Member Monday ~ Never Say Never

Yes, I know it’s Tuesday and this is titled ‘Member Monday’, but I couldn’t wait ’til the coming Monday, which is a holiday besides, to tell you about one of our newest members, Never Say Never. Read on for the Q&A session we had with Never Say Never.

Never Say Never

Q: Give us some background on how Never Say Never, Inc. came to be?

A: Never Say Never (NSN) was founded in 2015. I approached The Board of Park Commissioners in the Fall of 2015 with the need for inclusion in the community. We are one of two counties in the state with a special needs school and the only county in Wisconsin with The Wisconsin School For the Deaf, we have no readily available outdoor recreation for our special needs kids. I presented the idea of building an entirely inclusive playground for kids of all abilities to be able to play together; the vote was unanimous donating 13,000 sq ft of land and $15,000 towards development of a new inclusive playground at Veteran’s Park in Lake Geneva, WI.

Q: The phrase “Never Say Never” is powerful in the feeling it invokes. How’d you decide on that for the business name?

A: A group of like-minded family and friends gathered and started tossing around ideas, themes and names. It was easier coming up with a theme and then everything started to fall into place. A woodland theme with pirate ships and fairies was decided first, then the name was created. Most playgrounds are inaccessible to many children and therefore are telling them “no, you cannot play here”. The title for the Playland was born out of this. We as a community can never say never to a child’s desire to play and we need to encourage and emphasize that all children, regardless of their abilities, can play on our playground.

Q: What steps have already been accomplished in making this all a reality?

A: The first and most important step was becoming a registered 501(c)3 organization.  Nick Egert of Nick Egert Law Offices in Lake Geneva and his team graciously donated their time to help ensure the paperwork was filed correctly. Sheree Carlson of Carlson & Associates in Lake Geneva also came on board as the Treasurer to oversee all financial aspects of the project.

 Q: What’s been the most rewarding/amazing thing to have come from this endeavor so far?
A:
 Sharing the excitement about the project, meeting new people every day, fundraising and developing our design with our design firm, Leather’s & Associates, and most importantly educating others about inclusion.

 Q: What are you finding to be the most difficult thing right now in the process?

A:  Getting the word out across the community. We are always in need of volunteers who can donate their time to work on projects, special tasks and volunteer for committees.

 Q: What has been Kameron’s role in things so far? What does she think of the idea?

A: Kameron loves the idea! Who wouldn’t love the idea of truly being able to play for the first time on a playground? Her favorite activity is to swing and since there are no accessible swings in nearby parks, she cannot participate in play. Stones, woodchips and sand make for a difficult experience even walking through your typical playground, so being around a playground is generally difficult and not a whole lot of fun. Last year, at the age of 16 was Kameron’s first time on a merry-go-round. Can you imagine what it is like to not be able to enjoy the simple things in life?

Q: What are you hoping to teach Kameron from all of this?

A: I’m hoping Kameron will be able to teach others the importance of inclusion and that we are all not built the same; that being different does not mean being secluded. We can all learn from each other and the only way to learn is from experience. She will be that social butterfly at the playground and next time you see her walking around town or at the store, say hi. Ask her about her favorite color, who her favorite Disney character is or what her favorite dessert is, as she will be happy to tell you or maybe even show you!

Q: What are you learning along the way in trying to make this happen?

A: Not everyone understands what inclusion is and how important the NSN project is. Why the cost of components are higher than your typical playground and most importantly what this means to kids like Kam. The Never Say Never Playland will be a place for all to come together to play, not just for our special needs community, but for parents to be able to get together to socialize, grandparents to enjoy playing with their grandkids, disabled adults to play with their typically-abled kiddos, and lastly where everyone can be a little more free from stress.

Q: What are you hoping to teach others through this process and once the playground is completed?

A: Why inclusion is important. Sometimes even though our kids cannot talk, they have something to say and have just as many needs as we do. Let’s all help them by giving everyone the gift of play, no matter what their disability, age, restrictions or non-restrictions are. Play is important to everyone!

Q: If someone wants to volunteer or donate to Never Say Never, what steps do they take to make that happen?

