Friends and Family

Efforts and Intentions

by Erin

After a little over six weeks, I’m semi-back in the land of the living. (It’s a boy, by the way.) I have not abandoned my resolutions entirely, nor have I really taken a break. Some of my resolutions are in progress and may not really have an end. So here is what I am working on and I will update once there has been further progress…

In the “creative” category:

  • I have learned and practiced purling. Combined with my old skill of knitting, I am about four inches high into a bright red knit hat.
  • I have been reading about and rekindling my interest in poetry. Once I feel due diligence has been put in to the “how-to” I will begin writing with intention. I’m interested to see if the process feels different with instruction versus just writing from the gut.

In the “reconnect” category:

  • I have been going out of my way to find little ways to spend extra time with Kid 1 now that baby brother is in the world. I’ll report back with some of our excursions/activities.
  • Oh, yeah and husband and wife time has been a little neglected lately, too. We’re having “date night” in (almost) every Friday. That means media-free and household chores-free. That may still mean time with baby, but at least it gets us face time together.

 

 

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Pen and Paper

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect (connection 6 of 12)
  • Get selfishly creative

“The word that is heard perishes, but the letter that is written remains.” – Anonymous

 

FACT #1: I look forward to getting the mail everyday.

FACT #2: More often than not, I am disappointed when I return from the mailbox. Typically, 90% of may handful goes into the recycling bin. The other 10% would be bills and account statements. So why do I still anxiously await the mailman’s arrival?

QUESTION #1: Is there such thing as mail Karma? If I sent more letters, would I receive more? From past experience, the answer is no.

 

In 2008, I started writing letters to my Grandmother once a month in an attempt to give her something to look forward to in her mailbox. I kept it up through grad school. Since the birth of Kid, I probably write four times a year. In 2009, I participated in a letter writing experiment during the month of April. The group goal was to write a letter or note everyday.  I wrote about half of what I intended. This month, I took time to reconnect through words. I didn’t take on anything as epic as committing to a once-a-month or daily note.  There were four people that needed to hear from me so they did…finally.  I wrote an overdue letter to my grandmother, a long thank you note, and two e-mails to old friends.

photo

I was reminded how much effort it takes to write. The pressure is a little less present with e-mail as you can easily and instantaneously erase and edit. To hand write letters is a different beast. Thoughts have to be carefully crafted before you put them down. Spelling has to be in place, too, otherwise the recipient sees your error (or corrected error) in plain sight. It’s a tricky business, letter-writing. Maybe that is why my mailbox is still so boring.

I went searching through the internet to find out what others had to say about writing letters. Here are some of my finds:

 

When was the last time you wrote a letter?

When was the last time you received one?

 

 

 

Headed West

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect (connection 5 of 12)
  • Get selfishly creative

It has been about two years since I have seen my grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousins. It has been about ten years since I have visited them in their home state. With Spring Break underway and the prospect of five days of Kid and I together, I thought this was a great opportunity to attempt the trip.

The obvious reconnection here was with these extended family members. While we created many fresh memories together, the two biggest things I left with were some new knitting skills and a deeper understanding of how we all relate and connect to each other. I won’t be sharing intimate secrets, but it is funny how family can give you perspective into who you are.

The hidden connection was with Kid. Twelve hours of car travel will do that to you. I saw greater evidence that he loves books (though he can’t read) and I vowed to keep fostering that love. I also reaffirmed my belief that appropriate amounts of sleep make for happier kids. This one was solidified from somewhere in Illinois all the way home when a dropped water bottle snowballed into an hour long meltdown that also included the loss of a shoe and insistence that we were NOT close to home.

Car trips. They are good for connecting on the road and at your final destination.

Now go visit your grandmother.

Cin City

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by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect (connection 4 of 12)
  • Get selfishly creative

Last Saturday the family ventured off to Cincinnati to visit some friends. We knew them when we lived in North Carolina almost four years ago and within a year of one another the four of us moved northward: we to Indianapolis, they to Cincinnati. That’s less than a two hour drive.

In the past four years we have seen each other three times (not including this most recent trip). Really, with as close as we are geographically, this is a little ridiculous, but not surprising given our side’s hesitancy to do anything with people outside of our family. Have I mentioned we have that problem, yet?

