Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

How can we help with the Puerto Rican crisis?

Puerto_Rico_debt_ap.img_

Background:

On May 1, 2016 Puerto Rico is set to default on yet more bonds, seriously compromising its ability to borrow funds in order to recover from the crisis.  The highest priority bond holders are NOT public services (meaning Hedge funds would potentially be paid back before public services like hospital bills and teacher salaries).

What to do:

There are MORE Puerto Ricans in the US than in the island and we have a right to VOTE! that means that our voice is powerful, but we need to use it.

Status:

There is a bill going through House committees (H.R. 4900) that aims to let Puerto Rico restructure its debt in order to make it through the crisis.  The bill is in three House committees: The Natural Resources, Judiciary and Education & Workforce Committees.  We need to let the committee chairs and our own congressman/congresswoman to continue to move the bill (the Vulture Hedge funds are trying to kill it).     

Interesting reports/coverage of the Puerto Rican crisis

Krueger report- link

Report from Vulture Hedge Funds –“For Puerto Rico, there is a better way” –link

Last Week Tonight coverage with John Oliver (highly recommended)-link

Jones Act- link and link

Tax code 936 – link

Action Needed:

  1. Call the committees the bill is in (This is critical, call them immediately, please don’t delay).
  2. Call your House representative: go here (link) to find out who it is is.
  3. Forward a call to action to your network- post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, send it to your personal contacts. Send Facebook and Twitter messages to the committees and the committee chairs!

Contact Information:

Committee Phone Number Twitter Facebook
Natural Resources 202-225-2761 @natresources

@repgoodlatte (chair)

link
Judiciary 202-225-3951 @housejudiciary

@reprobbishop (chair)

link
Education & Workforce 202-225-4527 @edworkforce

@repjohnkline (chair)

 

link

Talking Points:

Hello, my name is ________ and I’m calling about bill H.R. 4900 regarding Puerto Rico’s financial and social crisis.

Similar to over 5 million Puerto Ricans, I live in the United States mainland, pay taxes here and I work at _______ as a ________ and just like all Puerto Ricans, I am an American citizen (its important to remind them of this, many people don’t know that Puerto Ricans are American citizens).

I am calling on behalf of the other 3.5 million American citizens in Puerto Rico who are about to be in a dire and crippling social and financial crisis.

On May 1st, the island is slated to default on some of the debt and something needs to be done.

 I am calling specifically to ask for the committee (or congressman’s) help in three places:

  1. Encourage Congress to allow Puerto Rico to restructure its debt through bill R. 4900. Puerto Rico, unlike all other US states, cannot file bankruptcy and will not be able to repay the debt or repair its society without the ability to finance.
  2. Eliminate the Jones act– this act forces Puerto Rico to only import on American ships and results in a higher cost of goods that hurts consumption.
  3. Restate a tax relief similar to the 936s that enabled a long, productive period of growth in the island through tax relief to manufacturing companies.

Thank you for your help in this matter, I appreciate the committee’s (or congressman’s) help in solving this critical issue fairly and helping American citizens in this time of need.

 

Advertisements

The Completion of My First Half Ironman in Muncie, IN!

OVERALL –

I am still in a state of disbelief that I completed an Ironman 70.3.  I exercised for 7 hours straight!  (that’s crazy!).  I am very happy with my bike and swim but not as happy with my run.  Since I already signed up for my next 70.3 (in Puerto Rico!) I will be focusing on getting my run rate up.  I (of course) will work on improving my bike speed in hopes of reaching 17-18 mphs averages.  Upgrading from my 2004 road bike could also help this! Ha!

My nutrition needs some tweaks – my body isn’t used to that many gels.  While I trained with them, I still hanker for “real food”.  I’ll have to research this and find a different solution.

The real hero of the event was my husband, Dennis, who also pulled in a 12 hr shift that day and then drove us back to Cincinnati (2.5 hrs).  He kept the boys entertained, fed and kept track of me to encourage me and support me.  He was incredible, amazing – and I am SO grateful!  God must think I’m ok, if he sent me such an awesome, amazing partner.

BEFORE

The week of the race I ensured that I stayed very hydrated and my coach had me stop training on the bike because of my glute injury (to allow it time to heal- which ended up being a smart move!).

I read that the sleep 2 nights before is as important as the night before (since I never get enough sleep the night before anyhow).  I tried to get good sleep the week of.

