Wednesday, November 28, 2018

I wonder

So I've got two medical appointments this week and one has already happened.  Both have the potential to result in surgeries. 
One is already leaning that way as I meet with a vascular surgeon in a week and a half.  I have some incompetent veins that are troublesome. Six pregnancies, and four live births have taken a toll on my body.  Sometimes I find it ironic that tallness can work against health.  But along with that,  many pregnancies and family history I'm left at an impass. I could just not fix them.  And just live with the discomfort and increase for blood clots.  Or I could fix them and at thevery least physically feel better and have my vascular system working better.  The question becomes then being open to life,  as a Catholic,  should I attempt another pregnancy some day.  Is having another baby worth the risk of opening myself to at the very least more surgery and the worst fatal blood clots.  I'm currently unsure. 
The other appointment is to correct a deviated septum as I've already had turbine surgery to widen my nasal passages.  Basically I never can breathe at night and would really like a permanent solution to this problem.  Currently I still struggle with getting good sleep due to mouth breathing. I realize through this that humans are pretty resilient though as I've dealt with this for my entire adult life and have adjusted as so.  I also have poor dental health because of mouth breathing,  despite being a good tooth brusher and flosser. And I know neither are life or death in the moment but they are still issues to contend with and would make my quality of life better if successfully treated. 
So if you have a prayer to send up for me,  I'd much appreciate it.  For now I'll do my best to unite these small sufferings to Jesus.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Why I haven't been blogging as often.

1. I am working on writing a first draft to a memoir of my life for my girls.

2. I am working on figuring out self publishing a children's book about the end of a nursing toddler and mama relationship that I wrote a few years ago and still happen to like the story.

3. I am facilitating Free Forest School at the Cleveland West chapter.

4. Life.

5. But I still think this is a valuable space for my words and so I will be here every so often so, you won't be forgotten.

Cheers!




Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ephraim is seven!

Dear Ephraim,

A lot of times you tend to be quiet and let your louder brother speak for you, but more and more you are finding your voice and you can definitely be stubborn about things, that you haven't gotten rid of.  You may attach to things your brother likes but usually you do it in your own way.
In some ways you are very much you, you have an idea in your head and you just go and create it. I love this about you. Today you showed me your American flag you had started making out of duct tape. Nothing is off limits when it comes to tape. You are also my scissors thief, in the best of ways.  If I need a pair of scissors, I always can come to you.

You are a determined little buddy, I love watching you in your athletics as it seems you have the attitude of "I can do that". As long as you want to do it,  the instructor must watch out if you don't want to do it. Then we will find you as a lump not participating, but this is very rare these days. Most things you want to try because you want to be the best at what you do.

But goodness, 7. How are you now so big. You are a first grader and you have learned to read and you are blowing through your school curriculum in a whirlwind. Now if only we could teach you to be better organized and less messy. But perhaps this is why you are the creative genius that you are.

It's fun watching you grow buddy. You are the sweetest with your baby sister. She loves you dearly and you can be the best of brothers to her. I have seen you be great with other babies, so I hope that your gift continues with kids. And I know that you also loved animals, despite your allergies to them. I think you will probably end up one day doing something that you can use your compassion towards other in, and right now you say you want to run an animal shelter.  A good thing to do for sure.

I wish the best for you this year. You will grow so much and love so much and just be a kid climbing to great heights. I enjoy who you are and look forward to who you become.

Love,
Your Mama




Wednesday, September 19, 2018

September it goes so fast

There is something about September, that it moves so fast. Perhaps it's that school is into full swing an there is never a moment where there isn't something we could be doing. There are small moments where you get to gaze and think, and those are good in themselves, but a lot of it is beginnings and learning and harvesting.

Part of me wants to go back to lazy days, but did I really have them?  Maybe I did, I don't know. I know that I definitely didn't know what to do with myself even in those types of days, and perhaps, my reminiscing self wants to tell herself that those days when babies napped predictably were good and not days to fill with mindless things or worry.  But also I need to perhaps embrace what is now, the 4 children 8 years old down to 1.5 years old. To embrace them in that they are chaotic and there are only few moments where I can steal a moment and write like this. That I have to be more scheduled about taking care of myself. (I booked a haircut for tomorrow, woot!) But this is my life and even if it is fast, with many needs to be met, it is where God has me at. I can't wish for another. I can only embrace the one I've been given.

I don't mean to say that I don't like my life. I do. I like my kids, I like my work, I like my husband. I even like my house. I think sometimes I struggle with the expectations I put on myself to accomplish everything in one day. Perhaps this is why I feel like I am flying, but that is perhaps where I need to grow to remember that I am folding this shirt and it belongs to a little girl that I love that is growing up under my care, and its a very good thing for her to have that shirt. Or these socks were once white but now grey have seen many outside walks with mama saying put on shoes or take off those socks, or this map, it maybe a kids map, but its proudly displayed in our living room because thats where some schooling happens.

So as I set out on a transatlantic adventure next week with a friend and the toddler, I am nervous. But excited. It comes with my personality of okay, I'm probably crazy, but I'm going to jump and do it anyway. I think the jump is good, at least for me. When we bought the tickets for this trip last February, it seemed forever away, and now it is almost here, and I hope it doesn't go so fast itself. I hope I can maybe slow down and just breathe it all in, every waking moment.  And I feel like I will be awake a lot with my non-sleeper toddler I have been given. But again, that's okay. It will be good.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Intergenerational Living with the aging population

I condition this that I am not an expert on this subject, these are simply my thoughts after a stimulating conversation with other women witnessing similar situations.

I see it happening more and more. Aging parents are struggling to keep up with their once large homes for the children to have space to grow up on. Children most of the time are no longer living at home and parents are left with the properties that are 5 times the size of what they need. This is the home they know and have known for 30ish years and so its hard to leave to something else.  And its expensive and time consuming to move as well.

Adult children, I do think, feel a responsibility to their parents, but our culture has taught us that independence is everything.  If you are dependent on another or if you have to take on another, it is seen as a burdening thing. It takes away supposed freedom.  In a lot of ways we haven't been conditioned to take on all the baggage that comes with an aging parent in our current culture.  And for a lot of people, the best option becomes a retirement community or a nursing home.

But what if we were to reclaim intergenerational living?  What if we were to release the stigma of a parent living an adult child? What if we were to say this is a good thing to have grandma and grandpa around instead of a bad one?  What if we were able to see how there are so many positive aspects about an intergenerational home instead of seeing that it limits our freedom?

