We’re In The Candy Making Business! (aka Mara Starts Jetsetting)

n the fall of 2010, Mara got accepted to travel with People to People, student ambassador travel group. The organization was started by President Eisenhower after World War II as a way to increase the understanding between countries. And what better way to do it than starting with the younger generations?

Mara will be traveling to England and France (in an effort to keep up with her dad’s passport stamps) in June 2011. And she needs to raise part of her trip tuition. To that end, we’ve become business partners. (I’m sure she would cringe at that description!)

And so, she has been shoveling snow, making all natural dog treats, selling stuff on Half.com…and making candy.

I hadn’t been this happy to see Valentine’s Day be over in at least a decade (or two).

Except that we had developed a weekly pattern of taking candy to our favorite restaurant…and they (the servers mostly) started counting on that chocolate fix to get through the busy Saturday nights. So…off we went for St. Patrick’s molds.

In the meantime, Mara is completing all sorts of fun and educational things for the trip, including a research project on…the Catacombs of Paris. Ewwww….

A map in case you want to visit…
…or a view of the bones in case you can’t get there

She is excited and so are we…wanna buy some chocolate?


Australia Here We Come…

Never ones to sit on our laurels, we decide to take our collective Peek family show on the road.  We’re also into very advanced planning so we’ve booked our plane tickets now for a trip to be taken over Christmas 2011.  Why Australia?  It’s SUMMER there when it’s winter here for starters…

We should be able to cover this in 3 weeks!

Mike says that his part is done…which is the plane tickets.  Now it’s my turn…

I’m not sure that’s really fair since he’s already been to Sydney (which took not one but two posts to cover – why not use that experience?  But, I’m starting our list anyway…

Bondi Beach…summer…’nuf said

And that’s just a start…I’m sure we’ll be packing all the adventure in we possibly can (including getting that driving thing down…)!


Flashback: A Virtual Trip to Ghana

We are fortunate enough to be able to give back. And we encourage our kids to think and act both locally as well as globally. It’s amazing when those two things intersect.

Mara and a group of her friends often do service projects in the local area. This has included volunteering at the local animal shelter, walking dogs at a senior living facility, making cards and cookies for those same residents, and doing yard work for Hillcrest Ministries.

In the fall of 2010, another opportunity presented itself. One that we all still talk about months later. Brad Gautney, President – Global Health Innovations, gave a presentation to Mara’s group on work that they do around the world. On this particular October afternoon, the kids learned about malaria and the Under the Net campaign (which is much like the Nothing but Nets campaign highlighted in Bill Gates’ 2011 annual letter).

Under a Net (untreated)

They also heard stories of orphans in Ghana that needed surgeries – surgeries that Brad and his team would perform. These are kids that have a much better life in an orphanage than in the slavery and child trafficking they lived in before. These are kids that have never seen a birthday or get well card – let alone received one addressed to them.

Brad has their undivided attention

Until now. Personalized get well cards plus donations of small toys and magazines for Brad to take on his November trip to Ghana. Small, yes. Meaningful, absolutely.


P.S. – Brad has an undeniable passion and devotion to improving the health around the globe one village at a time.  He has provided ongoing updates on Ghana and the impact that the kids’ work has had.  You can get involved here. 

Extended Playback…Love the Music!

As you may know (goodness knows exactly how), we are live music fans. Ok, Mike is the BIG live music fan. I’m coming along slowly – and I’m a little pickier. Still, we’ve been going to concerts and bordered on becoming groupies (according to co-workers) to one group in particular.

But that might be an afront to actual groupies, and I don’t want to offend anyone!

Starting in 2009, continuing into 2010 and already into 2011, we’ve had our share of concerts…here are the highlights:

Chickenfoot…they don’t think they are a supergroup…but heck, that’s what they are. Sammy Hagar (love him!), Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony, Chad Smith…and man, can they rock! They did just that at the Uptown Theater in KC in August 2009…(Mike wanted me to use the pic with all the hot chicks but I am exercising my editorial prowess…it IS a family blog!)

Sammy and Joe…
and Chad (sorry, no shot of Michael…except with the chicks)

Cross Canadian Ragweed (this is an affiliate link to our favorite album of theirs) More memories here than we can almost count…it really got rolling in August 2009 at the MO State Fair and kept going right through 2010 when the band decided to come off the road. By virtue of them, I have uncovered (or rediscovered) a great love of Americana rock, and we both found a new band by way of the Cleveland concert in December 2009. Said new band was from…wait for it…southern Missouri. They are Ha Ha Tonka (new album in early April 2011!) and totally worth checking out.

Cleveland Rocks!
Ragweed…from the Cleveland House of Blues Balcony

In 2010, we saw CCR 4 times…in Lawrence at the Granada in February 2010, the Blue Note in Columbia, MO in mid-April, in Fayetteville, AR over Labor Day weekend at AMP (no, not the restaurant in Hawaii – the Arkansas Music Pavilion which is like a perma-tent with a kick butt stage and sound system in the parking lot of a mall – behind Dillard’s. Kids, you just can’t make this stuff up!) and finally in San Antonio, TX (really a little bitty town an 1 1/2 hours away) in mid-October at Ziegfest-Western Days. I could go on and on about how we thought about sleeping in the nursing home instead of driving the 1 1/2 hours back to our hotel…but nah.

At the Blue Note in Columbia for Ragweed…in a Chickenfoot shirt
AMP – you can’t really see the mall in this pic…
Cody Canada at Yorktown, TX Western Days…our last concert

Catching up to real time…A couple of the Ragweed guys have started a new band, The Departed. We checked them out in Lawrence in January 2011. They are coming along nicely, but they don’t hold the same place as Ragweed does in our hearts…yet.