Archive for the ‘family’ Category

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Day 29 – Long Travel Day

November 29, 2011

Today has all revolved around travel, which makes sense because when you calculate my departure time from Goshen to my arrival time to dear ole Hedgehog in Seattle, it is a 14 hour trip. Granted that involved around 2 hours of wandering around downtown Chicago, between the train and the plane, but still a very long day. While I am partially tempted to write about all the annoyances of travel (CTA delays that gave David and I the privilege of waiting 30 minutes in the cold and twice running up and down a flight of stairs carrying my 54lb suitcase, the dehydrating nature of planes, how tired one gets after sitting for so long) in the end I am indeed sitting in a chair in a metal tube flying thousands of feet above the air and this 14 hour “grueling trip” would have taken many times as long only 100 or so short years ago.

My trip home (interestingly enough Chicago, Goshen and even Seattle all feel, to some degree, like they fit that description) was wonderful, all too short, relaxing, tiring, full of furious catch-up sessions with friends and definitely something I feel rather reluctant to return from. While I will get to see Becca and Jess in just a few weeks over New Year’s Day, my plans to see family again aren’t currently set and I won’t be able to get home for Christmas this year. Already I am feeling the pinch of both vacation days (by January I will only have 3.5 to get me through the end of August) and money and other than a possible trip in March don’t know when I will get to see my family again. That makes me sad, but I guess it is also part of the big adventure of moving to the West Coast and that is an adventure I am still excited about.

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Day 25 – Random Thought

November 25, 2011

As Thanksgiving usually is, yesterday and today have been full of food, friends, games and even a bit of shopping (but just to the more budget friendly local thrift store). I arrived midday yesterday into Chicago and have been enjoying the chance to catch up with a plethora of friends, many of whom are back in town for the holidays and my friend Kate’s wedding tomorrow! This weekend is making me thankful for the following things:
-sleeping in
-Becca’s crazy good pies!
-homemade stuffing
-blue skies
-playtime with 6 gorgeous kittens
-conversation after conversation with my much missed girlfriends
-the 5th Game of Thrones book to make plane rides go quickly
-the way walking up the steps of my old house makes me feel like I never left
-finding ridiculous faux fur coats in thrift stores
-getting hugs from and trading head rubs with Becca and Jess
-not being at work
-knowing that instead of heading home to Seattle, I get to head on to Goshen to see my wonderful family!

I hope you all are having great times with family and friends!

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Day 10 – Guest Post (the return of my dad!)

November 10, 2011

Well this guest post couldn’t be better timed seeing as I am home sick from work today with my second cold of the season (although this one is less congestion more throat on fire, weee!).  But instead of getting to hear me whine about being sick, here is a super awesome guest post by my Dad.  Enjoy!

Hi everyone.

Last year I thoroughly enjoyed writing my first guest blog here about Abby as an infant and small child. This year when Abby asked me again I thought first of writing about our train trip to Seattle to see her in October but then settled on writing something I was more excited about right now.

I’ve been somewhat obsessed about taking care of my body for a long time. I figure I’m only going to get one body and I’m not going to have it quitting on me over something I have some control over. So I exercise regularly, read about health related stuff and try to eat right. When I learned about 6 or 7 years ago that dark chocolate has some health benefits (when consumed in moderation) I started keeping a stash of Hershey Special Dark Chocolate bars at my desk at work.  Most of the time I successfully limit myself to a square at morning break and a square after lunch.  This takes some discipline because for me eating chocolate is among the top carnal pleasures in life.

My children and sometimes my wife scold me about not buying Fair trade but so help me the stuff is expensive. If I buy Hershey’s bars on sale I can get it at about $.20/ ounce and Fair Trade usually runs about $1.00/ounce.  My daily two squares are about an ounce so I’m talking the difference between a $50.00 per year habit and a 250.00 per year when consumed every working day. Somewhere deep in my psyche there is this notion that times could get hard so I better be careful with my money.  I don’t know if that comes from being raised by depression era parents or if it’s something in my Germanic DNA or a combination.

However the idea that I might be enjoying my chocolate on the backs of poverty stricken oppressed workers continued to bother me.  A couple weeks ago we visited Abby in Seattle and she arranged a tour of Theo’s chocolate for my wife and me.

