Family Camp Philadelphia

We could stay at the Inn at Bowman's Hill which is in the countryside. Or the Rittenhouse Hotel which is in downtown Philadelphia. one of the disadvantages of Philadelphia is the high lodging expense. One option closer to our house is the William Penn Inn on the Sumneytown pike- one of the Oldest Inn's in the US. We have room for some people but not tons of room. I would recommend staying closer to town- maybe at the Great Valley House which is older than George Washington. I feel like lodging is the hardest for this area- ideally I would want a bed and breakfast or a cottage where there was a kitchen we could use- it would fit about 21 people so we could rent the whole thing out-and it would be near water or have a pool. So a lakeside group of cottages.
Here are the best places I found:
New Hope Wedgwood Inn. They have 8 rooms. and they would serve us breakfast.
Morris House Hotel in Phildelphia. I think Erik should stay in the presidential suite and we will all meet in his room for hanging out. There is also a kitchen there so we could cook. Or go to afternoon tea. the large extended suite also has a kitchen.
Finally the Hamanasset Hotel would be a great option. We could rent the two bedroom carriage house and hang out there. Dogs can come but I would have to call to see how they feel about children since we need all of their house and the carriage house most likely for all the kids- I like the idea of having an entire house for us.
We could also look into a vacation rental- I couldn't find the right size right now except a place that costs $25,000 a week which I think is a bit too pricey.

Well if we wanted to go to the Philadelphia Zoo I would recommend the Birthday ZooFiesta- where we get five parking passes and admission for 20. I like it because it would probably save us money- we just have to do it for Anne since it will be closest to her birthday. Danielle loves seeing animals so the Philadelphia zoo would be fun. I think the kids would also like the Please Touch Museum where they can participate in Science.
I would also like to go walk around valley forge- it is a five mile loop if we want to walk or you can rent bikes. It is just a beautiful park and has some history. If people really want to get into history we could drive to other parts of PA and we should probably go tour independence hall while we are there. Since all of the Madsen's are scientists (I think) I would recommend the science museum. And while you are in Philadelphia you should climb the rocky stairs at the art museum- and see any special art exhibit. You can take a trolley tour which the kids might enjoy to go see the historical sites. Also there is lots of good shopping in Philadelphia- I like an area called Skippack closer to our house. We could eat at Basta Pasta which has regular and vegetarian options.
We could go see the Producers at the Walnut Street Theater on Friday night- if we don't want to go do that then it takes two hours to get to New York to see any of the numerous options on Broadway. There is also a concert called spring awakening that week. I like the idea of going to an event and I bet we could get babysitters.


I love my Daughter

Danielle and I have so much fun. Here are some of the things we do each day.

  1. We play in the backyard.- this lasts a few hours each morning
  2. We do laundry or cleaning- Danielle is the best at getting laundry out of the washer or dryer. Or out of anything you put it in.
  3. Danielle eats in her seat and makes a huge mess- she likes to use her own spoon and she is getting better at it but if she isn't hungry she starts to play.
  4. We play downstairs and jump on the trampoline- it is just a small trampoline but Danielle loves it.
  5. We go on walks- If we have a stroller I get some exercise- or just Danielle gets to practice. She really likes playing hide and seek. Sometimes we go to stores and she plays with the toys, which is a great way to save money.
  6. We read books- So I need some more baby books since I have just about had it with the barnyard animals book I brought with me- if you had read it as many times in a row as I have you would understand.
  7. We speak German for a few hours a day. - OK mostly I speak.
  8. Danielle climbs into a chair and rocks- she can climb into most of the chair here and the couches and I think she is so proud of herself!
  9. We feed the doggies in the backyard- Danielle can say doggie.
  10. We take a nap. I love naps. Danielle is asleep right now.

I am posting some photos of Danielle since we got some requests- I took the photos yesterday- they don't all look fantastic but Danielle was having fun in the backyard- also she has learned to kiss and I didn't quite capture the picture of her trying to give the dog a kiss. She gave him a kiss and got a big lick on the face, which she thought was funny and yucky at the same time, judging from her reaction.


Money Mondays Tuesday edition

I thought this post should get more views so I decided to post it on this blog.

