Cin City


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.


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


Connecting in a Winter Wonderland

by Erin

  • Explore someplace new
  • 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…


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.

(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:


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.


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!

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

Bright and Shiny

by Graham

I’ll admit, New Years Resolutions aren’t necessarily my thing. I’m all for self awareness and personal goals. I just find a once a year approach to them to be wholly inadequate. It is best, in my opinion, to adopt a regular approach to conscious and intentional growth, development and boundary pushing. Incorporating it into your life fully and integrally, rather than piecemeal and arbitrarily, is how real change happens in my experience. That said, life presents many opportunities which offer extra effect for our actions. Relating your personal intentions to the cultural celebration of a new calendar year is one of those. It’s certainly not a new phenomenon either. Throughout history, all the way back to the Babylonians, humans have been making commitments of personal improvement for various reasons (personal, religious, social, etc. . ).

At the point I find myself in this life I have adopted an approach which is not entirely functional. About 5 years ago I was given advice by someone very close and dear to me with regard to my approach to life. I took it. It has ultimately been the worst advice I have ever received.

“Be less intense”

I’m a pretty easy going fellow. I live a relatively stress free life by design. I’m also, as someone recently put it, “a smarty”. I have been my whole life. My High School ran out of math to teach me and I have continually been at the top of classes with relatively little effort on my behalf. Consequently, I have to challenge myself. When I stepped my intensity back, that is primarily how I achieved it. By taking less risks, smaller projects and accepting things I wouldn’t normally. As a result my happiness, wallet and personal relationships have suffered. I have put aside my passions for more mundane things to create a more easily socially acceptable persona. This is changing in 2013.

My New Years Resolution is easily put

“Be more intense

There is no list of individual things I would like to accomplish. Just the one behavior/mindset/mantra. I like to think big. Big thoughts become big goals. Big goals require big actions. As someone who rarely has partners on my projects those big actions become my responsibility and mine alone. It takes intense, direct actions to accomplish these goals. These accomplishments are a by product of my resolve.

Watch your face, it’s about to get bright!