David, Dad and Mom all ready for the Theo Chocolate Factory tour!

David, Dad and Mom all ready for the Theo Chocolate Factory tour!

After a great tour by an expert in all things surrounding the harvesting, manufacturing and history of chocolate we were allowed unrestricted sampling of all kinds of exotic and delicious chocolates. I thought I was in heaven. I also learned that most chocolate is processed using alkali. It says so right on the ingredients on the Hershey bars. This supposedly (yes, it might be part of Theo’s sales pitch) removes some of the health benefits. I also learned since that Hershey dark chocolate is only 45% cocao.  You have to do some research to find that – they don’t advertise it.  I enjoy dark chocolate right up to about 85% cocao and feel the flavor peaks between 75 and 80%.

So I started to search on the internet for some reasonably priced Fair trade chocolate. Most Fair Trade seems to also be organic. That might add some to it’s cost and probably is a good idea as well.  I couldn’t find any significant volume discounts on any of the bars.  But I did find Fair trade 65% cocao chocolate chips at Amazon for $.62/ ounce but you had to buy 25 pounds! I capitulated to the pressure and bought a box.  That comes out to almost $250.00 but they should last me 400 work days.  Unfortunately in my dithering about it I missed them on sale at just under $200.00.

We’ve already had a discussion at our house about what these chocolate chips will get used for. They are not to be used in baking – these are medicinal. 🙂  I’m going to keep them in the cold cellar to preserve their freshness and make it less likely that I will be tempted to consume a half a pound every evening.

One last problem to solve was how to divvy out one ounce a day.  I found out on the internet that 1 ounce of chocolate chips is about 3 tablespoons.  Here’s what an ounce looks like. I’ll take one day’s serving at a time in my lunch. I’m going to try very hard to eat them mindfully one chip at a time.
1 ounce of chocolate chips

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Day 6 – Photo Sunday

November 6, 2011

I think Photo Sunday will probably be my favorite part of NaBloPoMo (with the exception of Thursdays, my day off thanks to all my awesome guest posts), first because who doesn’t like getting to just post a photo instead of coming up with substantive words and second, I get a kick out of looking through old photos.  But for this inagural Photo Sunday post I thought I would put in a little more effort and make you all an animated gif!  This is from my parents’ awesome 2 week visit in early October.  I never really got around to writing up a proper re-cap post, but my favorite part was a our 3 day weekend trip to the San Juan Islands.  We drove around the islands, hiked a lot and ate really good food.  This photo is from the top of Mount Young and contains my favorite self-portrait in a long time, in which I use my self-levitation skills to attempt to get into place before the timer went off.  Enjoy!

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Happy Birthday Jonathan!

October 29, 2011
Jonathan B&W

My favorite younger brother

Today marks a very special occurrence, the celebration of the 26th anniversary of Jonathan’s birthday, or in other words a celebration of Jonathan’s ability to stay alive for 26 years and counting.  As you have probably picked up on this blog, Jonathan has always been one of my favorite people, whether it was playing pretend on a Big Wheels growing up or making cheese during Christmas vacations, or all the many crazy family adventures we have had, I have always found him to be hilarious and generally wonderful company.  Two years ago, I wrote up a post about my 10 favorite things about Jonathan and so I thought this year I would make a list of things I know that Jonathan likes

1. Jonathan likes to throw things and he also inspired my first animated gif

Click on the picture to see it action

2. Jonathan likes dogs

Jonathan's best friend

Jonathan brought his friend's dog Google home for a very memorable Christmas vacation and I think we all fell in love with the perfect search engine 🙂

Mathilde wins over hearts and minds

Click on this adorable picture to see a video of Jonathan and his new puppy Mathilde being awesome!

3. Jonathan likes to make things

Jonathan makes mittens

Jonathan made his own pair of wool sweater mittens this past Christmas

Jonathan and completed work

Jonathan is also very good at making amazingly gorgeous stone cairns

Jonathan and Dad do different crafts

When Jonathan comes home, he likes to go to the hardware store and buy things to make into other things, like this candle-powered fountain

4. Jonathan likes to be creative

Me and Jonathan

Jonathan introduced our family to the idea of group paintings and was the primary instigator in too our first family self-portrait

5. Jonathan likes to think hard

David is awesome!

