What Cheer Flea Market Fall 2018

The What Cheer Flea Market is one of the top 11 Can’t Miss Flea Markets in the Midwest!  It is located at the Keokuk County Fairgrounds in What Cheer, Iowa.  The Flea Market is held 3 times annually (Spring, Summer, and Fall).  There is truly something for everyone here, and our kids love coming along with us to find treasures.

The Fall Market for 2018 runs from October 5-7.  There is an Early Bird Market on Thursday, which has a $5 admission fee.  Friday and Saturday admission is $2, and Sunday is FREE!  There is a full concession stand and several smaller food/snack vendors.

This weekend was a muddy, rainy, mess of a weekend!  Follow our escapades at the Saturday market, and check out our scores from wet, soggy dealers really to wheel and deal!  Because of the rain, admission this Saturday was free.

 

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The Flea Market as seen from the corner of Highway 21.

We were lucky enough to be able to park on a side street this year.  Usually these spots fill up, and people pay to park in the neighborhood yards (most homeowners charge $5 for parking).  A quick drive around the neighborhood was filled with obstacles as people were stuck in mud in the yards—no thank you!  We didn’t have our 4-wheel drive with us today so we didn’t want to risk it.  We found a free spot on a side road close by.  Note:  Never park right on Highway 21!  It is a tow-away zone and we have seen a whole crew of tow trucks called in to tow dozens of vehicles away in the past!

Fairgrounds
Entrance to the fairgrounds.

Plenty of indoor vendors filled the fairground buildings as long as you could navigate your way through the muddy walkways.  Stained glass, coin dealers, jewelry, books, Pyrex, video games, dolls, and more filled every available space.

Track
Dealers outside on the race track.

Outside some dealers were still on the race track with bigger items like reclaimed wood, doors, sheet metal, and all kinds of implements.

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Flood in the pit area of the race track.  People actually had kayaks out in this pond earlier in the day!

It did not actually rain in the afternoon while we were there, but it was windy and slightly cold.  Many dealers were offering specials of 20-50% off.

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RV stuck in the mud…..John Deere to the rescue!

Many of the dealers in the grassy area of the pit ended up stuck, like this RV that had to be pulled out by a tractor.

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Our Haul!

Here are the great deals we got, minus a couple of items that will be gifts for family members later this year.  We got excellent deals on Pyrex, Ball canning jars, cigar boxes (for making cigar box guitars), an old gas can, and hedge apples to keep the spiders away.  The sprinkler knobs will be re-purposed into towel hooks in our bathroom.

We enjoyed our day at the Flea Market just as much as if it had been a sunny, beautiful day, since we got to actually talk with dealers more and get some really good deals.  The What Cheer Market is still open on Sunday, and plan to attend next year!

Do you have a favorite flea market?  Tell me about it in the comments!

 

 

City Bike Trails

Now that the chilly, gray winter is over, our family FINALLY! got out to ride our bikes on the south side trails in Cedar Rapids.  This day was extra special because all four of our kids were able to join us!  You see, our oldest boy turns 21 in a few weeks and will be moving on in the world.

Local Pour

Our first stop of the day was at the new restaurant at 302 3rd Ave SW called Local Pour Street Food. The poutine here is delicious! The corn dogs are literally a foot long, the gyros are fantastic, and everything is exactly what you would expect to find from a food truck. Ask them about their secret menu….

Next we rode over to Czech Village and caught the trail over to the Cedar River.

ConstructionConstruction is in progress to expand the Cedar Lake area.

Bridge

We were excited to see signs posted announcing a new pedestrian bridge that will be built in the near future to allow access across the river.  Check out Project Connect CR here to learn more about the “Sleeping Giant” that will be a magnificent addition to the riverfront.

Mt Trashmore

Mt. Trashmore rises in the distance…..

Critter

Critters on the trail going out to Tait Cummins Sports Complex.

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Photo Credit:  JR Lauritsen

All this riding made us thirsty.  Gotta stop at Kickstand for a Smith and Forge Cider at 203 14th Ave SE for the adults.  (Water and pop for the kiddos!)