The 1950s came with a housing boom and everyone had their piece of land and we were all separated into our little bits of independence. A cultural sense of freedom.  Then came the transportation boom and everyone had a car and everyone could go everywhere on their own time. Another cultural sense of freedom.

I think now that for a lot of us we are feeling the effects of the distance and the supposed independence. We are isolated more and more and we miss the connections.  A lot of millennials are moving back into urban areas from suburbia. They are tired of driving, they are tired of being disconnected from others. And still there is this gap with generations, parents in suburbs and exurbs and children in different cities far away from family.

So what do we do with it?  How do we solve this?  I think somehow we need to interact more with the elderly and really engage everyday with them.  I have aging neighbors that could use more help. I need to at the very least go out of my way to ask them how I could help.  They may say no, but we need to help each other more.  We need to be dependent on each other.  We aren't meant to be isolated and we are meant to love.  So how are you going to step out and love?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Lessons Learned from a less than stellar airbnb renting review.

If you ever rent through Airbnb, there's a rating system.  Both the host and the renter get to rate the visit. It somehow seems lucrative, but at the same time it helps keep a standard for those looking for a place, and I guess helps people to be respectful of where they are staying. So maybe its not a terrible thing. :)

Post our month stay we received a review about our stay in Indy. It wasn't the best. Kinder words could have been said, and it pointed out my flaws, but also made assumptions that were not true. It hurt a bit. But after a few days of thinking about it, probably over thinking, I think I learned a few things. 

1. I am not perfect. I forgot to do a few things on the check-out, and I was caught. I had tried my best, but my imperfections were pointed out in a not so flattering way. It's good to know that you fail sometimes after all. 

2. I can't please everyone. I definitely can fall into wanting everyone to be happy with everything I do, and that just isn't going to happen 100% of the time. I need to grow to be more okay with that and this is an opportunity to do so. 

3. Its not going to matter in the long run. As a friend pointed out, its not going to stop us from further adventures, and that is a really good thing to remember. 

4. I still could remember my essential truth better. I am a beloved child of God. My worth comes from God and not from a person's review of how I clean. 

5. To remember the bigger picture, one bad thing doesn't have to negate the amazing adventure we had in our month away. My physical chemistry professor in college was big on the forest for the trees expression, and it definitely applies here. 

A learning experience it was, I know we learn more from what we fail at than what we shoot through with flying colors, so perhaps this is helpful to remember when I am struggling to remember the word for tired in German. Or when the 1 year old is refusing to nap for me. Oh, yes, the lessons I still need to learn. 

"Well, now I'll try my best
And you will be with me to never second guess
And we will show the world just how we passed this test
And we will show the world we're better than this mess" 
 The Rocket Summer - (Full song below)


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Post Indy thoughts 1

I have been hearing more and more that places where we get immediate feed back seem to be taking away from inner reflective time. That we can easily post and hem and haw if we are liked but then never really go any deeper with a surface thought.  We need to reflect and so currently this is making me think about my social media usage. Perhaps I will limit days or hours that I use it. To be more regulated. I definitely can fall into a trap about over use and I think that perhaps that's something I just need to know about myself. To set limits and stick with them.

But blogging. I think is good. I don't really do it for the fame, for the clicks, for the likes. I do it because it is how I get things out of my head. How I sometimes keep track of things for memories.  So I wanted to reflect a little about our month away now that we are back.

I'll start with something I liked about Indy, which is how easy it was to bike with a family there.  How it was super accessible and just fun to do. It led us to ditch the car many days for a family biking experience.

Perhaps because I am normally big on connection, and have plugged in deep around me at home. I think for some reason I was okay with the anonymity for a month. I guess in some ways, I still had some connections with people back home throughout the month and we did have some good friends visit once, but I didn't feel the drive to connect anymore than a smile or a kind word here or there.

I think because it wasn't the first time doing a month away, it wasn't nearly as scary doing it. There is something about that initial exposure to something that is just shocking. While there was a disorienting feeling, we were able to get a routine down and just worked with it.

Indy needs a play space of some sort for children and families downtown. While this city is gorgeous, there isn't anything where a family can just relax and play a while in the downtown so much.  Either a downtown play space or splash pad that is classy would work well here. There are a lot of beautiful spaces and I wish there were things there to draw the people to them. It wasn't say there was nothing. If you looked hard you could find things, but it wasn't obvious. But maybe that is a different thing entirely. Maybe they don't want to do the obvious because they want you to think outside the box.  But at the same time a beautifully done water play area can be quite appealing to a young family and bring in more people to an area that maybe only sees business folks or a single person.

I think where my heart stretched a bit was with the homeless situation there.  I think now in Cleveland, there are more present people too, so I wonder what is bringing about this visible rise to the population without a home. I want to at the very least learn more about the forgotten population.  I think I am going to try and read more books about the topic and also figure out how I can help locally with this and perhaps involve the kids too. I know I am usually scared to go outside my comfort zone, but I think this is something I am called to take a step forward into.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Indy Adventures Continued....

It's been a while since I posted about our month adventure. But I wanted to share some highlights of our last week.  So, I bring to you one sentence descriptions of each photo.  Hopefully I can stick to it.

1. S and H are in the "sand dunes" on the golf course at the Riley Children's Sports experience of the Indy Children's Museum. 
2. We played two of the four golf courses they had laid out which were miniaturized versions of actual course holes for kids, not quite the same as mini golf, but kind of in its own way.


3. We found the climbing structure of the children's museum and all of the kids enjoyed it even though it was in the up to age five area called Playscape.


4. I was delighted to find the 0-5 age area of the museum, as it had all the things I was used to seeing in a children's museum and it was so incredibly peaceful in comparison to other places. 


5. We found the People Mover, which is a monorail that connects three major hospitals in the city and is a delight to ride. 


6. We checked out the Rhythm Discovery Center and it was my husband drummer's favorite thing, and while loud at times, I enjoyed it too.


7. This I loved because my tiny baby is hitting a giant bass drum and its just a smile worthy moment.


8. We finally made it to the canal walking/biking path and it was one of the most beautiful things ever   including gondola boats with singing operators.


9. I was told that there were a few ndy signs around the city where you are to be the I and we finally found one on Mass Ave. 


More adventures await...

You can find an older Indy adventures here.




Saturday, July 14, 2018

11 years, so long, so short.