Jonathan studies Physics and thinks about things that I can't even understand the definitions of

6. Jonathan likes to be outside

Jonathan: making everything cooler since 1985

Baby Jonathan during a trip to the Boundary Waters during high school

7. Jonathan likes to take trips with friends

Many moons ago, Jonathan and a bunch of his friends took a bike trip to Hell, Michigan and thankfully David recorded video and it is still alive on the web today.  This, my friends, is a must see!

8. Jonathan likes his family

Jonathan graduated

And we like him!

9. Jonathan likes to do things differently

Jonathan can braid his beard!

I think Jonathan's beard is another outlet for his own inner drummer

family tree

No explanation necessary

Jonathan models proper golfing gear

Golfer or Hipster, neither, just Jonathan's perfect combination of both.

10. Jonathan likes jumping

Diving into the Trees

Tim took this awesome picture of Jonathan during our family trip to the Boundary Waters

Jonathan sits on the temple

Tim also took this picture of Jonathan leaping over the Bahai Temple in Evanston

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Birthday season!

October 1, 2011

Well if you throw in Alex’s birthday from last week and the two recent birthdays of friends Clayton and Bryan and David’s birthday today and my mom and I’s birthdays next week, there has been a lot of cake.  I made my traditional Chocolate Wacky Cake with Instant Fudge Frosting and Raspberries for David’s birthday.  While it was good, I think the combination of new cake recipe (I left my good one back in Evanston), using a mixer instead of the food processor and using fresh raspberries instead of raspberry sauce, meant that it tasted just a little bit different.  But by far the best part of the evening has been playing round after round of David’s birthday pressent from Alex and I – Dominion.  While I know I dragged my feet quite a bit on this game and have kind of refused several invitations from my brothers to play it, I ended up finding it really fun!  Maybe it helped that it was almost entirely a group of newbies to the game, or what exactly it was, but now I like it.

And the exciting part is that my parents left on their epic Empire Builder train trip from Chicago to Seattle today and are probably currently making their way through the Twin Cities of Minnesota.  They arrive on Sunday and will be here for 2 weeks, which I am super excited about.  Now all I have to do is clean my room, check about bus tickets, pump the tires on my mom’s loaner bike, go to the library and possibly go bike shopping.  But seeing as it has somehow advanced past midnight, I should probably get to bed.

Have a good weekend, ya’ll.

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The High Cost of Botulism

June 23, 2011

The title of this post is mainly there to serve as both an example of the kind of conversations that happen when I spend time around my brothers and also as my attempt to claim the phrase for when I finally start that emo ska punk band (in which I would obviously play the viola).

Anyways, while it already feels like a quite a long time ago (thanks in part to two early morning trips to O’Hare aiport and a fun time hosting an old friend from high school), I figured I should talk a little bit about the awesomeness that was this past weekend.

Brought about Charletta’s long anticipated graduation with a Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling, this weekend included both a full complement of my immediate family and the presence of Charletta’s parents.  In other words, it was a grand ole time.  Highlights include hanging out with Jonathan for most of the day on Friday, during which we bought (and ate) fancy cheese, walked around downtown, and finally got drinks at the Signature Lounge.

Jonathan

Jonathan shows off his angelic side

Chicago haze

Chicago summer haze, at it's best

Other really fun times included a celebratory pizza dinner hosted by the Charletta’s parents at a local Italian restaurant and getting to can 8qts of strawberry jam with my Mom.

Charletta's parents in the middle

Charletta's parents are the ones in the middle

Saturday afternoon jam session

Not only is this jam yummy, but it actually set, instead of just forming yummy strawberry sauce

But of course the highlight was getting to see Charletta finish a long (and arduous) life stage called grad school.  Congrats Charletta, welcome to the Masters side of the family!

Jonathan, Tim, Charletta, Mom, Abby and Dad

Charletta and her rockin' robes

*Bonus Shots* A side by side analysis of two champion nappers:

Dad sneaks a quick napLina joins him