Sunday, November 15, 2009

We love Zingo!

I'm not much of a product promoter, I have a lot of brand loyalties and things that work for me but I don't usually waste my words convincing others to try things I like. But Zingo! is different, my family adores this game. The first thing my four year old does in the morning is ask his dad to play a round with him, which inevitably turns into 10 with each successive child joining in as they wake up. It is madness. The game personally drives me nuts and I conveniently find myself busy in kitchen while all this is going on but the excitement and togetherness it promotes is worth it.
There is even a Spanish version and we discovered yesterday a Super Hero one as well.

This game is so much fun that even Fergie the wonder dog plays. Here they are playing the green card side and Fergie has found a matching tile.

Fergie is proud of her good start.

Resting after a serious series of Zingo!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Full circle

We've been Building Big lately and if you haven't been you should be. For someone that doesn't comprehend physics or engineering these documentaries are captivating. The above photo is of the Firth of Forth Bridge in Scotland that was built over the Firth of Tay after the first bridge collapsed. It took 54,000 tons of steel; 194,000 cubic yards of granite, stone, and concrete; 21,000 tons of cement; and almost seven million rivets to build the bridge.

Yesterday, we had a field trip planned to Sloan Museum for some hands on activities involving canals and Michigan pioneers. Little did I know that all we had been doing previously would be reinforced at Sloan. I'm an accidental homeschooler, I've always got big plans and ideas and then I let my child lead. He watches, he does, he learns. Often times more than I realize.

The arched bridges and tunnels in the Building Big series were especially confounding because of the way the weight is distributed.

"Arch bridges are one of the oldest types of bridges and have great natural strength. Instead of pushing straight down, the weight of an arch bridge is carried outward along the curve of the arch to the supports at each end. These supports, called the abutments, carry the load and keep the ends of the bridge from spreading out." NOVA

If you don't have it all just right your bridge is not going to remain intact for long. Below is the finished structure before the supports are removed.

The supports are removed and it appears that his bridge is ready for traffic!

The other exhibits were just as compelling and of course educational but the second best part to building the arched bridge was that the gift shop had a replica of the Back to the Future DeLorean complete with a flux capacitor.

(And yes, that is Back to the Future on the t.v. in the background.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I don't believe in reincarnation but I do believe in DNA. A year ago today Buchta died and we spent the next 8 months without a vizsla in our lives. Then Fergie, Buchta's great-niece, appeared and we felt whole again. Whole in a way that makes other people think we are crazy, these dogs are demanding with a capital "D" but they love you in a way that can't be described.

January 10, 1999-November 12, 2008

May 7, 2009



Monday, November 9, 2009

Trotting with the turkeys

*10,000 runners
*Course Christmas carolers
*Christmas cookie and candy cane stations
*Costume prizes
*Eight packet pick-up locations (aka "a reason to go to Playmakers")
*Really cool long sleeve tech shirts
It's Turkey Trot time again! I can't remember the last time I ran this race but I've got a crew of us headed there for 09'. This used to be a family tradition when I was in college; us kids would come home from where ever we were living and drag ourselves out of bed very early to head downtown (thankfully my mom lived in Livonia at the time so we didn't have to get up THAT early-it only seemed like it). Often times we had a friend or two with us and mom was always nice enough to let our "friends without families" join us for a hard earned turkey dinner after the race.

I'm sure it has been at least 10 years since I ran through the finish line in Cobo Hall but my memory is sketchy and I think, quite possibly, that I ran in 1999 while pregnant with my daughter. It appears that it has become bigger, better and more organized. There is pre-paid guaranteed parking now and I better hurry and register so I can get a spot! Parking used to be interesting to say the least, you would find a parking lot where someone unofficial would take a $20 from you only to find out that the person didn't even own the spaces.

I have extremely fond memories of prior Thanksgiving mornings spent in downtown Detroit. To me it was part of what the holidays were all about and this was the kick-off. Back in those days Christmas music didn't start until the day after Thanksgiving and Target wasn't shoving Halloween decorations aside to fill in the shelves with Christmas items. This race brings about the true spirit of the season, post-race candy cane and all.

