Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nailed It

If Stella could speak, I'm pretty positive this would be the convo behind this lil' Kodak Moment:


Bitch, please; this aint my first rodeo...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Aaaaaaaaand, WE'RE BACK!

I've had the privilege for the past year to become part of an organization that is truly a game-changer in many children's lives. The mission of Arts for All is to create a world in which:
  • All children have access to artistic opportunities
  • All children gain self-confidence, self-expression, and the ability to work in teams
  • All children share in a stronger society and are better prepared to face life challenges and opportunities
  • The arts are valued in their own right and as a means of developing skills
Who could ask for anything more?!?!

As a member of the AFA Teaching Artist Staff, my "job" (aka: my honor) is to teach creative writing after school at Hammond Elementary on the southwest side of Chicago. The school is unfortunately on probation for low academic standing but the energy and spirit within it's walls would tell you different :)
This Fall, my class consists of twenty 3rd - 8th graders who electively stay after school every Wednesday from 3-4:30pm to make me laugh hysterically. Well, let's be honest, that's not the reason they're there but it's certainly one perk of the program ;)
Our team goal for this Winter is to publish a collective collection of work as a result of the assignments from class.  I asked each student to submit a name/title for our book & blog and here's what I've gotten back so far...


Thursday, October 24, 2013

On Dating

For whatever reason, I've made a concerted effort never to blog about my love life / lack thereof.  I firmly believe in karma and let's be real, the only person who should get thrown under the bus after 99.9% of my dates is yours truly. Sooo, I got that goin' for me, which is nice ;)

But a friend asked how my date went the other night to which I happily replied, "No turbulence!" 

The following conversation ensued...

(shaking her head laughing)
Aaand what does "no turbulence" mean?

Short answer -- it went well! I think?
Long answer -- I kinda equate dating to a non-frequent flyer... Like, maybe like a high school kid who's just put two-n-two together that you're in a motor powered metal tube with a cruising altitude of 30,00 feet and could crash at any moment. So preeetty much, you're scared shitless at the take off and landing; you're nervous to get on and you're anxious till it's over.  The very best thing you can hope for in between is: no turbulence.
Do your hamster wheels ever stop?

I wish! My God I wish they would... 
Should we have another drink?


On Autumn

Ever think about the trees talking to each other around this time of year? I imagine it goes a lil' something like, 

"Nooooo, YOU'VE changed!"

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wine & Wildlife: Rescuing Rhinos

Tonight I had the total pleasure to attend the Lincoln Park Zoo lecture about rhino conservation and the arrival of baby King.  
Mark Kamhout, Curator of Mammals, spoke along with Sarah Long, the Director of the Population Management Center, and Dr. Rachel Santymire, the Director of the Davee Center for Endocrinology & Epidemiology, about the match-making process and arrival preparations put in place for this baby black rhino.  

I was in awe the entire talk.
Did you know that there are only around 5,000 Eastern black 
rhinos left in the wild? The species was nearly driven to extinction in the 1990s when their numbers dropped from 65,000 to just 2,000 -- a drop largely attributed to an increase in the poaching of rhinos, whose horns are falsely believed to have medicinal properties. Break my heart in half :(

Was an awesome reminder of the brilliant work these doctors do and the impact they are having to help these species survive. Cheers to the zoo and all that you do!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tees into Treasures

Like many Americans,
I have an ass-ton of t-shirts.
there are some that no matter how many
Spring-Closet-Cleaning-Sessions I conduct,
I simply cannot bring myself to part with.
Here are my favs that made it through (yet another) year :)
But I was finally was able to narrow-down-a-dozen 
that I felt represented "me to date" 
which I had made into a t-shirt quilt 
through this great little company called,
Tees into Treasures. 

I think it turned out pretty great!

High School sports stuff, my class of '99 graduation tee, Michigan memorabilia, Kappa Kappa Gamma, my favorite T from Florence, Gnome love, SpongeBob love, Chicago, New York, Obama and Ireland... Life has been good to me :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Big Apple

Oh, New York! 
You are good for my soul but bad for my liver :S

Was so wonderful to get back for a visit 
and to see all these fabulous faces :) 


Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy Feet

So, I found an amazing artist on Etsy who made 
these little pockets of perfection for my gniece :)
And they just make me smile so big!

