More Random Archived Posts From the Old Blog… (2006 – 2007) Enjoy.

3.30.2007

Pack Mentality

I just got off the phone with my brother Paul. He’s in Singapore by way of Hong Kong. After a few more days there, he’ll travel back to Hong Kong, maybe a day trip to Tokyo, then to Seoul and finally home. He’s working very long days, but trying to take in as much of the experience as he can. So far, he’s digging Hong Kong the best, but he has the weekend off to explore Singapore, so who knows what he may find. We miss him around here. It was really nice to hear his voice, and the way he perked up when he heard Gracie’s voice made me smile. Good old Uncle Paul.

The fact that things are a little weird around here without him got me thinking about a night a few weeks back. Paul, Jennie, Christie and I were out in the neighborhood and ran into lots of folks we know as friends, acquaintances, familiar neighborhood faces, you name it. A friend of mine looked over at us and smiled and said, “You guys always travel as a pack dontcha? I love that about you guys.” Then someone else made a comment about us being of a pretty tight clan. Later in the evening someone said, “You don’t usually see a Goepfert without at least two of their own.” Then several people smiled and said, “That’s really cool.” We kind of chuckled and looked at each other and shrugged, drank our beers, and moved along.

Later though, I was thinking about the comments, and I had to smile. It’s true. We travel as a pack. It is rare to see a “lone Goepfert” in Bay View. There is typically at least two of us, usually three of us, and more than occasionally, four. Even if I’m working, you’ll find at least one of them there. I see my local siblings every day. I see my Dad almost every day. I speak to my mom (four hours away) at least twice a week. I talk to my brother Brian (Oklahoma) at least once a week. (The Santiago branch of our pack checks in on the regular too. I talk to my mother in law almost daily, and I talk to my sister in law several times a week, even if I don’t get a chance to see her for a couple weeks.) My siblings and I eat dinner together several times a week most weeks. We might fix each other’s cars, clean each other’s houses, or walk each other’s dogs at any given time. My kids have very close and loving relationships with their aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. I feel pretty lucky about that. Family can be a source of joy in life and it can be a source of pain in life. You can only hope that the joy outweighs the pain, and that somewhere along the way you figure out how to make the best of whatever your family dynamic may be. We aren’t perfect, all of us fight sometimes; some of us seem to fight all the time. Some of us are just damn near opposites in nature. Things can get hard, keeping it all together, remembering that this little pack is a pack worth fighting for. We even had to say goodbye to a sibling who decided that our little pack wasn’t right for her life. Stuff like that is tough to take, but it would be even worse if you had to take it alone, no? Even though things happen and things suck sometimes, we can only grab on to each other and keep moving right?

That’s what I like about traveling in packs. We’re all kind of trekking together, but not in a single line, not at the same pace, and some take the long way while others try new shortcuts. In my pack, we walk to different rhythms, we diverge time and again, sometimes, at any time, someone might even get a bit lost. That’s the thing about a pack though, we always circle around to check on the rest pack from time to time. Give a hand, lead the way through a tight spot, or maybe lay down with a weary member of the pack and rest for a moment in the quiet. I’m lucky that we circle around at the end of a day or the end of a week, and not the end of a lifetime. I know we’re going to keep trekking together for as long as we’re here, we’ll pick up strays, we’ll look out for each other, and we’ll hope for the one who got lost to find her way home. In the meantime, we’ll figure out how to make the best of it, how to make sure we all make it through safely, how to make each other laugh more than cry, and make sure no one gets left behind. Occasionally, we may even howl at the moon.

Posted by saraat 2:16 PM

3.21.2007

Lake Michigan, Natural Resource or Milwaukee’s Toilet?

We have a lot of meetings around here. Neighborhood Association meetings, block watch meetings, child sex offender information meetings, night time trick or treating meetings and more recently it was the Warnimont Relief sewer meeting. Now, if you live in the Metro-Milwaukee area, the subject of combined sewer systems, the name MMSD, or even more specifically the “Deep Tunnel” can bring some folks’ blood to a rolling boil. If you live in my neighborhood, you just might see somebody’s face actually melt off.

Here’s a ten cent recap…The majority of the sewers in the city of Milwaukee are combined sewers. That means that the wastewater from our homes (turds and such) is combined with the rain water from the storm sewers and then both (called “blended sewage”) pass through the water waste treatment facilities. Because of this, if rainwater causes the system to overflow, or back up, the water has to be released, partially treated or untreated, into Lake Michigan. This, of course, SUCKS.

To fix this problem, instead of separating the sewer systems in Milwaukee, MMSD (self proclaimed “The Clean Water People”) decided to build the “Deep Tunnel”. The purpose of the tunnel is to hold excess sewage, due to heavy rains, until it can be processed. (One of the) problems with the Deep Tunnel project is that they didn’t build it as large/deep as they originally planned, so it doesn’t really work. Another issue that compounds the problem is that the sewage from the suburbs (that do have separated sewers) is treated in Milwaukee, but if the deep tunnel is full, that sewage gets dumped directly into local waterways. Uh huh. Now that’s thinkin’. After spending over 3 billion dollars, we are still dumping turds into the lake, like billions of gallons at a shot. It’s incredible. To be fair, we dump far less than we used to, but is that really ok? I live a mile from the shore and I will not touch a toe into that water. We are destroying one of our best local natural resources. The only solution to this problem is to separate the sanitary sewers from the storm sewers, but that won’t happen.

