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Celebrating the Wonderful Women of Wisconsin

February 2015 Free

Cover Story:

A Modern Family Home & Garden Show

Renewing Vows Glitz & Glamping


Her Story, Her Heart

Hear women share their heart care stories and answer audience questions along with our medical experts. Free evening with flowers, healthy treats, music and prizes. Thursday, Feb. 19, 6:30 p.m. • Auditorium, Lower Level Mayo Clinic Health System • 1221 Whipple St. • Eau Claire Free parking in ramp • RSVP by Feb. 13: 715-838-3012 Moderators:

Regis Fernandes, M.D. Cardiologist

Sue Pope Nurse practitioner

Emcee:

Robert Wiechmann, M.D. Cardiovascular surgeon

Sarah Stokes Owner/Publisher Queen of the Castle Magazine


Queen of the Castle Magazine ry Febru1a5 20

P.O. BOX 8031 EAU CLAIRE, WI 54702 (715) 797-1317

sarahstokes@queenofthecastlemagazine.com

www.queenofthecastlemagazine.com

We’re in 50 towns & 370+ businesses and always ready to grow! Let us know if there’s a business you’d like to see us in next! It’s free! Not sure where to find us in your town? Head over to: www.queenofthecastlemagazine.com and click on “Find us” to see a list of the towns!

Find the magazine near you!

MAGAZINE STAFF: Editor/Owner/Publisher: Sarah Stokes sarahstokes@queenofthecastlemagazine.com (715) 797-1317 Assistant Editor: Hannah Cole Hannah@queenofthecastlemagazine.com (715) 210-4242 Layout Designers: Sarah Stokes Melissa Walerius Hannah Cole Ad Design: Chris Herzog Jake Hrudka Ad Sales Executives: Jamie Wirkus (Wausau Area) wausau@queenofthecastlemagazine.com (715) 215-2496 General ad questions: ads@queenofthecastlemagazine.com Thank you to all the contributors and advertisers! We’re so grateful to have you!

Go to our homepage and click on “Find us” for a listing of the 50 towns we’re in and where you can find a copy! © 2015 Queen of the Castle Magazine. Queen of the Castle Magazine is published by It Always Fits LLC. The writing, artwork, and photography in Queen of the Castle Magazine remain the work product of the respective authors, artists, and photographers creating the same. Its Always Fits LLC and Queen of the Castle Magazine are not liable for use of any copyrighted work provided by its writers or advertisers. Opinions expressed in Queen of the Castle Magazine are the opinions of the writers, artists, photographers, or advertisers themselves, not the opinions of its editors and staff.

We feel proud to print on partially recycled paper. Please pass this issue around to help reuse and when you are finished paging through it, please recycle it as well! Thank you for doing your part to help us be environmentally friendly! February 2015

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The “Changing Face

Of Family”Issue

Castle Careers

Featured

Tiaras & Tulle- bridal

All is Well- health & wellness

Romance Writer, Pg. 47 Compare & Lose, Pg. 44 Start-Up Story, Pg. 48 Renewing Vows, Pg. 56 Capturing the Dress, Pg. 52 Family Dynamics, Pg. 54

Queen’s Quarters- home & garden Glamping, Pg. 60 A Card with Heart, Pg. 57 Home & Garden Show Tips, Pg. 59

February 2015

Cover Story, Pg. 7 Life with No Kids, Pg. 13 2 Moms & a Baby, Pg. 12 Peaceful Passing, Pg. 26 WELLFest, Pg. 24

Queen Moms

Stepfamily Rx, Pg. 40 Baby Teeth Tips, Pg. 38 iFamily, Pg. 32


The Changing Face of Family

It’s 2015, and the new year always signals a time for positive changes. The one change that seems hardest is remembering to write 2015 on our checks and forms, right? When we were thinking about topics to highlight in this new year, we knew family would be at the top of our list. Family affects us from the minute we take our first breath and at the moment we take our last breath. We have the entire span of life in this issue, from birth to a peaceful passing (in our wellness section). We also know there is no one kind of family structure and roles are constantly changing. We’ve got so much to celebrate and so much to navigate within our different family lives. What you’ll read about in this issue is how special each and every kind of family is. I appreciate all the contributors for openly sharing their experiences and why they embrace their dynamics. I hope you’ll learn something new about their perspectives as I did. They have a lot of great advice! We are all about building love and respect in this great part of the world.

Sarah Stokes Owner/Editor/Publisher

Here’s to making the most of your days with your loved ones! We hope something inspires you to make a positive change if you need to in your family life, make a long overdue phone call, perhaps change your outlook or give a long overdue hug.

Love,Sarah

We are rooting for you!

Take a

Tour

of the content

Each month we have themed feature stories and sections (right) that cover all aspects of a woman’s life - they are color coded on the border of our magazine’s pages! (colors shown here in our key) Our bridal section every month! The only place to find monthly bridal stories to help area families plan weddings! Reaches brides and their mothers and mother-in-laws!

This is our monthy career section! You’ll find all kinds of stories that help women in all aspects of their careers. We also feature all kinds of businesses and lines of work!

Our wellness section covers everything from health to our relationships! We’ve heard great feedback that it’s not preachy, it’s helpful! Fresh, different content monthly.

Women want their homes and gardens to be lovely. We have local advice for real homes and real outdoor spaces. Area women look to us for tips they can actually use!

A real place for real moms! We give busy moms of all ages a reason to take a minute and read! Funny takes on parenting and useful info. for area families! This is a big draw!

Themes to come:

March - Making the Most of It April - Teamwork May - Pay it Forward June - DIY Want to write about these topics? writer@queenofthecastlemagazine.com February 2015

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Team r it pi

S

How a Modern Family Makes it Happen By: Sarah Stokes


J

on Fibeger should have his own TV show. I decided this after interviewing him and his beautiful (and smart) wife, Dr. Emily Fibeger. He is quite creative. As I learned, he not only goes fly fishing in his free time, but will come home and create a canvas print of the close up photo he captured of a trout eye, then make trout art out of ceramics too. That’s in his personal free time. When he’s home with the kids I found out he’s a parent that could make Pinterest all-stars fall to their knees. If Jon’s reading this right now, he’s probably thinking I’m going too far on the gush-meter, because he’s super humble, too. This modern family man inspired me to write this article when I saw him crossing the street with his three children in tow. Brodie (2) in a backpack, Ava (4 months) in her baby carrier and Maija (5) holding on tight to dad’s hand. I was in awe of his ingenuity and gave him instant extra credit for doing it with a smile on his face. The father of three is choosing to stay home with his kids and is loving it. If you were to throw the term “superdad” out at Jon, he’d quickly downplay it. However, as a mom of two little ones and the writer of this article, I get to take this opportunity to lay some props out for him. So… that said, kudos, Jon. You’re nailing this parenting thing. Emily, keep rocking it girl. We know how much it takes to be mom and career woman. It’s no easy feat. The reason we’re writing this cover story is because our entire issue is about the changing faces of family. Jon and

Emily’s family is an awesome example of how parents are making it happen; no matter who’s doing what, and teamwork is so key in today’s busy world. I got to sit down with Emily and Jon to talk about how they made the decisions they did and what advice they have for other parents. It’s a story that starts out 5 years ago in Detroit, with the birth of their oldest daughter, Maija. Emily says they never talked about staying home with the kids before she came along. “It just kind of happened. It just evolved. We always wanted kids but we didn’t have that discussion. We were both in professions we loved,” she said. “When we had Maija, she was working residency hours which were crazy. At that point we just decided for us, it seemed like we felt the most comfortable with having me go part-time, because she couldn’t change the hours of residency,” Jon said. The physical therapist had been in PT for 7 years at the time their daughter was born. Emily was finishing her training to become a dermatologist. For a while they made Jon’s part-time hours work, juggling baby and careers. “I was hustling her to daycare, hustling to work and hustling back, bringing her home, making dinner, putting her to bed and poor Emily would get home after she was already in bed and she would steal her out of the crib and hold her as long as she could. That was tough. It was a tough start,” Jon recalls. They moved to Eau Claire when Maija was 18 months old, and felt a bigger decision brewing. “When we moved here, he explored the idea of doing physical therapy. I could tell that he kept really thinking about it. One day he said, ‘I know you just can’t get that time back

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with the kids.’ I was like, ‘yes!’ Then one day he said I think I just want to stay home with the kids and I did one of these (envision a victory arm pull) yessss! That’s awesome! He decided. It was something that he was excited for and passionate about,” Emily explains. Jon said he’d gotten into a groove after being home with Maija part-time and felt comfortable anticipating his young daughter’s needs. “I think when guys get the opportunity to do that, they get more comfortable and their spouse is more comfortable and I think it makes us function better as a family. It gives us more flexibility. If she has somewhere to go, it’s no big deal, if I have something to do, it’s no big deal. It’s really more of a team model than it has been in the past,” Jon explains. Since his big decision to stay home, Emily and Jon welcomed two new children into the world and now Jon coordinates the weekday lives of three children who are all not yet school age. “This year might be the most challenging, having them all home all the time,” he says. It makes for some adventurous grocery shopping trips where Jon says the crew at the store often tries to help him accomplish the feat that feels more like an obstacle course than an errand. (He puts Brodie in the backpack and Ava in a front carrier strapped to him as well). “They helped me get the groceries off the bottom of the cart so Ava didn’t bump her head,” he laughed. Jon talks about the extreme multi-tasking it takes to get his oldest to an area park for her cross-country skiing program, with the little ones in tow. He chuckles as he explains the planning it takes to get all three in snow gear, into the car seats, out to the chalet, checked in, ski gear in one arm, baby carrier in the other and Brodie on his back. Then the real work begins. “I have to get them out 200 yards where Maija starts,” he explains. A lot of us parents might skip that extracurricular, but Jon says it’s exactly the life he wants to be living. “It’s fun to see them do that kind of stuff. That’s what I’m choosing to do, I want to get them to all those things they want to try,” he said. Emily and Jon say their parents are all appreciative of the choice for Jon to stay home. He wasn’t sure what their reaction would be at first. “I’ve been through Mayo PT School, I did get a master’s degree, I did a lot of work to get to that level in my career and to get into sports medicine, then telling them I’m staying at home now with the kids. But now when they come, they just say ‘wow’”. Emily, a dermatologist at Eau Claire’s Mayo Clinic Health System, appreciates that her kids are getting to see true teamwork in action. “Our kids don’t necessarily know the classic gender roles and I think that’s kind of cool.” Emily says she cherished her maternity leave when she got to be home with her family and said many times in the interview how lucky she feels to have a husband so committed to his kids. “I feel

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like having him home has made me a better physician at work. I can really focus on my patients and not worry too much about the kids at home. That’s huge. When I need to take the extra time, I can take the extra time,” she added. And while there’s peace of mind from nine to five, she says that doesn’t take away any of the typical parenting feelings that persist around the clock. “You still wonder if you are making the right decisions. We still feel like there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done and then at night do you still have energy and time for each other?”

“Our kids don’t necessarily know the classic gender roles and I think that’s kind of cool.”

Emily says Jon makes it a point to make extra time to be creative with their children. She says he’ll do everything from dancing with them, to making photo albums to baking 3D cakes for their birthday. He’s in it to win it and credits his mom for showing him the ropes. “I learned a lot from my mom. I was home with my mom and she’s ultra-creative. She sews, bakes, cooks and I do all of the same stuff. I like to have fun so if I can think of ways to have fun, I’ll do it. It makes it more exciting,” Jon said. Jon says he keeps his PT license current, but sees himself continuing with his kids as a coach, perhaps. He has several years left with babies at home, but says no matter what they decide when the kids are in school, it will be with the best interest of their family in mind. “For right now, I’m kind of in the moment,” he says. “When I think about 5 or 10 years out, this is what I wanted to do. I don’t want to get to that point and wish I would have. This felt right for me.” Both Emily and Jon agree, that no matter what stage you’re at, it’s all about looking into your personal family dynamics and creating a life that makes sense for you. “If you know yourself and you know yourself and how your family works, then make the decision that makes your family function at the highest level,” he said. So if you see Jon shopping with Brodie on his back, Ava on his chest and Maija pushing the kiddie cart, give him a high five. He’s having an exhausting blast. “It’s the best job in the world, and other times it’s really frustrating. I wouldn’t trade it, because I’ll probably look back and think this is the best time I’ve ever had.”