After a quick stop at Quentin’s Bar and Grill at 450 1st St SW for some of the best wings in town, we ended our day at Blue 42 (629 Ellis Blvd NW) for burgers and pizza.  Seven hours later, we arrived home.  Tired, sore, and already planning our next outing.  Where should we go next?  Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Spring Reads 2018

The Living Clearly Method by Hilaria Baldwin

I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  Hilaria tackles tough issues of active moms:  there just is not enough time in the day to do what we need to do!  Squeeze in some mini-yoga workouts when you can (she even does them while walking her kids…..with the stroller for balance!), make subtle changes to your diet, and make time for your family (she is married to super-busy actor Alec Baldwin, so their schedule is constantly changing).  Hilaria has great food tips in her book.  While she is vegan, and we are Paleo, I found I could easily adapt many of her recipes for our needs.  I have also noticed that since I started to pull out my yoga mat at home for a few stretches, or to listen to a few minutes of guided meditation, my kids are doing the same.  They pull out my yoga mat, and they listen to the apps on my phone, especially when they think I am not watching!

Little House Living:  The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life by Merissa Alink

I first picked up this book because Merissa had some allergy-friendly recipes that we could use in our house.  I was pleasantly surprised to find some great recipes to make our own body butter and body scrubs, avoiding some of the harsh ingredients in commercial brands that irritate our skin.  While we won’t be as frugal and self-sufficient as Merissa, we will definitely use several of her suggestions in our own home.

Camino Island by John Grisham

A great beachy read as you get ready for summer!  A group of thieves pull off one of the greatest heists in history as they steal priceless F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from Princeton University.  A former college professor turned author is presented with an opportunity to infiltrate a curious local bookstore scene on Camino Island in Florida, where her grandmother once lived.  Her adventures take us into an underground world of book trading, and smuggling of the manuscripts into Europe.  My favorite scene was the unveiling of how the manuscript got smuggled out of the country.  This is a suspenseful book, taking many twists and turns you don’t see coming.

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Elementary Students Send Veterans on Honor Flight

The compassionate students at Madison Elementary School carried out an amazing feat last week….raising money for our Veterans!  It all began with an idea inspired by one of the 5th grade teachers’ father.  She talked with her students, and a plan began to take shape.  They were going to donate money to send Veterans on the Honor Flight!

Veterans from several wars visited the school and shared their stories.  Alan Stekl, President of the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight, spoke to them about what the Honor Flight was, and where the recipients visit when they arrive in Washington, D.C.  The students brought in all their spare change to school for several weeks and placed it in a big bowl.

The students brought in pictures and stories of the Veterans in their families to build a Hall Of Fame.  They also created 200 cards for Mail Call, which Veterans will read on their way home from their visit to Washington, D.C.

Mail Call
Mail Call!
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Presenting mail to the Honor Flight Committee.

The 5th graders applied for a grant and won $250 to provide groceries and toiletries to homeless Veterans.  They secured some matching funds for the Honor Flight from MH Equipment and the Madison PTA.  When all was said and done, they had raised over $2000 to send 4 Veterans on the next Honor Flight!

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Providing the funds to the Honor Flight Committee and the Veterans in attendance.

These students have a big heart, and we are so proud they used their time and resources to say, “Thank you, Veterans, for your service”!

Little Big Town

Don’t you just love it when a big name act comes into town, and plays a wonderful concert with lots of interaction and engagement with the audience?  I sure do!  We definitely had that experience with Little Big Town performed at the U.S Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.  We had almost 3 hours of great music over the entire evening from everyone!

Up and Coming Texas band Midland opened the show.  These guys were wound up and ready for a Friday night party!  Midland performed on a center stage, that rotated in a circle, during their show.  The group consists of Mark Wystrach, Cameron Duddy, and Jess Crason.  I love how they dressed in a vintage western style!  What have you heard them sing on the radio?  “Drinkin’ Problem”!

Midland
Midland performing on the center stage.

Midland’s current album is titled On The Rocks. 

Next up was the beautiful and talented Kacey Musgraves, also from Texas.  She performed most of her show up on the big stage, but did walk over to the center stage to sing several songs.  I love when artists do this—everyone gets an equal chance to see them perform.    Kacey played many new songs, including “Space Cowboy” and “Butterflies”.  At the end of her performance, she released butterfly confetti!  The confetti was given to little girls in the audience after her set.