I can think of 11 years as long time but also it feels short. Perhaps the short comes from that its been with a person that I don't feel like I am pulling my teeth out with, or perhaps its just that we are in the throws of young family life and there is never a dull moment. The long because we made it over a decade and because my husband would be one to quickly compare it to how much technology has changed since 2007. Whatever it is, its a good place to be, an 11th anniversary of marriage. 

I am thankful for the guy that grows his hair longer than I'd like because its him and will make chocolate cake on the spot if I am in a chocolate cake mode. He knows my love language is food, though mostly chocolate, and it makes me smile. He has become someone who will get up and run 3 miles and then bike with the family somewhere mid work day because he can and its an adventure for all of us. He loves his RPGs, his craft brews, his baseball stats and his tech loving podcasts. 

There has been adventure and heartache and death and new life and job changes and family drama and we are still here, still learning to love each other more and more. Some days are harder than others, but those hard days help us to grow and growing is good and I wouldn't choose to make this vocation step with anyone else.  

Happy Anniversary, Love. 


Anniversary Family Bike Ride 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

10 hours in and we still haven't gotten to everything

It might seem ridiculous, but we got a year pass for the 1 month that we are here in Indy for their children's museum. We definitely have had it already pay for itself.  It is at least ten times the size of our children's museum in Cleveland. It's one of those places where if you are going to go twice, it makes sense to get the membership and so we did. In less than 2 weeks we have been 4 times and we still haven't seen all of it.

It's an interesting museum as it doesn't have your typical climbing structure that you see in other children's museums but instead is more specialized exhibit oriented.  I saw that there are a few larger evangelical churches that have these type of climbing structures, so perhaps they make up for the lack of one here. However, it doesn't mean that the kids get bored one bit.  In some ways, I would say the theme of the museum is more mimicking a grown ups life, minus the dinosaurs, though even there you find a paleontology department that the kids can observe.

So, I definitely had to redefine my idea of a children's museum here, but I am quickly learning to enjoy it with the kids.  There are a lot of reading prompt trivia fact blurbs throughout and I think that will especially keep older children interested, and so perhaps that is also what it is about, putting things at a child's level of a larger expanse of topics. A sort of introduction as one may say.

Here are a few pics of the kids enjoying the museum.
Soccer in the Riley Sports Outdoor Exhibit

Baseball in the Riley Sports Outdoor Exhibit

GoCart Racing in Riley Sports Outdoor Exhibit

Super Hero Laser Escape Exhibit 

The Carousel (H's Favorite!)

Rube Goldberg Like Machine


Find out about past adventures here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

It's not all puppies and butterflies...on the homeless population

There is a very visible homeless population in Indy. On every third street corner of the center city it feels like you see a panhandler or someone sleeping on a cardboard box. I am not sure why its so visible here, but it is. Perhaps its because there are no laws against panhandling here. Perhaps its because its that there is a larger unemployment rate than other cities. I'm honestly just making slightly educated guesses here. Whatever the reason its present and if you travel through the city and observe you can't but notice it, or really notice them, the people.

I struggle with panhandlers in general. Perhaps its because I've been told all kinds of things about them, that they just want drug money, or to buy alcohol or that they are scam artists.  And well maybe they are, but there are a lot of homed individuals with the same issues, and they are still people. So because it was constantly in my face here, I did a little bit of research. I looked up how I could help, if I could help and what was really happening.  I read posts and tried to figure it out, to wrap my head around the issue.  And while I'm still a novice at the issue, I do now understand a few things through my searching.

First, of all the things from the pieces I read, the one thing they said to do was to always acknowledge the person. The homeless person is a person, and while its not always possible to do so if you are going by at high speed on car or bike, if you are stopped or walking by greet the person like you would any other on the street.  And sometimes I am wrapped up in my family chaos that I can't see outside my own clan that is on the street trying to get somewhere, but just thinking about this has made me want to acknowledge anyone that passes by on the street.  Especially for my boys who seem to like to run into another person passing by, it probably is a good idea to say hello to other street travelers in general. I mean I sometimes do, but I think I'm going to try to make a point of doing this, and to a homeless person that is ignored most of the day, perhaps this could be a good start for me to grow in my heart towards humanity and perhaps they won't think all of humanity thinks them less than human.

Because I'm seeing this with all the children in tow, we have been discussing homelessness together. It's interesting to hear their thoughts.  My oldest has a big heart but also has so many questions about everything.  He's already been unafraid to speak to the street population, but he has pointed out things I did not see while driving at times.  Today he witnessed a man fall off a bench getting into his wheelchair and it just broke his heart. My middle guy had a homeless woman who was panhandling at the time reach out to help him when he dropped our load of water bottles on the street. I asked him what he thought of that and he said he was thankful she helped. My 4yo thinks we should be giving them money as she sees others doing, and while that is an option, we opted to do something different for the homeless with our money.

We decided to give to an organization in the city that directly works with the homeless.  This way we could know that resources would be given to more than one person that is homeless and help the initiative in the city to help this population. We also decided that we could carry some extra store bought water bottles with us and give out a few to those we stop by along our journeys in the city.

And last we are going to continue to keep these folks in our prayers and conversations. One of our goals as parents is to raise children that see dignity and worth in each person and this I hope is part of the conversation in doing so.  God Bless.


Check out the other indy posts here.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Five, Six & Seven...

I have to admit, I'm tired. I am not used to biking every day so I am more tired in the evenings than I was thinking I'd be. So three days of our visit are going to be combined here. Let's start with July 4th.

On the fourth, most things are closed, because national holiday and all. One thing that was open was the movie theatre, and in the mornings, some of the area theaters have free showings of older movies that would have been new just a few months ago.  We ended up at the Brownsburg 8 Goodrich Quality Theatre. Brownsburg is a northwestern suburb of Indianapolis.  One of the interesting things I feel like is different about Cleveland to Indy is how it seems to get rural much quicker here than at home.  The suburbs they have are more of our exurbs. The novice city planner in me wonders how this all is, but nonetheless it is so.

We were able to see Ferdinand the movie. I am a big fan of the book, so I have to say the movie was much different than the book. But I don't think that it takes away from the book, its just a different story, they took the character of Ferdinand and made their own story about him, loosely related to what happened in the book.  It was cute, but somehow I feel like the whole Running of the Bulls and matadors get a very bad rap in it all. I'm not sure where to draw the line in what is art and what is cruelty, but somehow it doesn't feel right to completely disregard what is longstanding in their culture. I also don't know that much about the ins and outs of bullfighting, so I may be romanticizing something that could be not as glorious as it seems.  But even the bee in the new movie couldn't die when it stung Ferdinand, and that was a little over the top for me. It was full of laughs and the kids enjoyed the movie experience greatly.