When I was in college I knew this guy named Brandon Dayton. In the glorious tradition of Facebook I found him and read his blog. He is a really talented illustrator and I thought I should show some of his great work. This illustration is called "motherhood" and I don't have three kids, but I think it is Fabulous! You can order prints of the illustration. You can also commission Brandon to make a drawing or illustration. How cool would it be to have your own personal illustration of your family? For example in my motherhood picture I would have to have blond hair. My baby has recently discovered how funny it is to pull out mommy's hair. I say no and that it hurts and she laughs. When daddy tells her no she cries. I can't wait until she can talk and starts to use her little baby powers. Brandon is super funny and a great guy. I would recommend giving him money just because he is quite entertaining but as a plus he sells great stuff. Because we all need a little super hero illustration in our homes.

Cost of the Motherhood print? $31.38 That's on Canvas!



Well my little baby brother Paul got married up on Saturday. It was a little bit emotional for me. I was really happy that they seemed to have two really good families. Duston Todd did the photos for them just like for Claire and Steve. I was pretty proud that I recommended him to Claire and everyone seemed to like him. He was pretty funny during the day and he was voted hot by an unnamed guest (he’s married ladies). He has a daughter the same age as Danielle and liked her squeaky shoes. I think of him because at one point he was asking if there are too many bosses in our family and Paul said “there’s only one” and pointed to me. I was somehow surprised, and then happy which probably says something about me. Paul and Melissa looked great. I have to say, they are definitely the best dancers of all the couples in our family. I was surprised how painful my shoes were, and how emotional I felt. Melissa is my only sister in law from my immediate family and I am so excited to have her! Her family seemed pretty opinionated which I like- that bodes well for her in the Sharp clan. She also has a brother that bought her dress- that is really generous! I think he might be the one that gave her 100 dollars during the money dance. I just felt so glad that there were people out there that were helping take care of my baby brother and his wife. This older brother even rented a car to use for the week Paul and Melissa are on their honeymoon- they are both too young to rent a car. He is going to drive the rental and they get his car. It’s nice to have supportive family, especially during the money dance. Have you ever seen one? Everyone pins money to the bride and groom and my grandma Berg really busted a move. I loved it and I wish that I had done it! Melissa definitely made the most money, which I think is appropriate. It wasn’t until after all my money was gone that a girl paid to dance with her- darn! I lost my chance. I really wish Paul and Melissa lived closer- they are great game players. My first sister in law (no offense my other sister in laws who I love- but Paul is my only brother so it was nostalgic which surprised me) looked great and I think they will be good for each other. Congratulations Paul and Melissa!


Lunch Dates

A key element to humor is that you have to be doing things. I am not really doing things so my blog probably isn’t going to become a blog of note. Meanwhile my friend’s blog has received over 40 thousand hits. Here are my random thoughts for today.

  • There are some things I keep hearing here: the doctor said my grandma compounded her back and she has not cooked for fourteen years.
  • Grandparents should be spys because my grandma hears everything I say. I like her. Every time I talk on the phone she asks me about specific things we talked about.
  • My grandma is “tight” and told me not to use paper towels when I got here because it is too wasteful. I told her I would buy my own thank you very much and that I planned to use them with abandon. And I do. I use over 10 paper towels a day. Every time I do my grandma watches me and I can tell that she is cringing inside.
  • My grandma doesn't want to clean her house. Her kids can do that after she dies.
  • Today the visiting teachers came over and brought lunch. Only for her though. I sat at the table as they talked about falling down and so and so’s grandchild. One of the women has an ex daughter in law that was treated so well. Isn’t that always the way. They talked about injuries and marriage and children. After a while I started making cookies. It did not matter whether I was there or not.
It seems like for some people it doesn’t really matter if you are there. My theory: Each person has a certain amount of words that they need to say a day. My word count is quite high and sometimes I have to talk to myself. Or others just say the same words over and over again. My dad does that. I have talked to people and you can tell that they have been mulling over their words all day. Some know them as the "well spoken." Another possible description: story deprived. Old people store up their words for a long time- sometimes months. Then when you see them all the stored up words come out- in coherent stories if you are lucky. Except like me not much has happened in their lives. Not that I am saying my grandma is like some old people. Today we were talking and she said- I’ve already told you- and it was true. Proof that she is aware and remembers her conversations.
People keep asking my grandma is she needs anything and I tell her to say yes. It is my opinion that you should never refuse help.