So why did we build the deep tunnel then? In the 1980’s Milwaukee leaders realized that they would not be able to easily persuade suburbanites to help pay for separating the Milwaukee sewer systems because the cost of separated sewer systems in any suburban construction is passed directly to the property owners. (Sidebar: So, in the suburban areas, sewage flows to the waste treatment plant and the rainwater is reabsorbed or diverted.) They pushed the deep tunnel idea in order to get suburbanites to help foot the bill for “fixing” the dumping problem. Milwaukee government had the clout, the suburbs didn’t, so there you go. Milwaukee government, it’s beyond-frustrating-cronyism, and the holier-than-thou MMSD board get to keep on slapping band aids on a gaping wound (that apparently bleeds raw sewage). Of course, if you ask MMSD about the dumping problem they will have no idea what you are talking about. Problem? What problem? (Flash creepy smile at camera, end press conference.)

Anyway, the massive machinery to build this relief sewer arrived a couple of weeks ago and the drilling has begun. It is my understanding that they will be drilling 80 ft. down and creating/installing a 4 foot shaft/sewer pipe. According to my copy of the plans, our intersection is known as “Manhole #7”. The work will take at least the remainder of this year. Before any residents were even notified of the project, it had been planned, finalized, and set in motion. The contractors had even secured their special noise variance from the city, allowing them to work 24 hours a day. We were notified that the current conditions of our house foundations would be recorded in case of any structural damage from the tunneling process. (Wow, that makes me feel soooo much better.) My bedroom window is approximately 10 yards from the “manhole”, which, by the way, has an approximate diameter of 20 feet. My street will be closed to traffic for the rest of the year. Right now, as I type, my windows are rattling and I can feel the vibration on my floor. All this, and we will still dump crap in the lake for years to come.

If we had to go through all of this construction hoo ha to separate the sewers in Milwaukee, I’d be all for it. I wouldn’t even complain about the cost (holy crap, someone make a note of this), because for once I might feel that our tax dollars are being spent in a responsible manner with a long-term goal of saving our natural resources in mind. It’s time to start shaking things up in Milwaukee government, time to stop having meetings and start supporting and electing people who really care about where we live, not just what’s in it for them.

I guess it comes down to this: As long as our city leaders and the MMSD Board are full of shit, our lake will be too.

Posted by saraat 10:19 PM

3.15.2007

Citizens On Patrol.

While I have much to blog about, I have not been able to find much time to do so. I promise to remedy that in the next couple of weeks.

One of the things I thought I’d share (quickly) some of the recent activity going on in my neighborhood. As most of you know, I love my neighborhood. I am proud to be a member of a community that cares about each other and generally wants to participate in making our quality of life here better. The Bay View area has been experiencing a uncharacteristic surge of armed robberies lately. These are the places I shop, rent videos, eat pizza, work, buy shoes, books, coffee etc. These are places I routinely take my small daughters. A group of armed criminals have been robbing places at gunpoint during business hours. Robbing the establishment and all the patrons in the place. Last night, our favorite burger joint was robbed for the second time in three weeks. My sisters live across the street from this restaurant. We have been listening to our alderman tell us that we will be seeing increased police presence and the mayor keeps blah blahing something about making the best of the situation. Clearly, we have a problem. The robberies are increasing in frequency, and a lot of people are scared to walk our streets for the first time in a long time (possibly ever for some long time residents).

So, what are we up to? We are taking to the streets in numbers. Last night 20 people and three dogs took to the streets of Bay View, in the cold rain, to remind ourselves and our neighbors that this is our home, these are our streets, and we need to be able to walk them with confidence and a sense of safety. Last night’s walk began at the front door of the afore mentioned burger joint and looped back around to the same spot to spend money and show support for a local business in hard times. We will be walking different streets each week and will mobilize additional groups to cover more ground. With increased presence on our streets, we can better keep an eye on whats going on in our neighborhood, and maybe if we are all out walking around, paying attention it will be harder for these robbers to pull of their “jobs”. While we have many neighborhood watch groups, we are pushing for more neighbors to get involved and keep a light on. In the past weeks, I admit, I have been angry and scared (I don’t know what I would do if someone pointed a gun at my girls while we were eating ice cream or something, it’s a terrifying thought). But, once again, my fear turns to determination, a feeling of duty towards neighborhood activism, and pride in my neighbors and friends in my community.

While we will be looking to law enforcement to “serve and protect” us to some extent, our general resolve is this. This is our home. These are our streets. We need to help ourselves, take of each other, and not retreat into our homes in fear. Who knows, maybe if a bunch of “nosey neighbors” are patroling their own streets, it will help to catch the crooks, or give them less of an opportunity to rob people. This is what we can do, we can walk.