That evening, the Eiteljorg Museum was free so we checked it out.  It is a museum about Native Americans and Western Art and Life.  I liked it more than the State Museum, only because you could interact with the displays and I think my kids enjoyed the specific children's area.  But I think it also maybe was more interesting to us because it was a broader topic and we had a little bit interest after coming off of reading the Indian in the Cupboard series during the school year.
A wigwam made of birch bark

A machine to represent manifest destiny: Told if you put in a quarter you will get a dollar. 

On the sixth day, the only new thing we did was check out the Indianapolis Children's Museum.  We had learned that on the first Thursday of the month, you could get $5 tickets for a 4 hour visit.  We got our tickets, and we knew it would be a big crowd, what we had forgotten about was with large crowds came a lot of traffic.  So getting there took an extra half hour.  But once inside we were good to go, having already purchased our tickets.  We checked out the exhibits and had some dinner.  My favorite part of what we saw was the Dinosaur exhibit, but there are still a lot more things to see and because of that we we got a year pass even though we will only be here 3 more weeks.  Many visits to come, I think.

Dinosaurs!

Turtle Hop Lava

On the seventh day, we biked to the Indianapolis Zoo.  I was thrown off by the price of the zoo.  Its about 3 times as much for a ticket to the zoo in Cleveland.  It is listed as a participating reciprocal zoo  program member, so I was thinking at it would be half price.  But it wasn't.  Instead it is a non-tax funded zoo and so it has some gimmicking pricing bits to it. They change the price of the zoo depending on the day and they want you to buy tickets online so they can guarantee a number of tickets sold. And though listed as a participating member in the reciprocal program, it only amounts to a $2 discount per ticket.  So for a family of 5 paying attendees, it was $94 to go.  Now the zoo is nice and well done, but I am definitely not going to be returning with my family anytime again during this month, simply because of the price.  A few exhibits were stunning including the underwater viewing tank of the dolphins and the walrus viewing.  The cheetahs were especially exciting to my boys.

Underwater Viewing Tunnel for the Dolphins

Walrus!
Earlier in the morning, I talked to a local resident and she recommended a shop called Amelia's.  It has giant cookies, other treats, a bit of other small assortments of things and bread. Lots of glorious artisan bread.  We bought a loaf of the city bread. It's delicious!  A bit sourdough like, but a good bread is so much better than what you get in a grocery store. And we got a cookie to share, which was large enough to split between the 6 of us.  And so ended our first week.

Previous adventure post here.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

On a day that was our fourth day but was the 3rd of July

We started out the day with another bike ride, this time to the Indiana State Museum. We chose it because with our pass from a museum in Cleveland through the ASTC program you can get into it for free. And free with a 6 person family is a very good thing.  The museum was large, and I don't think we covered it all and will definitely have to return to do so.  It basically covers anything historical that happened in Indiana, whether that be people, animals, plants or technology, or geological. My favorite parts where probably the natural history parts where you walked through caves and saw fossils. Can you tell I'm a bit of a science nerd at heart?
A giant sloth!
The kids got a bit restless because they wanted more hands on things, so it was good when we found an LED throwing activity that they could take part in, and then there was the giant foam blocks to play with that were fun as well.
Throw an LED magnet!

Building with Blocks!
We ate lunch outside, even though it was hot, we found some shade and some more interactive bits, some climbing boulders on the side of the museum, which are part of the Watanabe Garden. The rocks made good places to sit and the bigger kids enjoyed climbing over them. Stella would have climbed too, but it wasn't the most friendly 1year old place, so she enjoyed wandering up and down the serpentine path. 


After a hot ride home, we rested. My favorite time of day. :) I then had the crew walk to the local library because they were having an Animal Show, from a local Safari animal place.  The kids loved it, so even though they were whiney about getting out again, it was well worth it in the end. Ben even volunteered, sometimes its fun not having a shy kid. 



I ended the day with a walk with my Lena-girl to the local yarn shop.  Any knitters out there?  It said it was 450ft from my house, so I kind of had to go.  And it was huge and the employees were friendly. I picked out some yarn to make a shrug and a pattern to boot because it was just what I was looking for. I do believe I will be back. 

Previous adventure post here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

On the third day...

On our third day in Indianapolis, we got an earlier start than I usually get with my kids.  I wanted to minimize being out in the heat but still wanted to explore the city on bikes. We set out about 8:45am on the Cultural Trail to downtown.  We are conveniently staying about a block from the bike path and so we are determined to use this amazing resource while here.  We headed towards downtown, about 1.5 miles from our house. Wow, is it a nice trail! I was thankful that Ben had gone on the trail the night before with his dad because we didn't all have new eyes to the area.  And Ben is amazing at remembering directions, I think at three he was able to direct my entire family to all the local sites within a few miles of our house. The trail had a few important turns along the way, so Ben for sure was useful.  It's a good note that this trail isn't for speed biking, but more of a way to explore and enjoy the city which made it perfect for my pace with 2 solo biking kiddos and 2 in the bike trailer behind me.

The city of Indianapolis via biking is beautiful! It seems to be kept clean and there are so many bike posts along the way. One interesting things is that this city has motorized scooters that you can rent throughout the city. Because they are GPS trackable, you are likely to see them littered throughout the city, but overall they are more good than bad and honestly, they eliminate car pollution, which I appreciate. I haven't figured out where they come from, but when I do, I'll let you know.

There are many sites accessible by bike including museums, the university IUPUI (the symmtery of the abbreviation astounds me) and the zoo! It was very enjoyable with the kids and I didn't feel overwhelmed taking them all out in this manner, a great feat in itself. We also stumbled upon the Canal Walk, but it feels like its more for walkers than bikers, at least not my bikers who are likely to end up in the very accessible water in the canals. My only thing I'd add is an outdoor play area for kids in the downtown, but I know this is not usual, just a bonus that some cities (cough cough, Cincy) have.

We checked out our local branch of the library after a rest break post lunch. Its very walkable from our location, and though small, seems to pack in resources for kids, a big plus for our family. 

Hope you stick around to see what is in store next. :)

Previous adventure post here.

