Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Our Son is Eleven!

"Good Morning Mom... your son is eleven!"
Today is Henry's 11th birthday and those were the first words I heard this morning.
Henry at almost eleven...in Wyoming.

H- Bomb Gieseke's informal quick fire birthday interview...
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Best book ever read?
"Treasure Hunters, by James Patterson"
Favorite sport?
"Football to watch... tie between baseball and football to play."
  Favorite school subject?
"Religion... and Social Studies"
Your perfect day?
"Playing a ton of Minecraft with my friends"What would you like to be as a grown-up?
"President of Nerf Guns Incorporated."
Best thing you did this summer?
"Definitely family camp. And the downtown zipline"
Favorite place in the world?
"My home." 

Henry, waving to the apartments during his downtown zip line, July 2015.  
Happy happy birthday to our thoughtful, sporty, peacemaking, sweet son on his 11th birthday!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sydney's Gold Ribbon Blankets

I'm always on the lookout for fantastic role models for my kids, especially young women who are working hard to do really wonderful things for others. Sydney is 15 years old and one of the kindest and most compassionate teenagers I have ever met.
She decided that she wanted to do something kind to help kids who have cancer...she thought that kids would like something cozy and cheerful while in the hospital and came up with an idea to bring a little cheer to their hospital rooms. Sydney makes fleece blankets, and includes them in a care package to brighten their days in the hospital.
She is a really terrific kid and I am thrilled that Rosie got to spend the day with her and maybe soak in some of her awesomeness.
Rosie completely adores Sydney and is especially proud that they share a similar story of early beginnings... Sydney was born in Romania and was adopted when she was about a year old. When Rosie learned that her hero Sydney was also adopted from overseas, she was thrilled...."we were exactly the same when we were babies!"
 I am amazed by Sydney for many reasons...she has taken on a personal responsibility to be a positive change in the world at the tender age of 15.  She believes that its important for her to be helpful and kind to kids who are busy fighting for their lives and has come up with a creative idea and plan of how to help.

Sydney visiting Avi at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, 
bringing him a homemade fleece blanket and care package

Right now she is bringing happiness and joy to kids who are fighting cancer, but she says that in the future she want to do more.
So she has mapped out a year by year plan on how she will realize her dream of becoming a pediatric oncologist.
Yes... she is a truly remarkable young woman.
Her project is called Gold Ribbon Blankets, named for the awareness ribbon for pediatric cancer...if you are interested in helping this fantastic kid help other kids by spreading her kindness, check out her site

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Best and Bravest Trapeze Team in the World.

My friend Laura is super brave and full of awesome believes in making yourself do stuff that frightens you...in owning it so that it makes you feel confident and capable and stronger in every way about the scary parts of life that you can't control. 
She is also scared to death of heights and even more nervous about skinny ladders and climbing them. So climbing a high and narrow ladder to grab a trapeze bar and leap over the treetops was a really big deal for her. 
But she did it anyway, just to prove she could.
And then she climbed the ladder a second time and leaped again!
And to have the guts to face your fears and leap over the treetops twice in a row means that she has twice as much fresh strength and confidence banked and is completely ready to tackle anything. 
My dear husband Karl has fresh swagger too, since he climbed the same ladder and leaped.  But maybe a little less, since he tweaked his shoulder and thought better of jumping a second time. He thought it might be difficult to explain to his doctor the details of how exactly he re-injured his rotator cuff with flying trapeze moves. 
As his wife and nurse, I completely agreed with his mature decision to know when to say when. 
We also learned that youth and grace help a whole lot while learning to trapeze. Genevieve is the most graceful 25 year old I have ever known so it was no surprise to see her fly through the air with the greatest of ease. 
Gen is also, probably, the only cellist in the whole wide world to warm up for an enormous concert with trapeze work. 
This is a photo of the massively popular Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Lumenosity show that my young and graceful friend Gen will play in later that evening. 
If you look beyond the sea of fans, just at the base of Music Hall, you will see a white tent. 
And in the tent sits my favorite trapeze-ing cellist, having flown through the air and now ready to perform for tens of thousands. 
And back on the trapeze Jamie proved himself to be a skilled flyer, hanging by his knees and doing backflips. How is it that teenage boys are natural trapeze flippers? 
I had no idea that Jamie had backflip talent until I saw it in person. 
He absolutely did not get those mad trapeze skills from his mom. 
And Theo, could join up with Cirque du Soleil tomorrow if the 9th grade wasn't waiting for him. He was incredible, proving once again that teenage boys are really good at the extreme.  
And then it was time for the little girls to show their bravery, and so they did. 
Rosie and Lucy are eager for almost anything that their big brothers can do, so they each took turns leaping and flying and were completely cool about the whole experience.  
These two little sisters proved themselves to be brave and mighty girls... if you can do this when you are 7 and 9 years old...you can be ready for anything throws at you.  
And Henry. 
Henry came directly from football practice to have a turn and developed his own style on the trapeze. It involved a lot of kicking, some shrieking and a whole lot of determination. 
The best and bravest trapeze team in the whole wide world ... both flyers and cheerleaders... 
Unfortunately Theo left before I had a chance to ask him to pose with his team.
And so I officially nominate Laura Trujillo Faherty, the only mother in the group with the guts to fly, to represent myself and all trapeze-y moms everywhere. 
Because, while I agree and understand that it's important to face your fears and do scary things, I could still not muster the courage and nerve it takes to leap and fly.
So thank you Laura for flying for me and proving that brave moms can take on anything they decide to do...even if they are scared and a little bit freaked out. 
And bonus points for wearing a totally stylish and cool Ohio Against the World shirt while flying...it makes me proud and happy that you can show your new Ohio love by t shirt.  