Bruce Gardner Photography Money Mondays Tuesday Wedding Edition

I was so happy with my wedding photographer. Twice since the wedding he has taken family photos for us- including my profile picture for this blog. His work is super good and affordable. Also he has a darling daughter- she was born the same time my daughter was born (I think at under 30 weeks). When we were going around to meet wedding photographers he was the only one that my husband actually liked- all the other ones just ignored him and he is quite camera shy. I liked his photojournalistic and professional style, and my brother Paul took about 200 photos of him at the wedding. you can check out his work at or
Here is a description of the full day package
Full day Package…$2,000.00
(20% discount for Utah Weddings)
Includes up to $400.00 in travel expenses, up to 8 hours of photography on your wedding day with multiple formats including the Hasselblad H1D 22 mega pixel digital camera, the Mamiya 645 medium format film camera, and the Hasselblad Xpan panorama film camera. Your choice of either a bridal or engagement sitting, all hi-resolution digital files and film with copyright. Custom effects on 50 images of your choice, and 50 5x7 prints. Optional custom wedding album, any style, is available for an additional $500.00 plus expenses.
This package is an absolute steal! Especially since you get all the film and copyright! I am convinced more people should use Bruce, and everyone I know loves our family photos.
Studio: 435-657-0940
Cell: 435-714-1749

Total Cost $2500.00


Chautauqua Lake New York

Well here is another entry about possible family camp site. Chautauqua New York has a nice lake and a famous educational institution with classes and things we could go see. Maple Springs Lake Side Bed and Breakfast says they are the only lakeside Bed and Breakfast and they have plenty of rooms so we could all fit. Another option is the St Elmo Resort which has rooms designed for larger groups. They have a spa that we could all go to (please this would be a great thing for family camp I think!) Also the units have a kitchen which would allow us to cook.
This area has its own blog which you should check out for ideas.
It seems like the area has a lot of outdoor things to do, like boating and fishing or golfing (do the Madsen's golf?) or bird watching.
Some of the activities we would have to do include riding on a steam boat and visiting the oldest amusement park in the united states. Maybe we could take the picnic ride, which is only 8 dollars a person. New York state parks also have camping options if we want to rough it- or cabins and vacation rentals. Some of the cabins house up to 8 people so we could be grouped together or have a variety of housing.
The Chataqua Institution features courses all summer and planned events for all age groups. They have a special youth program if we want our kids to learn a lot when we are on vacation. we could go to the symphony or have tennis lessons or even pottery lessons.


Our First Week

Well the Madsen's are hanging out in Washington State living with Grandma Sharp. I still don't know anyone except my grandma here but people are so friendly and the groceries are much less expensive!

I thought I should share some of the best and worst things about our first week here.Danielle really likes the neighbor dogs and I think they are familiar and fun. The black lab girl is such a nice dog! Danielle and I play outside every day for an hour or so and sometimes give the puppies treats.
Aunt Sharon brought this fantastic piece of play equipment over- I have always wanted one! Danielle plays on it all the time and she loves the tunnel.
grandma Sharp does the dishes. She is so easy to live with. This morning I went to move along my laundry and it was already done. I can't believe it!
After Danielle goes to sleep grandma Sharp will babysit her and we got to go out to a movie without baby! I feel so lucky with all the help we get from family. We will be spoiled when we go back to PA.

Some of the worst things:
Danielle finally destroyed my lipsticks- what a clever girl! When I told her no I was really upset and she started crying.
Where do you put all our stuff? And Judi bell if you read this yes that is Bonanza on our stack of stuff. I love bonanza and we bought it. Now I am trying to get John to play it just about every day.
Danielle has discovered her diaper and wants to pull things out of it. Especially after she goes potty. Hello pants in 100 degree weather!

I can't find my driver's license
My phone is busted
My credit card was stolen. Again.
I got my first Sty

What a bunch of craziness!