Side Bar:
What I would just love as an outcome for this particular rash of crimes is a total Scooby Doo ending…”…and I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling Bay Viewers!!”

Walk on,
Sara

Posted by saraat 9:34 AM

1.16.2007

Yep, We’re Still Here…

Okay, Okay, I’ve been a big slacker. We have had one of the busiest holiday seasons we’ve ever had. All excuses aside, whenever I have time at night to blog, I have lately been choosing to sleep.

So much has happened since my Happy Thanksgiving post. Nora turned one, and Gracie turned three. Santa Claus visited our house. Brian came home for a short (but fun) visit. I have started bartending part time at Lulu. I’m running again, logging 12 miles weekly. We’ve been touring pre-schools for Gracie’s Fall semester (YIKES!). In between all of that fun stuff, we have been taking advantage of our mild (up until now) winter weather and spending time outdoors. We are looking forward to the Minocqua Chill Out on January 26th. We haven’t been up North since Thanksgiving and we need to track some critters and watch the “Guys” zoom over the frozen lake on their snowmobiles.

All in all, we’re a little zonked from all of the excitement of the past two months, but doing great. Everyone is healthy, excited to see some snow, and having fun. Gracie is really into drawing and painting. She got some really excellent art supplies for her birthday and we have been busy breaking them in. She is also learning to write the alphabet, and I currently have a large letter H on one wall and an even larger letter G on the side of my refrigerator. Potty training is going very well and her “accidents” are fewer and fewer each week. (Hooray!) She gets a kick out of calling me by my first name when she thinks I’m not paying attention, and is usually wearing one of two favorite “princess” dresses (both of which are actually nightgowns). She’s sassy and funny and cracking me up all the time. Nora is “cruising” now, that is, she’s holding on to furniture, people, what-have-you to pull herself up to standing and walk around. She’s still a little shy, but loves it when you sing songs to her. She loves to dance and she has some really funny moves! Augie is busy with work and I am finally getting used to part time night shifts so we’re heading into Spring in good shape. Here are a couple pics, I’ll have more to talk about later this week.

I’m one!

I’m three!

A Christmas Princess.

Nora and her Godfather, Tio Greg.

My little artist.

Posted by saraat 9:23 PM

11.22.2006

Grace Face

This morning at breakfast I told Gracie to stop playing with the syrup on her plate and finish eating her pancakes. She looked up at me and said:

“Stand down sister, I’m eating.”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Posted by saraat 9:53 PM

11.13.2006

Trick or Treat

I am a blogging slacker. It just seems that we are so busy doing stuff that it gets hard to keep up with the writing about the doing stuff. Dang. Anyway, with Thanksgiving quickly approaching I guess I could recap the super fun trick or treat we had around this here ‘hood. You see, like most of the stuff we do in this kick ass neighborhood of Bay View, we rock at trick or treat ya’ll. Smoke machines, haunted houses, bon fires, NIGHT trick or treating times. Dammit, it was fun. I made a big pot of chili (with cornbread of course) and some of the neighborhood kids and parents came over to our little backyard gathering before heading out to beg strangers for candy. It was really fun. We invited neighbors that hadn’t really had a chance to chat with each other before. Now instead of being “the firefighter” and “the cop”, Aaron and Rich decided that they should get together with the “guy with the white dog” (Patrick) and Augie (we talk to anyone who will stand still, so they all know our names) to start some summer barbecues with all of our kids. (We all have small children around the same ages.) I’m pretty excited about that. I also think we started a new trick or treat tradition on Logan and Wilbur, so stop by next year for chili, cider, build your own cupcakes and pumpkin carving. Check out some pics:


So, on to Thanksgiving. Where on Earth would the Santiago’s go to celebrate Thanksgiving? Yep, where else but Wisconsin’s North Woods! Hooray! We are in some serious withdrawal here. We haven’t been up in over a month. Gracie asks to go to Nana’s house at least twice a day. She has even tried to bribe me a few times. Every night before she goes to bed she tells me that we will talk about going to Nana’s house in the morning…and we do. Yesterday she walked up to me and said, “I want Nana and Packie and Kirby. We can go to Nana’s house now to see them. Yeah, we can do that!” I told her that we had to wait until the following week, and she told me that I was being mean and that I don’t love Kirby. I told her that I miss Nana and Packie too, and she looked genuinely shocked. “You do?” she said. “Yes, a lot.” I told her. She hugged me and said, “Oh mommy, it’s okay. We can go right now to Nana’s house. It’s okay. I will take to you to see Nana and Packie and stars and luna.” What a stinker. Hee hee.

So, we have winterized the house, cleaned up the yard for the winter, hauled out the decorations, and put the flannel sheets on the beds – so bring on the holidays man, we’re down. Especially Grace, I think she’s ready to drive the car to Nana’s herself if she has to…
In other exciting news: Gracie has moved from a toddler bed to a “real” big-girl bed! Whoo Hoo!