The cover story:

Chris Nelson. Talk about a photographer who knows his stuff. Every shot he took was beautiful- it was so hard to pick a cover! And our cover family, the Fiebergers, were great sports getting all three of their little ones up and sparkling for the 8:30am shoot! And mini marshmallows came their way each time they smiled for the camera! Psst...he also shot January’s cover!

A former photojournalist and reporter, I used to supplement small-market wages, shooting weddings, advertising images and senior portraits for extra cash. I found I liked my sideline more than my day job. So in 1992, I quit the newspaper and started a photography studio, first out of my house and two years later moved it to Fall Creek. I’ve always been interested in photography and portraiture. A couple friends and I convinced the high school science department to convert an unused storage room into a darkroom. We were photo-geeks and they let us loose with all the Tri-X we could shoot. We loved shooting sports, but being a guy, I jumped at the chance to do pictorials of the cheerleaders and dance team for the newspaper and yearbook. I was just trying to imitate some of the work I’d seen in magazines. And I couldn’t believe girls and their mothers actually wanted to pay me for prints. That’s when the light went on – that photography could actually be a career.” I earned BA in English and journalism with minors in philosophy and fine art photography from UW-Milwaukee back in the 80s. While I consider myself a portrait artist, when it comes to actually creating the image itself, I go back to my fine arts training, constructing an image of my subject into an interconnected collage of geometric shapes, angles, swirls of color and the interplay of light and shadow. I’ve always been interested in people and love to create images that describe them. A subject (client) should look like they’ve just walked out of the best day of his or her life. And that takes time, to get to know clients, what makes them tick, what makes them happy. I’m the only photographer for Fall Creek Portrait Design and with a limited number of clients to create artistic expressions of their lives. The studio is located in an old bank building on Hwy 12, Fall Creek’s main street. www.fallcreekphoto.com

715-877-2695

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Now booking ads for our Marshfield/Wausau Magazine! It’s been so fun hearing from our new readers in Central Wisconsin! We hope you are enjoying the magazine and please let area businessness know it’s free to have us in your store! We love adding new locations for our readers, so you can find us everywhere! Just contact us at the email or phone number below to get it rolling! Also, business owners/managers, we’re excited to help you get exposure for your products and services!

Is someone in your world trying to find a copy of the magazine? We’re in hundreds of businesses, likely one near them! Have them click on the “Find Us” tab at: www.queenofthecastlemagazine.com P.S. The entire year of issues is online now! (we won’t tell your boss)

Please contact Jamie now to reserve your ad space today!

wausau@queenofthecastlemagazine.com

(715) 215-2496

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Blended Harmony

Finding Ways to Make a Blended Family Work By: Marilyn Zmuda

“When two parents who love their kids divorce, they should

continue to co-parent with respect for each other and work together to create a healthy environment and relationship between themselves and their families, so that the children (and grandchildren) may continue to thrive and grow in their own lives. Whatever the situation between parents (or grandparents) it is not the next generation’s issue.” This quote is from the book “Co-parenting Works!” by Tammy Daughtry. Children and grandchildren have their own lives to lead, their own story to tell. When we divorce, separate or remarry, we must do everything we can to make a smooth transition for our children and grandchildren involved. My husband John and I have been remarried for seven years. We share a combined five adult children (three girls and two boys) and after two weddings, we gained two great sons-in-law, 3 grand boys and a few significant friends of our children. Within our circle, two grand boys have four sets of grandparents and our youngest grandson has three sets. If you add all the extra in-laws, aunts, uncles and cousins from each side, the team to support our grandchildren just got a lot bigger. And that’s what we are... a team. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, in the case of blended families, it takes the whole team of parents, grandparents and family willing to be part of the solution rather than the problem. Sometimes your feelings will get hurt. You will have to be the ones compromising during holidays, birthdays or other special events. Be happy for them when they are having a good time with the “other” family. Stop competing and complaining and share their joy. You may not get equal time. You may not even get any time during that holiday. Don’t make your children chose between the families. The best solution is to get out your calendar and plan another event or special outing with them. Be thankful that they love you and you are showing them you love them by being understanding. Today, right now, your children and grandchildren are forming memories that, good or bad, will make up their future list of strongest memories. The good ones will make them laugh and smile, and there will be ones that will bring tears to their

eyes. We can’t protect them for having some sad or painful memories, but we can work with our former spouse and family to keep negative memories to a minimum and create as many happy ones as we can.

Be thankful that they love you and you are showing them you love

them by being understanding.

Keep some line of communication open with your former spouse so that when you need to make contact it won’t be strained. Do not rehash old “stuff”. The issues of the past are just that…the past. Don’t let these things infiltrate future generations. Remember it’s not their issue. Adult children and grandchildren have their own lives ahead of them and when all parties get along it is much easier for them to live their lives. You probably won’t be good friends with your former spouse, but learn to be kind, forgiving and cordial. The grandchildren will grow up happier and healthier because of it. Two of our daughters, bless their hearts, have already held events where everyone, including stepsiblings, stepparents, step grandparents and assorted blended family were all invited! If this happens, take the opportunity to go. Be gracious. Just go. They want things to work out too. They want all the grandparents to be part of their children’s happy lives. Another idea is to create a neutral spot for everyone to have fun. Find a cabin, a favorite campground or park that you can share some memorable moments. Enjoy each other. Let the stepchildren and grandchildren get to know each other better by creating some fun games that makes them all work together as a team. It is also important to keep our remarriage strong and work on our own relationship. This will help the whole team down the line be stronger. And when possible, help your children keep their marriages solid by agreeing to watch the grandchildren so they can have a vacation without little ones or even a few evenings out to date each other. Some food for thought: What will your children or grandchildren remember five or ten years from now? Have you helped to make the blending of two families a peaceful transition for them? Have your grandchildren felt loved and part of all of the grandparent’s lives? Have the parents and grandparents been able to speak kindly to each other? Have you been your grandchildren’s rock and someone they can go to for love and understanding, instead of harsh words and reactions? And what are you doing to live in harmony when blended together? Marilyn Zmuda lives in Eau Claire with her husband John and co-owns and operates Johmar Properties in Chippewa Falls, Holcombe and Eau Claire. Marilyn is known by her three grandsons as NanaBanana and is passionate about biking, motorcycling, water, sunshine and travel! Johmarzmuda@gmail.com

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Two Moms and a Baby Our Family’s Story

By: Amanda and Leah Nicol We are two new moms of a healthy, happy 1-year-old daughter. In between work, supper, chores and bath time we are both loving and chasing a running, jabbering, too-much-Frozenwatching, adorable baby girl. We are a typical, normal family as we see it. Two parents, two incomes, equal responsibilities. Our relationship began in 2008. We began dating, bought a house and in 2010 we got married in Iowa. Even though our marriage wasn’t recognized in Wisconsin until just recently, we had never let that get in our way. Since the very beginning, we had both wanted to have children. Not an easy task with two women! We knew we had to start somewhere, but we didn’t have a clue where to begin. Our journey started with an open house visit to a reproductive clinic in MN. We both wanted to be equally involved in the process of making a baby as we could. A “two-mom” approach lets female same-sex couples share the biological role. Leah’s eggs were used to make the embryos that were implanted into Amanda. With only one failed first attempt, we were having a baby! Tayen was born at the end of November after an extra long and intense labor. She wasn’t ready to come out, but she was 12 days overdue! It has been an uphill climb to be a considered a family under Wisconsin Law. On Wisconsin’s birth certificate there is no place for Mother 1 and Mother 2. Amanda being considered the only legal parent, was initially the only name we could put on Tayen’s birth certificate. Leah would then have no parental rights at all, no legal guardian status, nothing protecting her if something tragic occurred. So, we hired a lawyer. Two actually. Wisconsin can do something called a two-parent adoption that would allow us to both be equal parents under the law. That is what we chose to do. Today, we are both listed on Tayen’s birth certificate. Both equal under Wisconsin Law. These small little details, many opposite-sex couples don’t have to worry about, were

“There is no race, no religion, no class system, no color, nothing, no sexual orientation that makes us better than anyone else. We are all deserving of love.” –Sandra Bullock

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celebratory events in our lives. We were even worried that both of our names were not going to be listed in the birth announcement in the local newspapers. It all worked out though! Tayen is our miracle! We are lucky to be at this point in our lives. Many nights we often find ourselves in disbelief. We stare at her a lot. We practically worship the ground she walks on! Our time consists of Tayen’s favorite things to do: reading books, playing music and laughing at all of our animals, especially our Puggle.Tayen is such a loving, smart and funny little girl that makes time fly by. We couldn’t imagine our life without her. We feel complete! It’s such a wonderful feeling to be a mom. Our journey is long from over. From the very beginning, the fear of society questioning our family and us is frightening. We have made small victories, but our daughter is only 1-year-old. She hasn’t gone to school. She hasn’t been aware of social pressure. She hasn’t been seen as different. Just like any parent, you fear discomfort for your child. We are terrified that she could be bullied or treated differently for having two moms. Our only wish for our daughter is happiness.

Amanda and Leah are from Chippewa Falls, WI. They enjoy spending time with family and friends, camping, thrift sales and their five pets.


Childless by Choice “Having it All” Doesn’t have to Mean Having Children By: Rachael Julson

I

’m 34. I’ve been happily married for eight years. My reproductive organs are in good working order. Yet, I don’t have children – nor do I want them. There are many couples who choose to get married with no plans of having children. It’s not due to fertility or financial reasons; they just don’t ever see themselves as parents. People seem to forget that this is a perfectly valid path to take. Josh and I knew from the beginning we didn’t want to have children, although we gently check in with each other on this topic from time to time to make sure we’re still on the same page. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about people who choose to live child-free; most commonly, people assume I “hate children.” (I admit, I have literally run from screaming children in grocery stores, but hasn’t everyone?) Let me be clear: I can love your children. I just don’t want my own.

Often I feel like there is a huge stigma against married couples who choose not to have kids. It’s as if parents take it very personally, or feel like they have to impress upon you just how much you need to have kids to be happy. Parents will often say that you are missing out and that it’s the greatest most rewarding experience of their life. It’s funny how their words don’t match up to their actual lives. I have to say that many of the parents I know are miserable, stressed out and live paycheck to paycheck. When I get people pestering me about having children I figure it’s because misery loves company. I’m sorry, but every way I look at it, parenting seems like torture. It’s just not who I am.

I have a happy and full life with lots of nieces and nephews. I simply never wanted children. It has nothing to do with finances; it has to do with instincts. I have no desire to force myself to do something that I really don’t want to do. I don’t feel any less fulfilled as a human or as a woman. There are plenty of ways to be fulfilled without having children. Over the years, I have discovered the joys of doing so many things that I know in my heart I would not be able to do as a mother; I simply would not have the time or the energy. My life without kids is rich and full. I have a career, my friends, family, my wonderful husband and our pets, my hobbies and our travels. For me, children would just not make my life better. Like many things, it’s a personal choice and not one that someone outside of your marriage can make. Marriage is not for the sole purpose of having children. There are plenty of people who are married and childless whether by choice or not. And conversely there are plenty of unmarried couples and singles with children who live happy healthy lives. It’s a matter of really deciding what you want out of your life and your marriage or relationship. It comes down to this: Being married without kids is a great place to be. My friends and family have also shown me that being a parent is a great place to be. Whether or not you choose to have children is just that — a choice — and if you, like me, choose a kid-free relationship, and you’re willing to do the work to nurture it, then it can be completely fulfilling — and ultimately the right choice.

Rachael is a radiologic technologist, Stampin’ Up! demonstrator and world traveler, who loves photography, paper crafting, wine and nature. She lives in Whitehall, Wisconsin with her husband, Josh, and their dog, Violet.

“My life without kids is

rich and full. I have a career, my friends, family, my wonderful husband and our pets, my hobbies and our travels.” February 2015

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(Another refrain of “And Mom cried.”) Our gut said this was not the child for us. One of the hardest things we had to do was to turn down this long awaited referral.

The Flavor of Family Love

Adoption, Tears and Ice Cream By: Julie Maro

F

amilies are like flavors of ice cream. We come in many different varieties. My husband Vince and I were wed in 1994. We had both been married previously. He had two beautiful children; I had two golden retrievers. After numerous failed attempts at expanding our family the usual way, we decided to build our family through adoption. Our first step was to attend a local informational meeting on domestic adoption. We sat in a packed room and listened to stories from birth mothers, social workers and individuals who had been adopted. Since there were far more families wanting to adopt than there were birth mothers, each interested couple would have their names placed in a lottery. Only 20 would be chosen; however, this did not guarantee that the couple would be chosen to parent any time soon.