My Cursed Phone

Some people are against cell phones. They say that it is rude that people always expect to reach you when they call and you never get any privacy. Other's really like them. My father in law answers his cell phone in the movies but he is an orthodontist. It would be nice to reach your obstetrician when you are in labor or you mom when you really need to talk. I have a cell phone but no one expects to reach me on it. Because I have a condition known as cell phone curse.
My cell phone is plugged into the wall right now so the problem isn't low battery as it often is. The problem is my phone is no longer accepting calls. Well not about 70 percent of the calls at least. I have not received a call in over a week. Also anyone who has the numbers 3, 6, or 9 in their phone number can know that I don't really have the ability to call them. Those numbers don't work on my phone. The battery life of my phone is also about 20 minutes and it looks like it is cracked open. As the final part of my cell phone curse, I have a sty in my right eye.
I would like to go over some of the incidents with cell phones and me. One of my phones didn't work after I washed it in the washing machine. Then another after I ran it over with my car. Then I lost a phone. No one called China on it but the phone was gone forever. Next phone? you guessed it, the washing machine again. Sometimes if you wash a phone you can let it dry out for a few days and it will work again. Not so with my Razr phone. As a general rule the fancier the phone the worse it will fare. I really like nice phones but it seems like the curse takes them faster. I lost the next phone and then this phone was found face down in Austin's water bowl on the way to Georgia. I just need a waterproof phone- but where will I find it? From batteries that won't charge to a screen display that is busted, I always have some stupid excuse for why I don't call people back.
I think I have lost over $500.00 on phone destruction since I returned to America from Germany. I am a prime candidate for phone insurance. Unfortunately now I have the LG chocolate flip phone which is not super fancy so I don't always want to pay the fee to get it replaced. The last time I lost my phone I called to get a replacement only to discover the credit card I was trying to lose had been stolen. First time my credit card was declined and the first time the curse spilled over onto other theft. I don't know if I should fight the curse or just leave my phone plugged into the wall and call people on John's phone. My bad luck does allow us to keep our monthly minutes quite well. Since I have such bad luck I decided to get a less expensive phone but then every time I have to replace it I pay the same amount I paid for it upfront.
I could order another phone. It would probably last at least a week. Maybe two if I am lucky but there go all my custom ring tones. That is a trick- and no one's phone numbers actually carry over even if your carrier says they do. should I pay 50 dollars and get a new phone? I am still hoping my phone dried out and I get the use at least of the 9 again. It seems like a lot of numbers have nine in them.
I guess the phone has also taught me who my real friends are- the people who call me and become part of my new phone contact list.


Dumb Stuff

My Grandma Sharp has a rather large deck with a closed gate. Danielle loves going outside onto the deck. In Pennsylvania our neighbors have a similar deck covered with toys but every now and then I hear a child crying on that deck so I suspect the toy laden deck is the location for time out in their home. I wish their time out location wouldn’t wake my baby up from her nap. Now I still don’t remember the name of Mike’s wife (or neighbor) but we have lived there almost a year so it is really past the point where I could re-ask what her name is. So I always say hi but can’t really invite her to come visit me or drop a thoughtful note by. I know it starts with a “J” and Dana if you are reading this- find out what her name is- it isn’t too late for you!
Anyway Danielle wants to play with the neighbors dogs (a black lab and Pomeranian respectively) and we don’t always want to stand outside for several hours while she lets the dogs lick her hands. My grandmother suggested that we let her stand on the deck and it worked like a charm- she could reach her hand through the deck but not her head or body. Plus the dogs didn’t get to lick her hands. Right now Danielle is on that deck. This morning I was trying to figure out if I should open the sliding door or not. Danielle wanted to go in and out and in and out. I went to grab some cherries and noticed Danielle doing something funny. She was walking in circles over and over again on the deck. She walked the same path and sometimes laughed and talked to herself. It reminded me that Danielle really is little Claire.
When Claire was little she loved to go outside and needed lots of alone time just like Danielle. She would sometimes run circles in the back yard or her bedroom or the downstairs. When my mom asked what she was doing she said “dumb stuff”. Now I don’t know everything there is to know about dumb stuff or what exactly Claire was thinking about because dumb stuff was really the only explanation we got. Actually sometimes I would do pull ups on the bunk bed and hang out with Claire during dumb stuff, which was an honor. How early does dumb stuff start? I felt a little joy in my heart that Danielle’s middle name was Claire. Right now Danielle is back on the deck and I am watching from the window.
My grandma has these tine little Tupperware bowls Danielle is carrying around and around the edge of the deck. She pauses sometimes to look at the dogs who are both giving her very lovely sits. How long does dumb stuff take every day? Has she always been running circles and I just missed it. Every day Danielle has alone time. She climbs the stairs and goes to the baby-proof upstairs (well some of the doors are shut but some of the upstairs is baby proof). She comes back an hour later, ready for some food. Danielle has lost her bowl of treats through the rail, trying to share it with the dogs. I would have a great photo but I still can't find my memory card. Danielle is still out there though- hooray for dumb stuff! And possibly finding out my neighbors name.


