Monday, April 23, 2018

All in a Day's Work - Easterseals Disability Film Challenge

Parker helped The Prompting Theater (a local acting troupe for adults with disabilities) with their Easterseals Disability Film Challenge again this year. It is very entertaining and he loves working with this group! The more views and shares they get, the closer they are to winning the challenge so please watch, like, and share. Thanks!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Vegan Haluski with Smoky Tofu - College Recipes

 After a few days in Chicago and eating out a every day, I came back home craving simple, but healthy homemade foods. I also am trying to simplify our house by donating things we don't use and minimizing my electronic clutter by closing open tabs on my phone/computer. This includes lots of recipes. One of the recipes was Vegan Haluski with Smoky Tofu. Parker helped me cook this and we decided to go for brown rice instead of noodles since we had pasta yesterday. We used red cabbage and red onions so it made for fun spring color. I'm starting to make a note of recipes that are good for Parker to make when he moves out and this one is pretty inexpensive too so it makes the "college recipe" list. It is easy, flavorful, and full of crunchy brassica goodness!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Short Films: A Thief Named Skip is Driving Me Nuts

Parker was involved in a short film for a young budding film director. It was a lot of work and fun, but filming at night with weapons is always interesting. Always make sure your director has notified the local police and sometimes even then things can get interesting. I believe this is Parker's first role as a thief and he got to "kill" a friend of mine from high school, Eric Sizemore. I love that my kids have worked with Eric in several different projects.

This was a 48 Hour Film Project short film. We didn't get to participate as much as we usually do, but the boys have been in non-stop, overlapping live theatre productions and Parker was sick during the 48 film weekend. He had promised, Brian Hagy, the director weeks previously so he was able to put in a few very cold hours before he had to get to the theatre for a performance. He was running a fever and was losing his voice, but the show must go on. I'm always amazed what the groups can come up with in just 48 hours!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Closer - Music Video

Parker and Dema are in so much theatre right now that I almost forget about the films/videos. The two of them are in three shows, two together which is fun for them and me. Anyway, between rehearsals, Parker was able to sneak in some time for a music video shot by one of our favorite directors, John Isberg at Swede Films. Enjoy this flashback to the 80's, references to Pretty in Pink and Patton, and the song is quite catchy!

Parker's rehearsal schedule didn't allow him to be part of the dance sequence, but it was apparently quite fun and a little too much fake fog/smoke because the fire department was called. Never a dull moment on a shoot.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

How Not to Die Cookbook - Sips

I turned 46 in November and while I'm not big on celebrating my birthday, I'm certainly not getting any younger so I decided to treat myself to a cast iron dutch oven. No regrets, love using it almost daily. I now use cast iron almost exclusively and I will never go back to cooking with anything else. Wait, I still use my Instant Pot too, but if I'm cooking on the stove top it is cast iron all the way. 

I also pre-ordered the How Not to Die Cookbook. It came last week and I started with the back. I know most people would start with an entree and some people would start with desserts, but I was drawn to the "sips" section.
My first recipe from the How Not to Die Cookbook was the Cherry-Berry Smoothie. Partly because I had all the ingredients on hand, but also because we are in a big daily smoothie routine. I've made this a few times now and I add unsweetened soy milk instead of water, ground flax seeds, beet juice, alma powder*, and dried barberries. This has quickly become the kids' favorite breakfast or snack smoothie so I started adding some greens (like arugula) to it as well.
I prefer my breakfast to be more savory so I couldn't wait to try the V-12 Vegetable Blast! It turned out a vibrant green so I couldn't help but add some yellow sprinkles. All three kids tried the V-12 and only Josie would take more than a sip or two, but she still won't drink an entire glass. I make mine pretty spicy so they will come around eventually, but they all said it would taste good as a soup, but the cold  savory smoothie was just not what they are used to. I used chopped frozen spinach and cold water (we don't normally have ice cubes around) the first time. I think I prefer to use fresh kale, but play around with it and make it your own. If you want to make the V-12 Vegetable Blast yourself (and I know you do) then find the recipe here. Or watch Dr. Greger make a modified version on this video:

Friday, October 13, 2017

What We Did Over the Summer - Improv and Music

The summer wasn't all swimming. It was full of acting and music too. I'll post later about the films the kids were involved in, but they are always working on their acting skills. Both Parker and Dema love improv. They both participated in an improv camp/workshop at Class Act this summer. Improv probably scares me more than any other acting so I am in awe that the boys embrace and enjoy it. Parker even recently joined a local adult improv troupe, Zoo Improv.
Parker is the one in the brown shirt and shorts in the middle.
Parker was asked, by one of our favorite local directors, to act in a music video. He needed to learn to play the bass guitar in a short amount of time to accurately portray the character. Well, months later the music video hasn't happened, but Parker's love for playing bass has taken off. He really wanted to start or join a band, but so far the musicians haven't aligned, but he continues to take bass lessons from our fabulous music guru and friend, Ryan. This summer, Ryan gave Parker the bass guitar he had loaned him and Parker was so happy! The guitar previously was owned by another neighbor friend of ours who moved to Canada several years ago. I love having useful things in our lives handed down from friends.
Parker and his "new to him" bass guitar.
Parker spent some of his time this summer at one of the local private schools, St. Thomas More. Last school year he got involved in their fall play and then they asked him back for their musical. He had so much fun and made so great friends. They asked him if he wanted to try out for their madrigal group and he did. The madrigal group used the summer to practice and get to know each other. He is at the high school a couple mornings a week before their school starts to practice. While getting up early is not fun for him, he does seem happier with singing back in his routine. 

