Saturday, November 29, 2008

Keepin it Real for the Holidays

Just when we thought we'd be feasting on a 10lb. tofurkey all by our lonesome, yours truly was granted last minute reprieve from the museum for Thanksgiving. The obvious destination for our 4 day leave - Wisconsin with Eric and Mandi. Lots of beer. And cheese. And beer. And cheese.
Look! Brothers bonding over beer! And cheese!
Grandma Schoville went all out for Thanksgiving breakfast. It looks like she covered Magnus's favorite food group for sure - dessert!

Then we went on to Uncle Gene and Aunt Marilyn's in the Kickapoo Valley. One of my favorite places to spend Thanksgiving. I think it was our 3rd - maybe 4th - Thanksgiving with them. They're just that awesome.

Tons of yummy food, football and Euker.


Not pictured was the apres-pie dear skinning in the garage. I hadn't seen one of those in probably 20 years and for some reason I was morbidly fascinated. Steve and Greg may have been a little disturbed by my questions and close proximity and then Kev gave me the stink-eye when I reached for my camera. Ah well. You are thus spared.

Below is a photo of our Saturday morning Lego fest. Magnus has more energy than the sun and has 1 speed - 'run'. Unless Legos are involved. I'm always amazed by how little guys can get into the Lego zone and stay for hours.


I'm being 100% truthful when I say that one of the things we love best about spending extensive amounts of time with Eric, Mandi, Magnus & Axel, is the fact that we are privy to all the ins and outs and daily grinds of child-rearing. Our moms might fear that it's something close to over exposure, but seriously, we always learn so much. We're spoiled here in Indy b/c usually by the time we make it over to a friend's house, the little people are always tucked away in bed, or all fed, hair combed, faces sparkling, halos adjusted just so. The houses are so neat and orderly... It's like they're trying to keep it all a secret.

With Eric & Mandi we hear the early morning wake-ups, see the round the clock feedings, smell the poop - and lots of it - and even feel the tension that a wailing baby for a 2 hour car ride can muster. The 2 hour cry fest really was quite unholy, but as soon as little Axel was freed from the confines of his car seat, he couldn't have been happier. And the crazy thing was that Magnus slept like rock the whole way. Sugar coma. We also got to see that going anywhere is a production of mass proportions but it is possible. You can still be social and take the kids with you when you give a tour of State Street, or have fried cheese curds and beer in one pub and then fried fish - and more beer (in moderation of course) - in another. 'Have kids will travel'. They don't make it look easy, they just make it look possible. And I swear I mean that as a compliment.

With all the crazy, we also get to bare witness to the so many special moments that make all the crazy and the chaos absolutely worth it. And at the end of the day, when the boys are in bed, Eric and Mandi are still up for a grueling game of Settlers of Catan. And beer.

So thanks again Eric and Mandi, for keeping it real. We had a great time as always and can't wait til the next visit!
Love you guys!


This is why...

One great thing about mid-west driving is the occurrence of some fierce sunsets should you be so lucky to catch them.
We were able to enjoy one for the first three hours of our journey up to Madison on Wednesday. Here are some excerpts from our drive that made me appreciate my husband all the more:

Me: Hey, it looks like some one finger-painted through the sunset!
Kev: Oh yeah, it does! (pointing in the right direction).
Me: (in my head) Wow, he totally sees it.


Me: Cool - hummingbirds!
Kev: Oh yeah, you can see the wings, the beak...
Me: Wow, he totally sees it again!


Me: Hey, look! It's John Lennon!
Kev: Oh yeah, like from the cover of that one album.
Me: The 'Imagine' album and I can't believe he's still on my same page - this is why we're married!!

Me: Look - a roadrunner!
Kev: Huh?
Me: Ah well, 3 outta 4 ain't bad. sigh...