Crater Lake Vacation Options

One of the suggestions for family camp was crater lake. There are some options for us, like a bed and breakfast that we could rent out all of. The b&B is in Ashland and there is also a lodge near crater lake. There is a world mark resort in Kalamath falls which is really close to Crater Lake and Ashland OR. we could all go to a play in Ashland at the oregon shakespeare festival. There is also a bed and breakfast near crater lake that we could stay in that accommodates parties like ours. I think the lodge looks beautiful! Some of the advantages of Crater lake are the weather which is great- I think we could all go hiking in the mountains. I would be willing to drive for 3 hours and 35 minutes to go to the nearest Burgerville in Albany OR. Probably everyone else would love that as well.
One of the things we need at family camp are some vegetarian restaraunts. I found two online-
at happy cow. They are in Medford, but one of them is not exclusively vegetarian. Karen and TJ are vegetarian and I want to make sure we find options where they can eat- which also works well because some of the family has dairy intolerance so most vegan places are great. If you happen to know of any places near crater lake or a better site to find places, let me know!



According to, I have driven 2972 miles in a total of approximately 49 hours of driving. Janae drove some of that distance, as did my brother Paul, but I drove the majority of it. It was long.

The funny thing about freeways is that they always put them out of the way. They try to avoid most towns and geographical features in order to move traffic from point A to point B as directly as possible, with little disturbance to the surrounding human population. Unless they send the freeway through a large city, which is the other setting for a freeway. Because those two scenarios are the most common, driving long distances is either very boring or very slow. There are few entertainment options in the car, but those few can last for long periods of time. Talking is one of these activities. When you don't have any distractions, it's surprising how long you can talk to someone. Of course it helps if the other person is interesting to talk to, but I find that driving allows the mind to wander and conversation comes easily. Talking is the best remedy for sleepiness, which tends to strike after 9 or 10 hours of driving. My sister chided me for driving the stretch from Philadelphia to Atlanta in the middle of the night, because drowsy driving is so dangerous. It was indeed a very foolish thing to do. But only partly because I was so tired. The main reason I regret doing it is that my plan didn't work at all.

I originally decided to drive that stretch at night so that my 14-month-old daughter would sleep for most of the drive. That plan seemed to be working initially, but after 3 hours of sleep, our dog Austin began barking at a gas station and woke her up. After that, a violent thunderstorm kept her up and she started crying. The storm finally became so hard that visibility was dangerously low, so we pulled off the freeway and found a hotel room, hoping to get some sleep until the storm passed. Sadly for us, Danielle did not want to sleep. She wanted to rampage around the hotel room, eating Kleenexes and attacking Janae, who was trying to sleep. I passed the time watching Deal or No Deal and preventing Danielle from ruining things or harming herself.

Aside from pinching yourself to stay awake, listening to music or screaming babies, listening to audiobooks is a good option. Paul and I listened to Bringing Down the House, the book that the movie 21 was based on. It was interesting. It made me feel the need to gamble. Mainly, it was just an unbelievable story. I thought it ran a bit long, and could have done without some of the graphic descriptions of scenes with strippers, but overall I enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed the use of my cruise control. There's nothing better. I have a habit of leaving my knees poking out sideways when I drive, especially my right knee when I press on the gas. After long enough, this leads to pain in my hips. This part makes me sound really old, but you notice this kind of thing when you drive for long enough. Lumbar support becomes important, and if your legs aren't positioned well, you'll get aches and pains when you stop. Drinking caffeinated beverages helps to keep you alert, but dring too much and you might have to stop before you've run out of gas, which slows you down. The best way is to sit with decent posture, keep the cruise control 15-20 mph above the speed limit, bring a snack that involves chewing, and drink a mixture of water and mountain dew. Then sit back, bring in what sights your peripherals pick up, and listen to whatever entertainment you've chosen. And if you don't want that entertainment to be the screaming of a child, a Disney DVD works well. Danielle watched the whole movie The Sword in the Stone, enjoying particularly well the preview for 101 Dalmatians. She spoke to that one.

I'm glad we've made it. We're in Washington and ready to relax for a while. At least until September, when we go back and I need to pick up the dog I left in Atlanta.


Pocono Mountains

Well John's family goes on vacation with his dad every year. Next year we are going to plan it with Erik. So I am going to periodically post some of the options we are looking at- then everyone can vote on what they like. If you have been to any of these areas just post a comment about what you thought and other things that would be good.