A:  Visit our website at www.neversayneverplayland.com or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/neversayneverplayland

Email us at neversayneverplayground@gmail.com to be added to our email list.

Donations are accepted online via PayPal through our website or they can mail a check to: Never Say Never, Inc., P.O. Box 824 Lake Geneva, WI 53147

Q: What is your preferred method for being contacted if someone has questions or wants to learn more about Never Say Never?

A: By email: neversayneverplayground@gmail.com or by phone/text: 262.206.6991.

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Separately from the information in this conversation with Never Say Never, I wanted to let everyone also know about the following good news: Never Say Never were recently delighted to learn that the Geneva National Foundation is partnering with them to sponsor the Never Say Never Golf Outing, to be held July 10, on two courses at beautiful Geneva National Resort. Kunes Country Auto Group has also graciously agreed to be the presenting sponsor of this premier golf event.

If you wish to be an exclusive sponsor for dinner, lunch, golf carts or beverage carts, please contact Never Say Never President, Dusti Ocampo, directly at neversayneverplayground@gmail.com or call her at 262.206.6991.

As for registering your golf foursome, do so before May 31 and receive a 25% discount of only $900 per foursome. The rate increases to $1,200 on June 1 and then registration closes June 30. You can find the registration link here: Never Say Never Golf Outing Registration

Just think ~ you can enjoy a round of golf on Geneva National’s award-winning Palmer or Trevino signature course, a gourmet lunch to-go, and dinner, cocktail hour and silent auction at the Clubhouse — and do it all in support of an all-inclusive playground for Lake Geneva children with and without disabilities.

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Summer is Coming to Walworth County!

Summer is comingOkay, so it’s supposedly 64 degrees as I write this, cloudy, rain imminent and not feeling like summer is soon to be upon us at all, but Memorial Day weekend is historically thought of as the opening weekend to summer. Who wants to notify Mother Nature to check her calendar as a reminder that it’s practically the end of May and to get with it in warming things up?

Regardless of the weather, it is Memorial Day in a few days and with that comes a boatload of activities and events to choose from to help you enjoy the 3-day weekend in Walworth County. First and foremost are the tributes to our nation’s fallen heroes who made our freedom to celebrate possible, followed by introduction to some summertime fun to get the season started.

Use this as your resource for the list of Memorial Day ceremonies and parades that are planned for in almost every community in Walworth County. Most all take place on Monday morning, May 29, and feature veterans, military salutes, local school bands, and in some cases parades, each in honor of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.Memorial Day 2017

With all respect to the meaning and purpose of the Memorial Day weekend, I still have to ask this next question: who loves chocolate and I want you to answer by raising your hand? Wow! That’s like everybody, as well it should be. Well, okay, there is that one person I know who is, gasp, allergic to chocolate. Still, there’s no reason that everyone shouldn’t be heading over to Burlington for ChocolateFest! Friday, May 26, kicks things off with a grand fireworks display at 9pm. Then begins the full weekend of being in a chocolate paradise! A visit to the Chocolate Experience Test includes chocolate vendors and sample tasting opportunities, chocolate eating contests, a chocolate sculpting competition, chef demonstrations, a high school culinary challenge, and chocolate-related activities for all ages. Wonder how often one can go through and get samples or if they limit it, ‘coz seriously, it’s chocolate and there should be no limits. Maybe I’ll have to dig up some disguises or wigs or something, as chocolate shouldn’t be denied… I suppose I should mention there are other activities at ChocolateFest as well, like the carnival and rides, petting zoo and the live music covering a variety of genres, plus so much more! If you don’t get your chocolate fix taken care of here, then I don’t know what else to do for you.

Once the sugar high has kicked in from ChocolateFest, go over to beautiful Echo Park, also in Burlington, for the Jaycee’s Annual Arts, Crafts & Vendors Fair, held Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 26, 10am-4pm each day. A stroll through the park will get you checking out handmade arts & crafts, metal yard art, garden art, handmade jewelry, clothing, bird houses, sculptures, furniture and lots more. Make sure you left room in the car for those must-have items you’re going to get! I’ll help make room in my car, too, and you can get me something while there. Deal?

