Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Support Local Media

I was listening to our local public radio station today and Josie reminded me of the little promo she did early this year. She had so much fun shooting this and would love to do more. I loved supporting local broadcasting. We've always been fans of listening and watching local. It is more important than ever to have locally produced news and entertainment. I hope you support your local stations too.
Josie on location behind the scenes.
Tim Meyers and his co-worker were great to work with and they make acting easy.
The finished product! They sent a very sweet letter thanking Josie for her participation and gave her some bling (like a stickers and a travel mug) which she treasured.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Holiday Happiness

We've been animal sitting quite a bit lately. For a while we had four dogs! We also were taking care of six cats (two different houses) and a dog at another house for a weekend. So much furry fun! I think I've found my passion. I really would like to start a dog boarding/walking/daycare business. I really enjoy getting to know each dog personally and working with multiple dogs to ensure that they get along.

Three out of four dogs (our Gracie is far left, the rest are guests) we had in our house for the holiday weekend.
The weather in our little part of the world was beautiful last weekend. Usually, this time in July is hot humid and miserable, but it was pretty nice. Rob had Friday off for the July 4th holiday so we went for a late afternoon/evening sail with the entire family and our neighbor (the co-owner of the boat) and his son.
Josie on the port side of the sailboat.

Josie still gets a little scared when we first set out to sail. She quickly warms up and is at home on the boat, but she needs to feel anxious for a while first.
Dema and Josie somehow always find a way to play on the boat.
Josie and Dema have a blast with our neighbor's son. He is about Josie's age and all three of them have unlimited energy, imagination, and spunk. They figured out a boat version of cops and robbers or something in that vein and proceeded to chase each other all over our small boat.
Parker prefers to work or relax when we are on the water.
Sometimes I worry that Parker is a little too serious, but then I remember myself at 15 and realize he's fine. I am really happy he is so at home on the boat. It is nice for Rob and Parker to have an activity they can enjoy together.
The craziness of his younger siblings is tough to take sometimes.
Parker doesn't usually go on the boat with his siblings, he is usually with Rob and other adults. All the activity can be tiring for the responsible eldest child.
Parker is happy to manage the sails and help out in other ways.
I didn't know Rob has a teen, but sometimes I imagine Parker is a little like teen aged Rob.
Josie spends a good portion of her sailing time in the water.
The kids spend so much time and energy jumping off the boat, swimming next to the boat or holding on to the rope and being pulled by the boat, climbing up the ladder into the boat and doing it all again. Life jackets are must at all times and we keep a close eye on their fun.
Rob really wanted to do a sunset and even moonlight sail, but we had to leave pretty soon after  these pictures in order  so Parker could give an insulin shot to a diabetic cat he was caring for.
The lake is small, but any water is better than no water and it can still be beautiful.
Josie and Dema spend a lot of the time jumping off and climbing back on the boat...always with life jackets.
Rob was so happy to get the entire family on the sailboat together.
Saturday morning was the little annual neighborhood parade. Josie was the only one of our kids who wanted to ride her bike. The boys both walked our dog guests in the parade. The dogs had as much fun as Josie!
Josie cycling to the little neighborhood parade.
 Of course, Josie wore one of her longest dresses. Cycling is no excuse for lack of fashion sense.
Josie checking out the temporary tattoos.
For some reason I really love this pic of Josie. It was so nice to have the fire department attend this year since they brought bling (like temp tattoos).
This year the fire department escorted the kids for the little parade.
 The fire truck slowed the kids down a little too much, but they still enjoyed the parade.
Josie and three of her good neighborhood buds. The twins are sadly moving soon so this is the last 4th of July parade these four will attend together. So sad.
 Our awesome neighbors, Seth and Gita, are moving to higher ground (Colorado) and taking two of Josie's best friends (their twin girls) with them. This makes every event a little bittersweet for me. I keep thinking how it is the last time they will do different things together. Josie doesn't remember a time when Indigo and Amara weren't in her life. This is going to be an exceptionally hard move to take. We live in a very transient area with the college, but each move is tough and exciting in its own way. Now we have one more state to visit!
Parker working on his new to him bike.
 Parker outgrew his beloved red bike a while ago and I didn't want to buy a brand new bike when my old Le Mond was sitting neglected in the garage. Parker and I bought new tires, handlebar tape, and saddle a few weeks ago. We finally had the time and good weather to fix up the bike.
Wheel and tire maintenance is very important to learn.
Parker was thinking of working in a bike shop next year. I think he'd be a great bike mechanic some day. Now his "new to him" bike is taking him all over town. I worked on the weeds we call a yard while Rob and Parker worked on the bike. I filled up our friend's truck bed with yard waste to take to the landscape recycling center. Saturday night we blew off the fireworks and spent the evening catching up with our friends, Ricky and Catharine. Sunday we rested. It was a fun and productive holiday weekend.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Husband's Secret - Audio Amusement