I think Erik suggested the Poconos for family camp. They are in northeastern PA and New York. Lake Harmony For families there is a fair in the beginning of August and a pretzel factory. There is a water and fun park we could go to with the kids. There are lots of parks and a wild animal zoo and a living historical farm that might be fun to see, as well as just outdoor things. I think this vacation would be more rustic than other options with hiking and swimming. SplitRock resort is along Lake Harmony and could fit us all. There is a nascar racetrack. We could go to scranton for a day trip it is 55 minutes away from the lake and NYC is 2 hours away if we wanted to go to a Broadway show. There is a really cute B&B we could stay at- the Stroudsmoor B&B. John and I could go check out other B&Bs and hotels. The B&B has cabins and suites with multiple rooms including a hospitality suite- we could all get smaller rooms in the B&B and someone could stay in the hospitality suite so we could meet up and hang out. I think the most beautiful place is the Harry Packer mansion- they have murder mystery weekend packages we would probably need to rent out the whole house and there is a discount if we wanted to do that. It isn't on a lake but it is 11 miles away from lake Harmony. It was used as the model for Disney's haunted mansion which I think is cool.
There is no Worldmark Resort near the Poconos but I could ask Erik about trading. Erik has a timeshare and we could save money to use it, but we don't have to use it.
Please say what you think!


Money Mondays Most Beautiful Baby Crib

When I had a baby we bought a crib that was a floor sample sale. It is cherry and beautiful with a sleigh shape. I was so proud of us for finding a high quality crib that could adjust to a bed that was such a good deal. But I hate it. I wish I had twins so I could get a different one. Restoration Hardware just started a baby line and their clothes are beautiful and their cribs are beautiful. This is the crib I always wanted. The Sutton Canopy crib in white. Too bad by the time I have enough money to get it I will be too old to have children. Also how do I tell my husband that I want a new crib when there is literally nothing wrong with the old one? Why can't my dog just start chewing up furniture and pick our crib as his item to destroy? I have a fundamental belief that baby cribs and furniture should be white. Of course I didn't realize this before, and maybe different colors are good for boys. Also I love canopy beds. I wish I had one. And I wish my baby had one. Their description of my dream crib:
Handcrafted of hardwood with fine birch veneers
Tapered posts
Features hidden hardware, an easy drop side, four height settings and scissor springs beneath the mattress for superior support and easy adjustability
JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) certification ensures that the product was safety tested by independent laboratories for compliance with current ASTM (American Society for Testing & Materials) standards, and passed their rigorous testing. JPMA-certified products meet or exceed all requirements of current safety standards. For more information about JPMA, visit
Cost? $999.00
Conversion Kit $129.00
Shipping surcharge $99.00


Guilty Pleasures

I don’t know exactly how I am going to watch the finale of the Bachelorette at my grandma’s house. Maybe she will go somewhere and I will sneak off and watch it online. I am excited to go to my grandma’s because I’ve heard she likes card games- what a fantastic person to spend lots of time with! My only problem is that I don’t know how she will feel about all my guilty pleasures. Like a show about someone eliminating potential boyfriends and “finding love” through a six week period of making out with (and more sometimes) with as many people as possible. My grandmother probably won’t be impressed if I explain to her that Deanna didn’t kiss everyone on the show, she did turn some of the guys down. Also she won't relate to my disappointment that Jeremy didn't win. Will he be the next Bachelor? I hope so!

Lucky for me my real guilty pleasure is over. The trashiest show ever. I love the neon lights. I am shocked with the phrase I love girls and I love boys. I love that they have taken something as trashy as the bachelor to new heights of trashiness. I watch A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila. She started as a playboy model and I'm still not quite sure why she is famous.
I have some really great friends in Philadelphia, but they seem really upright. I don’t know if I could admit to them that I like this show, seeing as how they tell me how trashy the Bachelor is, and they are right. I can’t tell you the joy I had when someone knew what I was talking about when I shamefully admitted to watching A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. The only reason that I shared that I watched the show is that I figured she had never heard of it. Then she watched it. Nice. I never would have guessed but definitely felt like I had a new ally. I just can’t bring myself to look down on the shows because they are so funny. They are my guilty pleasure. Everyone has a guilty pleasure. Maybe it is a doughnut or sleeping until noon on Saturday. I personally can’t sleep in and I am trying to eat healthy food (oops I went on vacation) but I love these TV shows. Definitely not praiseworthy.
I have a friend who gets money out of her bank account every time she goes shopping so she can spend it on whatever she wants, even if it isn’t useful. I think that is a good pleasure. My sister in law has “Brookie Money”. She can spend it on whatever she wants. Expendable income is a great thing for a guilty pleasure. Some people buy useless Halloween T shirts for their children and some read romance novels. I watch a shot at love. I felt a lot better after going to a lunch where someone said they liked watching the Tudors. Blockbuster’s online rental service recommended that show to me so I rented it and it is filthy! Shockingly so! I felt a little weird that they recommended something with so much profanity and sex, and I didn’t know what to think about the show. I don’t know if anyone at the table had seen the show, so I think my friend felt comfortable sharing that she liked it. It’s like telling someone who doesn’t speak your language all your complaints. Maybe that is why so many German's felt the need to tell me all the worst things they had ever done. Or why I complain to some of my friends about others they don’t know. It’s anonymous and safe.
I had mixed feelings about the finale where Tila got dumped, because it seemed so staged- I felt like Kristy was covering her face to hide laughter rather than cry. I will watch the next shot at love though. What’s your guilty pleasure?


