Category Archives: Family

Hurricanes displace people, and animals too!

When Ethan headed to St. Croix to help, Taj and I told him we were ready to have a dog in our family and we wanted a Crucian dog. We told him that any dog he wanted to bring home to us would be perfect. Yesterday, he met and bonded with Coco, a 6 month old female #Dachshund who was rescued from an abusive home on #StCroix and waiting for the perfect forever home, ours! Taj and I can’t wait for their arrival back in Chicago on Tuesday! . . .Want to help a Crucian pup too? Taj and I are starting a ‘Pet Supply Drive’ here in Plainfield to ship down to St. Croix. Items needed: foldable animal crates, collars and leashes, heartworm & flea/tick medication. We adopted Coco through Sunshine Foundation St Croix and we want to help St. Croix Animal Welfare Center get back up and running. Through the tireless work of the volunteers and staff of these organizations, they get dogs off the street, manage spay/neuter programs and help dogs like Coco find their forever home too.

Hurricanes displace people, and animals too! When Ethan headed to St. Croix to help, Taj and I told him we were ready to have a dog in our family and we wanted a Crucian dog. We told him that any dog he wanted to bring home to us would be perfect. Yesterday, he met and bonded with Coco, a 6 month old female #Dachshund who was rescued from an abusive home on #StCroix and waiting for the perfect forever home, ours! Taj and I can’t wait for their arrival back in Chicago on Tuesday! . . . Want to help a Crucian pup too? Taj and I are starting a ‘Pet Supply Drive’ here in Plainfield to ship down to St. Croix. Items needed: foldable animal crates, collars and leashes, heartworm & flea/tick medication. We adopted Coco through Sunshine Foundation St Croix and we want to help St. Croix Animal Welfare Center get back up and running. Through the tireless work of the volunteers and staff of these organizations, they get dogs off the street, manage spay/neuter programs and help dogs like Coco find their forever home too. #VIStrong #dachshundsofinstagram #dachshundpuppy #dachshundsunited #petsuppliesneeded

Photo taken at: Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

And then she made it to Chicago, where we ALL fell in love with her.

Dachshund rescue meets new human

Recycled Crayon Heart Valentines Day Cards and Gift

I learned something about parenthood.

At age 4, Valentines are recommended. By age 5, Valentines are expected.
School sends home a list of all the kids names, just in case you want to make sure everyone gets one and so you can personalize them.

I, being the holidays-dont-mean-candy mom, wanted to do something crafty that the whole family could get involved with. I turned to Pinterest and found these cool heart crayons that you make from old worn crayons. It turned out to be great fun and kept Taj interested the whole time.

 

Sorting the Crayons

peeling and sorting crayons for valentines day hearts

We set up an assembly line. Dad razor bladed a line down the crayon wrappers, Taj unwrapped them and I chopped them.

We sorted by color and kept the brown and really dark ones aside. I highly recommend a meat cleaver for this task and much to Taj’s dismay, I told him this was my job.

 

Making the hearts

crayon hearts for valentines day

Using a silicone heart tray (that you will not be able to use for food post-crayon-heart-making), we made heart filled color themes. I told Taj no more than 2-3 colors per heart which kept them simple enough.

Bake at 200 degrees until they melt (about 30 minutes) and voila. Crayon heart!

 

Card Design

supplies for crayon heart making Valentines

The next step was to pick a card design. I bought foam hearts, but instead we used crafty Valentines Day paper that I found onsale at Meijers.

To adhere the cards, we did a little trial and error. The goal was to have the hearts stick to the card, but still be able to be pulled off and used.

It turns out a glue from the glue gun doesn’t adhere to waxy crayons.

Then we tried to drip candle wax, but that was messy.

Turns out double sided tape is the perfect solution.

Ok, assembly line works well here again.

  1. Taj picks the card per student
  2. I write their name and the Valentine’s Day note
  3. Taj writes “Love, Taj”
  4. Dad sticks on hearts (and keeps Taj moving fast enough to make it to bedtime before midnight)

Fun Things to Write Inside Your Heart Crayon Valentine’s Day Cards

  • Happy Valentines Day for “Crayon” Out Loud
  • Color Your Heart Out
  • You Color My World
  • Have a Colorful Day
  • Wishing You a Colorful Valentine’s Day
  • You Make My Heart Melt

Ta-Da! Recycled Crayon Hearts Valentine’s Day Cards

recycled crayon Valentines Day card and gift

2014 – ZDub Year in Review

Greetings of the Season!