I rarely get time/take time to sit down and read anymore. It feels like a luxury and I am often interrupted. I love books so going long stretches without consuming new literature is not an option. Audio books to the rescue. It is not uncommon to walk into our house and hear three different audiobooks playing in three different rooms since the kids love audiobooks too. This makes it harder for me to listen to a book and sometimes I want to "read" an audiobook which may not be completely appropriate, but mainly I want the audiobook to follow me around while I go about my day. Playaway  to the rescue. These "all-in-one audiobooks" from my local library run on one AAA battery and you plug your own headphones in and away you go.

One of the books I listened to recently was The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty and narrated by Caroline Lee. The narrator can make or break an audiobook for me. Within the first few minutes, I knew Caroline Lee's voice fit the book well. Different chapters are from the viewpoint of different characters and I really enjoy this style of writing. The main characters are women and you get to know them from their own viewpoint and the other women around them. I never found my interest waning and as the past and present unfold, I didn't want to put the book down. I listen while I fold clothes, walk the dog, wash dishes, and these everyday tasks just flew by as The Husband's Secret continued. 
The women of varying ages were all people I could relate to, even with all their differences. They were flawed, yet likable. This book deals with the death or a child in a way I have not seen before, yet it didn't leave me feeling sad or depressed. None of the characters are completely good nor completely evil and I appreciate the truth in complex characters who do pretty awful things, but aren't monsters. I liked the surprises and how the book didn't follow the formula I was expecting. The last chapter really sold the book to me and I now want to read other works by Liane Moriarty.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Wisconsin (Vegan) Cheese (Cake) Heads

One of the worst things about living in a college town is getting to know people and then they graduate/find jobs and leave. It happens over and over again and never gets easier, but there is also a new influx of people and now we have friends all over the country (and in other countries) to visit. I just wish we were better about keeping in touch and traveling. We did get up to Wisconsin in March of this year.

Even after many hours in the car, they love each other.

Josie and Dema also know we are about to eat at a new to us veg restaurant.
We were able to check out The Green Owl Cafe in Madison, WI. My sister and her husband brought back Green Owl t-shirts a few years ago. When we wear the shirts people understandably assume we've been there and they comment how good it is, but sadly we had really never been. Well, we are posers no more. We can finally wear our Green Owl t-shirts with pride.
Josie eating Green Owl Nachos at The Green Owl Cafe
Dema about to devour his vegan cheesecake with some kind of berry sauce.
I don't remember what we ate between the nachos and cheesecake because I didn't get photographic evidence, but it was good. The cheesecake was the highlight of the meal and would become the theme of our trip.

If you have never been to Wisconsin, I highly recommend it. I think the last time I was in WI was when I was a teenager and went up for a Pink Floyd concert with my friend, Eric. I talked my brother into driving us (my bro is 8.5 years older than me and I totally idolized him) since he's the one who introduced me to Pink Floyd, long before I understood the music. Anyway, I remember much more of this most recent trip and I have to admit the state is very scenic. It was also lovely to see our friends, Erin and Brian, and their sweet girls. We were supposed to surprise Brian for his birthday, but he was alerted to vegans coming to town when his lovely thoughtful wife, Erin, was caught cooking BBQ jackfruit. I somehow have no pictures of us eating said jackfruit, drinking waaaayyyy too much alcohol (I accidentally poured myself a wine glass of whiskey and proceeded to drink it instead of admitting my silly mistake, which was, in itself, an even bigger mistake), their beautiful house, the great kids (growing up way too fast), the birthday boy, their new Wisconsin friends (including an actual successful functioning grown-up who was homeschooled until college...love meeting well-adjusted interesting happy adult homeschoolers!), or anything else of interest. Too busy having fun.