Growing Pains

In the last month, three friends and their families  have stated that they are moving far away. I learned that the school I enjoyed teaching at will cease to exist next year and I can't afford the co-ops that are offered as steady weekly co-ops for the kids.  I then saw that a high school friend has published multiple books already, I just want to be able to write a measly one in my lifetime.  And I was just having a moment feeling like I am not anyone and nothing is going right. This is all on the heels of finding my blue flame discussion with my ladies group and I just felt deflated.

If I look at my life properly, I can see that I am doing things.  We are currently living away for a month, not so much on a vacation, but as a mini-relocation.  A chance to get out and explore something new and I am loving it.  It's been a good adventure so far, and in that I am doing something. I've always been captivated by cities. I love them, and they seem to like me back, as much as an human constructed idea and concrete can love you. :)

I do think this bout of growing pains has redirected my thoughts on what I feel like I want to do. Having things taken away, means I can take out things that were on the back-burner and do them.  Perhaps I can make time to do them. Especially if I they build me up.

One thing I am building at the moment, to keep my teaching flame going, is to start a Free Forest School chapter. It's an outside nature play experience learning school. It's geared towards the preschool to kinder crowd, but can incorporate the older kids as being helpers to the younger ones and to be mini instructors. I mean how cool is that?  I'm excited.

The other is I want to blog more about my trip, or at least write down the good things. I know that I look toward webpages telling me the ins and outs of places I visit, so it high time I give back with reviews of my own.  And so I hope to keep it up, even if I am a few days behind already.  I have done a few days on paper that are transferrable. :)  And photos, I can always do a day with photo posts.

So, perspective is probably key and even as I am writing this, I'm getting excited about these new things.  Doors are closing and I am sad to say good-bye, but also to say hello to new opportunities. Here we go!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Day 2- Indy

I struggled a bit with how I was feeling physically today, and so I tried to rest more than not, it also helped that it was Sunday, a built in day of rest. The day started off with Keith making us pancakes with blueberry syrup. I am spoiled by him being the morning person that he is and that he enjoys making breakfast for our crew on the weekends. The pancakes were delicious.

We then walked our two blocks to mass. It was an almost empty church at 8:45am, but there were a few other families. One grandmother stopped by to ask how old Stella was, her grandson was only a month older. After mass we met the priest and oddly he was from Parma, OH, which is literally our neighboring town to our part of Cleveland. We then headed home to rest and have an early lunch.

We played the game, Wet Head, with the family, and it was fun to get wet in the 90 degree plus weather. Ben figured out the logistics of it all, so he knew how to get wet if he wanted to or not. Usually, he wanted to be wet.

A trip to a local splash pad and park was made next.  We set out to LaSalle and Clayton Park. It was a smaller splash pad, but it was definitely enough to entertain the kids.  I sat and read a book while Stella napped under the shade of a tree. The bigger kids played with other kids at the park, and I think they really enjoyed that. My kids remind me constantly that we are not meant to be isolated in our daily lives.  Ben especially is good at conversing with others that he's just met and making instant friends. And since it was hot we stopped at an ice cream parlor on our way home. It was called Wyliepalooza Ice Cream Emporium.  The shops name is definitely a mouth full, but the ice cream was delicious and if you are like me, you need some dairy free options, and there were plenty there to be had. I think we will be back again in the month.

We returned home again for rest and dinner, we ended the day at the park behind our house.  I scootered around the block while Ben ran in front of me. Then Keith and Ben tried out the Cultural Trail, which is a bike trail around Indianapolis. Ben got a bit beat up, but it got rave reviews. I think there will be more on this trail later.

Toodles.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

First Day

We arrived! It's a pleasant little neighborhood in Indy that reminds me of a more modest East Nashville by the chocolate factory,  Olive and Sinclair.
After settling in we made a trek around the neighborhood in the 90+ degree heat.  Though,  honestly we weren't the only ones out walking.  I love to see people walking and enjoying outside.  So it's good to be in another place where this happens,  despite the weather. 
We saw the library branch and the local Catholic church and the playground too. 
We ended up at a vegetarian restaurant for dinner and everyone enjoyed their meals.  It was called Three Carrots, the waitress we had was great and has a gracious demeanor with our family.  I look forward to more delicious food here and can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Three Favorite Free Parks for kids in the Greater Cleveland Area

I am sure this list exists in a different way, but after visiting a lot of parks in the last 8 years, I am adding my two cents about my favorite parks in the greater Cleveland area. So here goes:

1. Lakewood Park: This place, located in Lakewood, OH is everything you need in a park.  A shaded giant playground. Pavilions and picnic tables for eating. Trails for walking. A pool, with a fee, for swimming. Trees for climbing. A beautiful lake view. A baseball diamond, a volleyball court, and a stage for outdoor community events. It's even got concessions during the summer if you forget to bring food with you. It's gorgeous and I love every minute I spend here.  The one tiny downfall is that they lack a changing table inside the restrooms, not sure how this was skipped or if I've just never found it.

Bonus beautiful views of downtown Cleveland.


2. Tony Brush Park - This park is located in the heart of Little Italy in Cleveland, there is always people there and its got some of the best slides around.  I am almost terrified of the height of them, but they are thrilling for the kids.  It has a great view of nearby train tracks for those who love a good cargo or commuter train. My favorite time to visit this park is during the Feast of the Assumption because it gives my kids a chance to blow off some steam for free instead of paying for them to be entertained on fair-type rides.

Photo Credit: tripadvisor.com 

3. Penitentiary Glen - While this park is probably the furthest from the center of Cleveland, located in Kirkland, OH it was well worth a visit for my crew.  There are trails for those that that love trails and a nature center for the cold and/or rainy days, but the children's exploration garden is top notch and the staff running it are wonderful. The exploration garden is extensive and ranges from sand and water play, to catch and releasing tadpoles, a wooden playhouse, a field for running, tunnels and more. One bonus is that the rules of the garden are clearly posted and to me that helps my crew know what is expected of them.  Another great thing about this place is that during the month of December they host a life sized Candyland, which is great for the kindergarten and pre-school crowd.




I hope to highlight three more great parks next time I write. Until then, take care!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Wholeness of vision

I think in my social media circles, there have been a lot of recent book releases.  I am sure all of them are excellent books, why else would they be being published.  The one that has been sticking in my mind lately and my amazing husband snagged me a copy for Mother's Day is One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler.  I'm almost 80 pages in and I just started it in the quiet moments of today.  It's been a wonderful read so far and I anticipate good things to come.