I love holiday cards! I love recapping our year, I love making them, I even like the monotonous stuffing and sticking, especially now that Taj can help. I know now everyone does cards, nor do I expect everyone too. But we sure do love getting them back and putting them on our wall. They stay there all year! Our lives are busy and our friends far away and around the world and holiday cards are way of slowing down and checking in on everyone.

Since it is not always practical to send a card to everyone, we decided to post it here. However, if you send us a card, I will send you one (well, until I run out).

Washburn holiday card 2014

Greetings of the Season 2015

We started 2014 on holiday in St. Croix sun kissed and relaxed. We then experienced an 80˚ temperature difference when we arrived home to Illinois. Although a bit under prepared for our first winter in 10 years, we survived the bitter cold, long dark days and gained a new appreciation for the glorious Spring weather that came next and perfect growing weather for the most rewarding garden we could ever imagine.

My father passed away suddenly in February. He is always missed, but ever present, especially now that I am reconnected with all my siblings. The note I got from dad after he passed thanked me for the ‘lookback’ of our year. So, to keep connected to those that knew him, our holiday card list got a lot bigger this year.

We bought our first house together, an older home complete with a RV barn, perfect for Ethan’s workshop and fall barn parties. We moved in while remodeling the kitchen, Taj helping me build cabinets and Ethan hanging them, with a stunning final product. It’s great to live in a central US location where people drive through or can make our house a destination and were rewarded with the company of all those that visited us. We also hope to make Ethan’s birthday pig roast an annual event; hopefully we won’t get rained out of backyard camping in 2015.

We took a few road trips and camping trips to Michigan, Wisconsin and the big trip across to the east coast to Connecticut, North Carolina and Georgia to see all my siblings, cousins, and some old friends too. Ethan and his cousins joined his mom and uncle on a reunion trip back to Hampton, VA and to scatter the ashes of his grandparents.

This year for my 40th birthday, Ethan surprised me with a dream weekend trip to Napa Valley. It was a magical weekend with wineries, great food and visits with friends in Sacramento and San Francisco.

We continue to get involved in our new community and learn to appreciate stateside living after being on islands for 10 years. Taj is an articulate and very social 5 year old, who continues to wow and amaze us daily. Ethan continues to enjoy his work with Diageo as the maintenance scheduler, growing his talents with SAP PM. I am now full-time with Idea Marketing Group and truly enjoy the creative marketing work.

Thank you for being part of our lives and we wish you a wonderful 2015.

Ethan, Sara & Taj

Zoolights at Brookfield Zoo

We took a trip to Chicago to get some Chicago lights. We stopped at Jill and Jay’s and had some wine before we headed out into the cold. It was cold, but not unbareable. Taj and Jay road the train and we waited on line to see Santa (Taj’s only visit of the season). There pics came out horribly, but we did snap one (that was equally as horrible, but free):

Brookfield Zoo santa

We also headed to the Holiday Dose Market at Venue One on Randolph St. the next day. Jill was working with the fantastic maple syrup to the chefs man, Tim Burton of Burton’s Maplewood Farm. And seriously, that maple syrup aged in whiskey barrels was some of the best maple syrup I’ve ever had. Taj asked for multiple samples and Ethan brought a bottle home (not for use on frozen waffles).

Late night dueling boys on iphones

 

Jill and Jay were great Chicago hosts! We had a great time and Taj is already asking when we go back and see Jay.

Crucian boys in Chicago

We found a vintage playground

This year was our first real tree together as a family. We never got a real tree in St. Croix. It just didn’t feel right to pick a tree out of a refrigerated trailer that was shipped from the US and we knew of a dozen stories of them loosing needles immediately, etc. So, this year, our first real winter Christmas, we decided we wanted to cut down a tree. So, we did a little research and found Larson’s Family Farm in Yorkville. Although the trees were a little smaller than what we wanted the experience was exactly what we were looking for.

The best part of our tree cutting trip was the playground of Ethan and my era there. The old-fashioned see saws, springy horses and the push merry-go-round that could definitely decapitate you if used incorrectly. It was great fun to play with Taj on these. Being the little daredevil that he is, I now understand why they don’t have them around at all town parks these days.

 

springy playground horse

Birthday party with the Reptile Man

Jacob, our neighbor friend, invited Taj to his 7th birthday. They had Jim Nesci of Cold Blooded Creatures to do a presentation for Jacob’s birthday. At first I thought it was a bit torturous to have an alligator and a boa for a kids party, but Jim did a great job in explaining that most of these animals were abandoned as pets and they now lived good lives. His alligator responded to commands better than most dogs! Pretty cool birthday presentation. Here’s the boys (and Jacob’s mom) with a HUGE snake.