So my girls and I used to do ‘dessert first’ nights occasionally when they were much younger. Okay, I’ll admit it – we still do sometimes even now that they are both almost full out 20-somethings. With that, let’s consider ChocolateFest ‘dessert first’ and then I’ll meet you in East Troy for their Annual Corn & Brat Roast, held Friday, May 26, through Monday, May 29. It’s the 41st year for this popular event and it doesn’t look a day over 29! The Village square will be filled with people just like us that succumbed to the temptations of roasted sweet corn, and grilled brats, hot dogs, and burgers, all washed down with soda or beer. Thank goodness there’s live entertainment to dance to that will help work off the calories!

Another form of working off the calories will be done while walking around East Troy for the 26th Annual Community-wide Rummage Sale, held all weekend, 9am-4pm each day. Wow – food, music and great deals! What else could you ask for? So glad you asked ~ the answer is the 2nd Annual Brewfest, which is Sunday, May 28, from 3-6pm. Featuring unlimited samples of over 35 craft beers and micro brews from area breweries, such as Lagunitas Brewing Company, Lakefront Brewery, Deschutes Brewery, Geneva Lake Brewing, and more. There will also be the best local homebrewers in East Troy bringing out their best drafts for tasting and rating. East Troy has got it going on this coming weekend!

Are you a backyard astronomy enthusiast? What’s your favorite sky viewing app for your phone? Get your star geek nature fulfilled with Yerkes Observatory as they host Explore Scientific Demo Days, Friday through Sunday, May 26-28, on the Observatory grounds. Explore Scientific is the manufacturer of the choice for the eyepieces used with the 40-inch Great Refractor Telescope used in the pubic viewing program at Yerkes. The staff of Explore Scientific, as makers of high-quality telescopes, binoculars, eyepieces, microscopes, and observing accessories, will demonstrate and also offer their products for sale to those of us dreaming of the stars and beyond. The event will run concurrently with Yerkes’ daytime tours on Friday and Saturday, from 11am-5:30pm, and though tours of the building won’t be available on Sunday, Explore Scientific and their displays will still be available on the Observatory grounds, again from 11am-5:30pm. If Mother Nature cooperates with weather permitting it, then take advantage from 7:30-11pm each evening, Friday through Sunday, of looking through telescopes and eyepieces that Explore Scientific will have available. This is separate from Yerkes’ evening viewing on Friday and Saturday, again weather permitting, with the 40-inch refractor or the 24-inch reflector telescope, that still has the normal registration process, with limited space and applicable fees as usual. No matter how many constellations and planetary bodies you can name, the opportunity to view the night sky with these historic telescopes is not to be missed, besides the chance to see the beautiful Yerkes Observatory building.

From the watching the stars and planets to digging in the ground – come on, make the transition with me! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get out in the yard for some landscaping and gardening. Now, ask me in about July if I’m still so excited after having to mow the lawn however many times by then, but for right now, I want to get in the dirt and plant stuff! The Garden Fair, hosted by Fontana Garden Club, on Saturday, May 27, from 9am-3pm, is just the place to get started. It’s at a new location this year – Pearce’s Farm Stand, at the corner of Highway 67 and County F, 2 miles north of Fontana and just west of Williams Bay. I’m going to have a fun time deciding between perennials, annuals and herbs, or some of all the above, but I’ll gladly take on the challenge! I’m really curious and excited to see the unique “Kool Kontainers” the Club members have designed. Wonder if I need to borrow a friend’s truck to haul home all the goodies I’m sure to get? There are even homemade pies to purchase, as well as a silent auction of fabulous items to bid on. I can smell the dirt under my nails and see the grass stains on my knees already and all I can do is smile in anticipation!

Maybe a little bit of water will be needed to wash off the dirt and grass stains, and what better way to do that than by getting wet with waterskiing! I’ll confess that I’ll stick to washing off the dirt in the shower instead, but then I’ll definitely go see the Minneiska Water Ski Show Team. They begin their season on Saturday, May 27, at 7pm, and you’ll find your seat to view the barefoot action, pyramid acts and ballet on water at Scenic Ridge Campground on Whitewater Lake. Let me know you’re coming and I’ll save you a spot!