Everytime I put them on her I feel like

and although she can't talk yet, 
I'm pretty certain she feels like

 I'm not-so-secretly thinking about ordering myself a pair so we can rock a matchy-matchy "who wore it best" post ;)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Goebbert's Farm and a Pending Police Report

Graduate school has many upsides, and the recognition of essentially every American holiday is certainly one of them. 
In honor of Columbus Day, Kate & I planned an adventure out to the sticks to bring lil' Ben to his very first pumpkin patch :)

I recommended we go to Goebbert's Farm because my parents took me there as a kid and I have vivid memories of their giant corn maze, apple cider, glazed donuts, and pumpkin bread. Goes without saying, I'm a serious sucker for all things Fall. 

We arrived to the farm and everything just felt right in the world: the air was crisp, the leaves were every shade of awesome, and we had a baby with us to use as an excuse to overstay our welcome ;)

Then, shit got weird...

We entered the Little Farmer's Play Yard to get lost in the man-made corn-maze confusion but unlike my prior memories of Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch, there was now the addition of
"Animal Land"... 

We made a left turn (literally) and my stomach slightly dropped at the sight of the sign for camel rides, behind which were a handful of emaciated humpbacks. 

Kate looked at me with the shared feeling of, 
"Toto! I don't think we're in Kansas anymore..."

 If it had all ended at just the Giraffes, I may not have called the police; but it got SOO much worse. 

I curiously followed the sign into the "Exotic Animal Area" where I was in complete and utter shock to see dozens of children force feeding 6 foot ostriches which were standing behind a 3 foot fence. You wanna talk about "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!"???? I felt like I was on the yellow brick road to hell. 

I knew the operation was illegal the moment I saw the two Bengal tigers directly next to the three Syrian bears. But what prompted me to call the police was a tie between the $35 opportunity to take a picture holding a baby kangaroo and the fact that there were two species of macaques (monkeys) on display in open-air cages. 


For those of you who don't know, many macaques carry a disease that is fatal to humans and are only EVER to be kept behind glass enclosures. They are also only ever to be handled by trained licensed professionals in highly controlled environments and let me tell you -- the tent over this circus act was neither. 

There was no staff educating the children about the animals which was a clear indication that they were only on display for the purposes of for-profit entertainment.  At that point, nothing felt right in my world any longer. 

I've filed a police report with the Barrington Police Dept and wanted to be sure to shout to the mountain tops on my mini-soap-box/blog because there ARE things we can be doing to stop these assholes from hurting and hoarding these animals. 

If you take anything away from this post, 
then please read this part only: 
  • With our stupid f%*king government "out of order", the USDA is not doing it's job to properly inspect these types of  phony farms. But you can still call the police if/when you see something that feels fishy.  As it is with human interaction and suspicion: If you see something, say something. Use your moral compass.
  • DO NOT PAY FOR THESE TYPE OF EXOTIC PHOTO OPPS. ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE WITH YOUR CHILDREN.  We are responsible for teaching our kids the difference between right and wrong and most importantly: empathy. That goes for the treatment of ALL living creatures.
  • To personally help the World Wildlife Foundation on a federal level to put an end to these type of exotic photo opportunities, you can tell the U.S. Deptartment of Agriculture that you support their effort HERE.  And you can learn more about the petition by clicking here 
I know this rant makes me sound like a mega snitch-bitch who's out to ruin "good fun" for kids but let's get real -- no one needs to see a repeat of the Zanesville Ohio tragedy.   

I really am a nice person but when you mess with my friends, we're gonna have to have a lil' chat ;)

Please join me to help the Humane Society tighten state laws in regards to the improper treatment of animals.

Love and best, 
Me  at  Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch: proving you can have a great time with veggies and corn stalks without the presence of mistreated wild animals.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Stella & The Spoon

My niece has no clue what to make of the spoon, and I 
enjoy every moment of her attempts to make sense of it ;)


Hats off to EVERYONE that trained for and ran in the Chicago Marathon today. What an incredible accomplishment, physically and emotionally. Hoor-yay for you!!!