MORNING

I woke up at 3:30am and  ate my usual breakfast of oatmeal, brown sugar, almonds and coffee.  The coffee had its intended “cleansing” properties so I was happy that my system was ready to go.  After eating, I focused on drinking water and stretching.  I re-read my race plan.

The family and I go to the race start at 5:20am and we parked in the grass of a house who (so smartly) sold spots on their lawn for $20 a piece (we estimate they must have raked in like $3000 that day).  This was a great move, because the nearest parking available when we arrived was already really far.

I racked my bike, and although having >13 triathlons under my belt, ended up doing it incorrectly (you have to alternate sides of the rack and then put your stuff under your wheel -since the seat is holding the bike to the rack).  Another woman who was racking next to me asked me semi-sweetly “is this your first Half Ironman?” and proceeded to tell me my bike was racked incorrectly.  While her approach irked me at first, I was still appreciative for her help and we ended chatting for a while.

After a quick practice swim in the reservoir, I waited around for my wave to start.  I had a banana and decided to skip the Chomps I planned on taking, given my already heightened energy.

SWIM (1:53/100yd per Garmin,  2:03/100 yd official pace, total 41 mins) – (4 minutes over my goal)

The swim was really great.  I placed myself towards the front because I rather be passed than deal with the kicking feet of people I’m trying to pass.  I kept my head and nicely avoided any freaking-out moments.  My pace and heart rate were right on track but my sighting was off (which cost me about 5-6 minutes).  The last couple of minutes, when I could see the black finish chute, felt like it took an eternity!

T1 (4:10)

After getting out of the water I went to a wetsuit stripper but in my disoriented state I garbled that I had to take my watch and chip off – and I had a chance to do so but by the time I sat down so she could take the bottom of my wetsuit off, my watch fell right on a mud pile.  I didn’t realize it until I was halfway up so I lost some time running back.

I ran to my bike – put on my sockless bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses and ran out.

BIKE (3:26, 16.3 mph average) -10 minutes under my goal

The bike was fantastic.  I felt strong and my injury, while tight the first hour or so, eventually let up and I was able to enjoy the ride.  I took a lot of water with Nuun as soon as I could and my first Huma gel.  After that I took a ton of water with Nuun and Huma gels every 30 minutes.  I also took 3 Fig Newtons at the 2 mile mark to soften the effect of taking that many gels.   A big highlights was watching this huge black horse running around his enclosure from side to side – beautiful muscles rippling, hair in the wind.  It was such an unexpected and beautiful sight – it made me smile.  I thanked God for everything (a lot) and took in the sights.  I was passed by a million people but I was pleased by my own pace and every time my mind would stray to “ugh, another person passing me”, I would force it back to “you are amazing! You are going to be an Ironman!”.  I stretched my legs by standing on the bike and soft pedaled when I could to rest them.  Overall, I felt like I kept my legs fresh and didn’t push too hard.

T2  (this could get gross, so skip ahead to the run if you’re not used to gross triathlon details, 3:35)

I really, really had to pee while on the bike (since I drank tons of water) but didn’t want to stop and then have my legs seize up.  So, I waited until I was on transition and then did the deed on the grass.  I considered peeing on the bike, like so many people do, but I couldn’t get myself to do it.  At T2, I put on socks, shoes, hand bottle with Nuun and picked up my hat, race belt (with Huma gels).  I passed the volunteers applying sunblock and declined their help – something I would come to regret later.

RUN (2:47, 12:47 min/mile)- 19 mins more than expected (11:15 pace)

The run was really tough.  I was never able to get to my desired pace (11:15min/mile).  My overall energy was good but my legs were dead.  I still kept to my nutrition (Huma gels every 30 minutes, 3 Fig Newtons at mile 6, Nuun with every 16 oz of water).   I ended walk/shuffling a lot.  Miles 1-4 were actually good, my legs were tired but my mind was ok.  Once I got to mile 5-6 my mind was tired too.  Thankfully, God sent me a running partner!  Ths guy (Jake) had knee pain and I had overall tiredness and we kept each other from walking.  It was at the absolute perfect timing.  The volunteers were also AMAZING!  There were so many!  The aid stations were perfectly stocked and had not run out of anything!  I kept pouring ice down my sports bra and stuffing cold sponges in my back to keep from over heating (the sun was really bearing down and the run isn’t well covered).