Sunday is brunch day typically, and this Sunday, May 28, is no different. Rosewood’s staff of three Culinary Institute of America chefs are celebrating Memorial Day with a unique chef-attended, farm-to-table brunch. Seating times are 11:30am and 1pm, with reservations required. The brunch includes a chef-attended pasta station, omelets made-to-order, a carving station, displayed hot and cold buffets, and fresh baked pastries. I certainly can’t forget to include that there is an unlimited Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar! Add all this delectable food and drink options to the casually elegant space, tastefully designed in a modern refined rustic décor, and you’ve got an extraordinary environment to enjoy besides enjoying the food. Don’t forget to wander in to the gift shop to peruse and purchase some of the unique items found there.

If you’re tired out from all the activities you had to choose from and did on Saturday, then maybe brunch is a bit early for you on Sunday morning. As an option, Lake Lawn Resort’s Lakeside Lawn Party & Pig Roast is Sunday, May 28, from 12-7pm. There will be live music by Triple D, from 12-4pm, performing current Top 40 dance, classic rock, 80s hair band, country, smooth jazz and much more. It’ll be needed to help work off the food you’ll be eating: besides pulled whole rotisserie roasted pork sandwiches with blackstrap molasses BBQ sauce, there’s also KC-style BBQ chicken, grilled brats and burgers, slow roasted smoked brisket, baked beans, pasta salad, potato salad, fresh broccoli salad, seasonal fresh fruit salad, jalapeno cheddar chive corn bread muffins with honey butter, watermelon slices, make-your-own spring berry shortcake, M&M brownies, and all washed down with Lake Lawn’s famous pink lemonade. If you walk away hungry, there’s something wrong! Heck, if you walk away period after all this great food it’ll be a miracle!

Wind things down a little bit on Monday, May 29, with attending one of the Memorial Day observances, then let’s join up and golf in support of veterans while playing in the Fisher House Wisconsin Scramble at Evergreen Golf Club. It’s a 2 person, 18 hole scramble, with a 10am shotgun start. Sign up individually or as a team, with the entry fee including golf, cart, lunch, raffle ticket and prizes. There will be team prizes for 1st, 4th and 8th place, as well as an optional team skins game. Working on your golf swing or your putting or whatever needs working on (which for me is everything needs work…), all while golfing for a great cause – you can’t beat that!

No matter how you choose to spend this Memorial Day weekend, enjoy it all in Walworth County, where everything is Naturally Fun!

 

 

 

Making Mom Feel Special: Mother’s Day 2017

Mother's Day

A wooden heart, decoupaged with fabric and lace. A misshapen clay bowl. A small glass jar, covered with layers of colored tissue paper and glitter. A handful of flowers picked from the yard. A random text message, saying “I miss you and love you”. A blog post stating that you’re her favorite person in the world. A tumbler saying “Mothers put love in everything they do”. The dishes washed, litter box cleaned and stairs vacuumed without being asked. A picture frame saying “I’m glad you’re my mom”.

What’s the common thread? Well, besides being things I own or have had happen, they are signs of being a mom… I know, I know. Where are the sleepless nights, stretch marks, grey hair, depleted wallet, the timeframe from age 12 to 16, etc.? Those are all signs as well, but I picked the ones that flowed easily to mind, the ones I look around my house and see.

So if you picked the last bloom from Mom’s flower garden already, don’t have any tissue paper and glitter, or don’t have a cat, then what’s there to do in showing Mom the love and appreciation she deserves? Well, let me tell you…! With Mother’s Day around the corner (Sunday, May 14, in case you weren’t sure), Walworth County offers many choices for spoiling Mom.

Get a jump start this coming Sunday, May 7, at Staller Estate Winery from 12-2pm, as they have a Mother’s Day Inspired Wine & Dine event. Enjoy local foods as part of a 5-course meal, prepared by Tyler from Black Sheep of Whitewater, and excellently paired with Staller Estate wine. What better way to treat Mom to a meal away from the kitchen! Reservations are required, so don’t delay in making plans to attend.