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Kasey Musgraves

Kacey is getting ready to release her newest album, Golden Hour.

Little Big Town exploded onto the stage for their set, and entertained the crowd for well over a hour.  Little Big Town consists of Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet.  They hail from Alabama and have been singing together for almost 20 years.  I love so many of their songs that it was hard to pick a favorite.  So I’ll name several of my that they played for us!  Are they your faves as well?  Great songs like “Better Man”, “Boondocks”, “Pontoon”, “Day Drinkin'”, “Little White Church”, and “Bring It On Home”.  The concert opened with an out-of-this world version of “Rocket Man”.  The graphics and light displays were very realistic, especially for songs like “Rocket Man” and “Pontoon”.  This concert was definitely worth the money and time spent!

Little Big Town’s latest album is titled The Breaker.

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Little Big Town
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Kimberly walked right past us coming from the center stage back to the main stage!
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Phillip singing during “Rocket Man”.

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St. Patrick’s Day Parade

SaPaDaPaSo Sign

The SaPaDaPaSo Parade is an annual event by the Cedar Rapids Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Society.  Each year, the downtown streets are a sea filled with green, no matter the weather.

Skater Wearing Kilt
An Irish Skater in his flashy green kilt

The Irish Colleen is selected each year from a local girl of Irish descent.  This year’s Colleen is Jayden Faille.

Colleen

Some of our favorite parade entries:

Green Car
A classic green car.  “Old Guys Gone Wild” won 2nd Place for best vehicle entry.
Bar Camper
A bar on wheels…….
Hawkeye Tailgate
Hawkeye Tailgating with an Irish twist
Fire Truck
We love our firemen!  Thank you for your service!

Our absolute favorite entry, which won an honorable mention for the best Walking Entry, was “The Irish Strike Back”.

May The Irish Force Be With You
“May the Irish Force Be With You”

Irish Star Wars

The Irish Strike Back Gang

2018 Youth Empowerment Conference

This blog post is actually from an interview with my 12 year-old-son, JR, on his experience at his first-ever African American Youth Think Tank event.  He is sharing his thoughts, and he also took the photos you will see below.  I think he did pretty well for his first time assisting with a blog post and trying to use a camera on subjects in constant motion!

The 4th Annual Youth Empowerment Conference was held on February 16 at the Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids.  The event was attended by local schools in the area, with the Iowa City region also busing students up for the event.  This year’s theme was “Everyone Has A Purpose; What Is Mine?”.   JR says his purpose is to be a foreign-exchange student and visit other cities around the world.

The morning consisted of inspirational speakers; an explanation of what the Think Tank is (a way for people to discuss current issues, hold seminars, and provide inspiration for our youth); and several sessions with local leaders Dr. Carols Grant, Kim Fitten, and Dr. Okpara Rice.  JR’s favorite speaker of the morning was Miss Iowa and KZIA 102.9 Radio Personality, Jenny V.

The keynote speaker of the conference was Jason Sole, PhD, from Chicago.  Check out a previous post about Jason here.  JR enjoyed this speech and was impressed with how Jason turned his life around to go to college after being in a gang.

Local businesses offered a career fair for the youth to dream and plan for what they want to do in the future.  JR’s favorite business owner was John Grant from Chameleon Candy.  John’s business serves “Little Jimmy’s Italian Ices” at local events, and he can also be booked for private parties and corporate events.  Check out his website here.

At the end of the event, local artists provided a live concert for the kids.  Rapper Jordan Burgett from Cedar Rapids performed first.  Dizzy was up next, and Buddha was the final rapper.  Buddha was impressive with all of the big words he was able to rhyme.  The concert closed with R&B artist Alicia Monee, whose beautiful voice filled the auditorium.  JR’s favorite song was her performance of “The Man In The Mirror” by Michael Jackson.  Everyone was up out of their seats and dancing along!

Alicia Monee
Alicia Monee 
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Buddha

The Youth Empowerment Conference is a free, annual event to support youth in our area.  For more information, see the African American Youth Think Tank Facebook page.