I even tried some Cola at mile 9 to see if it would give me the extra push (it didn’t).  At that point I was still wearily taking Huma gels every 30 minutes but my stomach would cramp in protest as soon as they hit my mouth.  I figured that I would rather deal with some cramping rather than bonk – so I stuffed it down –  but next time I might bring more Fig Newtons or something like that for the run.  I think I had 10-11 Huma gels overall, it was too much for my belly.

Overall, I feel like I worked my hardest and gave it my all.  I kept my head focused on being thankful instead of competitive.  I finished like I couldn’t give one more step and that’s what I wanted.  Once I cooled off by walking around, I had a piece of bread and it was like my energy came back.  That was one miracoulous piece of bread!

I didn’t bonk on the drive home either.  I kept my legs elevated, drank lots of water, ate when I stepped feeling queasy.  I was able to identify where I want to get stronger (run!) and signed myself off for a next Half Ironman in March!  I can’t wait to do a triathlon in my home!

Update- about a week after my triathlon, I received an email that I had qualified for the Age Group Triathlon National Championships in Milwaukee!!  I felt incredibly honored to have qualified and to be able to be around the best of the best in the sport.  It was humbling, fun and incredibly tiring! Ha!

Race Report: Mini Oly in Caesar’s Creek, OH

The Zoom Multisport Race was my last practice before Muncie’s Half Ironman race (70.3) in July.  I had originally signed up to do a small Olympic but really wanted to do the 1/3 Iron Race.

My coach didn’t want me to do the Iron because I have a nagging glute injury that has plagued me for the past 3 weeks.  Since I had done a Open Water Swim the previous Wednesday and felt great, I was wrestling with the decision of doing the smaller event.

Finally, I decided to heed the advice of my coach and some friends who advised me against pushing it – and thank God I did.  The bike was so bad on my injury that I contemplated a DNF.  That bad.

But let’s start from the beginning.  That morning I woke up 3 hrs before my race to eat breakfast (Oatmeal, fruit, nuts, soy latte) and stretch.  I had already finished my race plan the night before so I was set on what I wanted to accomplish.  Per the usual, I had really bad sleep the night before (anticipation) but I didn’t feel tired or sluggish.

We got to the race and I made it early enough to rack my bike in the 2nd slot of the first rack!!!! A first for me!  It made it SOOO much easier to spot after the swim!  I found another Cincinnati Tri Club member and we chatted until the start of the swim.

The Swim – “Watch out! here I come” – 1:59/100 yd (rank: 12 out of 50)

The Swim went really well.  Some minor leakage in my goggles (my eternal search for the best goggles that don’t hit my eyelashes continues) but I didn’t get kicked or poked this time.  I am getting a lot better (through practice) at keeping my cool in the “washing machine” and sighting.  Whenever I would sense a “freak out” approaching in my mind, I would just sing “Oceans” in my head (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz3_6QPl6VM).

The Bike – “Ouch, it hurts!” (15.5 mph avg, bottom third)

The transition from swim to bike was great.  Had my HUMA gel, put on my tri biking shoes (no socks), grabbed my helmet and glasses and I was off!  Or so I thought.  The first 10 miles were excruciating.  My glute injury was hurting big time.  I couldn’t reach a cadence higher than 85 without it screaming so I had to mash it out in the lower 80s.  So many things went through my head:  ” I won’t be ready for Muncie, it’s in 2 weeks!!”  “maybe I should quit this bike right now!”  “this is so disappointing”  “why did I have to get hurt right at the end?!”.  I was a mess of negativity and anger.  Then I remembered that part of my race plan was to “be grateful”.  I forcibly smiled at the beautiful scenery, I started appreciating the sunny but cool day.  I thanked God for the strong body he has given me.  I thanked him for creation and for my health.  Then, slowly, my glute stopped throbbing.  A tall guy with black compression socks passed me and he became my focus.  I chased him the rest of the way and I was able to salvage the bike.  Or rather, God salvaged the ride.  This glute injury knocked off a full mph from my race bike pace (16.5) but if I can complete Muncie at the lower pace, I will still be grateful.  I had a HUMA gel every 30 minutes and two bottles of water with Nuun.

The Run – “I freakin’ hate running”  (11:12 pace, bottom third).

I had a quick transition- put on socks and shoes (took off my biking shoes & helmet) and grabbed my hat with my hand-bottle (pre-prepped with Nuun).    I find that I have to take small sips and not gulp water at the aid stations to keep hydrated, so I plan on running with my hand-water bottle in Muncie.