Does Mom like to golf or want to learn? The Grand Geneva Resort & Spa is offering a Mother’s Day Golf Special for the weekend, Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14. Mom plays free when accompanied by a regular paying adult (that would be you!) and don’t forget to give her a few golf strokes to win since it’s all about her! Grand Geneva golfOn Mother’s Day itself, plan on attending the Mother’s Day Brunch, available from 10am-3pm. Brunch includes: breakfast specialties such as made-to-order omelets, waffles, eggs benedict, and the usual assortment of side dishes; lunch specialties like goat cheese and spinach stuffed pork loin with charred grapes, pan fried chicken breast with roasted tomato jus and white cheddar mac ‘n cheese, to name just a couple of items; a carving station with prime rib, turkey breast and ham; wonderful seafood choices; a large variety of salads; a cheese and sausage display; and the grand finale, the dessert table (one of everything, please!). You’ll need to schedule a round of golf after this to help burn off all the calories, but oh, what a wonderful array of food and a beautiful golf course to make it all worth it!

How about the best game-play ever with golf at Geneva National, followed by a gourmet Mother’s Day 3-course meal at the Hunt Club Steakhouse? On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14, everybody plays with a special rate of $45 (+ tax) for 18 holes, so treat Mom to some quality time together on the golf course. Schedule your tee time accordingly to then enjoy a Mother’s Day dinner at the Hunt Club’s charming farmhouse, hunt cluboffered from 2-9pm. With 3 equally delicious choices for each course, such as grilled shrimp and avocado salad with a roasted shallot vinaigrette, bacon and fried chickpeas, followed by petit surf and turf with rustic mashed potato, fennel salad and beurre blanc, then ending with orange blossom crème brûlée (okay, so you now know what I’d be getting!). It could be easier to choose which club to use during golf then to decide what to eat, but it’s all guaranteed to be mouthwatering!

If golf isn’t Mom’s thing, then there are several other Mother’s Day brunches to choose from. Bring Mom to the Abbey Resort, from 9am-4pm, and overlook the beautiful Abbey Harbor while enjoying a delicious brunch display at 240° West with classic breakfast selections, such as made-to-order omelets, shrimp cocktail, slow roasted baron of beef, and so much more, plus complimentary sparkling wine and mimosas, as well as seasonal specialties. Don’t forget to leave room for the decadent desserts!

Treat Mom to Evergreen Country Club’s Mother’s Day brunch buffet from 9am-2pm, offering chef carved prime rib, slow roasted chicken, an omelet station and the usual breakfast side dishes, a pasta station, assorted salads and fruit selections, and the always popular, extensive sweets table. Reserve your spot now and surprise Mom!

Show Mom some love at Crafted Americana at The Ridge, from 10am-2pm, with a homespun Mother’s Day brunch buffet. Start off her day with fresh crudité, plus salad and soup selections, followed by a celebratory spread of pit-smoked ham, round of beef, coq au vin and broiled perch. The omelet station and farm-fresh sides are sure to delight, as is the indulgent sweets table of fruit pies, dainty cakes and handcrafted cookies. Make reservations today, and be Mom’s favorite by Mother’s Day!

If history is Mom’s passion, and I don’t mean bringing up every cute little thing you did as a child, then Old World Wisconsin is hosting a scrumptious OWW_Clausing Barnbreakfast buffet in the historic 1894 Clausing Barn, on Sunday, May 14. There are multiple seating times from 9:30am to 1:15pm, with time allotted for dining of 1-1/2 hours, and advance pre-paid registration is required. After the meal, head outside to enjoy the views of Old World Wisconsin’s springtime landscape, with all Moms getting in free to the site. What a great way to spend a day with Mom – delicious food and a trip back in time.

Another option related to history is to celebrate the remarkable women of Geneva Lake while taking a voyage with the Lake Geneva Cruise Line to Black Point EstateBlack Point Estate, an 1888 Queen Anne Victorian “lake summer cottage”, on Sunday, May 14, at 2pm. The narrated boat tour will focus on many of the remarkable women that have lived along the shore of Geneva Lake, and includes a tour of Black Point Estate, with a focus on the equally remarkable women of the Estate. Mimosas will be served at Black Point Estate before returning to the boat. You know Mom is remarkable, so why not learn about other remarkable women as well?

