware.) We dined out a couple times but that was a huge change for us and we had just as much fun cooking at the resort.
           

  • We made sure to bring up clothes and shoes we needed so we wouldn't have to buy it there like we have in the past

  • We decided as a family what was important and what things we HAD to do.  It was a democratic voting system that worked.
 
  • We made sure to check the website thouroughly so we knew exactly what the resort provided and what we needed.
  • We wrote a list of what we needed and budgeted for it before vacation.
 I hope this can be helpful to you and your family if your struggling in this tough economy like we are.  We are very grateful that we planned and executed this trip so we knew we could actually do it, but on a budget. 

To you and Yours

Laura