Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Find me on Polyvore

Have you gotten the addiction yet? Polyvore I mean? It's really fun, you can create sets that highlight nearly anything you would like. I did this one in just a couple of minutes. It's a fun way to waste time when your Hubby is staying out late seeding. Lots more fun then, say, washing floors or doing anything else productive after 9:30 p.m.

Monday, April 26, 2010

So Done!

I am happy to report that the physical, draining, exhausting part of planning and producing the After Prom Party (APP) is finally, wonderfully and definitely over!

I have to give the experience a solid A-. It was challenging to say the least. When we first started we were given a giant binder, it had everything from previous years in it, and things looked simple and in order. Brilliant. After we were able to procure a group of people to be on the committee with us, we planned our first meeting. My Co-Chair and I made a few phone calls before the meeting in order to get the ball rolling and make sure we could secure the locations we needed.

All was not to start out well for us. The locations used in the past, aside from one, were not going to be available to us any longer. Mostly this was due to the fact that the businesses were for sale or closing. So at our first meeting we debated options on where to hold our shindig. This turned out to be not an easy task at all. Fortunately the bowling alley, who has always been very generous, was already willing to help out. Since they have done this before, it was one less stress for our committee.

After throwing around a lot of ideas and getting shot down for many, many different things we were finally able to get the local college to agree to let us use their old gymnasium and student lounge area. What a relief, now we just had to decide what to do there for 3.5 hours in the middle of the night.

Coming up with ideas was easy, seeing them be possible was an entirely different animal. Here are just a few of the things we looked into and were unable to do:

dunk tank
blow up obstacle course
climbing wall
laser hunt video games
photo booths
paint ball wars
miniature golf
blow up games in general

Finally we decided to attempt Minute To Win It games. Although we did not use exactly their ideas, we did imitate a few, modified to the format that would work for teens and having successful winners of each round. We added dodge ball games, scooter races, Nerf Gun Tag war, ping pong tables, trike races and some Fear Factor style eating contests. (minus the GROSS... they were all based on candy, pudding, gum and whipped cream. Plus one that involved Alka Seltzer and club soda. )

Then we had the idea that the winners should have some sort of prize for their endeavors. Here is where our local business owners really shine. My Co Chair and I would go into a business to buy gift cards, or small coupons, we would say, "If we buy X amount of this, could you possibly donate a few?" Typically the owner would donate the matching amount, or not make us a pay for a thing. Local business owners rock! We had incredible donations and we barely paid for a thing. Here's a partial list:

44 t-shirts
1 hour limo service
a summer long golf pass
a month long health club membership
a CZ necklace
a mani/pedi pampering basket
2 senior portrait photography sessions plus 100 dollars worth of photos
3 sweatshirts
100 dollar gift card
many meal certificates for fast food restaurants
packages of golf balls
blankets from the college

This list would go on for so long. Living in a small town, where the business owners know our kids, know us and love their community is amazing. Not only did they donate all these prizes, and many that I have missed, they also donated cash to fund this non profit party. We solicit local businesses and they make whatever donation they see fit. Typically we have a budget after donations of about $3,000. This money helps pay for the location rentals, food, supplies, etc.

The day of the APP was reserved for set up. The bad news being that only 3 of us showed up to help. We had 2 sessions for setting up, fortunately I brought Miss 11 along to help. Without her I'm sure we could not have had everything ready to go by 12:00 a.m. She was invaluable. We unpacked vehicles and set up the gym, the lounge, hallways, and food areas at the college. The bowling alley owners are so used to having this party there that they had everything ready to go for us, we just brought the food, chaperone's and registration tables and it was ready to go.

The prom go-ers had a great time at both places. The dodge ball game, ping pong table and Nerf wars were the biggest successes of the night. We also were lucky enough that the college allowed us to use their t-shirt gun for t-shirt giveaways. That was a big success as well.

Although we only had 60% of prom attendees come to the APP. We feel it was a success. We found out part way through the APP that the parents of one of the seniors decided to have a pool party for some of the senior class. Typically we have 150 or so couples attend prom, and at least 40 of them were invited to this pool party. At least we know that between our APP and their pool party, we were able to keep our prom go-ers safe. The night did not end in a tragedy, and even with only 60% of couples attending our APP that's a lot of children we were able to show that alcohol is not the only way to have fun with your friends.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs

Signs of Spring! My favorite time of year: when this blasted winter weather gets scoured out and we move on into a warmer, sunnier and more enjoyable time of the year. The photos above are just a tiny portion of what I see going on around my yard and house. I could have added pictures of street cleaners getting rid of the winter grime, the various yard crews cleaning up people's yards, kids wearing shorts and riding bikes, adults walking in the evenings in just a sweatshirt instead of a winter coat, the grasses greening and if I could have included all the bird songs I now get to hear, then you would really see how spring is finally coming to our neck of the woods.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Too Busy

We first move to our small town in 1993, the year Miss 16 was born. We moved when she was about two weeks old. Our town was about 13,000 people then. We had a KMart, a Pamida, a Wal-mart, 3 grocery stores, a small butcher shop/grocery store, several restaurants, a couple of great pizza places, and some fun downtown gift shops.
We loved that we felt safe here, that lines were never long, you could get into appointments you needed with ease, if you needed a repair from someone you didn't wait weeks, housing prices were at the low end of the spectrum and we felt comfortable with the general ease of life here.

In recent years as the price of oil has risen our small town feel has changed significantly. We now have a Wal-mart Super Center and two grocery stores, one of which is a chain that needs serious updating, the other claims to be "locally" owned but the owner lives 3.5 hours away in another city. We don't have any pizza places other than chains, we lost a few restaurants instead of gaining any, we lost a couple of great gift shops, and KMart and Pamida both pulled out. Thanks Wal-mart, for losing the life in our community.

While I realize it is not just Wal-mart creating these problems, it doesn't make me hate shopping there any less, and realizing I have few affordable options doesn't make me feel less torn about having to shop there. Standing in line 6 deep when there are only 3 of the 28 check outs open doesn't make me like their store. Because of where we live, typically the people at the check out stands are friendly and try hard to hurry and be kind to their customers. I realize not all people have that degree of "niceness" in their Wal-mart. But I still don't like it.

I miss when I felt safe with my kids biking off by themselves; now we hear reports of cars stopping and offering kids rides, or worse, telling the child that they were sent by their father to get them.

I miss the lack of traffic on our busier streets, and the quiet times of night when there was relatively no traffic. Now our streets are busy all the time and the noise of young guys with too much money spent on incredibly loud mufflers is so annoying.

I know that life in a bigger city is fraught with a lot more trouble then we have, but I didn't choose to live in a bigger city. I chose to live in a small town.

The oil boom we are experiencing has brought little to our personal lives. It brings in tax revenue, yes, but it hasn't brought any benefit to the person who has lived here for years. It fills up our hotel rooms, raises the prices on supplies and blows up our house values to unrealistic dollar amounts. The local political establishment keeps talking of the great thing that is happening here. But we, as the average joe, are still waiting for the great part.