Mad Holiday Rush Proves Maddening

I couldn't believe when I read yesterday's headline on CNN.com: 'Walmart Worker dies in Rush'. The headline alone evoked enough of a visual that I didn't need to read on to guess what the rest of the story would say. I could already see the massive mob of holiday shoppers growing bigger and bigger while growing less and less patient as the countdown to their holiday savings loomed ever closer. I could see the grim determination, the gleam in the eyes, and maybe even a set squint that clearly read 'stay the eff out of my way or else'.

Was it these tough economic times that made this mob so desperate for the savings? Maybe. Was it the thrill of the hunt cloaked under the guise of a family holiday shopping tradition? Perhaps. Or was it just the fact that every year retailers across America grow more and more over-zealous to make their numbers by the end of 'Black Friday', that they would stop at nothing to get buyers in the door. Without any thoughts of safety and security. Even for an out-of-control mob of 2000 that literally takes the hinges off the doors and bum rushes a handful of employees and fellow mobsters. I mean, how does it get to the point where people are so driven by the 'eye on the prize mentality' that they don't even notice bodies at and under their own feet?

What the fug people?!? Where are we at, as a 'civilized' society, that would allow this to happen? It's sad and it's maddening all at once. Who's to blame? Apparently officials are looking at video footage to identify the faces of some of the hundreds of individuals who may have contributed to the trampling death, but really, are they the ones to blame? Can we point the finger at the corporate giants who prey and count on the disparity and single-mindedness of said civilized society? Who can we blame for the avoidable and inexcusable death of 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour? My opinion? Everyone. It's all our fault.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

an inverted morning

At around 1 o'clock this morning I had the especially brilliant and ambitious idea of waking up early and hitting the 2-hour intensive yoga class. I had just finished commenting on my friend Eric's blog which posed the question 'what is it that keeps you coming to class?' I came across it as I was finishing my third glass of wine (that's right, at 1 am I was still drinking wine and I paid for it in spades half-way through my first head stand) and as I began to respond I realized the truth in what I was writing.

I go to class because I need it. My body needs it. My mind needs it for the sake of sanity. I admit freely that I suck at meditating. My mind just does not stop. There are times when I'm convinced that I've gone through life with ADD and someone forgot to tell me. So I focus on my breath. All the inhales which bring in energy and light, and the exhales which expel the anxiety and weight. It's an intense physical workout for the mind, body and soul. For 75 - 120 minutes (depending on the class) I can literally tune into the the breathing, the body, the music. I can shut the door and surrender any and all gadgets which keep me (too) connected and grounded to the outside world. And guess what, when I re-open that door, the world is still there.

I love headstands and I got to do them at three different points in class today - thank you Eric. When was the last time you viewed the world from one? Don't you remember waaaaaaay long ago when you were a free-spirited kid and the more things you could find to hang upside-down from,the better? We had no clue all the good we were doing for our young little bodies. Did you know that there is such thing as inversion therapy? Please hold my soap box sturdy while I climb on up: Inversions can be used to treat back pain as well as reverse other negative effects that gravity can have on your body. True story. Included in my 1 am wine-fueled epiphany was also a desire to try a new inversion pose – the scorpion. I saw it on the cover of the December issue of Yoga Journal and I thought 'wow, that looks cool.' In case you're wondering, that's it in the photo above, only the scorpion that I managed in class this morning paled in comparison, but at least it was a start. And it was cool and it felt damn good too.

Sadly, I don't get to class as often as I would like, but I feel that more lately I have given myself permission to say 'screw you guys, I'm going to yoga.' Call it selfish but often times it's more for the sake of survival than anything. You should try it sometime. It heals. It restores. It rejuvenates. I dare say it'll make you live longer too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

hill-air-ee-us

WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT.
LITTLE PEOPLE MAY NEED TO COVER THEIR EYES
AND / OR LEAVE THE ROOM!




Oh mah gosh y'all, have her PR people abandoned her completely??

I promise I don't go out looking for this stuff,
it just finds me.


If you would like to see the whole news broadcast then watch this...



Monday, November 17, 2008

Dear Nieces and Nephews...

