Wine to Water 2013

On November 16th somewhere around 300 people gathered in an otherwise empty space to reveal clean water once again to the people of Uganda.

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It was such an amazing night. It went by too quickly, as is typically the case. We had fabulous music first by Lojo Russo and then by my talented husband and friends who ended the night with Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” and my personal favorite, Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”.

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The art was through and through my favorite of all time. And though I didn’t eat nearly as much dessert or consume nearly enough wine, whiskey or beer it was all so delicious and perfect.

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The crafts put together by some of my favorite people a few days prior looked better than ever too. (Sidenote: There are still 6 bean soups, 3 lentil soups and 6 soy candles left. Let me know if you’d like them, shipping is on me! 🙂 )

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The centerpieces. Oh the centerpieces! I met Marjie when she first walked into my yoga class a few years ago. Since that time she has designed flowers for my sister’s wedding, donated centerpieces for the last two Wine to Water events and painted two beautiful pieces for the event as well. She is one of those people you would absolutely despise for being so incomprehensibly beautiful, sweet, smart and creative if she weren’t so disarming because of all of those things as well. Lucille Marie Designs in the Quad Cities, she’s perfection.

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Becky Straw, Co-founder of The Adventure Project made it to the event as well. She had one of the most intense few weeks of her life prior to the event and yet she showed up. I have such a thing about showing up. I loved having her there and I loved introducing her to so many of the people I love. They had heard me go on and on about her since meeting her a year ago, it was easy for them to see all of the reasons I love her and TAP.

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But let’s just be honest here for a moment. One of my favorite parts of the whole thing is working with this little lady really closely for months at a time. I know I say it all of the time but I somehow managed to get best friends for my in-laws. My siblings have married the very best, as have Zach’s siblings. Does that happen in other families? I feel like it’s not possible everyone is as blessed as I am. But Leslie? Yeah, we would’ve found each other in this lifetime even if we didn’t marry a couple of really good looking brothers.

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I feel in a lot of ways this was our most successful year. There were considerably more people this year than any other year before. We ran out of all of the alcohol and had just a few bits of dessert left at the end of the night. There were people who had not ever been there before, even people who hadn’t heard about the water crisis as well.

I also think when it’s all said and done we’ll be really close to my personal goal of $15,000 heading straight to The Adventure Project, which is not only the most we’ve ever made but also a lot of money for this community of mine.

I don’t know what else I can say about the event that hasn’t been said in years past. Man, it’s such a great night, it really is. I love finding where my passion and God’s divine providence meet. I guess that’s why every year I feel like going barefoot-for me it’s all holy ground.

*If you missed it this year and would still like to donate there’s still time! Help us reach our goal by going here. Please and thank you! https://adventureproject.wufoo.com/forms/donate-wine-to-water-2013/

Online Art Auction!

For three of the last four Wine to Water events we have offered the art that is auctioned off at the event to the online community. We started this knowing that our online community is just as generous as our Quad City community and we wanted to give them the chance to buy art for a really good cause. Over the last three years, the online auction has brought in thousands of dollars, providing clean water to thousands of people.

So here’s your chance once again to be part of something bigger than “just” art. We all know really great art has the power to move people into feeling something they wouldn’t ordinarily feel or to look at something or someone in a whole new light. We believe offering this art to you—our online community—is a way of encouraging that. We believe every time you look at this painting or quilt or piece of pottery you will remember that a group of people acting together can make a real impact on changing our global community.

Here’s how it works: The online auction begins right now and will end Saturday, November 16th at 12pm CST. Send your highest bid to tesileagh@gmail.com. We will have someone bid on your behalf at Saturday night’s Wine to Water event. Remember, all bids (and subsequent donations) are 100% tax deductible. You will donate the cost of your purchase directly to The Adventure Project. Once we receive confirmation of your donation, we will ship your piece of art directly to you! (Thanks to generosity of our event hosts, the shipping costs are on us! ☺)

So bid away! And if you really love something, make sure you bid high!

Keep in mind this is just a portion of the art that will be available on Saturday night. If you’re in the Quad City area make sure you have plans to attend the actual event this Saturday night.

7–10pm

3rd floor of the Redstone Building

2nd and Main, Davenport.

At 8:30pm there will be a short presentation on The Adventure Project.

Also, you’ll see within the description below that certain pieces of art are only available to local residents. Those pieces are just too big or heavy to ship. If, however, you feel like you still really want it and you are not local, we would be willing to ship it to you as long as you will help with the shipping costs. (Keep in mind we’re just a few people passionate about fixing the water crisis—our budget is limited!)

Every year we are humbled by the outpouring of support this event brings. Thank you all for your continued thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. We’re looking forward to another amazing night. Happy bidding!

1) This is a 4 piece canvas, each piece is 11×14.

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2) “Wine to Water” oil on 24×12 canvas.

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3) “Tree of Life” 18×24 acrylic on canvas.