Our visit ended way too soon and we were back on the road to a Chicagoland gymnastics meet for Dema. On our way to the Windy City 'burbs, we stopped near Milwaukee, WI at Cafe Manna in Brookfield, WI. I am so glad we did! We were a mess from sitting in the car for hours (how does sitting make one feel so dirty?) and I felt like we were under dressed for this more upscale veg restaurant, but the staff was so nice I was immediately put at ease. The food was sooooo good and not something I could easily make at home. If we lived in the area, it would be a perfect date night destination for Rob and me or special occasion restaurant for the kids. They even had more vegan (raw and gluten free too) cheesecake!
Josie gave the restaurant two thumbs up and the cheesecake is almost as big as her smile of anticipation.

I'll post about the gymnastics meets some other time. We can't wait to get up to see Brian, Erin and family again and maybe have more cheesecake too.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Louis and I

A couple months ago, Dema was in a local park district production of The King and I Jr. He played Louis Leonowens and had a fabulous experience. This cast was particularly supportive of each other, everyone had an amazing costume created by one of the mothers (she basically outfitted the entire cast single-handedly!!), and the show really gave each performer a moment to shine. I loved the musical as a child because I have a soft spot for Yul Brynner.
The entire blurry King and I Jr. cast with Dema, on the far left, next to his sweet friend who played his mother, Anna.
As an adult, I was more aware of the issues with the "true story" and the musical so I have mixed feelings about the production, but the cast was great and pretty diverse with several newcomers to the program.
Josie, Dema, and Parker after Dema's performance of Louis in The King and I Jr.
Parker and Josie were very proud of Dema's performance. He had his largest solo singing part in this play and he loved every minute of it. He even kept his costume for future use (maybe for Halloween?).

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Smooth Sailing

My wonderful crazy husband has always dreamed of living on a sailboat. He grew up on the North Carolina coast and the ocean is his life force. I believe we all have some part of nature that feeds our soul. For some, it is the mountains, others the forest, maybe even the plains. If we deny this part of ourselves, it can have some sad consequences. It is hard when a family of five has possibly five different types of landscapes or natural forces which make them happy.

We've lived in the Midwest for almost 16 years now and it has taken its toll on Rob. Even with yearly visits to the ocean, it is not enough. Last year one of our neighbors (also from NC) bought a small sailboat and they sailed together on a manmade lake less than an hour from our home.
Rob, Dema, and Josie checking out the boat before we launch it into the lake.
More sailing while I wait patiently on the dock with our dog, Gracie. We never got a turn.
This spring, the same neighbor and Rob bought a old cabin sailboat together so we could take the entire family on the lake (the other boat had room for three of us at a time). This is supposed to be a sucker boat for our family.   You know, like a sucker kid that suckers you into having more. It might work because the kids are really enjoying the boat. Parker has really taken to sailing while Dema preferred the small fast boat we used last year, but he does like swimming in the lake. Josie would rarely even get on the little boat last year, but she had fun on the cabin boat as long as we don't heel too hard. I'm hoping weekends at the lake will keep Rob happier for a while until we figure out if living aboard a boat is ever in our future.

Josie feels much more at home on the cabin sailboat and Dema is pretty happy with it too.
Rob in his element at the helm of a sailboat.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hail Mary

We enrolled Dema in a private Catholic school two years ago. Best decision at the time. He had a life changing fourth grade teacher and he continues to love his school. We are not Catholic, but I spent a lot of time in Catholic Churches over the years because many of my friend were/are Catholic. There are things that bother me from time to time, but they are far outweighed by the positives. The ways the school and the kids attending the school give back to the community make me very happy and Dema really enjoys them. The kids help regularly at local soup kitchens, adult daycare facilities, rake leaves for people in need, etc. As far as I know, there is no judgement or attempts to convert people, just good deeds for the community. Dema has never felt like an outsider for not being Catholic.

The kids also say a Hail Mary prayer when someone gets hurt on the playground or they hear an emergency vehicle. This last thing really speaks to me. We used to live in the DC area (pre-kids) and most days we would see an accident and the rubber necking that follows. This always bothered me and I would take a moment to empathize with those affected by the crash and hope they were okay before going about the rest of my life. When my mom was dying in the hospital thirteen years ago, I remember thinking how is everyone just going about their normal lives when someone is dying?!. Of course, this is a silly selfish thought, but there it is. We all go about our lives every day and people die all the time. I try to think of them from time to time. The people I see driving down the road or in the store...what are they going through? Are they taking care of someone who is sick or worse? I take my father to all his doctor appointments and I look at those people in the waiting room and try to empathize, if only for a brief second. This is why I really like the kids saying Hail Mary. It takes the them outside themselves just for a minute to keep others in their thoughts and send positive energy for those who need it.

Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.