Thank God the glute wasn’t an issue while I was running.  But, let’s be honest, I hate running and running hates me.  I’ve been diligently working on my running since January and have gotten better but my running heart rate is hideous –I averaged 170 during the race – and I was concerned my heart was going to explode.  For Muncie, if I can complete the 13 miles without walking, I am ok with that.

All in all – the race was good, I faced some physical and mental challenges and was reminded of both my weaknesses and strengths.  But all in all, I was reminded to be grateful that, with the grace of God, I am able to complete races and improve my health and wellbeing while setting a good example for my boys that taking time to be healthy is always important.

Race Report: Muncie, IN Sprint Triathlon

When I planned out my season -ending in the Half Ironman in Muncie, IL in July – I added a couple of preparatory events to get my feet wet.  One of these events, and the starter of my season, was a May Sprint Triathlon in Muncie IN.

The family and I traveled to Muncie the night before and stayed in a Bed and Breakfast in the town of Muncie, a couple of miles from the Pleasant Creek reservoir.  After checking in, we went to the reservoir to check it out and get some open water practice in my new wetsuit.   Once I was suited and ready, we headed to the water and I jumped in with some other triathletes who were also getting their open water swim in.  The water wasn’t too cold (which I was worried about after hearing reports of 64 degree water) but it was completely murky.  I mean a full-on wall of dark green with some light green specks to liven it up.  I couldn’t see anything.  I would take out my head to breathe and get a face full of sunshine and blue sky and lightness – then I would put it in the water for a face full of green, watery nothingness.  It freaked me out.  I forced myself to keep swimming but I could feel my heart rate just pumping out of control.  After a couple of laps to get used to the water and the conditions, I got out – seriously worried about keeping my head on my shoulders on the swim portion of the triathlon.

After the swim, we went to Olive Garden to eat and definitely ate too much of an eggplant carbo-rich meal.  I went to bed early after stretching and checking my gear.

The day of the race, I did my usual routine – woke up ~2-2 1/2 hours prior to the race to eat my usual dish of oatmeal, fruit and coffee.  I started my water intake and stretched.  I checked my gear once again and then the family and I headed to the reservoir.  We got there right as they opened transition (~7am) and after getting body-marked and putting my gear in my spot, I went to get another open water swim practice in.  The fact that I had freaked out was weighing heavy on my mind, and I wanted to get accustomed to the water as much as possible before the swim started.   I got into the water with a handful of other triathletes and swam some laps.  It was MUCH better than the night before.  I didn’t freak out about the water or the wetsuit tightness.  I kept my heart rate under control and got used to the conditions as much as possible.

Before we knew it, it was time to start.

The Muncie organizers had a very different swim starts from any other triathlon I’ve done.  They asked people to self-place (by asking others around what pace they were swimming at) and then they sent us in, one by one, in 5 second increments.  I loved this start!  First, my family was RIGHT there next to me and could see me go in (or flop in, as the video my husband took later revealed) and second, you weren’t besieged by a thousand arms and legs.  I had all the space I wanted around me.

Since this was a practice triathlon – here’s what I learned:

Swim (7 minutes, 1:45s/100yds)

1)  Practice bilateral breathing – I had only practiced breathing on one side and guess which side was being hit by the swells? So the first dozen strokes, I got facefuls of water (if a wave hit me) or I didn’t get any air at all, trying to avoid the wave.

2)  Practice breathing every 4-5 strokes as well as every 2 – the combination of not being able to breathe every time, plus the tightness of the wetsuit meant that my heart rate went up since I could’t do a great job at hitting my regular stride.

3) Sighting – after I exited the water, I looked at my Garmin and realized I zig zagged like no-one’s business.  I ended up doing 200+ more yards than I needed to.  In a Half Ironman, this could add up to a LOT more.  I need to do more Open Water swims to get better at this.

4)  Glare- there was a lot of glare going back to shore, I could barely see.  I need to either get glare-free goggles or follow someone’s bubbles who I hope is going in the right direction.

Side note- I swam into not one, but TWO people who all of a sudden went from freestyle to backstroke.  It was like smashing into a wall full of arms and legs.  Not sure how to avoid this except sight for both buoys and backstrokers.

Bike (46:10, 16.3 mph)

I jogged to the transition area and had no problem taking off my wetsuit, thanks to a generous application of lube around my ankles and feet.  I then stepped into my pre-prepped bike shirt ( I swam in a sports bra and tri shorts) and had no problem pulling it up and zipping it.  It already had my nutrition loaded into the back pockets so after putting on my shoes (no socks) glasses and helmet I was ready to go.