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4) “The Gathering” 12×36 acrylic on canvas.

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5) “Africa: My home. My Heart. My Motherland.” 16×20 acrylic on canvas (This was done by an 8-year-old Ethiopian adoptee, y’all! She’s amazing!)

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6) “Symbol of Change” 18×24 mixed media acrylic painting.

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7) Acrylic 18×24

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8) “African Summer” quilt.

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9) “Waterfall” quilt.

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10) “Breath” *this is a local piece only* . Piece is 43″ in diameter and features 16 different light colors.

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11) “Spiral Paradise” *Local piece only* Pottery bowl.

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12) “Fish bowl” *local only piece* a 2 piece jar.

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13) “Baren to life” quilt.

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14) “From a well emerges life” a 12×12 acrylic multi media piece.

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15) “My Cup Runneth Over” 16×12 canvas.

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16) untitled abstract 8×10 canvas.

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17) Photo etching 11×14 framed.

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18) mixed media 5×7 frame.

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Last night while driving in the car I could tell Trysten was looking at me.

“What’s up, Tman?”

“I can tell it’s Wine to Water time, mom.”

“Oh yeah, how is that?”

“Your face looks like your concentrating all the time. You kind of look a little sad, even when you smile you look a little sad.”

I took a moment before I responded. Yes, I suppose it’s true. Obviously I have a lot going on in my head so that makes sense why I look like I’m concentrating all the time but sad? I don’t feel sad.

“You know I think what looks like sad is really just this heavy feeling. Ever since I was little when I’d hear about injustice I would get really anxious. I remember the first time I heard about slavery I felt like I was going to throw up. I couldn’t imagine what that was like and I felt heavy with the injustice. As I grew up I started to think something was wrong with me because any time I heard of a little unfairness happening it always affected me way more than my friends. This isn’t to say it didn’t anger them or make them feel sad it’s just to say I couldn’t shake it. In my teenage years I would try to push it down because when you’re a teenager you’re nothing if not completely irrational. So I put on this mask of not caring. Not caring about me and not caring about the world around me when in reality I felt a deep pulling sensation in my gut whenever I felt one thing but acted a different way. Now I’ve gotten to a point where I realize God made me this way for a reason. If I’m feeling particularly devastated about something I believe it’s because there’s something I can do to help the problem. I can’t fix it, I’m just one person, but I can help. And so I do. I do everything I possibly can to just do something. Sure enough, the darkness of the injustice starts to dissipate when I act. So I guess during Wine to Water some of the darkness is always at the surface. I think about the men and women I want to help with this event and I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to help more and more of them. It’s the only way I know to chase out the darkness.”

I really believe that’s what it comes down to. If we as humans started acting on what leaves our souls restless-the results are almost unimaginable. Maybe for you it’s orphan care or education or the broken prison system. Whatever it is I think if we started acting instead of hiding the world would know us by our love.

Perhaps that’s what I want my kids to know about me the most. I am an extremely flawed person. I’ve made some really terrible mistakes and will undoubtedly make more (though different ones) in the future. But I hope they know me by my love. I hope they know that even if I messed up along the way, I tried my hardest to act kindly to love fiercely and to chase out the darkness with a little bit of light.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again-it’s why I got “expecto patronum” tattooed on my body. It’s why you’ll be inundated with posts about Wine to Water this week ( look for a special art auction on Wednesday!). Because every one of us has a light, let’s do something today that brings it out. Love you guys.

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iPhone photo dump

Do you guys only remember what’s happened the last few months by looking at your phone pictures? No? Just me.

Binyam is the slowest at all of the things. But eating? Eating quite literally takes the cake. Probably I’ll die waiting for him to finish dinner. In the below picture all of my other cherubs were finished eating, showering and brushing teeth. They are quietly reading in their beds. If he weren’t already skin and bones I’d give up. (Note: it’s not always this bad but it’s pretty bad).

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My boys turn all activities into wrestling. Soccer, basketball, walking-it all ends the same. And everything is done shirtless.

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I love road tripping with our animals, I love our animals. There, I said it. They make me so happy.

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I mean, I might love them a little too much but come on! Look at those faces when they smell my peanut butter toast!

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My niece Landry is so. stinkin. cute! I also might love my nieces and nephews a little too much, it’s true.

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Zach and I are coaching the kiddos in basketball. The games are early Saturday mornings. If you ever see me before noon (and sometimes after) I will have a coffee mug in my hand-coaching or not.

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Did I mention we were Siegried & Roy? Mmmmk.

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The day after we were S&R we were godparents of this amazing boy, Elihu, who happens to be our nephew. I pretty much cry every time I look at this picture because I love him so much. And I can’t help but think those two bow-tied men are the best.

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I’ve blogged so much about these two cousins who look like twins and act like best friends but it must be said again-I LOVE their relationship. I love how much they love each other.