Hey kiddos,

It's your Aunt Nicole and Uncle Kevin here to remind you that we love you and miss you all so so much! Here's a picture of us in case you've forgotten what we look like:
Please know that we wish we could be there to hug each and every one of you every single day. We think about you often and your moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas are really good about sending pictures so we can still see all your beautiful faces as you grow into big boys and girls...
.

Hopefully you'll be able to come to Indianapolis some time because there's so much cool stuff to do here. Also, remind your moms and dads that your Aunt Nicole works at THE WORLD'S LARGEST CHILDRENS' MUSEUM so there's plenty to keep you busy. We've got a carousel ride, real dinosaur skeletons, giant doll houses and loads more! There's also a canal (it's like a mini river) downtown that connects a bunch of other museums, the zoo and even the ballpark! Axel explored the canal with me a couple of months ago and can tell you how awesome it is :-)

Riley, did you know we have a race car track here too? The Indy 500 takes place every May and for that whole month the cars are out practicing at the track. Uncle Kev and I spend quite a bit of time out there and would love to take you some time so try to talk your mom and dad into it, ok? Grandpa Terry has come out to watch the cars before and had a lot of fun!

Sadie, thank you so much for singing 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' to us over the phone the other night. You have a beautiful voice and it made us so happy to hear it! And Maddison it was also so good to hear your voice on the phone too! You sounded like you were having fun with your daddy all to your self and that was a lovely prayer that you said for your Great Grandma. I know she was smiling down on you when she heard it. Can you say a prayer for Grammie too? Little G you sound like you're keeping very busy and great job on using the big girl potty! That's very exciting.

Magnus and Axel, wasn't that a great game the other day when the Packers beat the Bears? And guess what, we might get to see you next week! 6 hours in the car won't seem as long when we know that we will get to see you! Riley, Sadie, Maddison, and G, did you know that Grandpa Terry turns 60 soon?! WOW! Let's try to all get together next summer so we can celebrate, ok?

Before we go, we'll leave you with some thoughts that will keep you young and smiling, even as you get older. I'll practice them from my end if you practice them from your end:

1. It's okay to color outside of the lines. In fact, create new lines of your own!
2. Read. A lot.
3. Dance when you hear music and make music when you can.
4. Wear costumes year-round.
5. Climb trees.

Love you guys so much and we can't wait to see you!

Aunt Nicole & Uncle Kevin

Thursday, November 13, 2008

seriously.

WHY WON'T SHE GO AWAY!?!?

and other things that make my head spin this morning:

1. Gas in Indianapolis is $1.89

2. Nearly 85,000 homes were LOST in the month of
October due to foreclosures

3. A Dallas mega-church pastor has issued a 7-day sex challenge
in an attempt to 'reclaim' sex for married couples.

4. Severed feet are popping up all over British Columbia
5. Tony Dow (aka Wally Cleaver) will have one of his abstract sculptures on display at THE LOUVRE ya'll!


And it's not even 8 am folks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Have You Thanked a Veteran Today?


Thank you.


Goodnight Esther

On December 2, 1919, Esther Marie Ray came into this world and on November 9, 2008 she peacefully left it. She was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a cousin, an aunt, a mother-in-law, a great grandmother... To me she was a grandmother, the word 'step' was never in her vocabulary. She loved lilacs and blue bonnets and wasn't afraid to wear 10 shades of purple at once. If it was purple then it was perfect. She was faithful to God and The Young and the Restless and could discuss both at great length.


Terry calls the above photo of her 'cheese cakey' and I absolutely love it. It shows an Esther that most of us never knew. So young and daring - sassy even. The photo below is from a visit to Texas, still sassy in her 80's in a field of blue bonnets. This is the Esther that I knew and loved and when I think of her, this is the snapshot I will forever have in my head.