For anyone interested,  I would completely recommend my new favorite trapeze school...Cincinnati Circus. 
They are safe, professional and are very good at explaining how to achieve your best trapeze moves... check out their structure set up in Burnet Woods on the University of Cincinnati campus.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

30th Reunion Class of '85!

Our 30th high school reunion was this weekend and I was very happy that I was able to attend.
Everyone had a great time and seemed quite happy to reconnect and to be together if only for a short time.
Those who could not be there because of other commitments were genuinely missed, it would have been terrific to have everyone together... but no one was missed more than one beloved classmate.
Gary Hallam tragically passed away only a few weeks ago and his loss was felt deeply by everyone.
But while Gary was desperately missed, I believe that he was with all of us in spirit...that the kindest and best part of each of us, the goodwill that moved each of us to want to reconnect in person, was done so in honor and memory of him. Gary valued family and friendship more than anything so it was no surprise when these two values became the overriding theme to the reunion. As a class we were grateful to be together in friendship and also appreciative of the blessings that have been given to each of us over the many years that we have known each other.

We were also wise enough to realize that Gary would have insisted that we all work together to have one extremely fun party and so we did exactly that.

So thank you very much to my classmates who worked to organize such amazing event,
Ken Jones, Anne Richards McFall, Mike Wentz, Shaheen Kazemi, Jennifer Poff Evans...I am very thankful for all that you did to bring us together for a truly wonderful reunion.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Happy Birthday Dear Teenage Jamie.

January 29, 2003 
The first day we met our Jamie.
 Karl was the first one of our family to see him... being the tallest, and so able to cover the ground quickly, he made to across the room and to his son before anyone else. 
From the back of our family pack, I heard his first words to his first son. 
"There you are! 
I'd recognize you anywhere.."
And so began their first of many adventures together.
Today Jamie turns 13 and he and his dad are very much alike and so they appreciate each other immensely...they enjoy being together and have a lot in common. 
Both share a love of the outdoors and are talented musicians...the most difficult part about camping for both of them is that it's really tough to take your piano into the woods with you.
Father and son also both happen to be the kind of dudes who can rock the floppy hair and aviators just enough to keep things interesting...
(although Karl's floppy hair is a more historical reference right now)

Wishing our oldest son all good things as he begins his teenage years.  
Happy happy birthday dear Jamie...we love you. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jamie... Home from Camp Kooch-i-Ching!