Fortunately, my husband Vince was far more resilient and persistent than I. While I was wallowing in disappointment, he was on the phone investigating our next steps. Those choices included: waiting another year for a second chance at the lottery or pursuing international adoption. After researching, our best choice appeared to be adopting from Russia. At that time in Russia (this is in the late 90’s), there were approximately 600,000 children in orphanages. Many were there because their families could not afford to provide for them. Before an international adoption could occur, the child had to have been listed in an adoption database in Russia for at least six months. Since it typically took some time before a child was entered into the database, there were very few infant adoptions. We indicated we would be open to toddler adoption. Mounds of paperwork were completed and fees paid as we worked our way through the adoption process. Finally, we were notified that a videotape would be sent of a child that may be a match for our family. We held our breath in anticipation as our VCR fired up. On the screen was a sickly infant who ended his one minute movie debut by throwing up for the camera. queenofthecastlemagazine.com

Several long winter days later, a replacement tape arrived showing the most adorable little toddler in the whole wide world. “Sasha” stood before the camera. At the end of his twominute screen performance, he waved and repeated “bye-bye.” Our hearts melted and we began immediately calling the travel agent. In the months leading up to our adventure, I purchased Russian language tapes. After hours of listening to them in the car, I was confident that I could now clearly say, “Excuse Me” and “I don’t speak Russian.” After the holidays, we quickly packed away the Christmas decorations and headed to Minneapolis to board a plane to Russia. After retrieving our bags, we heard the sweetest sound imaginable. Someone was speaking our English names. Gratefully, it was Yuri and Inna greeting us, a brother sister team who were our guides and interpreters.

After completing the lottery application, we anxiously awaited a phone call from the agency. Not being a gambler by nature, I was not surprised when we were told our names were not chosen in the drawing. When we recount this story now to our boys, this is the first instance of the frequent refrain, “and Mom cried.”

February 2015

Our next videotape announcement was met with excited anticipation, but also some guarded skepticism. That tape finally arrived and it was blank! The TV screen showed nothing but snow. (And again “Mom cried.”) At that point, I turned to my husband and said, “Maybe God does not want us to have a child. I think we should just take our adoption money and travel the world.”

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After sleeping off some of the jet lag, Yuri and Inna drove us to the orphanage. Finally, we would meet our son! The three story white orphanage building appeared to be quite old, but very clean and well cared for on the inside. We were escorted up a flight of steps to the office of the orphanage director. She pulled out a small book containing handwritten notes. She shared with us the scant information she had on our son, his birth family and health history. It barely filled half a page in a spiral notebook. After diligently recording all this information with the help of Inna our interpreter, it was finally time for our son to be brought in. An adorable little boy seen in the hallway meekly walked in with a lady in white. We took him in our arms and Mom and Dad smiled and hugged and hugged. The orphanage staff appeared very kind and caring. We learned that they worked very long days and when there were funds available, they earned approximately $50 a month. The long hours worked was a definite advantage to the children as it allowed them to have consistent caregivers which they could bond to. The ability to bond to a caregiver early in life helps to avoid attachment disorders sometimes found in children who are adopted.


Our adoption experience with our son Sasha was so positive that we decided to return to Russia two years later to bring home his brother Ilya. Although the boys are not related by blood we know that a family is bound together by far more than biology. In those two years, the rules of Russian adoption changed. With Sasha, we left Minneapolis on a Saturday and arrived home with him the following Sunday. For Ilya’s adoption, we had to make two trips. Our first time over, we met him and set a date with the Russia courts for his adoption. We returned three weeks later to finally bring him home. One of the overwhelming feelings we were left with from our adoption experiences in Russia was how blessed we were to live where we do. Reflecting back, there were many tears, detours and bumps along the road, but we would do it again in a heartbeat. We are so very blessed to be a family and our sons are growing into amazing young men. Sasha is now in his first year in college and Ilya is a sophomore in high school. Our family enjoys doing many things together— including eating ice cream!

If you have adopted internationally in the late 90’s or early 2000’s, head to

www.queenofthecastlemagazine.com

and click on “extras” to get an important college financial aid tip from Julie.

Julie Maro is a stepmom to Ben and Marissa, mom to Sasha and Ilya and Nana to baby Henry. She owns Coon Creek Family Farm with her husband; she also owns Lucy’s Soap, donating 10 percent of all sales to Change 30.org whose mission is to raise the life expectancy of Russian Orphans. www.lucyssoap.com

February 2015

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Multigenerational Living Beautiful Memories and Busy Days By: Tammy Simon Our story starts quite some time ago when as a college student when I made a few mistakes and misjudged life in general. Five months pregnant and jobless, I found myself moving back into my parent’s house. Little did I know it would be the greatest blessing ever bestowed upon our family. Living in this home has allowed immense bonding, unique educational experiences and opportunities for growth that otherwise would never have existed. The Census Bureau defines multigenerational households as family households consisting of three or more generations. Whether it is because of financial, emotional or health reasons, the United States is seeing a rise in numbers of people living in multigenerational homes. While there are disadvantages to the arrangement, the advantages far outweigh them.

The household in which we live is the hub of not only our immediate family, but also of our extended family. Living here meant that we were always surrounded by people who supported us and looked out for our best interest. My brothers were able to be very active participants in my daughter’s life, which still continues, even though she chose to be a Gopher and not a Badger. The bonds that she formed with both of them have helped to increase her confidence and fine-tune her wit and sense of humor. Cousins regularly stop by for dinner and serve as role models and friends. This social interaction with extended family members solidifies the sense of belonging and support we have.

“We were surround always ed by peo ple who sup ported us and looke d out for our best interest.”

There is a certain stress level that is always present in a multigenerational household. I would argue that the stress is always present when you pack extra people into a household (think student housing during college). Who is in the bathroom now?? When is it our turn to do laundry? Oh, you made dinner? Sorry, we already ate out. You made what for dinner? We don’t really like that. Whose turn is it to buy toilet paper? The lawn needs mowed. Who can help shovel? Can you turn the TV down? Why are you playing Rock Band at 3:30am when you know we have to work at 6?

So why do we do it? Why do we choose to live in a non-traditional household? While our situation started out as a financial issue, it quickly morphed into more of an emotional and educational purpose. While I raised my daughter as a single mom, I had daily help from my parents. Grandma nurtured and helped with normal mom duties. Grandpa provided a father figure and once in a while answered the door wearing barrettes and ponytails after playing beauty shop. Living with grandparents was a true blessing for my daughter. One of the biggest advantages to living in a multigenerational household is the educational value. We have always had a hobby farm and are a multigenerational 4-H family. Grandma shared her knowledge of gardening, cooking, food preserva-tion, arts, volunteering and horses, while Grandpa helped with woodworking projects and raising the chickens. During those February 2015

times of learning and bonding, stories were shared and traditions were passed down. Because of these stories, my daughter has a clear picture of our heritage-not something all generations are able to share.

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Fast-forward 19 years to present day. These past stepchilyears have seen a marriage and stepchil dren added to the household as well as cousins and nieces staying for an extended period of time. Although the situation adds difficulty when trying to find “alone time” or a little peace and quiet, it offers the opportunity to experience different personalities and cultures– whether it is from another state or another country. The bonds in our home have been tested and tried many times in the past few years, but those tests have made it even stronger.

As we all grow older, the dynamic of this multigenerational household is changing. As my parents grow older and health issues arise, I look forward to being here to assist in any way I can. This multigenerational team has managed to raise an intelligent, confident and independent young lady who knows where she comes from, but is not too rooted to spread her wings. I could never have done that alone. Our living situation allowed me the opportunity to be a better parent and offered opportunities for bonding and learning that would never have been available in other living situations. Is it easy living in a multigenerational household? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

Tammy Simon is a daughter, mom, sister, aunt, niece, cousin and friend who enjoys crafting and the outdoors. She is the Manager at Insty-Prints in Menomonie, a 4-H Leader, a member of Polka Dot Powerhouse and President of the Menomonie Area Business Builders.


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Keeping the Nest Full Filling Hearts and Filling Needs By: Hannah Cole Try to imagine having 17 children in five years. Tammy Wood-Garr has. Although she did not give birth to those 17 children, she and her husband have opened up their Menomonie home and loving arms to foster kids from all over the state. While some parents are overjoyed when their children grow up and move out of the nest, the couple decided to keep it full. With all but one of their seven biological children moved out of the house, the first new face came in. “There’s such a need out there for kids to have a safe, happy environment. We had the opportunity and space with our kids moving out.” The seventeen ranged from ages 4-14 and stayed with the Wood-Garrs from anywhere between a day to 15 months. Tammy said there are mixed emotions that come with being a foster parent each time. “You’re always nervous when they first come in, yet excited and scared, concerned and worried. You stumble through a bunch of emotions,” Tammy explained. “You’re heartbroken for them. Then you’re happy to see them move on, but yet you’re going to miss them.” Like any parenting experience, fostering is not without its challenges. “It’s hard when kids come from an environment with no rules or supervision. They have roles and responsibilities at our home. Also, getting them into doctors and counseling, getting them the clothes and supplies that they need. You see them come in and a lot of times they are scared or angry. But when they leave, they are a totally different child.” But Tammy said the joys are having a kid come in, seeing them blossom, seeing them open up to her, their surroundings, the community and watching them gain confidence and responsibility. One of the children brought the two so much joy and fit in with the family so well that they adopted him.

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“We drove half way to Milwaukee where he was from. He just ran up into our arms. He didn’t ever leave us for the length of our visit; he just clung onto us,” Tammy reminisced with a smile in her voice, “The next time we came to see him it was, ‘Hi, mom!’ already. Having experienced some of the financial struggles that come with fostering, Tammy decided to start The Foster Closet, a place in Menomonie where foster families can pick up unlimited clothing, toys, furniture, school supplies and other miscellaneous items for free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She can also make arrangements to bring needed items to those in Dunn, Eau Claire and Chippewa counties. “Most kids who come into foster care come with nothing but the clothes on their backs, sometimes even that is not the case in emergency situations.” Tammy said while there is reimbursement to foster parents for the children’s expenses, they don’t receive payment until a month after the parents pay for the items. “It’s taxing on families that have to buy wardrobes for one or more placements. It can put a strain on families.” It seems that in the Wood-Garr family there is more than enough love to go around as Tammy said they are still open for more adoptions later down the road. But for now, fostering is rewarding. “Be willing to open up to things to new things that you didn’t understand to begin with. You’re learning where these kids have come from, different types of backgrounds, their heritage, history, family dynamics and being able to incorporate that into your own family. It’s a child that’s not officially yours, but it is yours. They will always be a part of who you are and who your family is.”

Find the Foster Closet on Facebook to learn about donations that are needed and volunteer opportunities.


When your Life Plan Changes A Single Mother’s Story By: Tonya Bridges

I

never set out to be a single mom. It is something that I never imagined would happen in my life. I thought that at some point I would get married, possibly have a few children of my own and then adopt a few children either domestically or internationally. However, God had his own plans for my life and wrecked what I thought I knew. In September of 2012 my daughter, Lily, was born and on June 4, 2014 I became her mother. Her birth mother is an extended family member and, unfortunately, we will never know who her birth father is. Her birth mother made the decision to create an adoption plan and allow me to become Lily’s mother. Throughout the years I plan on sharing Lily’s adoption story with her, adding details as I deem them age appropriate and if Lily chooses to share her story one day then I will fully support her. I have officially been a mom for over six months, though I started caring for Lily part of the time at just seven weeks old, so I am at a point where I am feeling well-versed in this whole being a mom gig. There are days that being a mom is hard and there are days that being a single mother is one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. Combine that with working full-time, going to school part-time and navigating new dynamics as I create boundaries with a birth family to some it is downright impossible. Nevertheless, the good days most definitely outweigh the bad and being a mom is the most important and most rewarding job that I have ever had in my life. Routine is the key to our days being successful as our days are typically full. I get up in the wee hours of the morning to get myself and everything else ready for the day. Then I get Lily up and get her dressed, dropped off at preschool and I head to work. After work, I pick Lily up and our evenings are for the two of us - making dinner, playing dress up, having tea parties followed with her bedtime routine. Recently, Lily has become my sidekick in the kitchen. At first it was hard getting used to having a sous chef, but now that I have begun planning age appropriate tasks for her, such as setting dishes on the table, helping me mix things or putting chopped salad ingredients into bowls, it has been running a bit more smoothly. We also always eat dinner together - sometimes at the table, sometimes on a blanket on the floor, as a picnic. While we are eating she beams with pride and continues to tell me throughout the meal, “I helped stir” or “I put it in the bowls.” And then we play and laugh and sing and dance and I soak up as much of her

littleness as I can, because I know all too soon this stage in which she wants to always be by me will pass. One of my favorite parts of the day is about 45 minutes before bedtime. Our bedtime routine is sacred to me. Our routine includes a mini massage for my girl, feeding her hamster, Charlie, reading some books, singing a song or two and ending with a prayer. Then we say good night to Charlie and Lily gets tucked in. There are times where the bedtime routine is missed because we are out of town or visiting with family and/or friends and after she falls asleep I miss that one on one time where our focus is just on each other. An adoption journey is hard for everyone involved; even when there are not bumps in the road, it is still an emotionally and financially taxing journey. I am so thankful that I had and still have a wonderful support system, without my family and friends and I do not know that I would have made it through the adoption process. Lily’s journey had a few extra hurdles - my parents and my friends were my tower of strength during the times of uncertainty. I used to jokingly say that we are each other’s favorites, but I truly mean it. She is definitely my favorite person and I know that I am her favorite by the way she says, “I miss you” and “I love you” throughout the day. While I never planned on being a single mom I am so thankful that my plans were completely wrecked and that I am Lily’s momma.