It was a beautiful day to get away and drive. I won’t give you the play by play of the visit but here’s what I learned and some good trivia for you if you ever find yourself talking about/visiting southwest Ohio.

  1. When spelling the city name, just count 1-2. That’s 1 N first, then 2 Ns.
  2. Compared to Indiana, this area has so much more elevation. It caused our adopted Hoosier eyes to stare and our Hoosier-born son to throw his hands in the air and shout “roller coaster” every time we went down hill.
  3. If you ever decide that Cincinnati is not the right place for you, you can just jump over the river and head to Kentucky.
  4. The only restaurant I can recommend is Bakersfield. They have awesome and unique tacos that you can order a la cart so you can try more than one.
  5. If you want a crazy shopping/browsing experience, head to Jungle Jim’s International Market. We spent an hour and half there. Husband, who recently developed an interest in spicy foods, found and purchased the hottest pepper in the world, which will probably never leave its bag. This was in lieu of purchasing the $5,000 bottle of hot sauce he found behind a locked cabinet.

But this was really supposed to be a reflection of the reconnection…so:

We ended up spending too much time catching up and reminiscing to take pictures or explore the city. It was worth it. And,  just for kicks (and speaking of trivia) here is a glimpse of the four of us (plus one) during our last week in North Carolina together. Yes, you are looking at coffee-shop trivia winners. Thank goodness we didn’t have to spell Cincinnati. That may have lost us our title.

Capture

Thanks for the day out, K & A. Maybe again sometime next year?

An Afternoon Out

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
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  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect (connection 3 of 12)
  • Get selfishly creative

 

 

Relationships are so important but can be easily neglected. I especially have to work  hard to make sure I don’t get wrapped up in my insular life of family and home. I get very focused on my present environment and have to make a conscious effort to break out.

This weekend I was finally able to get out and about again. After three months of attempting to get together with CT, we finally committed to an event and a date. It was as simple as frozen yogurt and a movie, but still a refreshing change of pace. I probably would have napped and cleaned otherwise.

Like my first connection in January, this was the first time that CT and I had done something social. We met in grad school and had always had good conversations at school and, later, in professional settings. Now was our chance to change the conversation. Over coconut frozen yogurt we talked work (just a little) but easily veered to more personal topics. Then it was off to the movie where we later marveled at how Maggie Smith, though on our radar for close to 20 years now, seems to always be the same age. (In case you are wondering, she is almost 80 now.)

I always have a little anxiety when hanging out with a person for the first time. It is so much like dating (without the added stress of worrying about the goodnight kiss).  Will I be interesting enough? Will they? But, in this case, if CT agrees, I would be ready for another “date” anytime!

 

Connecting in a Winter Wonderland

by Erin

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  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect (connection 2 of 12)
  • Get selfishly creative

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Earlier this month we met our friends at The Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park in northern Indiana. This was our second time meeting them there; our first having taken place four years ago…pre-kids. The old college friends’ trip of four years ago looked vastly different than this year’s trip. Having kids changes you…mutates you…forces you through a metamorphosis…I still haven’t really found the words to capture the soul/life/brain altering phenomenon that parenthood imparts on a person. Anyway, here are some slightly more noticeable ways that our winter connection differed this year than the last time we made the trip.

PreKids VS. PostKids

Sleeping Arrangements:

Share a room with two full beds so we can save money and play games and drink and eat without disturbing anybody in the lodge area VS. two rooms because she still gets up to nurse once a night, he may not settle down right away and could keep her up, I’m going pee all the time because this baby is sitting on my bladder, he’s sick and doesn’t want to get your family sick, she’s sick and doesn’t want to get our family sick…

Bedtime:

Whenever we wanted, probably late, probably after many games VS.  too late (“No Baby, we cannot go to the pool now. It is time to SLEEP. Lay down. Lay down. LAY DOWN. …Ugh, can’t those hooligans out in the hallway shut up? It is after 8:30 already!”) or too early (“I’m sorry, we fell asleep when we were putting him down for bed.”)

Wake up:

Wake up when it felt right, probably  a little earlier than usual to pack in some outdoor activities VS. 7:15 a.m. (“No Baby, the pool isn’t open yet. Can you try to lay down and cuddle with us a little longer?  Mom and Dad would really like to sleep some more. …FIIIIIINE. Mom will get up with you. Let’s go find out where the pool is and Dad can meet us when he’s ready. Dad…Dad…Dad…do you think you could make it down soon?”)