© Sara 2006

Posted by saraat 2:39 PM

10.16.2006

Two Little Pumpkins

The pumpkin farm. A tradition in my family for decades, and one we have continued to carry on with our kids. We took advantage of another beautiful weekend and took the kids to Swan’s Pumpkin Farm in Franksville. Gracie remembered the trip from last year and was chanting for pumpkins and hot chocolate all the way there. Nora took it all in perched up high in Papi’s baby-backpack. Both kids dug the cornfield, Gracie exploring and Nora attempting to eat plant life. It was a great time. After we headed out, we made a quick pit stop to a local farmer on 7 Mile Road to pick up a few hay bales to circle the fire pit back home. We also grabbed some excellent squash for dinner and some gourds for Gracie to use as decorations for the backyard. The rest of the day was spent in the backyard wrestling and decorating and eventually vacuuming the back of the car…wow, a couple bales of hay and you’d never know you had carpet back there. Check out some snapshots of our day…

Two Pumpkins…

Pumpkin farming is hard work…

Did you see that goose?


Smooches in the pumpkin patch.

Time to go, see you next year!

© Sara 2006

Posted by saraat 1:36 PM

9.27.2006

Namaste.

My winter yoga class began on Monday night and it wasn’t a moment too soon. After a long break from the class it was great to have Ann, the instructor, there to reposition or adjust my poses as necessary to get the maximum benefit. I love the impact that yoga has on my body and mind when I am really doing it right. Yesterday I felt refreshed, energized, and was conscious of all of my muscles as I moved throughout the day. I always feel much more in tune with my body after a session. I am trying out a Wednesday Pilates class this fall as well. While Yoga takes me through the entire winter, Pilates will be a shorter 8 week session. I want to get a good feel for it and then maybe supplement my jogging and yoga with some core work…we’ll see. (After two kids, I am looking for some pretty serious midsection strength and toning!) I’ll let you know how it works out. In the meantime I will be ohming along with Ann on Monday nights and enjoying my special “mommy time” to the fullest.

The CD mixer party is almost upon us! While rain may put a damper on our outdoor plans (we can still hope for a dry afternoon), the company and the music is sure to be great. While I am excited to see what kind of musical masterpieces everyone brings to share, I am really looking forward to spending time with some funky fresh mama jamas.

Well, I must return to the munchkins. Gracie wants to type now.

dkfnsigegvnygheygehhjhjejhfsbhjgdsnyedx fchnyvfhynsedxn dhgfbskjbe.bkjbnn

Thanks Gracie.

Take Care, ya’ll.

© Sara 2006


Posted by saraat 10:10 AM

9.18.2006

Hello Strangers…

Okay, it’s been so long I don’t even know where to begin. We have been a busy little family this summer. We’ve been enjoying Wisconsin’s North woods to the fullest by setting aside time every month to head up to Minocqua and go swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, planting trees, picking apples – you name it! It has been a great season up there and we are heading back in a month to hike through the fall colors in Boulder Junction. We’ve been to several festivals (or “fetchtibles” as Gracie calls them) to watch traditional dancers, jump on the moonwalks, drink lemonade, and play with the other kids on the playground equipment. Gracie loves a fetchtible, that’s for sure. The rest of our days are filled with barbecues, tornado slides, tricycles, long walks, soccer games and hanging out in the backyard. Gracie and Nora have changed so much this summer. I can’t believe how fast this really goes. Gracie is much more a “little kid” than a toddler, and Nora has such a distinct little personality already I can’t believe she’s only 9 months old. They are growing and changing and laughing and learning. Augie and I are amazed everyday that somehow we get to be their parents. Somewhere along the way we must have done something right to deserve this. I find it really hard to describe how really and truly amazing it is to have these girls. We are truly blessed.
We have been keeping busy on all fronts. We just wrapped up the Bay View Bash this weekend. It was a great success. My Children’s Area was a hit filled with moonwalks, games, prizes, Milwaukee Wave players, Firefighters, Clowns, a magician, dancing dogs, face painting, tattoos, crafts, jewelry making, a coloring corner, free party bags, Bango from the Milwaukee Bucks, baton twirlers…you name it. I think it was a hit for kids and parents alike. The best thing about it was that it was free. It is so great to have kids and parents walk up to the moonwalk or the face painting table and ask how much it costs and be able to say “It’s free! Come on in!” We had great weather and a lot of fun! After we closed that area down at 6:00, I took a quick break and headed over to one of our four music stages to bartend until the close of the festival. It was a lot of fun and the music was great (Blues Disciples played at the South Stage while I was working and I was digging the Muddy Waters covers especially!) After moving tables and barricades and picking up trash until midnight, it was time to get a hot shower and much needed sleep. Another Great Bash, now we can relax until next year’s planning begins in Spring.
We have been working on smaller home improvements as well. We painted the kitchen and the den, replaced odds and ends that needed a bit o’ fixin’, and are just moving throughout the house to clean/organize/repair things before winter comes. Even though summer is drawing to a close, we plan on an action packed Fall. Our CD BBQ is slated for the end of October, followed by a hiking trip, the twin’s birthday party, the annual pumpkin farm trip, a Spooky Halloween Backyard party for the kids and their cousins, Thanksgiving in the North Woods…wow how does the calendar get so full?