Tonya Bridges is the momma to Lily. Grandma to Charlie the hamster. Lover of Chai Lattes. And world changer...because changing the life of one will eventually change the life of others.

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we each had a job to do. We all got to be a part of the process and use the skills that we were blessed with. You would think we would have remembered to add a doorbell…

Rooted in Tradition My Family Tree By: Renee Liming

C

all it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. (Jane Howard)

According to the 2010 Census, the traditional family, which consists of a husband and wife with their own children under 18 years of age, now accounts for only one in five U.S. households. Our family, a traditional family, has become the minority. I grew up in a traditional family. My parents have been married for 54 years and continue to be a great example of a true and lasting relationship. I was the middle child, my brother was two years older and my sister was two years younger. When I was growing up, we ate as a family, went snowmobiling as a family, went fishing as a family, went to church as a family, went camping as a family and went on vacations as a family. It is safe to say we did most things as a family. Throughout my growing up years at home, the traditions of our family were stamped into my lifestyle. Today, there are twenty-one of us in our extended family. We are a close-knit group and the values that were instilled in us have been passed on down to the next generation. From my parents’ perspective, when you raise your children, you’re also raising your grandchildren. Patterns tend to persist. • Just as my dad’s brothers played cribbage when they got together, our family plays cribbage when we get together. It’s quite the honor to be the holiday cribbage tournament champion for the year. • Just as my parents used to play Pinochle on Friday nights with their family, our family has game nights with family and friends. Instead of heading out on the town for some fun, many nights are spent around the kitchen table laughing with one another, playing games and enjoying the company of each other. Who needs to see a comedian when we have a house full of them! • Just as my dad made breakfast on Sunday morning before church, my husband makes breakfast on Sunday mornings. Whatever the menu, we start the day off together. A family that prays together stay together. • Just as my parent’s family and friends helped them build their first house, our family helped us build our house. Between electrical, flooring, painting, tiling, cabinets, in-floor heating,

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• We were always welcome to come back home. After college, my brother and I both moved back. The door is always open just as the sign says that is displayed next to the front steps at my parents’ home. All of our families love to go to Nana and Papa’s where the grandkids are always spoiled and cookies are within reach. • Traditions have accumulated over the years to include birth day dinners, making cookies at Thanksgiving, a Christmas Eve meal and gift exchange and an Easter egg hunt, even if it has to be indoors. My husband and I have been married for 23 years. We have three daughters who are very close to their grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. We live less than a block away from my parents. I truly believe in the old African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The extended family is very involved in the girl’s lives. From concerts to sporting events to birthday dinners, the whole family gets together and is supportive of the girls and their passions. Family: like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one. What makes our family traditional is technically the physical makeup. But, it is so much more than that. We are a traditional family that has continued to persist for generations and will hopefully continue the tradition into the future. Traditional families still exist in this day and age while it may seem as though they have become extinct and are a fragment of the past. We are a traditional family; however, the most important piece is not being traditional, rather, it is the fact that we are a family. Everyone should have and cherish the people they call family. Whether it is a single parent and two children, two parents remarried and step children, an elderly couple with children all grown up, two parents with three children at home, or anything in between, a family sticks together and supports each other throughout life.

“Ohana means family. And family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” –Lilo and Stitch

Renee Liming is the owner of Lessons for Tomorrow, LLC, which focuses on helping people write their life stories. She feels fortunate to assist others with the process, leaving written documentation of lives, values, friendships, and faith that can be passed to future generations. www.lessonsfortomorrow.com


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This is our health and wellness section devoted to mind and body health! We love to learn about new things and pass it along to you! Our hope is that in 2015, you are your best self inside and out!

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WellFest is a one-of-a-kind and the coolest hands-on wellness event around. It’s a unique opportunity for one day to experience wellness (20+ sessions) free in Minds-On and Hands-On Hall. Wellfest brings together the Valleys best together to showcase the amazing wealth of wellness professionals, goods and services we have to tap into where we live.

senses as you enter with locally made amazing food and beverages for sample and sale.

The Minds On Hall Learning Brief and the Hands On Learning Lab will showcase over 20 wellness professionals. In each session, our guests can experience a 20 minute (and a few for 60 min) sample of a variety of topics including meditation, Laughter Yoga, Chronic Disease Prevention, People can expect for $10 Over-Vaccination of our Pets, (kids 11 and under free) to have a day filled with all Brain Decline, Drums Live, Massage and much more! things food, fun, fitness and much, much more. The Mood New this year is our Kool Food Court will greet your Kids Wellness area (a room

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just for kids) hosted by Lily Pad Lab where our younger guests can stop by and do some pretty cool stuff with the crew. And of course our sponsors will be present in the vendor hall where they’ll be showcasing their goods and services for sample and sale. We also have live music, free henna tattooing, balloon animals and juggling going on all day!

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A Peaceful Passing Advice from a Doula for the Dying By: Aveen Banich, M.D.

I

remember the first time I had to pronounce someone dead during my first year as an intern physician at the University of Chicago. It was 4:00 in the morning in the Intensive Care Unit and one of our patients who had been fighting for many weeks simply passed away. There were no dramatic resuscitation efforts in his case. Those were not his wishes. No family members surrounded him at the time and beyond the incessant beeping of machines alarming around him, there was a strange stillness I had rarely encountered during that busy year in the hospital. I was struck by how lonely it felt, how separated from what must have been his real life outside of the ICU. I remember wishing there was more I could have done, not to save his life but to send him off in a more personal, sacred and loving way. Modern medicine has made incredible strides in prolonging life and easing pain. As a result, 63% of Americans over the age of 65 will die within a hospital and another 17% will die in an extended care nursing facility. That leaves just 20% of people over the age of 65 dying at home. However, not surprisingly, research shows that there is a mismatch in people’s preferences and these figures. Poles show that around 90% of people would actually prefer to die at home. How can we begin to resolve this disparity? How can we build a bridge? Perhaps one way is to reconnect with ancient wisdom. As a tribe, we know how to sit with the dying and tend to them. The wisdom of how to be present at the deathbed has been passed down from wise elders and ancestors around the world for thousands of years. It is encoded within our DNA. My Grandfather died in the home and was waked there as well. Until quite recently, death was not as separated from life as it is today. Hospice care workers, chaplains, healers and caring medical staff understand how to care for the dying, even in a clinical hospital setting. The hospice movement provides wonderful palliative end-of life care to the dying while also caring for the bereft. However, studies show that not enough people without a cancer diagnosis receive hospice care (only 20% in Scotland according to a pole conducted in 2013 by Edinburgh University). In the time it takes you to read this short article 645 people will die. Each of us will not only be touched by the death of our loved ones, we too will die. It is the elephant in the room that very few people want to look at. The truth is, we don’t like to talk about death. It is seen as the ultimate downer and many people feel it is just too morbid and depressing to dwell upon. Yet until we do, the disparity of what we desire and how we actually die will remain unchanged. Death, like birth, is one of those sacred human moments that once witnessed, forever changes us. When we open ourselves

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to the idea that death is a part of life, a sense of freedom emerges. “Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.” (Pope Paul VI) As a society, as a community, as a neighborhood, as a friend, we can assist those who are currently carrying the heavy load of caring for the dying. It takes a village to raise a child yet we allow one or two people to care for a dying person. These non-medical caretakers are exhausted- both emotionally and physically and could use our help. Too often, we fall back on the excuse that a family dealing with illness does not want to be disturbed. The truth may be that they have never felt more isolated or alone. If you know of someone currently caring for a dying loved one, why not pick up the phone today and offer your undivided presence to them? Send them loving energy in the form of prayer, but help them in practical ways as well. Run errands, make a meal or offer them a respite for a few hours. After all, love is compassion in action. When a loved one in your own life is dying, show love and mercy by remaining present and having the tough conversations. In order to assist our loved ones to experience a “good death,” we need first to listen to their wishes and those wishes must be written down in the form of a living will and healthcare power of attorney. Once we reduce our discomfort and fear surrounding death, we will naturally remember how to ease pain and calm the breath of our loved ones with gentle touch and kind words- whether in the hospital or at home. We will stay present and accompany them as far as we can on their journey. With love, we will listen, soothe and guide the soul of our loved one home. In doing so, we will be forever changed. Recently, I have stepped outside of traditional medicine in order to be a bridge between it and ancient wisdom. My work as a “Doula for the dying” seeks to assist the dying and their families to find peace and a sense of the sacred around death and dying. By offering energetic support, gemstone bowl sound therapy and comfort, the process can become easier for all involved. Together, we can remember our way home. That wisdom and compassion of the ages is within each of us; it is part of being human, it makes a difference and it is enough. “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” –Julian of Norwich For more information, visit www.AveenBanich.com Aveen Banich M.D, RYT is a mama, wife and writer. She offers yoga and reiki at the Center. Check out her weekly blog and weekly "Glimpses of Spirit" interviews on her website: www.AveenBanich.com.


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There’s No Place Like Home Making The Oz Run a Tradition By Bill Sparkes, Organizer

Registration is now open for the 2nd Annual Oz Run at www. theozrun.com or at Micon Cinemas in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. Last year nearly 400 people participated in the first ever Oz Run in Chippewa Falls. It was a fun, unique, and memorable experience. The Oz Run is gearing up for its second year with new routes for both the 5K and Half Marathon, and planning another great post race party with live music, kids activities, petting zoo, food, beverages, and much more. The Oz Run was created out of the desire to help our community by creating an event that anyone and everyone could participate in. Our mission at the Oz Run is simple: “To create family friendly events that raise money and awareness for like minded organizations in the Chippewa Valley while promoting fitness, family, and fun.” Whether you are an avid runner or just starting out, the routes promise to be scenic yet challenging. Both races are chip-timed for accuracy and each runner will receive a race t-shirt and a finishers medal. Dress up in Wizard of Oz attire for added fun. Families and friends are encouraged to attend and run or walk together. If you’re not interested in participating in a race yourself, grab your pom-poms and cheer on all the runners and walkers on their journey to the finish line. Then, join them after at the post

race party in Emerald City. Join us May 23rd at the Oz Run and give back to your community. This year, the Oz Run is benefiting Irvine Park, the Veterans Assistance Foundation, and the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls. It’s a perfect way to honor our veterans and kick off the Memorial Day weekend. Come out to the Northern Wisconsin State Fair Grounds in Chippewa Falls on Saturday, May 23, 2015 for the 2nd Annual Oz Run! If you own a business, sponsorships are still available. Contact our sponsorship coordinator Michelle at michelle@theozrun.com. Want to volunteer or have an organization who can volunteer? Contact Tess our volunteer coordinator at volunteer@theozrun.com. Get registered for the Oz Run at www.theozrun.com or at Micon Cinemas in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. For updates, information, and inspiration follow us on Facebook at: www. facebook.com/TheOzRun

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February 2015 February 2015 queenofthecastlemagazine.com 28

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February 2015


Ahhh... a place just for moms. Now only if it came with a magic wand and some chocolate. We do hope to help make your life easier with help from other moms in the area who contribute!