Outdoor activities:

Miles and miles of cross-country skiing and multiple trips down toboggan run VS. sledding down a hill twice, pulling kids around on sled, hitting trees with sticks, experiment with two-year old on toboggan…once was enough

Indoor activities:

Pool for 30 minutes, board games at night VS.  texting to keep the other family updated on whereabouts, pool for hours, watching the fish in the aquarium, talking about why the stuffed coyote in the case was not alive, watching the fire in the fireplace, answering questions from strangers with “I’m two!” and “Yeah. I LOVE snow!”, multiple trips to the bathroom, running up and down ramps, pretending to be grizzly bears, “helping” with  community jigsaw puzzles by shoving pieces all over table, napping, “Board games tonight?” “If we don’t fall asleep with him. We’ll text you.”…”Okay, only for an hour, we don’t know how long these monitor batteries are going to work.”

Eating and Drinking

Share snacks, dinner can be whenever, consume a few or more beers while playing games VS. eat…no, like, NOW!, share snacks and cups and utensils, dinner by 5:30 so we can make sure they can get to bed somewhat on time, “Beer?” “Maybe one or two. You know how early we get up now.” And of course, none for the pregnant lady.

Though it was different this time around and we didn’t get to see as much of each other as we would have liked, the fact that we can still maintain a long-distance friendship is something we try not to take for granted. And I am pretty sure none of us would change a thing in order to get back to the us of four years ago. Each experience has its own wonderful memories and we hope to continue building on those memories year after year.

My Valentine

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired
  • Read a classic
  • Try a new recipe
  • (Re)connect
  • Get selfishly creative

My husband? Not a huge fan of social media. The fact that he even knows that I am doing this blog at all is a surprise. The fact that he actually read anything on the blog and turned it into a Valentine’s Day gift: heart-melting.

bokos

Though two polls are still open for voting, I’m pretty sure he picked at least one of the winning books. Even if none of them end up winning, I come out ahead in the end!

Big Box of Citrus: Week 1

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired (x2)
  • Read a classic (x4)
  • Try a new recipe (x6)
  • (Re)connect (x12)
  • Get selfishly creative (x12)

What have I done so far with my bushel of citrus?

1. Juiced it. I have recently become an advocate of “juice in moderation” especially since Kid was born. My theory was that you would rarely consume as many fruits in one sitting as the number that offer up that full glass of juice that you pour from the container. You also lose the fiber, et al. when you only take the juice.  After officially seeing how much juice two oranges yield, I feel validated. (Further internet “research” concurs.)  On a less soap-box note: this morning’s OJ was especially good! If boxes of fruit are going to be an annual thing, it might be time to look into a citrus juicer. Or I need work on building my squeezing muscles.

juice

2. Shared it. I’m so happy my son digs grapefruit. It helps that I chose a pink grapefruit. He was more willing to admit that he liked it because it was “red”, which is his absolute favorite color.

3. Blended it. There was a quick visit to Pinterest before this morning smoothie just to get some ideas of fruit combos and proportions. I ended up with 1 pink grapefruit, 1 cup of frozen strawberries, and 1 cup of spinach. For extra nutritional boost…as if all that vitamin C wasn’t enough…I added some tofu, flax seed, oatmeal, and yogurt. The taste was a little bitter, though on reflection it makes sense with the grapefruit. I added about a tablespoon of agave syrup to sweeten it up. I liked it, but it may not be a crowd-pleaser.

share with sonsmoothie

4. Baked it. Twice. Mornings start at 7 a.m. around here. That gives us plenty of time to do fun things before breakfast. I broke out an old grapefruit muffin recipe and Kid and I set to work. Kid insisted Dr. Dog help with the baking, too. We three made a double batch and refrigerated half for Grandma and Grandpa’s visit the next day so that they could try them fresh. The other half was baked and consumed for breakfast and throughout the day. Yum.

