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Posts Tagged ‘Community’

  1. Shop Local

    July 27, 2015 by admin

    IMG_1508We recently had the unfortunate experience of discovering that our dryer wasn’t heating up at all during any selected cycle.  Our clothes were wet and cold when the finish bell sounded.  And since we aren’t interested in purchasing a new dryer at this point, we needed to figure out if it could be fixed.

    *Our home came with a 1 year home warranty which covers all the major appliances.  We will discuss this home warranty soon, but for now we’ll just let you know this repair route hit a dead end.

    Our internet research indicated that our dryer’s symptoms were pretty common and could be repaired. TRDad doesn’t have a lot of experience just yet on fixing appliances.  He and Bluey did some exploratory poking around the machine but came up short.  We were going to have to locate a repairman.

    We knew that the big chains, like Sears, had repair services.  But we were a little wary of price and convenience.  Our trials on getting the dryer repair set up through our home warranty had left us stranded on Saturday and our clothes were piling up.  We turned to Google and crossed our fingers.

    Luck smiled upon us and we located Gary’s Appliance Repair.  We had little to go on as this business had no homepage and only a few simple online reviews.  But one phone call had Gary heading to our home.  He arrived within 30 minutes of our initial contact!

    Gary rolled into our driveway in a very old mini van.  He looked to be on the tail end of sixty, had suspenders attached to his work pants, and was very friendly.  Gary didn’t mind our pets or our inquisitive and talkative Bluey.  He hummed a little tune as he got right to work on our dryer, quickly identifying the issue.IMG_1511

    No more than 30 minutes from Gary’s arrival, our dryer was repaired.  Since Gary was so friendly, TRDad now has a much better understanding of how to go about fixing the dryer in the future.  And Gary’s invoice was incredibly reasonable- no emergency weekend fee involved!

    We highly recommend Gary’s Appliance Repair if you live in our area.

    Do you typically reach out to locally owned and operated services or do you go right to the national chains?

  2. People In Your Neighborhood

    April 22, 2015 by admin

    65084_town_mdFinding a new home is as much about finding the right neighborhood as it is about finding the right house.  Maybe more.  After all, you can make direct improvements to your house- add rooms, change windows, even tear the whole thing down and start over again.  But making changes to your neighborhood is a much more difficult endeavor.

    So while you are driving around looking at different houses, pay attention to the neighborhood.  What do you see?  What types of activities seem common?  Are people out tending lawns and gardens?  Are kids biking and skating around?  Is anyone shooting hoops at the basketball court?

    Do your best to try to find a home in a neighborhood where the neighbors are doing the types of activities you’ll wish to do.

    Figure out what you like in a neighborhood.  Are you hoping for active and chatty neighbors and noisy kids?  Or do you want seclusion and the quiet of your own abode?

    For us, we are seeking out an active family-friendly place, where we and our kids can get to know the neighbors.  So when we drive through a neighborhood, like the one we are moving to, and see kids on roller skates and families working on the front lawn, and lots of homes with basketball hoops- we know we are seeing good signs that this is a place where we will thrive.

    You are buying a home to live in for many years- maybe decades.  Make sure it is situated in a neighborhood you like.

  3. House-apalooza!

    April 8, 2015 by admin

    house_3_mdHouse hunting is a full-on task.  It takes a lot of energy and organization to find a new home.

    Spoiler Alert:  We found our new home and we are happy to share our path to picking the perfect place.

    Our process included seeing over a dozen houses before we could really zero in on the best one for us.  In our case, we were working with a short time frame so we saw fifteen houses in two days, and then went back the very next day to see six more!  But among all of them, we found our house.

    Why so many houses?  We needed to see the range of options available to us in our price range.  The geographical area we were interested in combined with our price range left an awful lot of homes to choose from- homes in many different styles and conditions.

    To make sense of all these visited houses, we made a chart showing the various attributes we most desired.  Our chart included the number of bedrooms, dining space, yard space, neighborhood and a few other categories.

    Note:  Your chart for Your House will be different.  Think carefully about what you want in a house.  Is location your prime consideration?  How badly do you need a deck?  Or a garage?

    The more houses we looked at, the more clearly we were able to identify which ones held the most interest.  We looked at a house we loved: great price, great location, cute layout.  But as we compared it to other homes on our chart, we saw that it’s lack of a dining space really mattered to us, despite its other clear benefits.