Few know of her journalistic endeavors in her later years while residing at Avalon. When Kev and I were in Prague we received a small package containing a number of newsletters - The Avalon News - all of which contained short reflections and stories by Esther. It was such a gift for us to get these lovely little insights by her, especially while living so far away. I was fascinated to read that in 1926 she and her neighbor sang 'When we carved Our Hearts on the Old Oak Tree' on a RADIO program called 'The Children's Hour.' She described in great detail the anticipation leading up to it, her outfit, and even the 'exciting' ride in Mr. Walkers Ford - 'That's all anyone had then. Ford was it.' She and Susan dreamed of immediate fame and fortune, and altho it never found them after their radio debut, she went on to write 'the thrill of that moment still lingers on, and I've been singing ever since.'

She wrote another remembrance in April 2005 about lilacs and bluebonnets. This story struck me profoundly because it was always in late April and May that lilacs were in full bloom all. over. Prague. Absolutely everywhere, perfuming every street and every window, in every park, on every hill... At the same time I could envision the Texas fields and highways equally covered in bluebonnets.

This is what she wrote in the 'April Showers Bring May Flowers' section:
Lilacs are beautiful. I carried them on a plane to my daughter in New York once. They smelled up the whole cabin. As I disembarked from the plane, people kept asking me. "Are you the one with the lilacs?" Everyone enjoyed the beautiful fragrance. If I don't say anything about the Texas bluebonnets then I'm afraid I will never be allowed back in Texas again. My son lives in Dallas, and every year, in April, Texans look for the bluebonnets in fields, along the roadsides, everywhere. No one is allowed to grow them in their yards, though they grow wild throughout Texas. Ladybird Johnson's picture was taken in a field of bluebonnets. The last time I was in Texas, my son and his wife, Terry and Kathy, took me to a field to have my picture taken. However, I was never first lady of The United States.

She passed away while surrounded by the love of her daughter Diane and her grand daughter Amy. To the music of Amazing Grace and the reading of Psalm 23 she left this world in peace. She let go and let God take her home.

Friday, November 7, 2008

match.com

For 6 months these socks were single...


And at last have found their perfect match.



Scary, isn't it?



Somebody Please Tell Me Why This Is OK!?



A lot has happened in the past few days. In case you've been living under a rock I'll give you the highlights. First, the United States (and the world in spirit) elected Barack Obama for president. Historical for so many reasons. Besides the obvious one being that we elected the first African American as president, this election also produced the largest voter turn-out in history. The 'young voters' can finally shake off their reputation for civic apathy due to the fact that they increased their participation by almost 20% over the 2004 election. But I digress.

The second event that took place occurred on the same day as Election Day and for that reason I feel went unnoticed by many. In California, a little thing called Proposition 8 was also on the ballot. Let me clarify, the ballot title of Proposition 8 was Eliminates Rights of Same Sex Couples to Marry. Eliminates Rights... Seriously? California voted and California decided that same-sex couples were not in fact entitled to the same rights as hetero couples. Seriously folks, what century are we living in?? Other than dividing Liberal minded voters, it was surprising to consider that the Latino and Black communities - with their own histories of oppression - were also split on this decision.

Even Obama, for as many of his policies and beliefs that I agree with and thus voted on, there remain a small handful that are hard to swallow. This is one of them. Even he does not support rights for same-sex couples. For all the strides that we as a nation have overcome to ensure equal rights for all, I lament the passing of Proposition 8. It claws at the foundation of our fundamental freedoms and takes us back in recent history to a time when the blacks found themselves segregated against in extreme ways. Where the majority of the American (white) population were steadfast in their beliefs that blacks were not allowed the same privileges as whites. That they shouldn't be allowed to go to school with or even drink from the same water fountains.
We can look at images like these and maybe shake our heads in shame. Or chuckle at the ridiculousness of it all. I can only hope and pray that one day we will look back on times like these, and find things like Proposition 8 ridiculousness as well.