I had a great bike, went faster than I expected given Muncie’s rolling hills.  It’s basically up and down the entire route.  The road is not great so there was some bumpiness but give the spacing in the swim, I didn’t see that many other triathletes.  What I did see were cars, lots of cars.  They don’t close the bike course, so you are constantly being passed by confused vehicles in the small 2 lane road.  I stayed on top of my nutrition – (1 applesauce every 30 minutes, water with Nuun electrolytes) and felt strong.  I took applesauce because my stomach is not a friend of Gus.  I am slowly training it, though!

Run (34 min, 11:01 min/mile)

The bike to run transition went smoothly, I took off my helmet, put on socks and shoes and then just took my bundle and ran. The bundle included my race belt, hat and some sports beans.

I definitely felt the effects of the bike in the run.  I can’t describe the feeling of dead legs better than I felt like I had a rubber band around my ankles and couldn’t really do anything more than shuffle.  The run was tough because I didn’t bring my handheld water and the water station was a lot further than I needed it to be.  I usually bring my water because I like to sip constantly vs. gulp at the water station.  You can believe that I will bring it for the Half!

The run was painful and a definite head game – there was a lot of “what? this hill? this hill is for babies, I can do this hill on my hands” (in my head), while the rest of my body was like “stop, right now, this is stupid” or sometimes “I wonder what the normal people in the world are doing right now? sleeping? eating? – I wish I were sleeping or eating right now”.

At the halfway point I got my legs (mostly) back and was able to do more than shuffle.  Right before the finish line, there is a big, long and steep hill.  Why is it that there is always a big, steep hill before the finish line?

As I was coming to the finish line, my two boys ran to meet me and we finished together!  The picture even made it to the triathlon “finisher” email.

What better way to finish?

What better way to finish?

All in all- I did the sprint a lot faster than I had expected and learned a ton – which is exactly what I was hoping for.  I realized that:

1.  Lots of work to do on the swim, although this is my strongest suit and I ended up in a really great place among my age group, I still have a lot of wrinkles to figure out.

2.  I felt strong after the bike, but I have a feeling I need to take it easier in Muncie in order to not die in the Half Marathon afterwards.  I had an ok bike and was in the middle of my age group.

3.  Running is not my strong suit and I need to expect a big mental game for the run.  Need to build up mental endurance and have good legs after the bike in order to keep it together.  My goal is not NOT walk (except in water stations).  My coach has me doing a lot of aerobic runs because my heart rate was high in the run.  I also need to dial up the fuel in the run to help me keep the energy tank full.

All in all -it was a fabulous experience and I would recommend this tri to anyone!  Next: an Olympic Triathlon in June for more practice!

Side note- the reservoir is perfectly set up for kids, they have a playground right next to the Finish line (so my kids just played around while I ran) and the beach is very close.  They also have nice bathrooms and the parking was also close, so my family gravitated between the three places with no problem.  They could also go to the car to snack whenever they wanted to without having to lug around a big cooler.  For the Half Ironman though, I hear that if you park in the Reservoir parking lot, you can’t really leave (and that it gets full quickly).  Something to think about!

Now, off to more training!

Me and "Cebrita" (Little Zebra)

Me and “Cebrita” (Little Zebra)

Reflections at the End of my Sabbatical

The Family

I’m back at work and have been asked numerous time to share my experiences while on sabbatical.  On a top line level:

  1. Having the “Adventures around Cincinnati” book was key – this book led us to places we never had heard of and gave us the ability to plan things that were close to each other to increase our efficiency.
  2. Loved being in the water! Canoeing was awesome but paddleboarding was the best.  The peace of the lake, the sounds of the birds, the quiet.  So relaxing and restoring!
  3. Camping had a resurgence in things we like to do (surprisingly).  It was great being in nature and discovering parks around Cinci and Kentucky.
  4. We really loved visiting parks and doing “nature walks” where we identified trees, wildflowers, bugs and butterflies!  Cincinnati’s parks are amazing!!
  5. Liked volunteering and getting involved with non for profits.  For the first time I was able to consistently volunteer with the SPCA and other non for profits.
  6. One of my goals was to get a definite idea on if I could do homeschooling or not.  I feel I got mixed reviews-  I enjoyed the feeling of pride we felt since it really was obvious we were progressing but on the other hand, homeschooling added a negative piece to a relationship that was in there before (because now I had to also be the teacher).
  7. Overall, I feel like I got some perspective on what were the most important things in life.