Family Matters

How Blogs Have Set Moms Free By: Sarah Stokes If you frequent any mommy blogging sites or watch those awesome mom music video parodies out there, you know we love to commiserate these days and we love to laugh at the joys of motherhood. Or, cry. I’m not sure if moms of yesteryear waited to get around a coffee table to share the woes of late nights, stretch marks, burn out or how their child threw up on his best buddy at Sunday School (based on a true story), but today’s mom has everything she needs to vent at her fingertips. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine to read other mommy blogs and laugh at the hilarious moments that having little kids bring. They are also places to find a sense of sanity and community. It’s nice knowing you’re not alone when you feel like all you want to do is climb back in bed and let the DVR do the work for the day. I recently read that moms of today spend the exact amount of time *engaging* in activities with their children as moms did decades ago. I’m not sure how this is possible, but the key word was engaging. Perhaps it’s because kids can’t just play outside with their friends alone anymore and playdates are the norm. Maybe it’s that we have turned those Pinterest pressures or mommy guilt moments into more activities after work? Regardless, we know all the pressure we put on ourselves can wear us down and we find other moms who have posted online about the same sentiment. I wonder if the moms of yesteryear are amused or annoyed at our willingness to joke about motherhood. It is truly one of the most amazing gifts. I think we walk through life wondering if we’re doing it right. Wondering if other kids are wearing pants too short and if they too are watching one more cartoon than the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. This is where the advent of mommy blogs has truly set us free. We’re not alone. We’re in it together and when those first words, first steps, first “I love you momma’s” and first days of school come along, we’re laughing and crying together. It’s impor-

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tant to note that while I love a good satire on motherhood, I’m equally drawn to the touching blogs that remind us of the miracle every breath is, the mom writing about the struggles with a child battling a disease or the mom who shares the loss of a dream. There are powerful moments happening between moms in cyberspace. I’ve never felt more connected to moms than after I started writing about being one online. I will never meet 99.9% of the moms who’s blogs have crossed my iphone screen, but I’m part of their tribe nonetheless. I appreciate all the moms willing to share their stories with the world. I truly subscribe to the notion that open hearts will make for a better world.

“There are powerful moments happening between moms in cyberspace.”

Sarah Stokes is a married mother of a little boy, Kanyon (3) and daughter Kaydence (2). The former news anchor, now magazine and Stokes+HERZOG owner, and her husband Chris Herzog made western Wisconsin their home in 2005.

All of Sarah’s “blogs” can be found at: www.queenofthecastlemagazine.com


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Psychiatric Child/Adolescent Clinical Nurse and Owner of Positive Living in Eau Claire, Kristina Frank, gave some insight into how technology is affecting the family unit and how to use devices positively.

iFamily

How to Deal with that Obnoxious, Omnipresent Family Member By: Hannah Cole

What family member am I? I interrupt your conversations; I don’t have manners. I demand your attention. Often, I require a spot front and center at your dinner table. Don’t try to ignore me; I’ll keep bugging you. I tend to keep you up at night, hours after you intended to go to bed. I need to be clinging to you—your hand, your face, your purse. We have a love/ hate relationship; at times you wish I would just go away, but you can’t kick me to the curb. How could you? And my presence is constant. Give up? Well, I am your cellphone. I am a part of Generation Y, the tech-savvy, bowing to The Great Apple, practically-born-with-a-cell-phone-attached-to-your-ear generation. But lately, I’ve found that technology has been pushing its way into my family like that last person who squeezes into an already-full restaurant booth. It’s uncomfortable and causes problems. Let me explain some instances. • My two sisters and I were visiting our grandma when I looked down to briefly check my Facebook (sorry, grams). I heard her say, “Well, I feel left out.” I looked up to see that while I was on my phone, one sister was on her iPad and the other was jamming on her MP3 player. Grandma waved her empty hands chuckling. What a nice visit, huh?

Kristina said there is no doubt that the latest research is in favor that the more technology/screen time there is in the family, the more disconnect there is. There have been numerous studies on this topic. In her private practice, she sees families who are liberal with screen time in their home and parents who are diligent about monitoring the amount of screen time their children have. However, what Kristina has noticed in nearly all of her clients is that the parents are becoming more plugged in themselves. “A clinical instructor at Harvard, Catherine Steiner-Adair, feels technology is becoming kind of a co-parent and too much screen time is impeding childhood development,” Kristina said. “She states that kids who spend too much time in front of screens play differently and are less creative than other children.” Kristina finds that the majority of kids who spend too much time being “plugged in” have more difficulty socializing and communicating with others in their family as well as outside of their family. “I think it’s important to ask ourselves, as parents, what kind of role models are we for our children. How present and available are we to our children? It has to start with the parents first. Social media is definitely playing an increasing role in families and family break ups,” Kristina said. She offers these tips for healthy technology use: • Have family dinners without electronics.

• Frequently, my dog nudges my hands with her wet nose and gazes at me with her big brown eyes in attempts to get me to put my phone down and play with her. Also, she knows she will have my attention when she hears the sound of my laptop shutting and comes bounding toward me to play.

• Have family rules regarding the use of electronics, technology and screen time. “As parents, it’s extremely important that we monitor our children’s screen time, as well as our own.”

• My grandpa and I eat dinner together occasionally and guess who our guest is? His tablet that has its spot re served to the left of his plate.

• Do not allow your kids to have their phones in their rooms at bedtime.

I’m sick of needing my phone, sick of looking at it, sick of the technology dependence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should ditch everything that plugs in and live off the grid— technology has its benefits—but it’s a blessing and a curse all at the same time.

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• Do not use the TV, tablet or smart phone as a baby sitter for our infants, toddlers or preschoolers.

It is also important to remember that we can use social media to build each other up. “I did a 30-day challenge where I texted my kids every day sharing something positive that I noticed about both of them,” Kristina explained. “They reacted differently to the texts. My son never commented, but I knew he was


reading the texts, and my daughter would mention that she received them and enjoyed them. It is important to make sure that what you say online is reinforced by what you say and do when you see each other in person.”

down. Look them in the eyes to let them know you have their full attention. Your devices, Facebook statuses and apps are trivial. Your relationships are not.

She said she does believe a healthy balance between family time and technology can be found; however it is becoming more difficult. Kristina said, “It is important to keep the channels of communication open and to remain invested.”

Hannah Cole is the Assistant Editor at Queen of the Castle Magazine and is a former local radio intern whose family roots in the area date back to the 1860’s. Although she has visited 16 countries, her grandparents' home on the north side of Eau Claire is still her favorite place.

So when you are in a friend or family member’s presence, look up from your hypnotic state. Put the device

hannah@queenofthecastlemagazine.com

Coming up:

March: The Making the Most of It Issue April: The Teamwork Issue May: The Pay it Forward Issue Do you have a story request for our moms’ section? An idea you’d like to share? We’re all ears! writer@queenofthecastlemagazine.com

Have you seen a story of amazing teamwork? Please let us know for our April issue! Message us on Facebook or email Hannah (above)

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How Do You Do It?

Lots of Little Ones + Lots of Work = Lots of Love By: Brook Berg

H

ow do you do it?

I cannot tell you how many times in the last few years someone has said to me, “I don’t know how you do it. You must be super-mom.” When our youngest was a newborn we also had 16-month-old twins and a 3-year-old. Crazy? Yes. Supermom? Not really. It’s true, our life is really busy. Like, super busy. My husband and I both work full-time, and we have four little kiddos. Looking at our family from the outside, sometimes people stare in disbelief. In fact, it never fails that when my husband takes all four kids to the store alone, people stop him to say, “Wow, you’re a great dad” or “You sure are busy!” Both of these things are true, but the truth is that we do the best with what we have. Some days, we have patience, support from our family and really well-behaved children. Other days, we are running on no sleep, stressed from work and have children who have repeated “moooooommmmyy” so many times that I want to pretend I’m just “Brook,” not “mommy.” I feel lucky to have a career that has given me experience, education and training in child development and parenting. I love helping people become better parents and I am able to help strengthen families and impact positive parenting practices. Do I take all of the advice myself? Much of it, I actually do. But the truth is...I’m not perfect. (gasp!) There are plenty of nonsuper mom things I’ve done. I’ve passed down my anxiety of being late to my oldest and she now yells at the twins saying, “Don’t make me late for school you two!” I’ve let my kids eat without washing their hands after playing outside. It’s actually okay with me if they eat dirt. Once, I was rushing upstairs to attend to a crying child and I shut the lights off and shut the door to the basement and didn’t realize, until about five minutes later when I heard a faint cry, that the youngest was still down there. Mom of the Year right here.

Many times parents don’t know where to turn to seek support and advice in their role. Often times, we turn to the internet or social media to get our questions answered. Sometimes google can be our best friend, but sometimes it can leave us confused and with the opinions of hundreds of people whom we don’t know. The great news about our community is that we are very resource rich. There are many organizations, agencies, programs and people who are knowledgeable and ready to help us with challenging times in our family. Usually, that knowledge is based on research findings, which tells us what works most of the time, according to research on families in certain situations. If you have questions, whether it is about parenting, finances, feeding your family, safety, education, etc. please know that it’s okay to reach out to the community for support, education and resources. The following are just a few who will answer your questions or direct you to resources and people who can assist. • UW-Extension Eau Claire County: 715-839-4712 • UW-Extension Chippewa County: 715-726-7950 • UW Extension Marathon County: 715-261-1242 • Family Resource Center: 715-833-1735 • Eau Claire City-County Health Department: 715-839-4718 When people ask me, “How do you do it?” I appreciate the acknowledgment that parenting is hard work. I also understand that it’s hard for us all, just in different ways. I was raised by a single, teen mother. She worked like crazy to provide for two of us. She worked more than one job while still struggling to pay for day care, never missed my dance performances, instilled values in me, took me to her college classes with her, colored with me and let me have hers when I decided I liked her picture better than my own, took care of me while she was sick and had no one to help and played the role of both mom and dad. Now, I look at her and say, “How did you do it?” Knowing that I have a huge support system, grandparents to help, a resource rich community, a (great) husband, I can’t imagine how difficult it was at times for her. Families are complex. Being a parent is hard. And what can be even more difficult is not comparing yourself to others. In the era of social media when all of your friends are posting pictures of the elaborate Pinterest crafts they did with their child, or the videos of their three-year-old reading, or pictures of their third trip to Disney world, you’re thinking, Oh my gosh, I’m a terrible parent; I’m not sure my kids even brushed their teeth today! As parents, we need to remember that every family has their own strengths, and most importantly, seek meaning, not approval.

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The meaning of family is different for everyone, and that’s okay. It’s not our job to judge how well another family is functioning. It’s our job to seek meaning in our own family. You can’t see what other families are going through, so if you take them at face value, you are likely comparing that family at its best, with your family at its worst. It’s no wonder that parents are overwhelmed and sometimes both uncertain and defensive about their choices. Having the ability to reflect on the great and not-so-great moments will help you grow together as a family.

times just making it through the week equals success. But I also know that there is value in this crazy life, as long as we cling to what matters most. Family is the road we follow back home. It’s the place we stop to remember all of the good things when time circles around us. Because let’s be honest, it’s going way too fast. Right now I feel particularly panicked about how fast life is moving. I want to grab it, tie it down and make it stop, just for a minute. I want to catch my breath. I want to memorize the way my girls rock their baby dolls and the way the boys giggle in their bedroom at night. Just let me memorize all of the moments—the heart-pounding, can-you-believe-theyjust-said-that, living room dance party, heart-warming moments. Being a mother to four children is the greatest and most challenging gift I’ve been given. P.S. How do you do it?

Brook works for UW-Extension as a Family Living Educator and is the mom of Paisley, Hudson, Madden and Everleigh.

With four little kids, a career, dance classes, puzzles to be made, religious ed classes, swimming lessons, homework, making dinner, having date night (wait. what’s that?!), some-

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Children’s Legacy Luncheon By Hannah Cole With Chairpersons Sue Bornick, Nikki Hanna and Minette Ponick

What is the Children’s Legacy Luncheon?

“It is an annual event that honors individuals who have made long-lasting contributions in the lives of area children. It was truly a grassroots effort that started around a dining room table of two women who believed that the efforts we put in to our children’s wellbeing determine our future. Since then it has blossomed to it’s 14th year. Each honoree gets a $500 grant to give to the non-profit organization of their choice. These people have ranged from dentists to policemen to a professional clown. The luncheon itself raises money for the Children’s Legacy Endowment Fund. From that fund one or more organizations that serve children receive grants.”

