Monday, June 29, 2009

Random Biking Leads to Beach

Sunday is our day off from running. So, on Sunday mornings (weather permitting), Todd and I hop on our bikes and ride for about an hour. Yesterday, we decided to take a new route to check out a park we had seen in the distance while taking our Corolla to the Toyota dealership.

After three miles or so, we arrived at the park. To our delight, we discovered that the park had a little lake with a sandy beach. It also had a trail around the lake, which we circled twice. It was beautiful.

We spontaneously changed our plans for the day (I know, this is unheard of!) and picked up Becka, packed a picnic, and headed back to the park with the sandy beach. Aside from being super windy, it was an awesome time. Rebecka had to take a swim test to get access to the "deep end," which she managed just fine. I got in for a little while, was miserable and goose-bump-covered most of that time, but emerged from the water feeling overwhelmingly refreshed. We had to drag Rebecka from the beach two hours later so Todd could make it home for the soccer game. :)

Moral of the story:
Unknown paths often lead to delightful destinations.
-Tabita Green

Note: Photo by Keith M at stock.xchng.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Exciting Legislation

The House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Bill yesterday. Pretty exciting!

If you participated in calling, faxing, or emailing congressmen and women, thank you. It was a close call with a vote of 219 to 212. Activism works.

Here are the details from the government's site (which is currently down):

  • Requires electric utilities to meet 20% of their electricity demand through renewable energy sources and energy efficiency by 2020.
  • Invests $190 billion in new clean energy technologies and energy efficiency, including energy efficiency and renewable energy ($90 billion in new investments by 2025), carbon capture and sequestration ($60 billion), electric and other advanced technology vehicles ($20 billion), and basic scientific research and development ($20 billion).
  • Mandates new energy-saving standards for buildings, appliances, and industry.
  • Reduces carbon emissions from major U.S. sources by 17% by 2020 and over 80% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. Complementary measures in the legislation, such as investments in preventing tropical deforestation, will achieve significant additional reductions in carbon emissions.
  • Protects consumers from energy price increases. According to recent analyses from the Congressional Budget Office and the Environmental Protection Agency, the legislation will cost each household less than 50 cents per day in 2020 (not including energy efficiency savings).

The green wave is here to stay!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Errand Week

How many errands can a family fit into one week? Well, here's our list:
  • Sophie Grooming
  • Todd Grooming
  • Tabita Grooming
  • Rebecka Dentist
  • Tabita Dentist
  • Elmer Emissions Testing and Vehicle Registration (Elmer is my green Toyota Echo)
  • New Contacts
  • Todd Dr. Appointment
  • Target (twice!)
  • Grocery Store (at least three times...)
  • Sophie Doggy Daycare
  • Waterpark visit (not sure if this counts as an errand, but anyway...)
  • Bank


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Great Post on Raising a Happy Child

Sean Platt of the Writer Dad Blog has a really awesome post on Zen Habits. Check it out if you have kids, are thinking about having kids, or there is even a slightest possibility that you might one day have a kid.

I especially agree with his thoughts on limiting media. We have observed a direct correlation between excessive computer and TV use and crankiness.

TV is evil...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Biggest Loser - Green Edition

A couple of weeks ago, Todd and I both decided that we wanted to lose 10 lbs. And since I am highly motivated by competition, we decided to race. The winner is to get a new outfit and a romantic dinner at the restaurant of his/her choice. Not bad...

Well, two weeks into it, Todd has lost six lbs and I've gained one. Not good (for me). Todd basically just had to stop drinking soda and eat junk food and the pounds melted off. I had unfortunately already cut most of that type of "food" out of my diet.

So what am I going to do to catch up?
  1. I'm going on the Abs Diet. This has worked for me in the past and includes food that I enjoy eating anyway. It is based on twelve "powerfoods" and eating six times per day. Perfect.
  2. I'm going to add an additional (light) workout every day (Todd's idea). For example, a 30 minute walk at lunch or a bicycle ride after work.
  3. I'm going to increase my weight routine from two to three circuits and switch up the exercises every month.

Stay tuned for more on the Biggest Loser.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Windy City - Part 2

Day two of our visit to Chicago started with a walk up Michigan Ave and an oatmeal breakfast at Corner Bakery. When we returned to the hotel, it was almost time for Todd and Rebecka to head back to Milwaukee. Rebecka had plans and needed to get back for school as well. They took bus 151 to Union Station and I was alone in Chicago.

I spent some time on the computer and then headed out to Millennium Park for the Chicago Gospel Music Festival. The first sets were held at the Walgreen's stage close to Michigan Ave. The first performance was really good. After that, it started going downhill a bit. After the second quartet, I decided to go check out the Youth Stage. Good call. The choirs and groups that sang on that stage were absolutely fantastic. I have never in my life heard that much sound from a children's choir. One of the choirs, Voices of Tomorrow, had a lead singer, Dylan, that cannot have been older than five and was totally amazing and so cute!

After about an hour and a half or so at the Youth Stage, my ears were ringing (it was inside with very large speakers) and my stomach was growling, so I decided to find some food. However, first I went on a mission to scope out the main stage to make sure that I could find it later and get a good seat for the evening show. People were already starting to line up, so I figured I better get there in good time.

I found a good and cheap place to eat across the street and sat there and read a magazine on Obama's first 100 days in office. Since I would be waiting a while, I also went next door to Caribou Coffee (my favorite!) and picked up a soy chai latte.