Board Games

So I got to play a board game with our favorite board game partners, Jen and Steve and I thought it was time to write about how board games should be. Here are some thoughts in no particular order:

Top 10 Games

  1. New Board Game of the Moment ( I love new ones!)
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. Princes of Florence (thanks Karen!)
  4. Twilight Imperium
  5. Doge
  6. Settlers of Catan
  7. Killer Bunnies
  8. Ticket to Ride Europe
  9. Loaded Questions
  10. Alhambra
Cues that someone will not be a good game partner
  1. Favorite game is Scattergories
  2. Or Taboo
  3. They are just "not good at being competitive."
  4. They "always win" and tell you to get ready to lose
  5. They target Me and tell me I am going down.
  6. They say they like board games but just don't own any.
  7. They say their husband is good at board games but they just can't figure them out (this is translation for I cheat to try to let my dummy husband win)
  8. They say they won't play any game that lasts longer than an hour.
Worst Game Habits
  1. Favoring their spouse
  2. Pretending they aren't favoring their spouse and their spouse is just really smart.
  3. Defending their favoritism with comments like "well we are an eternal unit."
  4. Quitting halfway through
  5. Letting everyone else decide what they should do.
  6. Acting like they still don't get the rules
  7. Accusing you of cheating when they lose or when you point out they are breaking the rules.
  8. Saying the rules "don't matter" or they "don't care" about the rules- honestly just don't play.
  9. Being against game banter- Because I really literally wish my opponents were dead when I play a game. Everyone does. Or they should, because otherwise why are they playing?
  10. 4 words- Alex's 40 minute turns.
My Thanks
  1. Thanks Jen and Steve, for being fantastic and smart. I love smart game players!
  2. Ryan Hansen you are fantastic- starting a long game at midnight is the best
  3. Mike is so awesome at playing games and is funny
  4. Paul has the best answers in loaded questions-we just can't compete. not with the embarrassment at showing his ankle in the square
  5. Thanks for beating us so soundly at Ticket to Ride your first time Dana- that is great.
  6. Thanks mom for being so good at Rook.
  7. Thanks Paul for always wanting to play super long games.
  8. Thanks dad for always trying to beat your little kids at games until one day you never won again since we got better.