Things I liked about the summer

  • I liked studying with the boys and knowing what stage of development they were and what things they needed to learn better
  •  I liked taking steps to reconnect with the Bible which I admittedly had not done after a lot of years at Catholic school scared me away.
  •  I liked having the boys write letters and send art to our families.  Sustaining the connection with our far-away families is important and having the time to do it consistently was great!
  • I liked feeling like I was staying on top of things and not always running behind like I usually do when the both of us are working.
  • I loved having less stress – the days felt calm and I had this overall feeling of serenity!  Instead of having the constant roar in my head about work, that part finally quieted down and I was able to just be!.
  • I liked the simplicity of life when it was all about simple appointments, cooking, cleaning, loving.  I admit towards the end this got old, but in the beginning, it was such a nice change of pace.
  • I liked having more time to read and engage in my pastimes.
  • I liked rediscovering that I love nature and I’m very interested by it — and so are the boys.
  • I loved discovering Cincinnati parks and amenities.

Things I didn’t like so much:

  • I didn’t like having to clean all the time – it really became tedious and I never felt like I checked the box on cleaning.  Since we were in the house all the time, the house was getting dirty all the time.  Ergo – the house was never completely clean.
  • I didn’t like feeling like I wasn’t using my entire skill set – while my work is stressful and complicated,  I really do enjoy what I do.  Feeling like I wasn’t doing that at all felt strange and I missed it.
  • I did not like having to worry about money.  Before we could be much more liberal on eating out or high expenses.  Now, we just had this new worry about what would happen if the AC broke down or if our car stopped working.  Every expense started becoming a big deal and even a place of tension between my husband and I.
  • I fostered 4 kittens and their mother from the SPCA and it was a terribly stressful time.  They basically mangled my furniture (they get on everything!) and plants, were constantly sick and it was a herculean effort to keep the house clean after them.  In addition, it was stressful to keep the cats away from my dogs, since they would forget the dogs were there, cross the gates and then find themselves in the mouth of a Dachshund.  They weren’t hurt but it scared the bejesus out of me.

I am incredibly blessed that I was able to take a Sabbatical! Now only God knows where my path leads to next.

Camping at Stonelick Park

The beachSince we had such a great time camping at Lake Kincaid a couple of weeks back, we decided to take advantage of the summer time we have left by going camping again. Before Lake Kincaid, we had come from a long camping hiatus because our last camping experience, while fun, was exhausting. We took SO much stuff that I was still cleaning stuff from the trip three weeks after. In addition, every time I went to the basement, the camping stuff was not put away and it cluttered our basement. All in all, it was a lot of work for just a little bit of camping time and didn’t seem worth it.

Well, since I’m on sabbatical, we decided to try it again  and that’s where our nice experience at Lake Kincaid came in. Our criteria for location is simple – has to be no more than 1.5 hrs away from home, so if it’s a disaster or it rains, we can just drive back, no harm no foul. It also has to have a lake so we can use our canoe and paddleboard. Ideally, it should also have a pool or beach or hiking trails or something to keep our kids occupied.

Stonelick park met all those criteria and had the additional bonus of being 30 minutes away from us, so it was an easy pick.

IMG_2378IMG_2372

 

 

It wouldn’t be a good story without a complicating factor though, now would it?…

This week I overdid it. Dennis says that my “planning” side signs me up for things that my “execution” side can’t always deliver without going through some pain – and he’s right. This week I wanted to study with the kids, clean the house, take care of the 5 foster kittens (who make a huge mess), cook, do groceries, prepare for camping trip, help my friend who has newborn twins and volunteer with the boys at the Foodstore Vegetable/Fruit fields. Oh and I’m also recuperating from a chest cold.

My Thursday started with working with the boys to redo our basement’s play area (moving multiple tables, organizing toys, putting things away etc) and I finished that task with a sore back. Then it was off to Kentucky to help my friend who has twin newborns and two older boys. My friend needed help organizing her basement and we spent 4-5 hours doing that. By the time I was driving home, my back was in agony. Then on Friday, we were heading back to Kentucky, this time to help in the Giving Fields. The Giving Fields is a United Way supported charity that provides fresh fruit and veggies to the area’s Foodbanks. The fields only have one employee so they basically work through volunteers (I discuss it in more detail here).