I’ll leave you with these fun family facts:

  • Gracie has been taught to burp on command, while we are not thrilled, it’s just plain funny.
  • Nora is the most ticklish baby I have ever encountered.
  • Gracie thinks bugs are cute and will frequently deliver a random critter to any adult sitting on the patio after a successful bug hunt.
  • Nora has a goofy laugh that closely resembles a villainous giggle from old time cartoons.
  • Gracie “plays” the trumpet.
  • Potty training sucks.
  • Uncle Paul’s new alias is Tio Virgilio.
  • Gracie has five Pretty Ponies. They are all named “Pony Santiago”.
  • Nora’s cousins have nicknamed her “Chubbalicious”.

© Sara 2006

Posted by saraat 9:50 AM

6.26.2006

abc’s

This is Gracie’s latest version of the alphabet song:

“a b c d e f g h i j k oh-my-little-p, q-my-s, t u v w x y and z, now my know my abc’s, next time won’t you sing with me?”

Well, we’re off to the lake house this week to meet up with the rest of the Goepfert Organization, including the Oklahoma branch. The day we return, Jennie and I are heading down to O’Hare to collect the long lost Chinese branch. (HOOORAY!!!) I’m sure there will be lots to share when we return. Have a happy Fourth everyone!
Posted by saraat 2:38 PM

6.09.2006

Summertime, and the Living is Easy…

Okay I can tell that it’s going to be very hard to keep up with my blogging duties this summer. How do we get so dang busy all the time? Augie and I actually had to sit down and go over the “summer schedule” that we used to call a calendar. So, I’ve got a bit of catching up to do.
On Memorial Day weekend we took the girls up to the lake. I decided that I would drive up and Augie could drive back on Monday. At about 10:15 p.m. Friday night Augie decided that I had officially earned my new X-Men name: Road Rage. My mutant power will be to disable your vehicle and safely guide it to the side of the road until I am at least 50 miles away from the scene. Once I am safely out of the vicinity, your vehicle will restart, allowing you to be on your way. If you continue to act like a complete turd, and/or put anyone else’s children in danger, you will lose control of your bowels indefinitely. That should learn ya.
That weekend Gracie fell in love with fish. She loves to fish, she loves her Barbie fishing pole, and she loves to kiss the fish we catch with the Barbie fishing pole. We spent the weekend exploring, fishing and boating around Lake Minocqua and some of the surrounding lakes in that chain. It was Nora’s first boat ride, exactly two years after Gracie’s first boat ride. My kids get their sea legs early. It was a great weekend altogether.
The following weekend was Jessica’s surprise 30 and a ½ birthday party. It was good fun. Lots of food, friends, kids – awesome. The best part was that Jessica was genuinely surprised. The look on her face when she pulled up to the park pavilion was priceless. Hooray for Jess!
This week our honorary sister, Jeni, and her boyfriend, Jose, are in town visiting from Los Angeles. Gracie gets very excited about this, partly because Jeni is a dancer and likes to “Kick!” and “Stretch!” with Gracie, but also because Gracie is just the original party girl and loves to party down with any friends that will come by for a visit. They are off to the Madison area this weekend to spend some QT with Jeni’s grandpa, but they’ll be back on Tuesday so we can kick and stretch and bum around the lakefront having fun.
What else? Hmm, well, mom just touched down in Belfast this morning. She, along with my Grandmother and Aunt are taking a short trip to visit grandma’s old stomping grounds. Dad’s up North with one of his best friends for a weekend of “guys only” fishing and riding Harleys in the North woods.
It’s weird, I thought I had so much to say because it had been so long since I had blogged, but really there has been just way to much going on to remember what I wanted to blog about in the first place. Summer is like that. We have friends and family dropping by on a daily basis. We have barbecues, parties, trips, and adventures every weekend. I guess I should be resigned to the fact that this summer the blog may be a little thin. I’m sure it’ll pick up once things start to cool down into the long cold winter.

With that, I will leave you with the following miscellaneous bulletins:

Great books I have recently read/am currently reading:

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Oh the Glory of It All by Sean Wilsey
Hiking Wisconsin by Eric Hansen (Thanks Shan and Jerm!)
Managing Ignatius by Jerry Strahan

Mark your calendars for September 16th, it’s the BAY VIEW BASH and I’m coordinating the Children’s Area this year! WHOO HOO!!!

Christine Eleanor is coming home from China on July 5th – HOLLA!!!!!

© Sara 2006

Posted by saraat 2:39 PM

5.21.2006

…it’s my birthday too yeah.