Jamie has returned from a month away at his happiest place on earth... Camp Kooch-i-ching in Northern Minnesota. He loves his camp more than I think anyone has ever loved camp and is already counting the days until  he returns next summer. 
Top three things that he loves the most about camp...
1)The people...they are awesome, all dudes, no parents involved.
2)The trip...eleven night canoe and camping trip in the north Minnesota woods is Jamie's perfect journey.
3)Trying out different stuff not generally done at home with your family...like riflery and archery and woodsmanship.   
This makes me all very happy because our hope was that Jamie would enjoy camp by meeting new friends, trying out new activities and become more self sufficient while camping.
I mean how often does it work out that kids and parents agree on the same summer adventure?  
And admittedly, I am sub par when it comes to target practice and woodsmanship, so Jamie is going to have to go off site from our homestead to gain those skills.
So, much like last summer, Karl happily traveled to pick him up. Karl enjoys camping also, and was looking froward to an excuse to travel to the the North Woods and the mission of collecting Jamie is his idea of a perfect weekend. 
And because he is always up for a little bit of adventure, he asked the kind director at Camp Kooch if he could borrow the camp trees to set up a hammock for a couple of nights. 
(Thank you J.R. Verkamp for your kindness and hospitality)
This is how Karl slept on the pick up trip... 
In the trees, 
in a hammock, 
under a tarp, 
wrapped in a bug net.
And nobody thought he was even a little bit odd.
In fact, Jamie's camper buddies thought it was a cool, instead of weird, set up.   
While I was glad that Jamie and his buddies didn't think it was unusual to sleep in the trees, I was even happier that Karl's weekend vision did not include me suspended in the next tree over.
Although the birds eye view of Jamie's cabin was more than lovely.
Jamie is passionate about how much he loves his camp Kooch. 
Which speaks volumes about the magic of the place because almost 13 year old guys don't often exude their passion of place.
But his own personal photographs don't exactly speak the same story...he brought home about 65 images of minor injuries and bug bites. 
Jamie faithfully carried his camera on the big trip throughout the boundary waters between Minnesota and Canada, paddled through some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world, but from his photos we learned mostly of bloody toes and mosquito bites.
And even more bug bites... noted.
However, mixed in with all of the buggy body party, we did see this photo of a young moose that Jamie and his buddies came across. I will credit his counselor for telling Jamie to point his camera away from himself and in the direction of the amazing wildlife across the river.
When Jamie's trunk arrived home a couple of days after he did, a few mysteries were solved. We discovered his bottle of Deep Woods Off insect repellant still in it's original shrink wrap, as well as this bar of deodorant soap in pristine and unused condition. 
Which explains why Jamie smelled a whole lot like a young moose himself when he got his dad out of the trees and left camp. 
But smelly or not, even his sibs were happy to see him and we all had a little welcome homecoming on the front porch.
Thank you Camp Kooch-i-Ching for giving our Jamie such a wonderful camp experience that makes him eager to return year after year...truly a magical place for one of my most favorite guys!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Kicking the Dust Up with Luke Bryan and the Sisterhood.

I spent a fantastic time kicking up some dust last night when Luke Bryan brought some of his uber cool friends to Cincinnati to hang out and sing a few songs with some of my uber cool cowgal pals. 
It was a night to remember. 
And because we are stylish and fancy country concert goers, we took a batwing stretch to the show just because thats how we roll.   
And Luke was so happy to see us (and 60,000 others) that he insisted on looking extra handsome and country swagger-y.
Which we were all ok with.
Like me, Luke has a ton of talented and energetic friends who played before he hit the stage.
And those friends have a lot of fans who aren't as capable at party pacing themselves as my smart and experienced sisterhood. The main difference is that my pals had a token beer to celebrate all things country and then realized that we would rather watch the show then stand in line in the ladies rom.
Some of the less wise fans that we shared a stadium with drank gallons of beer and then either puked or fell asleep.
One of these amazing friends of mine is a doctor pretending not to be a doctor for one night.
There were several fans in our section who drank far too much than anyone should and didn't realize this until they were on the brink of consciousness.
"They will be fine once they puke, but I don't want to get barfed on tonight" were her medical words of wisdom while keeping a safe distance. And she was absolutely right. 
The party animals woke up from their beery sleep, threw up their Miller Lite (gross) and then were escorted out by medical personnel while my doctor friend stayed and enjoyed the show.  
It turns out that concert over drinkers are pretty predictable.
While we were waiting for Luke, we enjoyed the  bro-country duo Georgia Florida Line who were super energetic and hip with their country rap.
I didn't even realize that there was such a thing as bro-country duos singing rap country songs before now but thought they were both really fantastic. And fit. And very talented at styling a man bun on stage in between country rap songs.
Erika and I realized that we shared our first concert memory when we went to see The Police together over 30 years ago, so we took a selfie to commemorate that anniversary. 
And I found my brother Charlie in the crowd!
And Luke played his piano and sang his adorable country heart out and indeed showed us all how he earned the esteemed title of entertainer of the year. 
Luke is a super talented, high energy performer who puts on a great show and we all loved and respected him for it.
And just when we didn't think he could get any more adorable... he asked a little boy from the audience come on stage and share a song with him. Which proves of course, that Luke has a gentle heart as well as a super cute smile.
And then there were fireworks!
And flames!
And our dear Luke rose up from the front stage on the top of big black pick up truck and it was really beyond awesome.
And really what can top a song from the roof of a flaming truck?
And so ended my glorious evening of wonderful friends, fancy wheels, and fun and energetic music.
A night that could not be topped... not even from the roof of a truck on fire.
Thank you Luke Bryan and thank you more to my fabulous country concert sisterhood for sharing in  such a perfect summer night.