After the volunteer activity I had a laundry list of activities that I was supposed to complete to get us ready to go camping but I couldn’t do any of them. After putting the boys down for a nap, I crawled into my own bed with four ice packs for my back.

Since my back was hurt, Dennis and I decided to leave the canoe at home since there was no way for me to help lift it without hurting myself. We brought the paddleboard since it’s light. I am definitely feeling the need for a couple of no-task-days. Where I don’t have to do anything, or go anywhere. Where the boys and I just rest. I need it. My back definitely needs it.

Also, I’m getting old. Apparently.

Back to camping – Stonelick is surprisingly not “woody”. On the plus side, their campsites are huge ( a plus, especially after Lake Kincaid, where we basically were on top of our neighbors) but it doesn’t have much of “nature” as it relates to camping at the edge of some woods. We rented a “premium” site (usually meant for RVs and super close to the water). The site was at a cul de sac which the boys used a lot for scootering. There was also a dock and the boys spent a lot of time asking some poor fishermen questions. The next day we went hiking – the trails were very nice and the opposite of the sites. They were covered in old growth trees that were huge and created a big canopy. Given the low light in the bottom, it prevented large shrubs from coming up and we had only low level plans competing for the foot paths. In addition, some Boy Scout troop maintained patches of it and did a really nice job. During the walk we identified, birds, wildflowers and insects but the highlight of the hiking was the mushrooms. We even saw “chicken of the forest” which apparently tastes like chicken if you cook it.

After the hike, we went to the the lake to swim, play with the sand and paddle board. I was worried about hurting my back further when paddleboarding but the immediate emotional lift from being in the board superseded all else. Paddling in a calm, beautiful lake is amazing. Two other water “vehicles” (a canoe and a kayak) stopped by to ask me questions about the paddleboard (since they had not “seen anything like it before”).

Dennis took the boys out on the paddleboard once I came back and we quickly packed up when it looked like it would rain.

The other highlight of the trip was the “outside movie”. On our way to hike, we found out that they would be playing “Madagascar 3” on an outdoor amphitheater. We took the boys and sat on our towels to watch the movie while munching on popcorn that the park provided! Pretty sweet.

On Sunday, we went on another hike but this time got pretty eaten up by mosquitoes. Still, all in all, I love nature hiking as a family!  Stonelick is a definitely “do again” place.

Field Trip: Anderson Ferry and Creation Museum

ANDERSON FERRY

Since we’ve been making frequent trips to Hebron, KY, to visit friends, I decided to plan our at least some of our field trips along the way. The first stop was Anderson Ferry.  The Anderson Ferry has been operating since 1817 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  A website check made me nervous since it had no info on what times the ferry operated and only had the address for the Kentucky stop.  I had no reason to worry, though, the crossing place on the Ohio was easy to find and the ferry just comes back and forth all the time (no preset times).  You can even see it across the way and they can definitely see you.  The boys and I were the first car on and behind us, 5-6 other cars also got on the ferry (for only $5).   It was a really cool experience and I definitely recommend doing it – to show the kids how people used to cross the river before bridges.

IMG_2258Anderson Ferry

CREATION MUSEUM

To be honest, I went back and forth on visiting the creation museum, because even through I was raised a catholic, I was schooled to be stoutly “scientific” and focused on evolution.  So for years I was askance of Creation Museums and passed judgement on those who visited them.  However, in the past 3-4 years, after we found our Christian church, Crossroads, I have been re-discovering faith and taking some deliberate steps to be closer to God.  As part of the process, I have and continue to push on my assumptions and trying to grow in my faith.  We even found our good friends through Church and continue to “do life” with them through every other Friday group meetings.

The museum was good (but expensive!  while Alan didn’t pay, both Lucas and I paid $20 each).  It was very visual but it didn’t hold the boys attention.  I would like to go back and actually read the exhibitions – but one thing really stuck out to me:

God created us and all the creatures, to be vegetarian –  In Paradise, no creature was made to eat one another, they all co-existed in peace and harmony.  No pain.  No fear.  After reading this, it really did resonate with me, since I have often wondered how could God make such a “cruel” world.   Now I understand that it is because we lost Paradise and then came to this world – full of pain, cruelty and injustice.   Reading this made me proud that we are a vegan family and are not participating in the pain, torment or death of innocent creatures.

IMG_2264

Creation Museum

Creation Museum