What a weekend. I woke up Saturday morning to a finely tuned and long practiced “Feliz Cumpleanos” from Gracie, followed by a delicious birthday breakfast feast. YUM! After opening my cards and gifts we hung out and played in the yard until lunchtime. Jennie came to pick me for some lunching and much anticipated Sephora shopping. We stopped for a quick birthday pint with Holly on the way home. Upon arriving at the house we entered the birthday realm. The kitchen was transformed into party central, complete with balloons, streamers and a “29” double chocolate cake. Awesome. What’s even better is that I have it on good authority (Today, on NBC) that 30’s are the new 20’s and seeing as I have such an immature sense of humor, I must only be pushing like 14.So I’m pre-30 gray. So I’m carrying a few extra preggo pounds. So maybe I’m not going to be ready for another triathlon this year. I made it to another year. That’s really what birthdays should be for. We forget sometimes that we should be thankful for every morning that we’re still here, still living, breathing, dancing, and sneezing. It isn’t too much to ask for us to sit back once every 365 days and be grateful for everything we are.

On the grateful tip…one of my favorite gifts was the Gnarls Barkley album. It’s Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse doing a collaboration called “St. Elsewhere”My sister Jen is so dang ninja-rockstar when it comes to finding awesome music. She laid this CD on me and I was hooked after the first few bars of the first song. You may have heard the second track (“Crazy”) on the radio lately; it’s a jam. Anyway, this album is so damn great you should purchase, download, borrow, whatever this album and listen to it. It’s that good. Seriously. Right now. You can read this later. Bye.

Sunday was another fun birthday experience! Gracie was invited to her first Chuck E. Cheese party. (Happy birthday Maxie!) Now, as many of you know, I am, admittedly, a serious germ-a-phobe when it comes to my girls. I had to put myself back in my old pee-wipers for a minute and remember how much fun all of that was when my folks took the Go-fart clan to Showbiz. With those memories in mind, I took Gracie, and you know what? It wasn’t bad at all. I’m not saying I didn’t wipe that kid down from head to toe with antibacterial wipes once we made it back to the car. I’m just saying that I let her run around climbing, touching, playing, riding, and trying everything. Yep, score one for Gracie’s immune system today. Fun trumped OCD and I think I rather like it that way. Anyway, she had a blast and we spent the remainder of the afternoon blowing bubbles and flying a tiny little butterfly kite in the backyard. Sweet.

So, in short, thanks for all the cards, emails, MySpace Comments, presents, cakes, lunches, toasts, hugs, kisses and general garden-variety best wishes. It was a rockin’ birthday.

© Sara 2006

Posted by saraat 9:43 PM

Baby Stinker Toes

My neighbors are in for a real treat this summer. Gracie has taken to screaming at the top of her lungs when she is angry or frustrated or just plain doesn’t get her way. Let me tell you something, the lung capacity on this two year old is all anyone could ever hope for. I’m pretty sure someone is going to call CPS on us at some point this “open windows” season. Luckily, she has a pretty laid back and mellow disposition, so she’s pretty happy most of the time. The thing is, she’s two. I was warned. I got the “just you wait” looks from my friends who procreated before me. I read it in all the baby books I devoured during my pregnancy, and then I told myself the age old lie that all would be parents tell themselves in order to actually go through with this whole baby making business: “My kid won’t do that.” Well, my kid does it, she does it loud and proud in all of its foot-stomping-fist-pounding-ear-piercing glory. The upside to those impressive pipes is that she also loves loves loves to sing. She sings so often now, and I still have to drop everything and listen because I am still so amazed and enamored with my little songstress. Once in awhile I’ll hear her singing what sounds like gibberish, but if I listen closer it’s just a song I didn’t know she could sing. She sings a lot of Bowie (of course), several Disney songs, and a few songs that her dad and I made up for her when she was a baby. Her favorite one to sing right now is one of those originals called “Baby Stinker Toes”. So I guess it all evens itself out in the end. I have to endure afternoon episodes of screaming fits followed by time-outs, but then I am serenaded all evening with “Changes” and “Part of Your World”.

Meanwhile, Nora is quite the content little 5 month old. She’s silly though, I can tell already. She’s going to fit in just fine around here. She laughs in her sleep, she squeals when I make funny faces at her, and she giggles after she farts. Hysterical. My Norabelle and my Graciegirl, my tiny little mamasitas. (sigh, smile.)

The next time I blog I will be returning from the Grand Canyon, so there should be something extraordinary to share. Until then, sing with me:

“Baaaaaa-by stinker toes,
she’s got the stinky feet.
She’s got the tiny baby stinker toes.
And they really stink. (Pew!)
And they really smell. (Pew!)
Those tiny baby stinker toes…”

(Sung to the tune of “Father Abraham”, an Anokijig favorite. Oh, and you actually have to sniff her toes when she sings it.)
Posted by saraat 8:45 PM

4.28.2006

Bonus Track

Wow, two blogs in a day…crazy. Okay, but I HAD to post this. Several of my friends are NPR junkies, so this story may not be news to them, but for the rest of you folks, I have to share. I recently read about these two on a blog from one of my friend’s friend. (Got that?) She posted this story and I was so intrigued I had to check it out.

Some of you may or may not know about StoryCorps. It started out as a booth in Grand Central Station in NY and basically lets people come in and record their stories. These stories are recorded in the Library of Congress as historical record. It just rocks. I love this idea so much. I guess they actually travel around the country now, recording the stories of every day folks like you and me. ANYWAY, this story has made national headlines, but I hadn’t heard of it until I checked out Abbyann’s blog. It’s the story of Danny and Annie Perasa. They recorded a story about their first date a few years back and then recorded another just recently. You have to go listen. You just have to. I laughed, cried, then I really cried. It’s so very moving. Dammit. I love this story so much. And as Abbyann put it in the title of her blog: “i love danny and annie perasa. a lot.”