Which organizations received the 2014 endowment grants?

“Last year the first grant recipient was the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council; that grant was used for the Arts Mobile Summer Children’s program. The second grant recipient was the Chippewa Valley Youth Symphony; that grant supported the symphony’s program for veterans.”

Who will be honored this year?

Children’s Legacy Luncheon 2014 honorees

What can someone expect if they attend the event?

“It is open to the public. The honorees tell their stories and why they help children. It’s not so much as the honorees saying ‘thank you;’ we want them to convince others to volunteer. It raises awareness to the needs in the community. Those who attend can expect to walk away inspired after listening to very heartfelt stories. Last year 324 people attended.

So when is the event?

“The 14tth Annual Children’s Legacy Luncheon will be held April 23 from 11:30am-1pm at The Florian Gardens. Tickets can be purchased online at www.eccommunityfoundation.org.”

“This year’s honorees are Melinda Gardner, Donna Lehmkuhl, Pete Riley, Kathy Rulien-Bareis, Katherine Schneider and Jodi Thesing-Ritter.”

Any time you see a “Queen Cares” logo, it means we’re helping that charity get the word out! Congrats to this year’s honorees! We love it when people give children their time, talents and hearts!

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February 2015

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A Valentine to all you moms: We know it’s a job that takes a lot of heart. That’s why God made moms so smart! You fix the owies and dry the tears You likely changed diapers for years and years. You made cards with glitter and put them in the mail - then loved us to the moon and helped our dreams set sail. If you don’t get a hug from me today - know that I love you anyway. Thanks for every ounce of heart you put in now sit back & relax - your life is a “win”! Love from all the kids of the world

February 2015

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Pediatric dentistry – A few of the facts Notes for National Children’s Dental Health Month By: Dr. Amanda Spitz

Cavities in Children - The American Academy of

Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend a child see a dentist by age one. The importance of this early first visit is to discuss risk factors that your child may have for developing cavities and other oral health issues. Early childhood caries is an infectious disease, five times more common in children than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Unfortunately, recent studies show that 40 percent of children between the ages of two and five have tooth decay.

Aren’t they just baby teeth? Oral health is a

very important part of overall health. Without proper dental care, children face possible oral decay and disease that can cause a lifetime of pain and complications. Studies have shown that children with poor oral health have decreased school performance, poor social relationships and less success later in life. Children need their back teeth (molars and canines) until age 10-12. The teeth are not only needed to speak naturally and chew food comfortably, they hold space and aid in forming a path for permanent teeth to erupt into the mouth. Bacteria from untreated cavities should be treated or it will spread to neighboring teeth. Cavities left untreated can lead to pain, abscess and even failure to thrive.

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three additional years of specialized training beyond their four years of dental school and four years of undergraduate studies. This specialized program prepares the pediatric dentist to meet the unique needs of infants, children and adolescents, including those with special health care needs. Treatment modalities and recommendations for the growing child and baby teeth are not the same as those for adults and adult 38 queenofthecastlemagazine.com

February 2015

teeth. Pediatric dentists are prepared to care for a child’s oral health needs throughout all stages of childhood. Pediatric dentists and pediatric dental staff understand that children are not just small adults and that each child is unique. Children are not always able to be patient and cooperative during a dental exam. Pediatric dentists know how to examine children and use appropriate communication styles. Pediatric dentists are trained in specialized treatment methods and techniques to best serve children.

Preventing cavities in your children – Treatment of cavities in children is much more costly and complicated than preventing them. While it is true that some families are at higher risk of getting cavities, it is important to remember that it is still a preventable disease. It is important for all families to know and enforce some of the key ways to fight tooth decay. • Anything, other than water, which is sipped on throughout the day or night, will cause cavities. • Limit or eliminate flavored beverages such as: juice, soda, sports drinks and flavored milk. The acids they contain quickly cause tooth decay. • Limit sugar and sugary snacks. • Sticky foods can stay in the teeth for hours. Avoid sticky can dies and foods such as: fruit snacks, fruit roll ups, raisins and even gummy vitamins. • Brush the teeth twice per day. Assist your child with brushing until age eight. Help your child floss their teeth at night before bed. • Use fluoridated toothpaste and talk to your dentist about other necessary sources of fluoride. • Chew sugar-free gum specifically gum containing a naturally occurring sugar called Xylitol. Specifics for babies and toddlers • Clean your baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth after feedings. • Start brushing with water as soon as the first tooth appears. Begin using fluoridated toothpaste at age 3. • Never put your baby to bed with a bottle. If you must, fill the bottle with water only. • Sippy cups should contain water only. Learn more at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s website for parents: www.mychildrensteeth.org and at www.sim4kids.com

Dr. Amanda Spitz is the only Board Certified, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, Pediatric Dentist in the Chippewa Valley and is the owner of Smiles In Motion- Pediatric Dentistry in Chippewa Falls and Rice Lake, WI. www.sim4kids.com


REGISTER NOW for September Classes

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What is It? Eau Claire 4 Tomorrow (EC4T) is an Eau Claire Area School District early learning program (4K) offered to all four-year-olds. The EC4T program is free* to ECASD residents.

* There is no charge for EC4T however fees apply for families choosing to purchase extended services beyond the EC4T program day.

Who is Eligible? Any child who is 4 years old on or before September 1, 2015.

How Do I Register? Contact one of the centers below,

or complete an application online at www.ecasd.us (click Schools, Early Learning, Program Options and Eau Claire 4 Tomorrow). Babes in Toyland Child Care Center (715) 830-9432

Genesis Child Development Center (715) 830-2275

Mayo Clinic Health System Child Development Center (715) 838-3524

Beautiful Minds Child Care (715) 834-4360

Hand in Hand: A Place for All Children (715) 833-7744

Rachel’s Place Early Learning Center (715) 832-1414 x2200

Happy Feet Child Care Center (715) 514-3441

Redeemer Christian Preschool (715) 835-5528

The Kiddie Patch Early Learning Center (715) 833-9464

Regis Child Development Center (715) 830-2274

KinderCare Learning Center (715) 832-8099

University of WisconsinEau Claire Children’s Nature Academy (715) 836-2178

Chapel Heights Preschool (715) 832-2333 Children’s House Montessori School, Inc. (715) 835-7861 Color My World Childcare & Preschool Inc. (715) 835-2060 Days Gone By Early Learning (715) 835-1234 Eau Claire Area School District - Head Start (715) 852-3630 From the Roots Early Learning Center, LLC (715) 514-4881

The Learning Center (715) 835-8801 The Learning Tree Child Care Center (715) 834-5439

Western Dairyland Truax Head Start & Eau Claire Family Literacy Head Start (715) 985-2391 x1253

Little Bloomers LLC (715) 839-1050

YMCA Child Development Center (715) 836-8460

For more information regarding EC4T, contact the Eau Claire Area School District Early Learning Office at (715) 852-3608 February 2015

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This hierarchy is critical and essential, especially in stepfamily homes. Husband and wife must put each other first as the authority in the home for the sake of the children. It’s not easy, but it is important to the success of the family!

Stepfamilies: Doin’ It Right! Encouragement for All

The good news in many stepfamilies is the husband and wife’s desire to create something better after a painful decision or event that put an end to the original family. I talk to many stepfamistepfami lies that pray together, are involved with school, activities, sports, music. They atat tend worship together, spend time playing, and make every effort to successfully plan holidays. Stepfamilies create new memomemo ries, new histories and new traditions, while respecting what is important to the children. Avoid expectations, avoid taking everything personally. Celebrate good days, learn from difficult ones.

By: Dori Pulse

W

hen asked to write this article, I thought and prayed about the content. As a stepmom, the owner of Stepfamily Rx, an author and blogger, I decided that there is a lot of “how to” information out there and perhaps not enough about encouragement for all the good, powerful and positive attributes of living as a stepfamily. So, within this article, I’ve shared some tips and “bravos.”

There are statistics that indicate when children grow up in a safe, positive and healthy stepfamily with good rapport between biological parents, they can prosper and flourish as adults. Children need to feel loved, wanted and respected. When emotional, physical and spiritual needs are met within a stepfamily, everyone can relax and prosper. I realize things can be difficult, but I know there are happy times out there, too! I am reading an exciting book by Shaunti Feldhahn entitled, “Good News About Marriage.” In eight years of extensive research and reading numerous surveys, she has found that marriages hit a divorce peak in 1981, but since then have been on the decline. The higher statistics for remarried couples suggest that there are different situations that can cause stepfamily marriages to struggle or falter and fail. However! The high statistics repeated by many for re-divorce in stepfamilies is inconclusive (62-65% for 2nd marriages, 75-78% for 3rd marriages). Shaunti found that the divorce rates are much lower than what people have previously believed. It is true when issues are addressed from a more positive perspective, hope and endurance can reign. Marriage is a great thing, and that is what we should be repeating! In Shaunti’s book, she states that her findings indicate that couples that pray together and regularly attend church and worship services have a higher success rate with happiness and longevity in their marriages. God created us for relationship with Him and with each other. Therefore, having God as first and foremost in your family establishes the relationship harmony; everyone has their focus on loving and serving God instead of dwelling on selfish desires. In my book, “Everything Changed When I Said ‘I Do’ - Preparing for and Living as a God-First Stepfamily”, I propose ‘The Marital Perch,” which indicates that under God, husband and wife occupy and exist on this perch alone. Under the marital perch are the children, and under the children, everyone and everything else.

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A decisive action that parents and stepparents can take is to genuinely commit to communication between each other. Seek to understand first, then to be understood. I recommend that any disagreements between the spouses about the children never take place in front of them. It gives them a peek at any issue or weakness between the adults. Strive for peace, calm and safety. We cannot control other people; we can only control ourselves. When you avoid negative talk about anyone, you teach the children a very important life lesson about relationships. I know of stepfamilies that strive to have friendly relationships with the ex-spouse. It can and does happen! Take time for weekly “table talk,” when everyone checks in with each other, schedules are discussed and highs and lows can be shared. Adults and children take turns, keeping the tone respectful. Create a family mission statement wherein each person in the family contributes. Finally, make a list together during your family table talk time of fun, new, enjoyable things that happened during the week and post it on the refrigerator. Each week you can do a new one. There are successes in your stepfamily; you are doing some things right! Life is too short, so rather than just survive, you can thrive! God bless all families.

Dori Pulse, who lives with her husband, Bob, in Eau Claire, is a speaker, freelance writer and author, “Everything Changed When I Said ‘I Do’: Preparing for and Living as a God-First Stepfamily.” She has married, divorced and remarried, becoming a stepmom in 1998. Find her blog at stepfamilyrx.com.


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Contact me today! Kristina LeCloux www.myinitials-inc.com/klecloux KristinaLeCloux@hotmail.com 920-265-7187 Thorp, WI February 2015

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Meal Solutions

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Falling in Love with Yourself Comparisons and Connection By: Rachel Funk-Johnson

M

y bags are packed again and I just love it! There is something to getting on the plane, seeing new faces and understanding that this world isn’t really that big. I’m sitting in my hotel room right now in Scottsdale, AZ with a big smile on my face feeling very content. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to a room full of motivated and excited women who were attending a meeting to learn more about Polka Dot Powerhouse. For the meeting, I shared my story of change within my career and how finding the right group really can push you to the next level. When looking around the room, I was so impressed and knew that these women were going to be able to lift one another up, challenge and support one another simultaneously. Not to sound cheesy, but the energy was electric, almost magical. As I reflect on the evening, I had to reel myself in and remember that we all have the power to create these types of relationships, but first we have to be in an awesome and loving relationship with ourselves. I’m sure many women would have walked into the room last night and thought, “Why are they all SO happy?” Influential and positive women can be very intimidating especially to other women. We are continually taught to measure ourselves against each other. Giving ourselves internal messages like, “She has more money, a better career AND better hair.” Ugh! Why do we do this? I’m here to tell you, that it isn’t “her” who is the problem. Break out the mirror, girlfriend, we have some work to do. How many times are you judging others because you aren’t where you want to be in your fitness, job or relationships? How long are you going to blame others for your shortcomings? If this has been a continual pattern for you, I’m sure you are exhausted. I surely was. When I was riding in the front seat of the comparison bus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I knew I wasn’t in love with myself. It was easier to throw the blame on someone else who in my mind was perfect.