*I hope Vinnie can figure out how to get the turkey in the oven while I'm gone! (Or maybe I better see if our favoite Chinese restuarant is open that day.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Maiden voyage

Vinnie finally got me a gift for our 10 year anniversary. (We don't usually do the gift the thing but he had to justify the purchase somehow and it was only 2 months late!) Anyway, the kids love to fish and be near water so he had been looking for a flat-bottom aluminum boat with a reasonable price tag on it. Fortunately he didn't have to look any further than New Lothrop and it came with a trailer and sticker good until 2012.

After running the combine all night to harvest beans, Vinnie decided to sacrifice precious bean-time with a trip to the beautiful Shiawassee River.

The crew and captain (Vinnie or Fergie, you decide) were pleased to be on the water.

A bit of rowing for upper body strength.
(I'll turn her into a runner yet!)

Fergie is debating how badly she wants that peanut shell.

Ollie was pleased with his find-a nice wet leaf.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

An odd half followed by Guinness

I ran a race today where I received this highlighter colored tech shirt. This photo does not in any way give you an accurate view of the COLOR. I will NEVER have to worry about getting run over by a motorized vehicle while wearing this shirt, unless the driver is literally blinded by it and I do believe that is possible. I had a choice of socks or gloves instead but I can't pass up a tech shirt for $10 that I can wear deer hunting too. Opening day will be extra fun this year; I can chase after the deer in my new shirt.

The race was on this trail:

For an hour and 47 minutes this is what I saw, over and over. The only excitement was somewhere near the end when a squirrel decided to mock me and act as if he couldn't carry his nut across the trail because he was so tired. I managed to avoid tripping over him and went on to finish only to find that the promise of yummy post-race food was false. I'm assuming the race director was not a runner because as I've said before no runner wants another damn banana after the race, or an apple. A 13.1 mile run deserves to be followed with real food and a pint of Guinness.

Thankfully my friends and I found Oscar, he does not believe in post-race bananas or probably any bananas for that matter. I was just going to have water to drink (gotta rehydrate) but then I tasted Mary's* Blue Moon with a slice of orange and was convinced that a Guinness could do the job just as well as water. Run half-Drink Guinness. Maybe I'll start a race under that guise just as an excuse to have some quality beer and there will be no post-race bananas present.

***Hopefully Mary will give a full race report including recommendations for pre-race nutrition and why Paydays should not be on the list if you are not certain porta potty's will be on the course.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I like coffee

I've gone from being a Folger's girl to discovering Trader Joe's coffee which in my opinion competes just fine with those more expensive guys like Starbuck's. After all, you can buy a good grind but if you prepare it wrong you might as well be drinking cheap mud from a Meijer brand drip pot. I do ours up right in a percolator as old the combine that brews right on the stove top. It takes an hour, an hour during which I wish I could train the dog to turn the stove on before I wake up.

This hour prep time means that I typically run in the mornings without ingesting a cup of coffee first and that just makes that first cup even sweeter because my hard work is already done for the day (if you believe that taking care of four kids on a farm is easy compared to running down the road). The exception to this is race days where I get up super early so that I can start and finish the percolator process before my adventure begins; I can't go to a race without a cup of coffee first. Fortunately, even Runner's World advocates the pre-run coffee and for more than one reason. Plus you can't discount the findings of people who get paid to do research on such things as the benefits of caffeine.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Peer Pressure

My daughter is more like me than I like to admit and sometimes when I stand back and watch her I know exactly what my mother used to put up with. Using the word headstrong would be putting it mildly but not necessarily negatively. We are who we are and we don't often fall to the ways of others.

Growing up I had horrible hair and not because it was genetically incompetent but because my mother couldn't deal with my lack of interest in having a "hair-do". Her typical solution to my "ugliness" was to plop me down on a stool and proceed to hack it off, preferably the day before school pictures were to be taken. In the fifth grade she somehow talked me into a perm and because she was often taking her scissors to my head my hair was never long. I walked out of the hair salon with an afro, and yes, school pictures were the next day. If we owned a scanner I would I would post it and induce fits of laughter.