Check out their first story here:
Danny and Annie 1

Then listen to the story they recorded recently here:
Danny and Annie 2

My friends have cool friends. Thanks Holly, and thanks Abby.

Posted by saraat 1:39 PM

Sisters

Our girls share a nursery. Gracie in her toddler bed and Nora in the crib. Nora has been sleeping in a bassinet in our bedroom since she was born. I’ve been thinking about how to make her transition into the nursery a lot lately. What if she wakes Gracie up in the middle of the night? What if Gracie wakes her up in the middle of the night? How are we going to get them down to bed at night? Same time? Do we wait for Nora to fall asleep and then “sneak” her into the crib? All these thoughts have been swirling around for some time. I guess all that worrying was a waste. Last night Gracie said she wanted Nora to sleep with her. We talked about it for a bit and I decided to give it a try. I was convinced it wouldn’t work. Nora gets too fussy and Gracie usually talks and sings herself to sleep. I was also worried that Gracie might try to climb into bed with Nora since her original idea was to have Nora sleep with her, in her toddler bed. Anyway, I put them both down, kissed them goodnight, turned on their goodnight music (“Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Irael Kamakawiwo’ole) and left them to drift off to sleep. A few minutes later I heard Gracie sigh, then Nora sighed, then they fell asleep. I was amazed. Maybe they just knew it was time. Maybe this was all a fluke and tonight will be a fiasco, I don’t know. It just seems to me that if you just kinda “go with it” your kids will let you know what they are ready or not ready for. When Gracie woke up this morning she quietly came out of her room and shut the door behind her. She does neither of these things on a normal basis, but her baby sister was sleeping and she told me that we shouldn’t wake her up. Dang, my kids are pretty cool.
Posted by saraat 12:16 PM
Posted by saraat 3:06 PM

4.12.2006

Gracie, put away the qulittaaluk, it’s not Ukiuq anymore! **

Last night after we put Gracie to bed, we thought we heard her talking to herself here and there, which is not uncommon for her. She often talks or sings herself to sleep. After about an hour or so, we heard her bedroom door open. Augie walked to her to door to find Gracie standing there, in the darkness of her room, wearing hot pink sunglasses and holding a giant beach ball. Spring is really here and Grace isn’t planning on wasting one minute of it.

The girls and I feel liberated from the too-cold-to-take-the-baby-out-winter now that we have had four glorious days to play outside. Not just the randomly placed “teaser” spring days, but a whole string of them! It’s really here, and there is much to be done. We have been practicing on the big girl bike with training wheels, only one fall so far – way to go muitie! We have had quite a bit of “gardening” to do as well as policing the lawn for bits and twigs and a variety of treasures. The red wagon has been rescued from the scary garage and is back in commission. The neverending soccer game has officially begun, the stones and dump trucks are lined up along the patio edge, and the airplanes have resumed their summer landing routes over Clement Ave.

Everything smells so good today.

** Gracie and I learned a song about winter in Alaska this year, and we learned the Inuit (Inuktitut) words for Winter and the winter clothing that we wear when it’s cold outside.

© Sara 2006

Posted by saraat 1:28 PM

4.04.2006

Nora got her wings…

Nora was baptised at Gethsemane on Sunday. She wasn’t very happy about it at the time, but she calmed down shortly after. The rest of the day I felt a real sense of joy. Baptising my children is very important to me, not that I’m baptising them into one “faith” or another, but that I am baptising them as two of God’s children. It’s a big deal to me and to Augie, and I hope that one day my girls feel that same way. God gave me these two beautiful girls and I will make sure that they learn about him, and about his love for them. I will never force them to believe anything that they don’t feel in their hearts, but I hope that they feel him there because it can be very positive and very powerful.

We had a small reception with cake and coffee in the church basement. Jessica and Shannon were there for me (once again!) to help set up the coffee and cake. It’s amazing that at every important moment in my life, I can look up and know that I’ll see their faces. It’s a feeling that I could never explain, so I won’t try. They know how much I love them.

It was a rainy day, and when we got back to the house I stopped for a second to smell the rain. Even though it was gray and cold, the feeling that this soaking was feeding the new life that will be green grass and daffodils was really comforting, really wonderful.
Posted by saraat 12:51 PM

3.31.2006

Hey.

The only thing I want to say today is that we all get one shot at this life. That’s it. One time offer. There are no do-overs, no take-backs.

I think we all forget that sometimes.

That’s it.
Posted by saraat 2:44 PM

3.28.2006

Rebel, Rebel

Something happens to you when you have kids. All concept of normal time goes out the window. Days are not measured in hours and minutes, but rather in naps, bottles, diaper changes and by how much Play Doh is stuck to the floor. While operating under the rules of this new time space continuum, you cannot be counted on by any outside party to: be on time, remember specific dates or appointments, or even be dressed before lunch. That being said, I was determined to fight this new style of calendar when my second child was born. That’s right, I’m a rebel. I was determined to be back in the swing of normal life by two months post partum, 2 and a half tops.