One thing that has stood out to me in reading the book so far, that has made me think about just where I am in life is the concept of wholeness of vision.  It's something I realize I can struggle with immensely, especially in the hard day to day, where I am just trying to get a kid to finish their school work or get a meal on the table.  It would be nice to think about instead how perhaps in the bigger realm of things this work, though a struggle for the kid to do is something that is going to help them to learn discipline and perserverance, the meal that I am creating is helping me to see that I can nourish the people entrusted to me with good food.

A stumbling block I have been thinking about lately, since a return of fertility this last month, is in thinking about more children. I do know that currently I am still in a state where my baby, to me, is pretty small and I don't feel capable to take on another just yet. However, in less than my ideal timing for a baby, if God decided else wise or I blurred the lines of NFP, after grumbling a bit,  I would hope with grace I'd rise to the occasion of caring for another soul entrusted to me.

Perhaps that's part of who I am, the grumbling part.  The one that takes a while to accept a gift given to her. That needs to know where to put said gift into said spot of the timeline of life. That sometimes grumbles thinking about the struggles of the throbbing varicose veins, and swollen limbs that make it hard to walk, the extreme heartburn that makes it hard to eat or sleep, instead of seeing the gift in hand through it all. It's easy for me to get stuck looking at the trees instead of the forest, the wholeness of vision.

With Stella, I have seen a lot more of how those phases of difficulty with a baby are just phases and in some ways can be enjoyed more than dreaded.  Yes, there will be weeks with little sleep but there will also be moments with such great joy. Perhaps that makes me look at her and realize what a gift she is, but also that its okay to maybe someday have another baby, God willing. And in this moment, I also have learned more of how much every moment with a baby either inside or out is a gift and I can't control how long I get with whomever I'm given. I can only control me, and my approach to a situation.

Today on mother's day there was a calmness in the chaos, there was a point where Keith and I were both reading separate books post dinner and the children were playing all around the yard or in the house. I paused for a moment and the fullness of life astounded me. Each baby I brought into this world had some struggle, and the parenting of them hasn't always been easy.  But they are beautiful souls and beings and we are team Kurak and we can do this life thing together.

So maybe I am realizing that I do need to step back and see the forest for the trees more, a wholeness of vision may it be. With that peace there that Jesus is always sharing in my life with me every step of the way, perhaps, the next round of this some day won't be so bad.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

May flowers

The winter was so very long this year.  It was very cold almost until the end of April. My kids because of that still think the snow is going to come back. They are however,  thoroughly enjoying the 70 degree temperatures now that its been consistently warmer.

May makes me think of flowers and this year especially I have noticed the transformation.  We started out the month giving out May Day flowers,  because its my favorite under-celebrated holiday.  It's so much fun to bring a little cheer to your neighbors with a flower or two. 

And then we got to stand up as godparents for a dear little boy,  who if its parents had our way would be betrothed to Stella already.  I may have flashed the lady sitting diagonally in front of me while trying to nurse Stella in the pew with a light blanket over her,  when she totally wasn't having any bit of the cover.  But we got through it. And I remember the priest's footwear of Birkenstock sandals above most every thing else,  but it was a good day.  We even were abtable to do a quick trip to give flowers to our special ones graves at tge cemetery one the way back.

This week has been extra busy with activities.  Last week of teaching the high schoolers,  last week of Destination Imagination with extra practices,  a park date,  a end of school year part,  a museum field trip, a ladies paint night at the local coffee shop,  a soccer game,  two soccer practices and then our final DI play performance.  I cringed coming into this week because I knew it would be a lot.  I think the only thing getting me through this week is a whole lot of grace which is helping me to remember that each moment is a moment to be in and not to rush through or dread. 

My favorite moments have oddly been in the car with all the kids.  Either they have been arguing all together and I just smile at the chaos, or I introduce them to a silly song on an old album that I love and they love it too, or them cheering me on as we navigate heavy traffic. 

And so Saturday will be a little hard,  it's my 2 year loss date,  Sunday also a little hard because its mother's day.  But I know that the last two years have been filled with a lot of growing pains and I'm a bit more velveteen than I was before,  and I think that's okay.  And one day the reunion in heaven will be epic.  :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Musings

A lot of time I think about writing things on here, a lot of them become too personal to share on the internet.  Post conversation over the Easter break with a friend I've been thinking about what I actually share on the internet.  At times it helps to share things to be authentic.  At times those things of authenticity can hurt another or are something that by sharing are just passive aggressive thoughts that by blasting them into cyberspace makes us feel better.  And I've done both of these things.  Other times they are those of self discovery or describing life's experiences, a way of journaling.

I've been noticing that I am prone to jealousy or feeling left out. In reality it makes no sense, the fact that one can only interact with some many people in one's life, I should really be content with interacting with the people I really can interact with, versus the illusive person that is a friend of a friend on the internet.  At times though, I just want to know.  To know what another is up to, and be in the know. Maybe it stems from not being completely filled in my day to day relationships. Maybe its just me letting my human weakness dictate how I interact with others.

Whatever it is, it has me thinking. Am I sharing this to feel better about myself at the expense of another?  Is this something I should just talk to one person about? Am I lacking something right now that I need to fill up with time with reflecting with myself and God? These are things that I am pondering and realizing a lot of times I'm stuck in what to do. And maybe that's not the best place to be, stuck. Perhaps, I have to learn to still think for myself to really and truly own who I am. I want to be able to write something and not be worried that it will offend another or have it be me wanting to gain popularity.

I pray that I'll get better at this discernment as I recognized God's grace and grow along the way. Perhaps I should stick to what I know, but really I'm not sure if I know anything all that well. Am I really an expert?  I guess what I can do is offer my perspective of where I am at in life.  And this is it. This is where I am. I am a child of God. I am a married woman. I have 4 living children and two in heaven. I homeschool my kids and I teach a class on the side to high schoolers. I lead a Destination Imagination group for my kids and three other families. I take part in leading our local Blessed Is She group and try to maintain its Facebook page.  I knit sometimes and binge read a lot.  I enjoy food tv shows and those that highlight culture and I am a sucker for a good teenage Disney channel like show. I like happy endings and things that show the beauty of life. I enjoy being outside but am terrified of snakes and ticks. I like walking places and hate cars, using them only as a necessity.