After the midwife put my first born in my arms and I discovered the baby was a girl I was struck with thoughts of what in the heck am I going to do with her hair, because as if to mock me she already had plenty on her head. I don't "do" hair, I wash my hair and up it goes, unless it is wine tasting night at the library. And true to form, like my mother, I had Seneca convinced that the local barber was the place to get her hair cut; that is until she somehow ended up with bangs that started close to the crown of her head. This was about the same time she discovered the color pink and realized that she was being dressed in farm duds. No more boldly striped shirts or pants and she wanted long hair.

Her long hair is beautiful when lovingly washed and brushed but she is a 10 year old girl and that is a battle I don't enjoy fighting everyday. So for about the past year I have tried to convince her that she would look great with her hair cut up to her shoulders. You know the story, easier to wash and brush, blah, blah, blah. But no dice, all she ever wanted was a trim, of less than a 1/2 inch.

Until today, when her seatmate at school suggested she cut it all one length.

I think I'll bake that seatmate some cookies and sneak her a note about what I want Seneca to do next.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Enduring the insanity

For too long I have been fighting for my health, our public library and the local Catholic school. It doesn't matter how tired I get or how frustrated I am, I don't know how I can dare to stop.

Is there any way to look these kids in the eye and tell them, "Sorry, I quit?" That their future is no longer my concern and that their happiness and success is not dependent on a quality education or a community that values them as citizens.

I knew that parenting wouldn't be easy but I unquestionably assumed that my children would have access to educational options that included resources within their means and that the adults in positions of authority would NOT be so damn reluctant to do what is right.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Tablanas: Ollie's word for bananas and my code word for "super food".

If I were to ever start a list of things that are important to me bananas would be in the top ten. Of course people like family and friends would be right up there (yes, above bananas) as would my running shoes and reading but bananas are one of those things I can't live without. If I had to choose between chocolate and bananas for the rest of my life the yellow boomerangs would win.

I eat one every morning, rain or shine, sleet or snow. I have been known to hide the last banana in the house so that it will be waiting for me in the morning. But actually being down to a solitary banana is rare, I panic at the thought and am often found on my way to the store just to buy more bananas.

If you don't believe me you can check out the power status of bananas here.

And the best part is that, as an athlete, I've always got a friend in my banana:

An Athlete's Friend

  • There are approximately 30 grams of carbohydrates in a Chiquita banana supplying the fuel your body needs for muscle and central nervous system activity.
  • The banana's combination of carbohydrates, simple sugars, starch and dietary fiber gives you the quick boost and sustained release of energy over time to help improve your endurance and concentration during physical activity.
  • The potassium in bananas helps your body maintain fluid balance in blood and tissue cells. Potassium is also an essential mineral for protein synthesis and the building of muscle because it stimulates nerve impulses for muscle contraction.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Love thy shoe manufacturer

This summer I made a sucker purchase when I went with a friend to my favorite running store, Playmakers, so she could buy new running shoes. I glanced at the trail shoes and then made the mistake of trying these on. Of course it was love at first step; Asics shoes make my feet feel at home the moment I put them on. I was smitten and began training in these to prepare for the upcoming Legend 10 mile Trail Run at Sleepy Hollow Park. My shoes and I had a fine time, so fine that when my road shoes ran out of steam in late summer I switched over to these full time. Unfortunately and to my dismay I put them on one day and the uppers on both sides were coming apart from the sole.

I wrote to the Asics people and explained my situation:


I have been wearing Asics running shoes for at least the past
10 years, usually the 2000+ series, and have been very happy
with the quality and durability of the shoes I have worn.
This summer, in addition to my road shoes, I purchased the Asics
2140 Trail shoes and fell in love with the fit. Unfortunately,
when I went to put them on today I noticed that they felt a little
funny and when I inspected them further the upper on both shoes at
the inside of the toe box was completely coming away from the sole.
I have never in thousands of miles in at least 30 pairs of Asics
had a shoe(s!) fall apart on me. Is this a common problem with
this model? I assumed that if anything a trail shoe would be
constructed to withstand the wear and tear of trails and not
literally fall apart. I consistently replace my shoes at 400-500
miles and then continue to use them as "lawn mowing" shoes but these
are shot.

I hope if this is a known problem that you are doing something to
resolve it as I would love to use the 2140 Trail shoe as a winter
trainer but not if I can't depend on it to stay together."