    By seeing so many houses in a short period time we were able to figure out how some houses just didn’t measure up to want we wanted.  By the time we’d seen all of them, the winner was pretty clear.  And we made the call to put in our offer.

    It takes a lot of work to find the right house for you.  Be prepared to see many homes, including some that don’t even look that good on paper.

  4. At The Wisconsin Council Of The Blind

    March 6, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2889“What do blind people do?  I mean, do they have jobs and stuff?”

    Our curious Bluey asked this simple question the other day.  So we had to find a satisfying answer.

    We had been looking for batteries and saw all the tiny batteries designed for hearing aids.  This led to a short discussion about hearing aids and how they helped people who could not hear very well by amplifying the sounds around them.

    And then we had a conversation about people who have visual impairments.  Bluey wanted to know how you could have a job, or read a book, if you were blind.  We talked about how people with vision difficulties have all sorts of jobs from doctors to lawyers to artists. Blind people can do almost anything, even read!

    But Bluey’s questions lingered.  We were driving in our car for most of this conversation, so the description TRDad had for how the Braille alphabet worked was not quite clear to our youngest.

    On our way home, we pulled into the parking lot of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Vision Impaired.   An advantage of living near the state capitol is that we have the offices for many advocacy groups not far from our home.  The small offices for the Council of the Blind is right in our neighborhood.

    We had no appointment, no knowledge of the Council’s regular working hours, and no expectations.  Our best hope was that someone might be able to show us a book in Braille, or something along those lines.

    Despite our surprise visit, we were welcomed by the staff from the start.  The two women who run the front desk, Heather and Amanda, greeted us and immediately understood how they could help and were eager to do so.

    IMG_2890They showed us around the Sharper Vision store where visually impaired people can find items to assist them.  We saw all sorts of tools and techniques that help vision impaired people go about their daily lives.  They let Bluey listen to a headset that converted websites from text to speech.  We saw rulers, knives and other household goods adapted with Braille measures and marks.  They showed us clocks and phones that talked out the time or phone numbers (Bluey really liked the talking clocks!)

    Best of all, they showed Bluey how the Braille system worked with examples from books and notecards.  Amanda even showed Bluey how to run a Braille typewriter- printing his name for him while he watched!IMG_2891

    We were so happy to have made this random stop!  Heather and Amanda were a wealth of information and very kind.  They left us with a handful of Braille bookmarks to give out to friends, and an increased knowledge and understanding of the lives of visually impaired people.

    When you and your family have questions, seek out the people in your area who might know the answers.  You’ll meet new friends and learn more than you might’ve hoped.IMG_0197

  5. Best of 2014

    December 31, 2014 by admin

    56571_party_mdAs we welcome in 2015, we at ThriftyRambler wanted to take a few moments to reflect on 2014. Here are some of our favorite posts of the year: (launched in 2013 but continues throughout the years!)

    We are thrilled interact with all of our readers and we thank you for being a part of this homegrown project. We are excited to see what the coming year has in store for all of us! We encourage you to continue to reach out to us with ideas or comments.

    Wishing all of you a peaceful, loving and prosperous 2015.


  6. The RC Auto Club

    November 12, 2014 by admin

    On a recent hiking trip, we emerged from our forest fun to find the previously empty parking lot filled with half a dozen sport utility vehicles and a number of people milling around.

    “What have we bumped into here?” we thought.

    It was a group of eight or ten men aged between twenty years old and up to about about sixty.  Several of them wore the clothes one might associate with hunting.  Since this happened to be the first day of deer hunting season, we began to fear that we had stumbled onto some sort of hunting expedition.IMG_8694

    But our concerns soon disappeared as we realized that we were approaching a group of radio controlled car enthusiasts!

    They had brought their collection of RC monster trucks and jeeps to the woods to race through the leaves and see whose car could scale the steepest hill, or crawl over the biggest rocks.  We chatted them up, aided by Bluey’s many questions about how these cars worked and who built them.

    They were the friendliest bunch of guys you could hope to run into!  They were more than happy to show off their cars unique capabilities and to explain how they functioned.  They said they’d just come back from a big meet up in Arkansas, driving 15 hours each way to race their trucks through the trails.