With tea in hand and the magazine tucked under my arm, I walked back to Millennium Park and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. I found a decent seat and sat down with a sigh of relief. I had planned to continue reading, but there was way too many exciting people and activities going on around me. For once, I realized what it is like to be a minority. I was one of perhaps 100 Caucasians in a sea of African American gospel aficionados. It was great!

The concert finally kicked off and much dancing, singing, raising of hands, and shouting commenced. Dr. Charles G. Hayes and The Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir was followed by an amazing choir called New Direction. This insanely energetic group of young singers blew me away. After a not quite as exciting section called “A Touch of Chicago's Gospel Pioneers/Legends,” we saw the return of Evelyn Turrentine-Agee (she opened on the Walgreen's stage). This lady can dance! She is 63 years old, has 11 living children, and 54 grandchildren. Quite an accomplishment...

While the stagehands got everything ready for the next performance, the MCs brought a 9-year-old girl on to the stage to sing a couple of measures. She had apparently sung on the Youth Stage the previous day and had impressed the festival coordinators. The depth of her voice, the range, and pitch was incredible. She definitely had the potential to be "Chicago's Fantasia."

Speaking of Fantasia, she was next! Another super energetic performance, including a song with her mother and another song with her minister and his wife. Unfortunately, a lady across the aisle from me had a minor stroke during this part of the concert, so there was much anxiety and frantic activity going on around me. It took forever for the paramedics to get there (they came on bikes...), but finally the situation seemed to be under control and the poor lady was wheeled off on a stretcher followed by her somber family. My heart went out to them.

Had it already been four hours...? Apparently so, because before I knew it, it was time for the final (and most anticipated) performance: Kirk Franklin. I've been a fan forever and had never seen him in concert before. It would've been worth coming Chicago just for his hour of the festival. The music was perfectly rockin' and touching all at once. I was also impressed by Kirk's humble nature on scene. He repeatedly pointed to himself while shaking his head, then pointed up to heaven and nodded his head to indicate our praise should go to God and not to him.

The whole experience was surreal, divine, and uplifting. My step was light as I moved (danced) with the crowds toward my hotel and my heart was singing "Hosanna."

Gospel music is the best.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Windy City - Part 1

Yesterday morning, Todd, Rebecka, and I took the convenient Hiawatha Amtrak train from the Milwaukee Airport to Chicago's Union Station. After a quick bus ride (could've been quicker if I hadn't led us to get off at the wrong bus stop) and an even quicker stop at Dunkin' Donuts to quiet complaints about severe hunger pangs, we reached our hotel on Michigan Ave at the heart of downtown Chicago.

The main objective for the day was to go up to Evanston, home of Northwestern University. After a quick rest at the hotel, we headed out to find the Red Line. It was tricky, but we eventually found it. We headed north for around 30-40 minutes and then switched to the purple line to reach our final destination.

By the time we reached Evanston, it was lunchtime and we were all starving for some good Italian fare. We passed two promising restaurants, but they were not open for lunch. Doh! We finally stumbled across a cozy-looking place, which seemed to have a good menu, called Tattoria Demi. It was exquisite. The food was so good, in fact, that I couldn't not try their Tiramisu (I'm on a quest to find the best Tiramisu in the world). Oh yeah - it is now topping my list. It was a perfect blend of sweet, coffee, liquor, and mascarpone. So good!

After our leisurely lunch, we were fueled and ready to go explore the Northwestern campus. While we were at lunch, the temperature had dropped at least 10 degrees, but we zipped up our jackets and started the short walk to the university. The whole area is completely amazing. The buildings express a deep sense of history, dignity, and creativity. The streets are clean. People are walking and biking to reach their destinations. Vegetation is abundant.

One of my favorite spots on the Northwestern campus is the Shakespeare Garden. This time of year, it contains splashes of color from pink to purple to yellow to green. What a great spot for quiet contemplation or for reading a classic. In fact, we left Rebecka to read in this spot (she never leaves home without a book) while Todd and I walked around a bit more. There were nice little paths winding between the trees that made me appreciate landscape designers who take serenity into consideration.

We then headed out toward the lake. It was cold and windy and exhilarating. It's like being by the ocean, because you can't see the end of it. It's just water, water, and more water. Rebecka found a cozy spot on the rocky shore to continue her reading, while Todd and I took some pictures. At this point, we felt the first drops of rain and decided to check out the student union building to see if there was any hot chocolate and chai tea latte available. Todd came to the rescue by finding a Starbucks on the second floor. We sat there for a while sipping our hot drinks and feeling our bodies warm up slightly. I picked up the latest edition of the Northwestern Business Review and enjoyed reading it very much.

Once it stopped raining and we were done with our drinks, we headed back to the CTA station to catch the train back to downtown Chicago. I had planned to go to a concert at Millennium park later in the evening, but it was just too cold (I did not pack for the weather...). Instead, we had a light dinner at the Corner Bakery and then hung out in our warm hotel room for the rest of the evening.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bike to Work Update

I biked to work again today. That's two weeks in a row. I'm pleased.

It didn't rain, but it was pretty cold. But, cold is better than hot.

It took 30 minutes - again. I guess rain or shine doesn't matter.

Next week is "Bike to Work Week."

Perhaps I'll bike to work twice...