Josie has taken some time off from music, but she went back full force this summer. She now takes drum lessons from Elsinore's fantastic drummer, James, and ukulele from Ryan.
Josie at one of her first drum lessons.
I was reluctant to put her in drum lessons at first. She had been "drumming" with  her hands on tables, her lap, anything she could get a beat going on. I finally decided this habit wasn't going away and figured she needed a musical outlet. We were only going to have a practice pad at home since drum sets can be expensive, but several weeks after she started lessons I found a used drum set at a local consignment store. The store sells toys and clothes, not usually instruments, so they were eager to get the tempting noisy drums out of the store. They gave me a great deal and our neighbor, Vicky, helped me get the set home during Josie's gymnastics practice. Dema and I set the drums up while Josie was gone (which involved moving a queen sized bed out of her room and a twin bed in to make room for everything) and she was so surprised and happy when she came home!
Josie with her "new to her" drum set.

Josie absolutely loves the drums and I really see her sticking with this for a long time. Her teacher is a great combination of positive feedback with constructive criticism. He talks about his own practice and he's been drumming for at least twice as long as she's been alive. I like having people in the kids lives who are about lifelong learning. James also makes body position, stick handling, and ear protection priorities. This is important to me as well since she's going to be spending hours of her week with her drums, I want her to learn how to protect her body.

Quick breakfast at the food co-op after shopping the farmers' market.

We are enjoying the last few weeks of the outdoor farmers' market before the weather turns cold. Josie had to be at the IMC (Independent Media Center) around the corner so we thought it would be a good place to have  a quick breakfast of fruit, bread, and hummus. Parker was going to the Buddy Walk, a walk to support the local Down Syndrome Network. He had a great time seeing some of his friends from The Penguin Project (more on that in a later post) and helping a good cause.

Josie rocking her Girls Rock! t-shirt.
Josie went to a workshop for Girls Rock! C-U and she hasn't stopped talking about it. They spent a few hours learning about different instruments and trying them out. All the musical mentors were women and all the participants identify as female. Josie really wants them to create a drop in type situation (not likely) or something more regular for girls to get together and jam. She spends about 15 hours a week with her gymnastics teammates, but while they are called a team, gymnastics is a very individual sport. The gymnastic girls are all pretty competitive or they wouldn't be at this level and it can be less than positive, at times. Josie was super impressed and inspired by the feel of "girl power" and supportiveness at Girls Rock! She definitely wants more of this type of female positivity in her life.

Monday, October 9, 2017

What We Did Over the Summer - Just Keep Swimming

Our summer was fast and furious, but we are having a late warm spell so it seemed appropriate to recap some of the fun.

All three kids were on the swim team again this summer. Parker was also involved as a mentor for the Penguin Project, a theatre experience for kids with special needs. This is the second year our community has put on a Penguin Project show and the first year that Parker has been involved. I'll have a separate post about PP, but his involvement meant that his Saturday mornings were busy so he didn't compete in swim meets this year. He really likes the swimming on a daily basis for the workout and the competition isn't as important for him.
Swim meet body art.
Dema became a coach in training (CIT) this year and it took swim team to a whole new level for him. He got to know his teammates better and they have become his best friends. He started dating one of the CITs and he loved working with the younger kids. I cannot express how wonderful swim team made this summer for him.
Dema on his mark.
It wasn't his best year as far as ribbons since he is swimming in tough age group and he's smaller than most of the boys he competes against. That never once deterred Dema. He had a fabulous time finishing last or first, it didn't matter.

Conner, Dema, and Josie hanging out after a free movie at the football stadium.
The best thing about Dema's swim team friends is they are up for anything and they don't mind Josie hanging out with them (most of the time). Here one of the guys from the team came with us to watch Moana at the football stadium. Every year the city hosts a family friendly free movie and people bring blankets and food and watch on the big screen a the end of the field. It is pretty cool.
Josie on her mark.
All three of our kids (17, 13, and 9) practiced during the same time this year so it was much easier for me and it was great for them to all be together. Dema had to stay to help the younger swimmers a few times a week and sometimes Josie would stay to hang out with her swim team friends. Since Josie was practicing with the older kids, I think she pushed herself more and she really improved her strokes.

Josie's favorite pastime is picking up people.
Josie loves to work on her strength and at some point she started picking up people. It has now become her thing and all the older teammates would encourage her by being impressed. Here Josie is picking up Dema and carrying him around after the swim meet.

Wear as many suits as you can day.
At the end of the season, they have a week of different fun things for the kids. One day is team spirit day and you wear as much team clothes as you can find. Their favorite days were wear as many suits as you can day. Josie has so many bathing suits and Dema only owns two so he borrowed some of hers for added fun.

Dress like a coach day.
Dema borrowed another suit from Josie to dress as his favorite coach. They really loved all their coaches this year and learned so much while having a blast!
Josie as one of her favorite coaches, who is next to her, and two other teammates who dressed as her too.
Conference is one of the longest meets, but also lots of fun. Since conference is broken up into two sessions based on age and Jose and Dema weren't in the same age group, this meant getting up early to drive an hour and staying all day. Good thing they had a great group of kids to hang out with!
The party tent.
Both Josie and Dema won their heat in at least one event, but neither of them qualified for All Stars this year.
Swim season is too short!

Since it is in the 80's here this week, we are really missing the pool. They all close pretty soon after school starts. Even our neighbor's backyard pool is winterized and done for the season. We just have some good memories of our neighbor's pool to keep us cool.

Amara, Josie, and Indigo.
One of the highlights of Josie's summer was her besties visiting from Colorado. They stopped on the way to the east coast and then again on their way home. The girls fell into a sweet rhythm as if they still all lived in the same neighborhood. I miss them so much, but they have a beautiful life in Colorado. We just need to make some time in our schedule to go out there to visit them!
Josie, Amara, and Indi on Vicky and Greg's pool swan.