P.S. One softball-sized grapefruit yields about 4 tsp. of zest and 1/2 cup of juice (when you rely solely on your muscles for juicing).

little bakeDD bake

5. Juiced it, again. The oranges are particularly juicy and don’t make for good eating. I DID invest (a whole $4) in a citrus juicer. It is much more effective at getting juice out.

  juicer

6. Tossed it. Natural decay started to show. A quick visit to the internet reveals that citrus is best stored in a cool place. As there are still too many fruits to fit into the fridge, they moved to into the garage instead. Indiana winter should help keep them cold.

mold

7. Baked it (again) and decorated. I have been holding onto a recipe for an orange chiffon cake for a while. With a work party on the horizon, it seemed time to bust it out. Orange zest and juice went into the cake. Orange juice went into the frosting (that was my addition). And why not try a little orange peel flair? The public has yet to taste it, but if the frosting is any indication it should be pretty good.

chiffon

Number of fruits left: 40

Big Box of Citrus: A Project Begins

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • Be inspired (x2)
  • Read a classic (x4)
  • Try a new recipe (x6)
  • (Re)connect (x12)
  • Get selfishly creative (x12)

Every year for the past three(?) years my father-in-law sends us a box of citrus from Florida. He doesn’t live in Florida. Who knows where the idea came from, but you won’t hear me complain. We usually get about half a bushel, which lasts about two months between two adults and a growing tiny person. But this year…a whole bushel. I think the time for lazy grazing is over if we want to make use of these guys before they spoil.

citrus

It’s a good thing I was on the look out for some resolution fulfillment. These sunny orbs are going to help me get through a creative project AND a recipe series. Double duty and lots of benefit. Recipes that I have started to stockpile include orange ricotta pancakes, citrus salad with feta, and orange chiffon (cup)cake(s). In addition, I will be documenting the use of  all this vitamin-C goodness through “photography” (using the term loosely here as I am not a skilled photographer and I will rely heavily on Instagram). Get ready. It’s going to be rather orange around here for a while.

P.S. If you have a  favorite recipe or use for oranges/grapefruits, feel free to leave a comment. I’m always happy to get some new ideas!

(Re)Connect 1 of 12: Anne and the King of Siam

By Erin

  • Explore some place new
  • Be inspired (x2)
  • Read a classic (x4)
  • Try a new recipe (x6)
  • (Re)connect (x12)
  • Get selfishly creative (x12)

I thought that (re)connecting would be a little bit more of an effort, but this one came together pretty easily. I think in the future it WILL be harder to keep up on this goal. There is a two year old at home (and another one due in May), which makes it hard for either parent to feel like we can spend significant time away from the family while the other one is home with the kid(s). Also not aiding our “going out” efforts is both adults’ enjoyment of keeping our bodies at home. One of us is more likely to want to “do SOMEthing” but in general, we both kind of feed off the other’s desire for family time. I suppose there are worse things. There are also different ways to “connect” which I will also be exploring through the year, so it’s not a hopeless resolution.

The first connection can strangely be summed up in the title of a movie:

ANNE

Out of the blue and with very little thought, which is very unlike me, I invited my friend Anne out to lunch. This is somewhat significant because we are “the spouses.” It is the husbands’ work relationship that blossomed first and morphed into the two families becoming “family friends.” This is always tricky business because more often than not, I don’t usually warm up to many of the spouses or significant others in these situations. Who knows the psychology behind it, but in most cases I much prefer my husband’s friends. Instead, I am obligated to try my best with the other. Not so with Anne. We hit it off at first meeting and this was our first “date” without the husbands and kids. It was lovely to talk the whole time without the interruption of cutting up a child’s food, soothing a crying baby, or chasing down a runaway.

THE KING OF SIAM

We (probably I) chose to go to my favorite restaurant: 3 Sisters Cafe. For those of you reading this from Indianapolis – if you haven’t been yet, go now. Get your body to Broad Ripple and bring your appetite.  Even if the items below seem strange for your tastes, you will find something just as delicious. (I’m always ready with recommendations, too!) Breifly, here is what I chose. (I borrowed photos from Amanda at namastewhile. It was just a coincidence that we had the same meal.)

The King of Siam sandwich is a warm pita topped with  hummus, spinach, and a cranberries-apples-almonds–fava bean-onion grain pilaf. It’s impossible to eat cleanly and makes my growing pregnant belly happy. Add fruit on the side and it’s better. Follow it up with a blueberry goat cheese pie and you’ve just consumed heaven in under an hour!

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Thanks for the lovely Sunday afternoon, Anne. Despite the rain.