To add insult to injury, a ban on unmarried couples to adopt or foster children also passed in Arkansas. In their quest to preemptively bar same-sex couples from raising today's youth, The Arkansas Family Council ha also made it impossible for next of kin to take guardianship of minors in cases where both parents become deceased. Well done Arkansas. In a world where so many children are left unwanted and unloved, individuals who may be able to afford and provide the best possible care and instruction for those children, will not be allowed to. In a country where the divorce rate is at a staggering 38%, we won't allow same-sex couple who may have been together for 10, 20 or 30+ years an opportunity to make their commitment legal and binding, and to be afforded the same opportunities as those who marry and divorce after only a few years.

Again, somebody please tell me why this is ok?


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Here! It's Here! It's Here!


Won't you all be so relieved when Election 2008 is over and I can finally move on to more fun topics - like me for instance!

Well folks this is an exciting day. Altho it started a little early for my taste (5 am - oy), it was well worth it in order to exercise my democratic freedoms, and I must say I - am - excited. And hopeful. Hopeful being the key. On my way to exercise said freedom, I stopped by Starbucks for a little something to keep me upright - or at least conscious - while waiting in the much anticipated voting line. It wasn't until after I'd ordered my usual grande skinny vanilla latte (that would be non-fat and sugar-free - I'm a rebel like that) that I heard someone say something about free coffee for voters - WHA!?! Altho I was a bit miffed at having found out too late, I knew deep down that I needed that extra kick of espresso and the comfy aroma of vanilla. Ah well, a toast to you then corporate America! The one time in my life that I'll say it. Also while at Starbucks I was givin a top-secret strategic plan as to how to approach my voting precinct from the northeast side in order to avoid the worst of the voting traffic which was bottle-necked on the southwest. Yet another little nugget of info to take with me.


I arrived at my precinct full of hope with a little bounce in my step. I was armed with coffee, book (altho it was still too dark to read), and ipod of course. Disappointed that I hadn't prepared an inspirational mix especially for this day, I flew quickly threw my play lists and located 'Disco Mix C'. Song 1: Superstitious, Stevie Wonder. Yes. This is it. The beat gets me movin and I'm getting even more excited. I barely notice the line of 50 people in front of me or the fact that altho my shoes were fashionable AND functional, they were not perhaps practical at 6 am when the temperature is hovering at 40. Pas ne problem. My swift little dance steps will keep my toes warm. I love applying soundtracks to life. I often regret that no one else can hear them. Note to self: Next election, bring portable speakers.


A woman appeared at the back of the line and her arms were waving and she was turning in small little half circles with her eyes towards the heavens. Have the evangelicals arrived? No, just a woman upset because it was her third precinct to have to wait in line in. Note #2 to self: always check precinct numbers before voting - just in case. People were laughing and talking and making friends and sharing stories. I unplugged from time to time to join in and wax poetic with my new friends. I moved on to BeeGees – ‘You Should Be Dancing’ and the hits just kept on comin.

I made it up to the little old man who is handing me my ballot and he tells me at a deafening decibel how happy he is to see ‘so many young folk turn out for this blessed event’. That’s right readers, I’m still a ‘young folk’. I’m telling the absolute truth when I tell you that the song that started as I approached my booth was in fact James Brown – ‘I Feel Good’. I took a long hard look at my ballot. Took in every name, every category and eeeerrrrrkkk! That was the sound of my brain tires coming to a screeching halt. Circuit Court Judges – choose no more than 16. DAMMIT! The shame began to creep in. I gave myself a ‘C’ on my voting homework.


So I admit it, I didn’t fill out the entire ballot like a good citizen but I did double-check to make sure that my other votes would still count even if I didn’t fill out every category. Am I a bad person? Sigh. I suppose I could have avoided the stress all together by voting straight party ticket, but I didn’t because 1, I vote as a liberal, not necessarily Democrat – NO JUDGING – and 2, I really like to fill in the little circles. And I did, to the best of my ability, while ‘Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough’ sang in my ears.


I am inspired. And I have hope. Isn't that what this day is supposed to be about?