I’m an idiot.

Nora is four months old now, and I am more tired than ever. Why? Isn’t she sleeping more? Yea. Isn’t she somewhat settled into a routine? Yes. Isn’t Gracie getting used to the new baby/new routine? Uh huh. Then what’s the problem? The problem is that I spent these four months trying to prove to myself that I could still maintain a normal life/schedule and take care of these munchkins. I have basically wiped myself out. I could have just gone with the flow, so to speak. I could have just accepted that you do have to shut down some of your normal operations while you, your new baby, and your toddler’s new routine is “under construction”. You don’t have to worry about wearing your damned pjs all day. You can call a cup of soup and grilled cheese a “hot dinner” for your family. You can leave the cleaning for the weekend. And there is nothing wrong with ordering take-out once in awhile. I can’t blame anyone but me, I was trying to be the “perfect” mom for my girls and do you know what? They don’t care if I wear pajamas at lunchtime, Gracie loves grilled cheese, and I can let all the little stuff go and still be a good mom. I don’t have to be “perfect” to be the perfect mom for Nora and Gracie.

So, to any new mom out there that gets this bug up your butt about trying to “do it all” right away, relax. In a few months things will be settled down and you’ll really be enjoying your kids. Until then, go with it, do what works for you, and when your baby is four months old and the happiest little peanut you’ve ever seen, you’ll be awake enough to enjoy it.

© Sara 2006

Posted by saraat 3:11 PM

3.19.2006

Qualified to Represent the Mil-wau-kee

So, as soon as Christie returns from China, there will be four of the six Goepfert children living in Bay View. That so totally rocks. It’s just one more reason I love where I live. (I have to love it to justify paying these f’ing property taxes.) I dig this neighbohood. The people are generally really decent people and we all try to help each other out. We live in modest little houses, make honest livings and actually give a crap about the other people in our community. I think it’s great that I have some of Terry’s hostas in my yard, that Gracie’s favorite stuffed dog was a christmas gift from Bob and Beverly a couple of years ago, and that everyone knows I’m a stay-at-home mom so they can have FedEx drop off packages to my door while they’re at work. I love that everyone walks in this neighborhood and I see a lot of my neighbors every day. I love that kids around here get an awesome trick or treating area. I love that most of us are “dog people”. I totally love that a lot of “Bay Viewers” are still big time SOUTH SIDE. (You’re definitely going to spot a mullet here or a Packers themed Christmas light display there.) I love that I can jog along Lake Michigan in the afternoon. I love that I’m walking distance to a great coffee chop, a fantastic bakery, and three of my siblings. I love that I actually take my car to the trusted neighborhood mechanic (who happens to live across the street from my brother). I love that I can leave my car in the driveway and walk to most of the places I need to go. I think it’s cool that my brother’s other neighbor (across the alley) owned my house for twenty years before I bought it. Yep, I dig this zip code, fo’shiggity.

Oh, here’s a funny little message I got this week… My little sister Christie cannot read my blog from Zhengzhou. It’s blocked every time. She sent this message to let me know…

“Hey! I can’t read your bloggy! It’s always blocked. Boo-Hoo!! What are you writing on there? Is it like ” Hi (Democracy!) my name is Sara and (Tiannamen Square) I have cute kids. Today (Civil Rights) I played with my girls and (Democracy! Falun Gong! Democratic Reform! Anti-Socialism! Take down the CCP!!!)… Dammit, what could you possibly be writing that necessitates a block of your blog. Bastards!! Bullschtein!! This surveillance and censorship crap is for the birds, I tell ya. Well, I love you anyway.

Dammit I really really miss her.

© Sara 2006

Posted by saraat 10:05 PM

3.17.2006

Look at the Beautiful

I took the girls up to the North Woods this week while Augie was out of town on business. I was so excited to take Gracie out to play in the brand-spankin-new-just-fell-last-night snow. I was so ready to show her everything, and I did. We built a snow fort, we went sledding, we made snow angels, we threw snowballs. We found deer tracks, raccoon tracks and rabbit tracks, and we watched the bald eagle circle his nest high in the trees over our house. We watched four deer (two doe, two fawn) wander out onto the lake in front of our house. We collected pine cones, we watched bits of snow fall from 80ft pine trees, we dug until our fingers froze and then we drank hot chocolate to thaw them out. We counted the snowmobile lights that whizzed past the dark windows, we snuggled up and read four brand new books. I wanted to teach her lots of fun winter “stuff”, I wanted to teach her what winter “up north” was all about.

On Wednesday afternoon as we lay in the snow staring into the sky, I pointed up and said, “Look Gracie! Look at the eagle flying! Look at the tall trees! Look at the clouds Gracie!” Laying beside me, Grace Eliana, two years old, very calm and with a smile on her face said, “Yeah Mommy, look at the beautiful.”

I’m pretty sure she gets it.


© Sara 2006