 

 

Robert Zuckerman 1947- 2014

It’s been ten months since my dad passed away suddenly of a stroke and there hasn’t been a day since that he hasn’t been present in my life. I didn’t realize how much I would miss him until he was gone. I didn’t realize how close we were until he was gone. I know I’m not the first person to lose a parent, but in his absence, I have an obligation to keep his memory alive. And it’s an easy task because he was a memorable man.

Today, I got a little package from someone from our past that told me how important my family was to him during the time he lived with us at The Blackberry River Inn. In reminiscing with his own family, he found out my Dad had passed and was sending a note of condolences and remembrance. He described dad perfectly as:

“…a courageous and creative man. He was strangely pragmatic even in his impracticalities.”

Although my dad’s life was cut short and extremely suddenly by a stroke at age 67, it’s amazing to remember what a full, exciting and interesting life he lived. I like to think that I inherited some of his eccentricities and creativity, but also some of his valor and compassion. Our family was not perfect and I am sure there were many that turned their noise at my parents untraditional family life; heck, I even did here and there. However, it shaped me into who I am today.

There were always people coming through our lives and my dad made friends with just about everyone. Whether it was a lost soul needing a few bucks for food or an wayfaring artist looking for a place to gather his thoughts for a while, my family always had space. Literally, we had plenty of space and we could always use another set of hands, whether at Pinecrest Country Club or later on at The Blackberry River Inn.

But, you didn’t just wind up with the Zuckermans for a job, it was always more. Someone at dad’s memorial told the story that when you graduated, my dad didn’t give you a raise, you got a demotion because it was time to get a ‘real’ job. My dad wanted everyone to be their best, reach their goals, pursue their passions. He saw the good in everyone even if they didn’t see it in themself … yet.

The stories of my parents encouragement and support during those weird awkward years of a young person’s life come up often and every time I get to connect with one of those grown people (usually just a bit older than myself), I know my father would be smiling down, proud to have helped grace someone’s life in a positive way. He would also be happy to know that my network is always growing with good people that he included in our lives.

If you were graced by Bob Zuckerman, you were probably graced with positive vibes and destined for good things. And if you are googling Robert Zuckerman and found me, I probably want to know you. Thanks for being part of the Zuckerman extended family. And thanks Dad for always living with a “this is the life” attitude.

 

robert zuckerman obituary

My First Knitting Project

On our 1st vacation together to New Zealand, I told Ethan I would knit him a hat. At the time, we lived in a tropical climate and continued to live in warm weather for another 10 years. When we finally moved to a cold climate and my mom passed me back my wool (and her wool), I started knitting again.

Ten yrs later, here it is, my first knitting project into 10 years – complete with a Taj inside.

I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of a ten -year-in-the-making hat. Ethan is the force in my life that makes me complete projects and get things done. Thanks honey! Hopefully the next project won’t take this long 🙂

The Endless Summer: Taj’s Ninja Turtle Themed 5th Birthday Pig Roast

We like to party. We also don’t like ordinary, so when Ethan said he wanted to roast a pig before the winter, we decided to combine his pig roast with Taj’s 5th birthday. We also wanted to get to know some neighbors and invite them, so we did.

Last weekend was 70, unfortunately it was 40 degrees the day of Taj’s party. We hosted the party in the barn. Ethan put the pig on by 8am as planned. By 11am, the bouncy house was up, the food was out and Taj was so happy to have all his friends over.

We asked that people bring canned goods instead of gifts and although I think Taj might have been too young to grasp this concept, our real goal was to let people know that they didn’t have to bring a gift to come. He got plenty of gifts and we’ll be dropping a good amount of canned goods to Green Harvest food pantry.

canned good birthday party drive

 

excited birthday boy with pinata

Taj was so excited for the pinata. Thanks to Reggie for making it go a little faster.

 

firepit and ethan's chairs

It was a chilly afternoon, but Ethan finished his adirondeck chairs last week, just in time for relaxing and warming up by the firepit.

In the barn, we had a few electric heaters going, some places for coloring, plenty of food and beverages.

 

foodtable

barn party

Ninja turtle birthday cupcakes. Meijers did most of the work, I admit 🙂

 

work buddies

Ethan and some friends from work.

While cleaning up the next morning, we found cups with ice still in them. We giggled about this and Ethan got picked on for over buying ice. I guess we still aren’t used to stateside cold parties.

 

leftovers

You know its a good party when stuff gets left behind. If you own any of these things, let us know and we’ll get them back to you.

Thanks everyone for coming! Taj had a great weekend.