    Bluey was thrilled and immediately wanted to join their club and go racing with them.

    IMG_8697We were glad to have talked to them and wished we weren’t on a bit of a time crunch to get TRDad to work.  We gladly would have spent all afternoon with these nice gentlemen.

    Instead we drove home talking about cars and vowing to research their club to try to get Bluey involved.  Our son charged up his own remote controlled truck as soon as he got home and then drove it around the neighborhood.

    We were thrilled to have met these guys and happy that our decision to interact with these strangers was the right one.  We met a group of people we could easily have over-looked or actively avoided, people who pursue a hobby that our young son finds fascinating.

    All for the simple effort of  choosing to say “Hello!”

  7. Gender Frustration

    October 22, 2014 by admin


    This TRFamily doesn’t enforce gender roles.  We allow our son Bluey to pick out sparkly light-up shoes marketed to girls, if that is where his heart leads him.  And we encourage our daughter, Plum, to fight against gender stereotypes as well as embrace make-up, if that is her desire.  We have never instructed our kids to put back a toy because it is for the opposite gender.  Nor have we ever encouraged them to “be a man” or “act like a lady.”  The list of examples could go on and on and on.

    We think that this philosophy is a big part of what causes gender confusion for adults and children when first encountering Bluey.  Yes, Bluey has an incredible head of very curly hair.  But there are many hip young boys that have longer hair styles.  Yes, Bluey will occasionally choose to wear pink, or another clothing item that is seen by the masses as “girly.”  But many boys and men are breaking out of the stereotypical male color spectrum and clothing styles.

    So what causes so many people to question our son’s gender?  What is the reason that children constantly ask Bluey if he is a boy or a girl?  Bluey doesn’t have overtly feminine characteristics.  He doesn’t bring any beloved dolls, or other stereotypically female toys, on our outings.  Bluey doesn’t refer to himself as a girl.  He isn’t questioning his identity or declaring his gender to be female.

    Bluey does have a strong nurture trait.  He is incredibly talkative.  Bluey likes to engage with others while playing versus running amok destroying things and killing the enemy.  He will happily play with either gender that will accept his friendship- girls are not “gross” to Bluey.  He will admire a friend’s Barbie doll with as much attention as he will a friend’s brand new Transformer.  Bluey watches My Little Pony with as much enthusiasm as he has for the latest Lego Ninjago episode.  And did we mention that he likes to converse?

    It is sad that these characteristics in a young boy seem to throw off the population at large. Everyone seems to second guess their initial assumption that Bluey is a boy.  Shouldn’t a boy be much less interested in conversation?  Shouldn’t a boy want to only play with the other boys?  Why is this boy before me wearing pink?  He must really be a girl!

    We hear all the time, “She has such beautiful hair!”  On rare occasion, Bluey will reply “I’m a boy,” or “I’m a he.”  But usually Bluey ignores the pronoun directed toward him.  What weighs heavily on TRMom and TRDad is that there is any suggestion of confusion in the first place. Our Bluey is comfortable with himself- do these conversations make him question whether or not he is okay?

    Why is society so focused on boxing people up into neat little packages?  And why must our son, at five, have to deal with almost daily intrusions upon his gender identity?  What does it matter, people!  We rarely correct anyone when they identify Bluey as female.  It just doesn’t matter to us, and we don’t want Bluey to think that there is anything wrong with him.

    Recently, a little girl met Bluey at the park and they played happily for about 20 mintues.  The girl ran up to her mom and declared, “Bluey is my new friend. She’s awesome.”  The mother felt the need to correct her daughter, “I think Bluey is a little boy.”  And quick as that, the girl turned around to Bluey stating, “You’re a boy. I’m not playing with you.”

    It’s moments like these that stump us.  Why does the Mom need to correct this gender slip of her daughter’s?  And why is her daughter’s response OK?  Why do kids as young as four years old already believe that they can only play with friends of the same gender?

    Bluey’s long time friends constantly criticize Bluey’s choices by saying things like- “Oh. that’s a girl’s shirt.”  Or “That’s a girl’s TV show.”  No amount of discussion with the friends- “There’s no such thing as a girl’s shirt.  It’s just a shirt-” can penetrate the mountains of gender conformity pressure that kids experience today.