Want to get on the water and eat at the same time? Then treat Mom to Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s Mother’s Day Brunch Cruise aboard the Grande Belle at 11am, Sunday, May 14. Enjoy a fabulous brunch buffet and a complimentary glass of champagne with a narrated two-hour tour of the entire Geneva Lake. Mom will also be treated to a beautiful carnation! Cruising on the lake, eating good food, learning about the history of Geneva Lake, time spent with Mom – priceless! Seats are limited, so hurry up and reserve your spot before it’s too late.

A mom I know enjoys music theatre, so Rosewood’s Mother’s Rosewood_LegendsDay Brunch and a show on Sunday, May 14, with reserved seating at 11:30am and 1pm, with the show then at 2pm, is right up her alley. Offering fresh, farm-to-table cuisine and a musical cabaret performance of their “Legends” show, lips will be smacking and toes will be tapping. The “Legends” features music by Elvis, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, to name just a few, and is a show of unforgettable voices in popular music that is both timeless and ageless. Did I mention there’s an unlimited bloody mary and mimosa bar, too?!

So with Mother Nature obviously being a Mom (otherwise why would her name be Mother Nature?), she’s guaranteed that it’s going ET Price Park Mother's Day nature walkto be a beautiful day on Mother’s Day. With that in mind, head over to East Troy’s Price Park for their 5th Annual Mother’s Day Bird and Nature Walk, from 9-11am. Enjoy roaming the woodlands and prairies on this guided tour as local experts help you look for and identify birds, flowers and trees. What a calming, peaceful way to start off Mother’s Day morning.

If you’re thirsty after the Nature Walk, then head over to Sprecher’sSprecher's root beer for Mom to get some free root beer. Being a Mom, she’s sure to share, as she’ll be getting a free four-pack of root beer when dining. Now, take that free root beer home, put it with some vanilla ice cream in a chilled tall glass, a little chocolate syrup, repeat the layers to fill the glass, and you’ve got a root beer float divine! Yes, I said chocolate syrup in a root beer float… It’s how I was raised to make them, so don’t judge ’til you try it!  🙂

Another thirst can be quenched at Studio Winery’s “Corks & Canvas” session honoring Moms on Sunday, May 14, from 12-3pm. Studio Winery’s Corks & Canvas sessions are not like other sip & paintStudio Winery_Little Bird Painting classes, but are designs/scenes that anyone can not only paint, but will want to hang in their home. Led by award winning owner/artist Kathy Jackson, her career experience in designing home decor products for companies such as Kohl’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond, is reflected in the painting choices. Kathy will walk you through the steps necessary to complete your painting, and everything is included: paint, usually a 16″ x 20″ canvas, and a glass of wine to loosen your creativity! Let the artist in Mom come out and enjoy both her company, a little wine, as well as an appetizer buffet especially for Mother’s Day.

Alright, Mom is so fabulous, so incredibly deserving, that she should have more than just one day to celebrate her, right?! Well, Lake Lawn Resort agrees and so has a Mother’s Day Getaway to turn her day into a weekend! The Getaway (based on 2 adults and 2 children) includes a 2 night stay, Mother’s Day Brunch and a $50 Resort credit to be used at any Lake Lawn Resort outlet. The extravagant brunch buffet at the Frontier Restaurant, from 9:30am-3pm, features everything from chef-prepared omelets and malted Belgian waffles, to peach cider-brined breast of turkey and gaucho spiced roast beef at the Chef’s Carvery, to a variety of tempting culinary choices sure to please the entire family. spapage4The best part is that Mom doesn’t have to lift a finger! Mom will also get both a fresh cut flower and entry into a special Mother’s Day Drawing where she can win a fabulous pampering in the Calladora Spa. As usual, reservations are required.

Okay. So there you go. So many choices of things to do to celebrate Mom in a truly special way, be it for one day or the entire weekend of Mother’s Day. There’s something happening everywhere around Walworth County for Mother’s Day and it’s now time to decide what fits your Mom. Enjoy and don’t forget to give Mom a big hug and a “thank you”, too!

mothers-day-child-giving-flowers