I'm sure there is a lot more to me, but this what I know right now. I want to grow in who I am, to truly  be able to say this is me and mean it. Perhaps I won't be comfortable in my own shoes until heaven.  But I hope my journey towards heaven inches me closer. And I think I'll just leave it at that for today.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A day

Today we started in a different state across the Ohio river in the bordering town of Covington,  KY. We were staying in a row house airbnb, and it was a fun old house with some modernized bits to it.  The children appreciated that it had two sets of stairs so they could make a stair loop.  Honestly,  child me loved any house with Butlers stairs because it just felt like you could explore more and pretend more with them.  And I'm pretty sure it was a slim amount of time I came into contact with them as a kid and yet they still made an impact on me,  so perhaps this rental was fulfilling my inner child as well. 

I noticed on the way in last night that we were within walking distance from a gorgeous cathedral, one I had wanted to visit when we had stayed in Cincinnati area last summer but it didn't work out.  So we looked up the daily mass time and went this morning.  The tabernacle alone was worth the early morning waking for mass.  I always have good intentions to be a more regular daily mass goer,  but rarely am.  I blame it on the kids,  but really I'm someone that likes to sleep in on a regular basis to 8am, and that means I miss most daily masses.  Today, though we made it,  all six of us.

We then traveled across the river and dropped the husband off to work and then went to the Firefighter museum. It was small but we were refreshed in our fire safety,  learned some history and the kids got to play in the cab of a modern day fire engine, so I'd call it a win for the $8.25 total for the admission of all of us.

After that we walked the three blocks to Washington park,  the kids remember this place super fondly so they played in the park playground for a bit and then we wandered over to get soft pretzels from Bretzel nearby. We then wandered back to our car and headed up to Findlay market for some more nutrient dense lunch.  The kids chose carrots,  pepperoni and cheese for lunch.  I had cashew chicken salad.  All was satisfying.

We then said goodbye to our favorite away from home city and started our drive home.  It was a long drive as we got stuck in Columbus with a wrong turn and some accidents of other drivers but we made it finally home.  And its good to be home,  on the complete opposite side of the state from where we started.  To be home, a glorious thing,  even if travel is good.  Its good to come home and know that its where you can be you faults and all. 

So with the children bathed and in bed,  I bid you goodnight.  Goodnight.  I hope the sense of home warms your soul tonight.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Stella, you are one!

Dear Stella,

You are one baby girl. We made it through the first year together. I am still so glad you are here.  I love how you watch and explore quietly and have decided to do things in your own time. You have thrown me for a loop so many times in your first year, but I think that it's been good for me, God knew I needed a you.

You currently love to climb stairs and would do it all day long if you allowed.  Walking hasn't come yet, but that doesn't stop you from being super quick on your knees and palms. You are a bit of a daredevil at times and its probably something you have in common with your older brother Ephraim, who is extremely good at testing the limits on things for his advantage.

You are loved deeply by your siblings.  One of my favorite things has been to see how your siblings love on you.  While they may get annoyed slightly here and there with you stealing their toy or messing with their game, they cheer you on in each new thing.  Every new ability is a cause for celebration and they just sing your praises to no end.  Baby girl, you are loved.

You love to be cuddled and have a mama right near. You are greatly weary of strangers if they try to hold you or pick you up. Sometimes you get scared if you are too far away from someone you trust and you still aren't the greatest fan of the car, but you tolerate it much more now and sometimes will even take a nap in it.

You love playing with cup and bowls and things that can go inside of cups and bowls.  You are excellent at tearing pages of books and unfortunately a few library books have fallen prey to your habits. You enjoy being held by your mama especially in the sling so you can safely look out on the world and experience things close to your life source.

You are calmed by walks and sometimes will only fall asleep when out on one.  You aren't the greatest of nappers some days but you seem to enjoy sleep at night as long as you are cuddled, and for that we are thankful. You are so sweet in so many ways and we can't wait to see what your second year has in store for you.

Happy Birthday, Stella girl!

Love,
Your Mama


Friday, March 9, 2018

A rug from my grandmother

I have this rug. It's one that my grandmother latch hooked for me. She had been trying to give it to me for months, when she first heard that I was pregnant with Noel, she sent a sweet card of congrats on the fourth baby and then sent a picture of a rug she had made hoping that I would like it and claim it as mine. You see then but not even a week later, Noel died. And then I just couldn't talk to anyone.  My grandmother called to apologize of what she wrote in the card, though I think it needed no apology. It was all done with love, it was simply telling me that four babies would be great and how she had such memories with her four own babies. That didn't need apologizing for, not one bit.  I didn't answer the phone and simply had a voicemail, but so it was. She called again a few weeks later and hoped that I was all better.  I don't think she meant any harm in saying that, though it wasn't receptive to my ears and still I wasn't answering the phone because I just still couldn't. This loss hit me the hardest of my two miscarriages I have had. And almost 2 years later, another baby in my arms there are still bits to process. There are still bits of graces unfolding from Noel's short womb life.

My dad called about the rug, perhaps my grandmother thought I'd surely talk to him, but again it was another voicemail as I still didn't answer the phone. We went on a trip to a few cities in the south and I bought a card for my grandmother to tell her that I did want the rug.  But I never wrote out the card and I never sent it.

A few later, my grandmother died unexpectedly from a blood clot that spread to her lungs. It wasn't caught by a foot doctor and it caught us all by surprise.  My first thought was that I didn't ever call or write her. I had wanted to, to say yes to this rug she had made with me in mind, but I just wasn't all there and I wasn't really handling life all that well.

This lady was precious to me and every time we would call for her birthday and the kids and I would sing for her and she would say that this was the best birthday greeting she had gotten all day.  And whether or not that was true, she knew how to make my heart smile.  She would send birthday greetings to all my kids and to me every year and she just knew how to say the right thing to cheer someone up in a rough situation.

Today, for some reason, I was compelled to pull this rug from its buried home in a corner of my bedroom and take it downstairs to use in the house and remember her.  Perhaps, I need more of her now. Perhaps, I've finally forgiven myself for never saying yes to her directly for the rug.  But here it is, I hope that it brings us warmth and softness and memories of love for years to come. 





Sunday, March 4, 2018

Nothing is Secular

After reading Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory, I am finding myself pondering the idea of things considered to be secular. What is something that is secular really anyway?  Google says its "denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis." So, now we have a definition.  But then is really anything secular?  Is there anything completely void of God, if God is the creator of all? 

I'm reminded of a conversion story of an artist that found God through his paint.  I think by definition of the world, paint would not be religious and yet it led to God. And perhaps its because its a tool that it can be used for both things that bring us closer to God and things that perhaps distract us from him.  However, I think in all of it God is still in the paint.