Porky and Danielle, Besties for Life

As part if Madsen Family camp we visited Six flags over Georgia. I don't know if you have ever been there and I didn't know if I wanted to go because I don't really like roller coasters. In the end my sister in law Kathryn told me I should come after I had said I wasn't going anywhere and I packed up baby Danielle and came.
It was hot an miserable at six flags. The fountains were boarded up and had signs that said they were conserving water with the drought. I had a theory that they were also conserving money since they didn't want people jumping in the fountains and running around. Georgia is so hot! Six flags has an area with kid's rides but there were some problems with it- Danielle actually seemed to like the rides but she was only tall enough to go on two of them. One of the two was a little caged merry go round that she wouldn't go on because she couldn't be alone in the cage. I felt like I had ruined John's perfectly good roller coaster experience and we sadly left the kid's land.
I love theme parks. I love that people pay money to get in and then have hundreds of other opportunities to spend tons of cash. Am I interested in buying a piece of pizza for seven dollars and a water bottle for four? Yes. Am I interested in playing the target game in an attempt to win my daughter a monster sized stuffed animal. Yes. Do I want to buy a souvenir in every shop I see or maybe just a two dollar package of M&M's? Of course! One family member declared disgust at the offer of a four dollar frozen lemonade when they were in line for a ride, baking in the sun. Why go to a theme park though? Obviously they belong to the crowd that brings water bottles. Used water bottles. There are so many fantastic options other than roller coasters at six flags. I don't know what was more surprising, the excellent marketing and outrageous prices or someone not expecting that.
Baby Danielle found her favorite thing to do, and it was the characters. I have always been a little creeped out by the characters honestly. There is a person in that sweat suit. John and I went to a trend west timeshare show and the man shared a story. Every morning on their Disney vacation a character came to breakfast. The first day his four year old opened the door and was super excited that they were allowed to eat with Mickey Mouse! The following day his older (maybe five year old) son came and asked his dad if they had to let the man in the goofy suit in. John and I laughed but that was not the effect this man was going for. this was his touching story. At six flags I learned that Danielle would gladly go home with some of the characters. She had eyes only for Porky the Big, her biggest stuffed animal. Bugs Bunny was absolutely boring, but Porky also seemed to like Danielle.
She grabbed his hand a few times and danced for him. I don't know if Porky was a he in real life but I think Porky is usually a boy- do they pay attention to the gender in theme parks? She walked with Porky and gave him hugs. She would grab his hand, run away a few steps, then come back to grab his hand again. Every now and then people would want a picture so we would move Danielle. Rather than scream she just waited and them went back to play the hand game. (I think she might have been in some of the pictures actually). When he had to go Danielle tried to follow him. And our non cuddly baby leaned her head against Porky and gave him a hug. Danielle followed around a stuffed pig for over 30 minutes.
I was so glad we went. After that I was thirsty and hungry so we bought a piece of pizza and two waters. I searched for a porky the pig doll to no avail. Also no little personalized cups that said Danielle. I could get a sippy cup that said "girls rule" but that is no fun. Also no cute baby clothes in Danielle's size. I even went on a roller coaster. I went upside down. It was just as terrible as I remembered. But I am glad Danielle has a new best friend, the man sized costumed Porky.


Toilet Paper Time

This morning I was really tired and Danielle wanted to play. We are staying with my dad and Danielle found a roll of toilet paper. It was dubbed "Cheap Entertainment" by my dad and he didn't have a problem with her playing with it so I let her. I awoke an hour later covered with tiny pieces of shredded toilet papet. Totally worth the hour. I remember the first time that I realized the little white cabinet with toilet paper in it was not baby secure. Danielle likes alone time so I try to secure the house so she can wander alone. But suddenly she came from the downstairs bathroom to show me her roll of toilet paper. Half of her roll of toilet paper, the other half was all over the floor in the entryway. Danielle's idea of what to do with toilet paper has evolved. She doesn't want to eat it anymore, she likes to pull it off the roll. After this important baby work is done she does the second step, tearing the toilet paper into the tiniest pieces she can manage.

I was surprised my dad was so easygoing about the toilet paper. One of my childhood memories is my dad teaching me how to use toilet paper. He taught me to fold it over and only take a few squares. I was thrilled to learn how grown ups used toilet paper and the right way was to avoid clogging the toilet with my fistfulls of tp. Now I realize my dad was probably trying to save himself a little trouble. Three girls learning how to use the toilet probably meant a lot of clogs and more than a roll a day. My lesson may have been about money, dont throw all that toilet paper down the drain it is expensive!

My second grown up lesson was when my dad told me how fast he could shower. He said he was so efficient he usually only needed no more than five minutes to shower. I wanted the elusive "efficient" ability so I started cutting down on shower time. To this day I don't shower more than three minutes with semi-warm water. Except the other day when John was watching Danielle while I showered. I wanted to take a long time and relax. I think it was six minutes, and I shaved my legs.

How clever was my dad? I wonder how much money he saved. Probably he saw the water bill and realized he needed a plan of action for teaching his kids. Most of my dad lessons were things like- it is cool to keep your room about 65 degrees in the winter so you can test your blankets (this one never caught on- sorry for the 80 degree heating bills) or how to use less toilet paper or how to tie my shoes.

Now rather than teaching my daughter to avoid the toilet paper, he has dubbed it cheap entertainment. I think this is the grandparent syndrome coming through- all those money saving values they teach their kids will be thrown out the window. Honestly I am glad for the contribution of one hour to my sleep. The cheap entertainment sure worked a charm. And Danielle managed to find another step, cover every square inch of mommy with toilet paper and as much as posssible, stuff her clothes.