    It makes us very sad,  But we are incredibly grateful that our Bluey dares to do his own thing, in his own beautiful way.  Regardless of society’s loud suggestion that he should change.

  8. Talking To Strangers: We Encourage It

    October 8, 2014 by admin



    Perhaps against majority’s opinion or advice, we love talking to strangers. On our TR journeys large and small, some of our best take away moments are the conversations with the few people we have met along the way.  We do talk to strangers regularly and we encourage our kids to do it, too!

    We recently stopped for a quick lunch at a favorite local chain. As we were leaving, TRMom was suggesting to the kids that they make a stop in the bathroom. An elderly gentleman was sitting nearby and he interjected, “That’s some good advice!”

    Rather than ignoring this unfamiliar man or giving a dismissive smile, we struck up conversation with him. We shook hands, introduced our family, and chatted for a few minutes. As we were leaving, he declared, “You should have my card.”


    Tip: There is a huge difference between talking to strangers and heeding the whims or demands of strangers. We would encourage you to teach your kids how to IMG_8104recognize this subtlety and judge for your own family what works best.

    Allowing ourselves to engage with others only enhances our experiences and our connections to the world. We are all so isolated already thanks to Facebook, Snapchat, Texting, etc. These apps only give the illusion of connection. We don’t want our children to miss out on in-person, every day interaction with another human being.

    Humans are social animals.  We talk to each other and hopefully, we make connections.  If you only speak to people in your immediate circle, you severely limit your life experience.  So we chat people up when in stores or walking down the street- everywhere.  We encourage our young ones to introduce themselves and to share their thoughts with others.

    We meet so many interesting folks this way: the Korean War vet, the self-taught artist, the long time resident of town.  We’ve heard many stories from many people.  We encourage you to give it a try.  Talk to people and listen to what they have to say.  Who knows who you’ll meet next?

    They might just make your day.  Or you just might make theirs.

  9. Lake Mills

    October 3, 2014 by admin

    IMG_7974We recently headed out to a nearby city’s library book sale. It was a beautiful Fall day and even though we had never been to the city of Lake Mills, the idea of an exploration along a country road was enticing enough for this TRFamily.

    Tip: Why not slow down and explore that place you always just drive through on your way to somewhere else.

    IMG_7990The library is an impressive stone building that was constructed in the late 19th century. It is situated right off the city’s Commons Park. The book sale was held in a small house owned by the library on the back of the property. At $2 a bag of books, we were quite pleased to rifle through the offerings. In addition to our bags of books, we scored a good supply of FREE books on tapes that include Arthur stories and a German Language series for kids.

    IMG_7996After the sale, we decided to look for lunch. There was a smattering of cafes across the green space and we headed that way. Timber Creek Pizza Co seemed a great choice and it didn’t disappoint this sometimes picky family. They have tons of choices at fantastic prices. Service was friendly, accommodating, and fast.

    Full of good food, we decided to explore the Commons Park and its massive band shelter before heading home. But on the way out of town, Rock Lake Park on County Rd B caught our eye. It offered a small playground, a fun hand operated water pump drinking fountain, and a secret tunnel passage. It was a great way to end our visit in Lake Mills.

    No matter where you live, there is probably a town or area that you haven’t really investigated. Give it chance.  Get out there and explore!

  10. How To Make An American Quilt

    September 24, 2014 by admin

    There is usually so much going on at your local public library!

    IMG_2300Bluey just started taking a quilting class at our branch, and it is a tremendous experience!  He loves playing with patterns and trying to make his own designs (cats, natch!).  He gets to share and learn with a dozen or so kids from the neighborhood.  Bluey is learning how to operate an electric sewing machine.  And when he’s finished, he’ll bring home a small quilt that he designed and made.  What a  great program!

    IMG_2301He gets so much out of this class– and it’s all free!!

    A team of neighborhood quilters are in charge- bringing in samples of quilts, talking about patterns, and helping kids run the sewing machine.  It is a real community endeavor and a great opportunity for young and old to meet their neighbors.

    Our local library offers classes for people of all ages in all manner of subjects- art, literature, computers, foreign languages- you name it!  Most libraries around the country offer similar programs and they are all typically free of charge.

    So take a minute to check your library’s bulletin board or website to see what new adventures await you and your family!