On another point, I've often thought of the example of two priests coming upon a prostitute and one priest shielding his eyes from the occasion of sin and the other in abject weeping over the soul in the over sexualized get up.  Neither reaction is wrong. One simply is perhaps able to comprehend more, or perhaps is a little further along in his walk with Jesus to be able to look outside himself and see another hurting. 

I wonder if this how we are with things that are viewed as Christian versus those that are secular.  Perhaps there are times that we need the bubble and protection of the Christian cultured things.  Perhaps we are still learning to sit up right in our Christianity and we need to feel protected in it.  Outside it, the world seems scary. We can't make sense of it, and perhaps we just don't want to right now or just aren't able to do so.  

And then maybe someday we venture out and start to crawl a little bit and see God in our fallen humanity, and then we keep digging deeper and find God in the crevices that no one else wants to touch and find them redeemable and find that God doesn't just live inside the deemed Christian walls, but is in the low of the low in society's perception and wants them to be loved just the same as you or the pope. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Wrap around

I'm trying to wrap my head around the things we will be doing this year with travel.  They are all good things.  They really are.  I just struggle with the anxiety of not being in my element of home at times,  so it brings new challenges.  I like predictable things.  One may laugh,  as I have four children and they are never predictable, but I do like to have things be familiar.
This year,  its different a bit.  We have three big trips planned.  One to middle TN, one to Indianapolis and for Stella and I one to Germany/Iceland/France. I want to say I can do all these things with flying colors,  but the truth is I can't.  I am going to be relying on a whole lot of God's grace to get me through.  They are things that stretch me to be who I am not normally, an adaptable person.  Which is funny,  because I think to the outside world,  perhaps I think I come off this way, adaptable.  But maybe it's just that I want to know more of who God is and I am trying to trust that he's got me like he's got all the birds.  I'm being held through it all. 
So I make these plans and jump,  because I am a jumper.  Despite my wanting to control and be inn n the familiar, I know I'll only grow by taking these risks outside my comfort zone.  And even if its hard,  God is there. It's something I'm often learning and I need to not forget.  He will always show up and it won't always be easy but he is there always in love always ready for a hug.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Ups and downs and prayers

I'm 34. Relatively that's still young.  Sometimes, though, I'm amazed at how much has happened in the past few years. I'm sometimes caught in between sorrow for the hurt and glee for the happy.

The other day I bought a ticket to see a friend who moved across the pond to Germany with her little family.  It brought so much happiness and it was just a crazy moment of the fact that I am going and doing something I never thought I would be doing any time soon. The expense seemed too much. The leaving the family too much.  But a friend and I and the baby we are traveling together in the fall to visit this dear friend together, and I hope we have some good adventures around the continent together.

I'm terrified to be traveling with a 18 month old overseas, but at the same time I think its going to be one of those experiences where I am stretched in a very good way.  Where I learn to be more go with the flow and less rigid with myself.  Where I learn about the always caring hand of God in my sleeplessness and unfamiliarity. I'm excited and I hope to be less terrified as the time comes.  Come Holy Spirit.

Just a few days after this, a friend had a stroke.  A friend that was part of our 4 family Destination Imagination co-op and it was just shocking.  I had just seen her 4 days earlier and she was fine. I'm struggling with what to say here. Perhaps because I know in tragedy, its so easy to say the wrong thing and so I won't say that I own this, there are people, her children, her husband that are hurting so much. They are loved and we are praying, but I think so much day in and day out we take our people for granted without even knowing it.  And when something like this happens, it opens our eyes to see how each life has value. How she is someone significant to her family, to us to other friends.  She makes us know the love of God through her life.

At the last DI meeting, we were helping the children hash out what the storyline of their play was to be.  And so my oldest was drawing and narrating his version to this friend.  She sat there so patiently taking down his narration.  She didn't bat an eye at his crazy, probably Ninjago themed, version of the play beginning. She just was who God wanted her to be at the moment.  She's often told me that I'm level headed and creative, but then I look at her with her extreme willingness to let the children express herself in whatever way they can and I think she has something there.  Perhaps its a Martha and Mary thing. Perhaps, I am a Martha.  In many contexts I am, perhaps this is why our co-op works.  But I'm thankful for her.  She's got a willing heart, a patient heart and I'm thankful to know her.

She's stable now and out of a coma, but needs a major surgery to correct the issue and God willing if it goes okay will be a long recovery. If you would like to partake in a spiritual bouquet for her, email me at kiera.kurak@gmail.com and I will give you the details.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

00 Echo

The day has come. Tommorrow, I will let go of my car that I have had for 18 years. Technically, my dad owned it the first few years, but I drove it, and the most I was without it was about 4 months, for my first semester of my freshman year.

It feels funny to be sentimental to a hunk of metal, but there are so many memories with this car.  It drove me to my first college classes, my job at the library, to soccer practices while I was still living at my parent's house.  It was my work transportation when I worked summers at Hershey Park.  I remember many cries and songs being blared in it, as I sang at the top of my lungs down the highway.

It was how I got home after my freshman year and took a passenger too to get to my big sister's wedding.  It took many trips from PA to TN and vice versa during my college years. It lived through at least 2 tornadoes during these years in TN. One time, some playground equipment suit lifted by tge tornado, dented in the trunk badly and the tornado shattered every window except the windshield.

It survived me getting rear ended on the highway, just before my 21st birthday. It oddly then would be rear ended again a few months after it being fixed.  And then another time when I lived here in OH someone backed into it while it was parked on the street.

I remember the car being towed off the Washington Mall when we took a trip in it with some friends to DC when we accidentally parked too long in a street spot. I remember late nights chatting with my future husband in that car outside his apartment. I remember scarily getting caught on sudden ice on a trip back to OH from TN and spinning out into the median of the highway.

I carted around my first two kids in this car and I loved it. It had this shelf that was a perfect foot rest. I would always drive with my foot resting on this shelf on long drives. This car even had a song written about it by a dear friend.

It was a quirky car with basic features and it still had roll down windows and I loved that about it.  My husband complained that it didn't have intermittent windshield wipers, but I was used to having to have a rhythm with clearing my view so it didn't matter too much.

Its last few years were spent as a commuting car for K at his programming job and he probably enjoyed it as it was the only non hybrid I knew that got 40mpg. Filling it at the has pump was not something to break the bank.

This car was loved and it witnessed a good chunk of our lives and it was good to us. As we donate it, not fully dead, we hope that it can be used by someone else in need of cheep wheels.

00 Echo, you were loved.