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“The energy was electric, almost magical.” I knew I needed to change, stop judging and find a way to create a love affair with me. All of me. Finding simple ways was my solution. This meant, really digging deep, and accepting who I was and changing where I needed to. Some of these expectations were basic, forgiving myself for my cowlick at the back of my head; it was there and not leaving. Then came some that were harder, like patience instead of fire, when things didn’t come as fast as I wanted. Taking a deep breath, releasing control of the situation because it was something that wasn’t up to me. When I found this additional grace within myself, I also found that I had more ease with my interactions with others. I noticed it especially with those “others” who were intimidating and always seemed to have it all together. When we let go of the notion that everyone has it better, we are truly able to see them for who they are. Sounds utopic, however, I will put my foot down on anyone who tries to tell you it isn’t true. So, next time you are looking to judge, gossip or critique, stop. Just stop. It’s a waste of time and air when you could be building an amazing, unique relationship with another person who just may have the same struggle as you.

Rachel Funk-Johnson is a motivational speaker and health coach who has a passion for lighting new sparks in people's lives. The owner of Happee School and co-owner of Excite! Wellness is traveling for speaking events and planning a motivational seminar on February 21st in Eau Claire. www.happeeschool.com


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February 2015


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February 2015


On the write track The Road to Romance Writer By: Tina Susedik

W

e’ve all heard the sayings: “When life throws you lemons, make lemonade,” “When God closes a door, He opens a window,” or “We plan, God laughs.” As I look back on my life, I’ve come to realize how appropriate they are.

Unlike many authors, I didn’t always want to be a writer. From young on, I always had stories going through my head. Unfortunately, when I was in school, writing wasn’t encouraged. I had no idea all these adventures popping around in my brain could be put down on paper. My minor in Journalism involved writing news articles, not stories. With a degree in Business Administration and one in Elementary Education, I spent years working in an office environment and then teaching. As a teacher, I enjoyed guiding children in their writing. I took classes in writing for children and dabbled in a few short stories, but nothing serious. In 1992, after leaving school, I was rear-ended by someone not paying attention and driving too fast. In an instant my plans for teaching until I retired changed. Despite neck and back pain, I continued to teach for a year and a half, until I realized I simply couldn’t handle it anymore. While going through rehabilitation and being assessed to see what I could do with the rest of my life, I was handed a picture of a beach scene. I was told to write a description. Doing what I didn’t realize came naturally to me, I wrote a short story.

Tina is organizing a Romance Authors’ event at Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe, Chippewa Falls on Valentine’s Day from 10am-1pm, where readers can meet and greet authors, ask questions during a panel and win prizes. and WisRWA. With another woman I started a local romance writers chapter and started writing. One morning a year later, I received a phone call from the town clerk of a nearby township. They needed someone to write a short history of their township for their centennial celebration. Something compelled me to agree. I quickly fell in love with interviewing, researching and writing local histories. This “short,” 300-page book began another branch of my writing career. In between I continued to work on my romances, but never had any time to do anything with them. When I crossed the sixtieth milestone of my life, I decided it was time to do something with those manuscripts. I studied more about the craft, rewrote, and edited, edited, edited. That spring, taking deep breaths and keeping my sweaty, shaking hands clenched in fists, I pitched a story idea to an editor at a conference and received a request for the first three chapters. Two weeks later, I sent in three chapters of another book to a different publisher. A month later, within two weeks of each other, I received requests for the full manuscripts for both books. I screamed. I cried. I called anyone I could think of. Now, nearly three years later, I can call myself a multipublished author.

I sat at a table watching two counselors looking over the paper, then at me, then the paper, and back at me. Oh, oh. What had I done wrong? They finally came over and one of them said they’d never had anyone write a story for the picture before. “You should be a writer.” God had opened a window.

What I didn’t realize at the time was how much work being published would be. Re-writes, edits, finding just the right words, research, deciding on blurbs, excerpts, covers, what picture to use for publicity, and the dreaded “P” word - promotion.

My career now moved to a desktop publishing business, designing brochures, business cards, writing press releases and resumes. This was something I could do from home, at my own pace. If I was in pain, I could lay on the floor or work from my recliner.

I think if you ask any author, they will say they hate promotion. Give me a three-hundred page book to write under a tight deadline, but please, don’t ask me to promote myself. Blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, booksignings. It’s time-consuming and mind-boggling and takes time away from actually writing.

I hadn’t given much thought to writing books, especially romances. On Valentine’s Day in 1996, a group of romance authors from the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America (WisRWA) came to the Chippewa Falls Library and put on a presentation. Since I enjoyed reading the genre and thought it would be fun to meet “real live authors,” I went. Another window slid open. Afterwards I started thinking about the stories going through my head and realized many of them involved couples meeting, falling in love, having problems, overcoming those challenges and living happily ever after—a key component in romances. I did some research and joined the Romance Writers of America

But I love it and wouldn’t give it up for anything. Besides, those stories in my head won’t let me. Tina Susedik is the mother of two and grandmother of five. She is an author of three township and one city history book, three military books, two children's books, two romances and two short stories in anthologies; she wrote "Uncle Bill's Farm" with her ten-year-old granddaughter, Alli.

She can be found at tinasusedik.com

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Advertiser Index

All Family Dental Page 37 AMK Cleaning Page 19 Anew Painting Page 59 Appel Chiropractic Page 29 Autumn Harvest Winery Page 19 Brown Barn Page 10 Catalyst for Change Counseling Page 25 Chippewa Falls Main Street Page 17 Chippewa Valley Technical College Page 64 Chippewa Valley Theater Guild Page 50 Chippewa Valley Vein Center Page 23 Chippewa Valley WellFEST Page 24 Cookin’ Up a Storm Page 43 CPAP Store Page 29 Dixons Apple Orchard Page 53 Eau Claire Area School District Page 39 Eau Claire Floral Page 10 Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center Page 36 Equine Inspired Wellness Page 10 Fall Creek Portrait Design Page 37 Feed My People Food Bank Page 58 Family Farms Market Page 17 Gonstead Stangl Arkowski Chiro. Page 25 Govin’s Weddin’ Barn Page 55 Grace Lutheran Foundation Page 27 Group Health Cooperative of EC Page 37 Healing Choices Oasis Page 25 Higgins Travel Leaders Page 46, 51 Holiday Inn Page 54 Holland’s Family Cheese Page 41 House Blend Studio Page 58 HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital Page 16 Indee Metal Works Page 10 Initials - Kristina LeCloux Page 50 Kristo Orthodontics Page 23 Mary Kay - Kristi Garfield Page 54

Main Street Cafe Page 10 Mainstream Boutique Page 19 Martin Dental Page 17 Max’s Club 95 Page 54 Mayo Clinic Health System Page 2 My Friends Place Spa Salon Page 19 Next Level Wellness Page 27 Noah’s Ark Preschool Page 50 Norske Nook Coffee Page 58 Osseo Chiropractic Page 27 Oz Run Page 28 Pederson Volker Funeral Home Page 25 Rachel Funk-Johnson Page 45 Red Cedar Cookie Company Page 36 Regis Catholic Schools Page 63 River Valley Pediatric Dental Page 35 Sacred Heart Hospital Page 16 Sakura Skin Spa Page 15 Serena O’Meara Page 56 Serenity Massage Page 29 Simple Office Solutions Page 46 Smiles in Motion Page Page 41 Sparrows by the Creek Page 48 Spring Street Studio Page 25 St. Francis Apartments Page 59 St. Joseph’s Birth Center Page 31 St. Vincent de Paul Page 50 Stokes+HERZOG Page 48 Sweet Clarisse Catering Page 54 Tastefully Simple - Denise Bender Page 50 The Joyful Doc Page 29 Tiny Tots Playhouse Page 33 WESTconsin Credit Union Page 61 Without Borders Outreach Page 48 Yankee Jacks Page 55 Your CPAP Store Page 29 February 2015

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We love our brides! We’re here for you every month with great stories from the experts and love stories too! Join our new Facebook Community for families planning weddings! Lookfor: “Tiaras and Tulle for Brides” weddings away Kristi Garfield Independent Beauty Consultant

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A walk to remember By Aryn Jurewicz

October 7, 2006 was a warm fall day and our wedding could not have been more beautiful. My mom, Amy, and my grandmother, Donna, walked with me down the aisle while my dad, Edward, looked on. This scenario may sound strange, but I knew that this symbolic walk was something I could only take with the people who raised me. When I was a tiny baby, my mom and I moved from Florida to Wisconsin to live with my grandma. My dad stayed in Florida. Throughout my life my mom and I moved quite a few times, often

coming back to live with my grandma. These two women were my “parents” and the most important people in my life.

Wisconsin for our wedding.

Today, my husband Jericho and I have been married for over eight years and we have two beautiful children. My dad and I continue I was lucky enough to to build a relationship and I am communicate with my dad grateful for every day we have throughout my life, but due to now that we did not have when many circumstances, we were I was younger. I still love that not able to meet until I was 18. my mom and grandma walked Creating a relationship with with me as I began this amazing him was surreal and I was so journey that is marriage and blessed that he was able to parenthood. travel to Aryn Jurewicz is a happily married mother of two young children. Aryn teaches four-year-old kindergarten in the Eau Claire School District.

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Save the Date! Queen of the Castle Magazine is sponsoring a bridal fair at Family Farms Market in Eleva on April 19 from 1-4 p.m. Also, join us on Facebook where we have a new spot just for brides! Look for “Tiaras and Tulle for Brides�

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February 2015

Family Dynamics Navigate Tricky Moments as you Plan your Wedding By: Heather Christ

W

eddings are a time of joy and celebration for couples as they celebrate the birth of their marriage. It’s also a time for families and friends to come together to help celebrate these unions and assist the brides- and grooms-to-be as they prepare for the big day. While it’s wonderful to have family members provide help and suggestions as you plan your wedding, tricky family dynamics can arise during the stages of planning and be difficult to negotiate causing added stress for you and your future spouse.

Enjoy the planning stage, and if conf licting family opinions bring stress, relax and remember the power of the compromise. As you prepare for your wedding, you may be getting financial help from your parents and your future in-laws. If they are helping to pay for your wedding, they may want a say in what they are paying for, and they may have suggestions that go against what you envisioned for your wedding. This can definitely cause stress and anxiety. For instance, you may imagine the centerpiece for your reception tables as a bouquet of red roses offset by four small ivory candles, but your mother (who may be paying for the centerpieces) may want white lanterns surrounded by fresh flowers. Think about ways to compromise so that you can both be happy with the result. Try placing large candles inside the lanterns to meet your need for candlelight and use red roses to decorate outside the lanterns. On the other hand, compromising may not always be an option to diffuse disagreements about wedding plans. For instance, if your parents are planning to pay for the cake, perhaps your mother insists you should serve sheet cake while you want to serve cupcakes. In this case, there is little room for compromise. First, decide how important it is to you to serve cupcakes. If this is a detail you


must have, tell your mother how appreciative you are that she is helping to pay for the cake, but explain why you would prefer to have cupcakes and why it’s important to you. Help her understand your point of view. She may surprise you and reconsider. It’s also helpful not to push your own strong opinions regarding the little details of the wedding if you predict arguments could arise. Yes, focusing on details to some extent is important to us in the planning stages and on the wedding day. But if you predict conflicts arising from differing opinions, expressing those opinions about the little details could provoke conflicts and cause anger and hurt feelings. As party hosts and hostesses, we want to impress guests, and we want them to have a nice time. One year from now, guests will remember that you had a nice wedding, but they will not remember every small detail of the wedding. In the end, small details are not worth fussing over and possibly creating a small family feud over. In cases where you expect a stressful wedding planning experience with difficult parents or future in-laws, you may want to consider hiring a wedding planner. They are experts, not only in choosing food, flowers, decorations and any other matter related to weddings, but experienced wedding planners have likely worked with tricky family dynamics in the past, so they understand the importance of reaching compromises that will create results to impress everyone. Your wedding should be a joyous event. For many, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event. Enjoy the planning stage, and if conflicting family opinions bring stress, relax and remember the power of the compromise. And at the end of the day, don’t forget what the purpose of your wedding day really is: to commence and celebrate your marriage, which will last long after any possible debate over the guest list. Heather Christ, a Chippewa Valley native, two-time UW-Eau Claire graduate and bride-to-be, currently lives in Medford with her fiancé Chris and their rambunctious kitty, Pebbles. She is enjoying every minute of planning her own wedding while juggling working full-time, promoting her Jamberry Nails business, writing, interior design, knitting and playing the piano.