Mechelle Kuchar

Not long after I received a response:

"Hi Mechelle,

Thank you for contacting the ASICS America Corporation. ASICS
is very concerned that you were not happy with your recent purchase
of our product. ASICS warranties shoes for two years from the
manufacture date against any manufacturing defects. I have not run
into this problem with this shoe yet and it has been out since January.
If you want to send it in so we can take a look at it for you. The
footwear must go through a brief inspection before we can move forward
to make sure that they have not been misused or abused. Please package
the shoes in a sturdy container and mail to:

ASICS America Corporation
Consumer Relations Department
29 Parker, #100
Irvine, CA 92618

If available, also send the original box and copy of the
receipt. Additionally, please indicate your address, telephone
number, e-mail address and what the problem is with the product.
Once ASICS has received your package, ASICS will make every effort
to resolve this problem for you as quickly as possible. Please note
that ASICS does not refund direct to consumers. If a defect is found
we will replace the product for the same or comparable model.

If you live in Canada, do not send you shoes to us. Please contact our
Canadian Distributor to resolve the problem. AQP can be reached at the
following 800-567-3405.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me again."

Thank you,

Carol Herrig
Consumer Relations
ASICS America Corporation
29 Parker Suite 100
Irvine, CA 92618
1(800) 678-9435

I promptly sent them off and today received
a replacement pair, but not the pair I
was expecting. Hello! Asics GEL-Trabuco Trail 12WR,
whatever all those letters
and numbers mean.
There was no note in the box and I have no idea
why I was sent this pair and not a replacement of the Trail 2140's, but I'm a friendly gal (sometimes) so I'll give these a try. After all they match my new watch and cooler weather but not freezing weather training jacket, quite possibly someone is trying to make me fashion savvy.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Why I rarely post anymore

Yesterday I noticed that my posting this year has been rather pathetic but for good reason. Between the four beauties in the bin of this combine and the combine itself I just can't seem to sit down long enough to get a coherent sentence out.
After I realized how little I've written this year (136 posts last year, 33 so far this year) I decided to try to do better. Then I looked around the office (to save Vinnie's pride and protect his privacy I didn't take a photo) and realized something must be done to restore order. My first task was to clear out the Official Used Car Guides from 2005 so they could join their cousins dating back to the early 90's in the granery.

As soon as I got started on my little office project I got the "farming call" in which I was instructed to fill up four gas cans and meet him at the school where there were beans to be combined and to make sure to take my phone in case he broke down on the way. ALL of our farm equipment is older than me and some probably older than my grandma so running out of fuel is usually the least of our problems.

I grabbed the cash, the dog and headed up town in the Ford farm truck, not to be confused with the Chevy farm *uck (Gibby couldn't say t's when he was younger and it earned itself a nickname). By the time I met Vinnie at the field he was already broke down and I was further instructed to sit it the cab and push levers around while he shoved his arm in little doors and tried to unclogged the belts. Fortunately the combine did not eat my husband and all his appendages were still attached. This grand success brought about an offer to "Go for a round?" Anyone that is a farmer's wife knows that if you turn your husband down for a ride in the combine to see the glory of their labor pouring into the bin is like turning down their plea for s*x. The dog was waiting in the truck eyeing the free newspaper Vinnie found on the side of the road and was insistent I keep because it was free (we already had this issue and I'm sure it was a school board member that tossed it because of the incriminating article on the front page), but I knew better so I said sure with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.

I'm sure new combines run nice and smooth but this baby is from 1967 and it vibrates like a bed in a motel I once slept on where you could put quarters in the little bedside machine. My job tonight was to to keep my eye on the belt that caused the back-up in the first place because "If that thing stops moving it'll clog like a nun's (you fill in the blank because I just can't print what he said)." It didn't clog, we didn't get stuck in the mud, we didn't hit the telephone poles scattered in the field, and we didn't mess up the school yard (even though I told Vinnie our school board is VERY supportive of farmers and he had nary a worry if he did any damage).

We made our round and I was free to return to my dog and the now chewed up free newspaper.

Now the office is slightly cleaner with much less dust and things (really, "things" is the only way to describe the vast amount of stuff found under his paperwork) and I can get back to blogging until he moves onto the next field.