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My almost 11-year-old still lays on my shoulder to read his books. The day he doesn’t do this is the day I will disappear under my covers and not come out for weeks.

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Tomas and I got to be on a radio show (to air this Saturday) to talk about Wine to Water. I sometimes take for granted how unbelievably kind this child of mine is to everyone but most especially to me. Afterwards he said simply, “You were amazing mom! Everyone will want to come to the party now!”

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The ladies I got to hang with in celebration of Wendy’s almost baby. They were first my sister’s friends in high school and, mercifully, they are now mine as well. What a blessing.

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Love these cats too. They snuggle together all day err’day, how great is that?

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I mean, seriously, it’s a little ridiculous how many pictures I have of my animals.

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I love this man. I love that he lets my crazy flag fly on the daily.

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Zach was a pretty amazing athlete in high school (still is truth be told) and is on his high school’s hall of fame. The kids were beside themselves when they saw his picture.

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Little of this, little of that

is what I’ve been up to lately.

Of course I’m preparing for Wine to Water. This year on top of local wine being offered as a tasting I have successfully convinced a local distillery to donate their goods to us and some people I love into purchasing a few kegs of local brew to sample as well. A popular local musician is back after a few years gone and having seen some of the local artists being featured I can tell you I want all of the things. We are T minus 2 weeks and I’m so. freaking. excited.

All 5 kiddos are playing basketball and Zach and I are the coaches for both teams. On top of my 5, my two nephews are also playing on the teams as well as my good friend’s 2 boys (aka my pseudo nephews). The bigs are at fun ages because they are coachable and eager to learn. Their team is made up of mostly 3rd and 4th graders who are playing on the 5-7th grade league because of Trysten’s age. Because I have spent the entirety of my life loving sports I find my main goal as a coach isn’t to win games but get the kids involved to learn to love the game. Even if they don’t love basketball, perhaps get them to see how much fun physical activity can be. Also I’ve been selfishly so excited to be spending so much time with these kids I love so much.

I’m looking for a part time job for the first time in 6 years. Yes, I still have my fitness instructing and am looking to keep those classes but I’m looking for something beyond that as well. Ideally it would be something else at our Y association (I really, really love the Y) but am basically looking everywhere. I have an entire blog being created (thus far just in my head) about the trials and tribulations of finding a job post stay-at-home-moming but I don’t have the heart to lay it out there yet. In short-it’s kind of depressing.

On top of that there have been things like:

-becoming a Godmother for the first time for my amazing nephew, Elihu. No words for how much it meant to see his little smirk at me while I promised to look out for him for the rest of my life. I often wonder how I got so lucky to be the auntie to so many amazing human beings.

-road tripping with my sister (scariest. driver. ever.) to celebrate a friend’s impending motherhood. One of the things about having 5 kids that becomes quite clear is the fact that we’re never raising our kids solely on our own. On any given day, at any given moment I’m counting on a few handfuls of people to help me raise my 5 babes. I wanted Wendy to know no matter how far away I live, Imma be part of her village that helps raise that beautiful baby of hers.

-Halloween parties. If you’re friends with me on the book you know Zach and I went as Siegfried and Roy this year. My sister-in-law, Emily, always throws a super party for her hubby’s birthday. For as long as I’ve known Frank he takes Halloween very seriously. Never before had I loved the holiday but I love Frank to the moon and back so, for me, it’s always important to try to show it in tangible ways. By dressing as a man the last 2 Halloweens I assume my brother-in-law knows that I love him more than I can possibly say.

-training in 2 new classes. Speaking of part time jobs, I’ve recently added 2 new formats to the classes I teach. On top of Bodystep, Bodypump and Bodyflow I now also teach Bodycombat and Cxworx. If you want to see what I’m talking about you can check them all out at www.lesmills.com. I love these classes because they are for the entire range of people. People walking in off the street never having worked out before can get something out of them as can the elite athlete-I think that’s pretty awesome. Truth be told I love working with the newbies most because typically they are there for long-term health not for the 6 pack. Though 6 packs are nice, for the overwhelming majority they just aren’t attainable without lots of dedication. I tell my kids all the time the reason I work out is so that I can give them piggy back rides until they are 40 and so that I can still get on the floor and play with my grandkids. Though I wouldn’t shirk at having a 6 pack it isn’t worth it to me to give up things like cheese, wine and Almond Joys-I’m in it for the long term goodness.

-enjoying life. It’s always entertaining with these kids of mine. Just today Dailah fell of a chair and yelled out, “I hurt my balls!” When I reminded her she did not, in fact, have balls she remarked, “Yeah but that’s just how I relate to the boys. If I yelled ‘I hurt my vagina!’ They wouldn’t even know what that’s like.” Touche. I say I’d like to freeze time but that isn’t necessarily accurate. I just am so thankful for this life, these people. I’m breathing it in and loving it out because, hell, life is really good.