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February 2015


Wedding Vow Renewals Do’s & Don’ts

By: Nicole Campos

A

s a wedding planner I often hear wives say, “I would love to do a marriage vow renewal.” This always leaves me wondering, Well, why don’t you? We get so consumed with the hussle and bussle of everyday life we often tend to forget to sit back and enjoy the sweet things in life. We forget to appreciate what is really most important to us, our marriage. In my opinion, staying together is just as much honorable as getting married in the first place. So why not celebrate your love – again? There are a few good reasons for a renewal: • You want to honor an upcoming decade anniversary. • Your original wedding wasn’t what you dreamed it would be (maybe due to a mother nature, raining on your big day. You were rushed or you didn’t have the budget that you have now). • You eloped the first time and now you want to gather your friends and family. • You’ve survived some tests to your marriage—from sickness to a long-distance military deployment—and it’s time to re-affirm your love. A lot of questions arise when thinking of such an event, just like a wedding there’s a lot to think about. To answer some of those questions we’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for your renewal.

Do • Decide what kind of renewal you’d like – a large • • • • •

event, an evening celebration or an intimate event. Send out invites. Like any event, guests like to have a physical reminder of when and where they’re supposed to be. Dress up. If you can fit in your original wedding dress – great! Either way, your guests will want to see more elegant attire on you, even if it’s a casual event. Serve some sort of meal. Your guests will still expect to be fed during your event, big or small. Have toasts, the whole idea is to testify your ever lasting love, after all. Add your own personal touches. This is still a delicate event and should be a reflection of who you are.

Don’t • Send save the dates, since it’s not an official •

• •

ceremony there’s no reason to have an official date saver. Make a registry. A wedding registry is to help newlyweds furnish their new homes. Since you’re not newlyweds it would be considered poor etiquette to expect gifts. Have bachelor or bachelorette parties. Neither of you would actually fit this category so it may be in poor taste to have a party night. Have a large wedding party. Wedding parties should only consist of family members or the original bridal party for sentimental purposes. The wedding party is picked to have official witnesses of the marriage, in this case they would be unnecessary. Have formal dances. You already had your first dance, and the mother – son, father – daughter dances are a sign of parting. There’s really no reason to re-do these dances. A far better replacement would be to do the anniversary dance.

A• few fun ideas for your renewal: Since this is an unofficial ceremony, you can have • •

anyone you’d like do the service. Perhaps a friend, parent or even child can perform the ceremony. A destination ceremony is a great way to have an intimate renewal with those closest to you. Instead of exchanging rings, consider a new piece of jewelry or even an upgraded stone in your original ring.

Whatever you choose to do relax, have fun and enjoy your celebration!

“Weoften getgetsosoconsumed withthethe “We consumed with hussle andbustle bussle of everyday hustle and of daily life that welife weoften often back tend tend forgettoto forget sit back to andsit enjoy the enjoy sweet things in life.” things in life.” and the sweet

When you want elegant music!

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February 2015

Serena O’Meara - Harpist

Booking now for parties, anniversaries, weddings, memorials, funerals, and birthdays

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Welcome to our home and garden section! Every month you’ll find helpful articles and great pictures to get you inspired! We want to give you real ideas for your special spaces and meals too!

A Valentine’s Day card how-to!

We are going to be using the Hearts Collection Framelits in two different sizes.

First, take a scrap piece of designer paper. Using the Back to Black paper, cut out a smaller heart. Then, take the next size bigger and cut this out of a scrap piece of With Lisa Bowell from Lisa’s Stamp Shoppe black cardstock. Next, have a little bit of fun and use the brand new Bow Builder Punch out of the Occasions catalog. You will need to punch out the images twice to get all the pieces you need for one bow. Put the bow toStampin’Up! Supplies: gether and place that on top of my heart. • Whisper White Cardstock

• • • • • • • • •

Basic Black Cardstock Back to Black Designer Paper Real Red Stamp Pad Hearts Collection Framelits Bow Builder Punch Real Red Cotton Ribbon Big Shot Large Polka Dot Embossing Folder You Plus Me Stamp set

Take a piece of Whisper White Cardstock 5 x 3 3/4 and dots from the Dot Embossing Folder. Emboss three quarters of the way down. On the very bottom, stamp the greeting from You Plus Me. Layer that onto a Basic Black piece of cardstock that is 5 1/4 x 4. Add a piece of the Real Red Cotton Ribbon around it. Layer that onto the card base. Lisa Bowell began her career as a Stampin' Up Demonstrator in 2003, in that role she has attended numerous leadership training opportunities that have allowed her to share her creativity and skills with an endless number of customers. Lisa's devotion to this career have earned her recognition such as the top 100 demonstrators for 7 years.

www.lisastamps.com

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February 2015


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February 2015

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Successfully Aging Seminar Series “Add a little ‘SASS’ to your life !”

AT THE END OF THE DAY:

Leaving a Living

Thursday, February 19 2:00 pm

Learn how to define your hard earned wisdom and share it with those who come after us. St. Francis Apartments 851 University Drive, Eau Claire

Seating is limited, RSVP to Therese Martens, 715-834-1338

FREE presentation & refreshments • Sign up for door prizes!

It’s Home and Garden Show time! Here are the organizer’s top tips to make the most of it:

• Make a list – take time before the Show to jot down projects you’d like to tackle. Browse the exhibitor list to see which vendors interest you the most Christmas Village in Irvine Park, Chippewa Falls you want to travel: • Review the program –If be sure to pick up a Show program at the welcome More than 100,000 Christmas lights turn the park Garden Lights, Green Bay Botanical Gardens desk to direct you around theofshow floor into a Christmas Village. Life-size Christmas scenes Displays of flowers, butterflies and other botanical • Don’t just browse – talk to the vendors. If you’re interested in a product or replicate the Victorian era and the city’s early history. themed images. Walk the trail, or hop on a carriage service, leave your name and phone number, and ask the vendor to follow November 27, 2014 - January 1, 2015 perfect for younger viewers. up with you after theride show Rotary Winter Wonderland, Marshfield Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival • Bring any important information about your projects with you, such as Holiday light display featuring free walk- and driveSets three of Milwaukee’s parks ablaze with color: plans, measurements, small samples and sketches through displays, Santa’s Village, animated displays, Cathedral Square Park, Pere Marquette Park and nativity scenes, holiday music and more. Nov 28, Zeidler Union Square. For a $1, hop on the Jingle 2014 - Dec 31, 2014 Bus for a warm, narrated tour of the festive scenes. Rotary Holiday Lights, La Crosse Runs though January 1st, 2012. Animated displays, a computerized tunnel, and a Chippewa Valley Home Builder’s Association Country Christmas Light Show, Waukesha holiday village with reindeer, hayrides and carriage Wisconsin’s largest outdoor lights display! Home and Garden Show It features rides. November 28, 2014 250 light displays lit with more than 1 million lights Indoor Sports Center in a 1- Eau mile,Claire drive along wooded trail. Runs Jennifer Johnson is the Executive December 1st – 31st, 2011. Director of the Chippewa Valley Home Friday, February 20 - 1pm to 8pm Builders Association(CVHBA). Representing almost 350 members throughout Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire and Pepin counties, the CVHBA has been supporting the area's housing industry by offering substantial resources to members and the public since 1972.

Saturday, February 21 - 9am to 5pm Sunday, February 22 - 10am to 4pm Cost: $8/one or $12/weekend pass February 2015

queenofthecastlemagazine.com

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A Hope, a Hobby, and One Happy Glamper The Power of Positive Thinking By: Glenda Stokes

H

i. My name is Glenda and I am a Glamper. What’s that you say??? A Glamper. If you have never heard of it before, you are not alone. I have run into only a few here in western Wisconsin that know what I am talking about. It is an acronym for women who like to “camp” but in a more “glamorous” way. Doesn’t that sound like fun? It is. Majorly. I first heard of it back in 2008 reading a book by a woman in Idaho who was a farm girl, loved the outdoors, and who glamped. I was intrigued. It was a flicker in me that never quite went out. Since then, I have thought about what it is that makes me want to Glamp. I’ll start at the beginning. I grew up on a farm in western Minnesota in a family of 8. We were poor but no one ever talked about that. We just went about our work and were blessed to live off the land, so to speak. My dad was a great welder on the side and seemed to have an adventurous spirit. He wanted to travel but financially, that was out Counter space of the question. So, in about 1957 he came up with the idea to buy an old school bus and turn it into a motorhome. I use the term loosely! He welded bunk beds out of old iron he had, kept enough seats for us to sit on, built a table and makeshift cupboards, and Voila’! We had a camper. When I was in my 20’s my dad bought a real motorhome and we went on several excursions. I liked camping and loved fishing. Those times are dear memories to me. As I look back on those days, I even got engaged in an old camper! That brings me to the present. I decided to look for an ol’ vintage camper to buy. I searched the sites on the internet, looked in newspapers, and finally set about driving the rural roads around Eau Claire in search of my goal. I printed out a picture from the internet of a version of this type of camper and carried

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February 2015

it in my wallet. I knocked on doors in the country but to no avail. I talked about it to friends and drug that picture out many times. I saw one by a house and drove by every day until the person was out in their yard. The camper was gone. He had sold it the day before. I was disappointed. Weeks go by and I find one on the street in Eau Claire and go home and call. The gal sold it the night before. I was devastated. Was I ever going to find my camper? Lady and the Glamp - Glenda’s camper “before” shot

I had to put it out of my mind for a while. And then one Saturday The exterior of Laura’s camper morning, Sarah calls. She had seen two campers on a street near us. What? I raced to the location. No “For Sale” signs. One guy was mowing so I asked him… nope… his was his ice shack. I knocked on the door for the other camper. The man that answered the door said he didn’t think it was for sale but would give the owner my card. I drove by the next night with my grandkids… the owner was outside so I asked if I could just show the kids what Grandma was talking about all this time. Those two little monkeys jumped up in that camper and were awestruck. A little kitchen? A ladder to a top bunk? A tiny bathroom? Their eyes lit up like Christmas tree bulbs! It was fun to see that I was not the only one interested in this kind of adventure! The next day I get a call from the owner and he has decided to sell it to me. He said seeing the excitement on the faces of those two little kids sealed the deal for him. He knew his toy was going to be well taken care of and enjoyed. So now you know the rest of the story. There is power in manifesting and positive thinking. It had been a trial of patience and perseverance but I had my very own Glamper! I must admit that I had devised my plan to include the look of what my lil’ gem would look like. I picked a


color scheme and went about gathering inventory… necessities and décor… trinkets that would make this my glam getaway. More décor than necessities. A friend gave me the cutest tree ornament ever… you guessed it… a little camper with a Christmas tree on the roof! Yay! For now, my Glamper sits outside my window with a new frosting of snow and I think she is just beautiful. I am including some photos to give you a glimpse into this retro world. At this stage of the game, mine is the “before” picture of my 1967 Trailblazer made in Spencer, Wisconsin. The others are from

fellow glamper Laura Grover from Oak Creek, who has an adorable one all decked out. I hope to keep you updated on this journey of mine Laura Grover’s glamper Miss June and let you know my progress. Stand by for news!

Glenda Stokes, Sarah’s mother, moved to Eau Claire to be near her daughter and her family in 2012. The Interior Decorator and business owner is now also a Professional Grandma. www.glitzandglampers.com

Table setting

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February 2015


Then

Now 200

8

Happy one year annivers ary!

w No

We’ve been so happy to continue the tradition of Queen of the Castle Magazine. It’s been around since 2007 and the February 2014 issue was the first under new ownership! Sarah Stokes left her TV News career to be home with her two young children more and the magazine has been a beautiful transition within her journalism career. After a major makeover, the new Queen of the Castle Magazine is double in page length and proudly 75% content or more every month!

Thank you for being fabulous readers and our contributors make each issue inspirational, fun and useful. We love it when we hear time and again that our fans read it cover to cover! What would you like to see in the pages of the 2015 issues? We love feedback! Thank you! 2015 promises to have more exciting developments and watch our Facebook page to keep up on the news!

Thank y ou readers a to our loyal nd advertise awesome rs who k eep the mag azin You rock e going! !

! s k n a Th The Queen Team 62queenofthecastlemagazine.com

February 2015


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Contact me today! Kristina LeCloux www.myinitials-inc.com/klecloux KristinaLeCloux@hotmail.com 920-265-7187 Thorp, WI

Central WI February 2015  

The focus is on family and all the different shapes and sizes our families come in! Also, find beautiful wedding gowns and a feature on glam...

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