After my last blog about walking the plank on a pirate ship, my mom commented that I “sure do have a knack for finding great things to do.”

I’m not sure that I have a knack for it, but I do think my 47 and fearless project has reignited my natural curiosity, which has opened me up to new experiences and new people.

After my first belly dancing class last week (definitely one of my 47 new things; I will be writing about it in a future blog), I asked a fellow student where to buy a coin scarf that belly dancers wear. She mentioned the scarves are often for sale at area ethnic festivals as well as the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where she works.

Then she went on to give a plug for the faire, adding that a baby dragon from the live stage show of “How to Train Your Dragon” was going to appear the coming weekend.

Because Dylan is such a dragon lover, I knew we had to attend. We bought tickets for the Bristol Renaissance Faire and were thrilled to catch a glimpse of the baby dragon Nadder (click on the link below to see our video).


We also watched jugglers, acrobats and entertainers of all sorts. The boys couldn’t wait to brandish the new wooden swords and shields they picked out while solving riddles to track down an evil villain during a Kids Quest adventure.

As we watched a glass-blowing demonstration at the faire, I thought I recognized the man acting as the “apprentice” in the demo. I was sure I had seen him at my glass-blowing lesson—#5 on my 47 and fearless list—earlier this year. After the demonstration, I asked him about it and learned he was indeed at the hot glass studio that day.

Now dressed in period costume for the Renaissance Faire, the apprentice (Bob) had a 6-foot whip hanging from his belt. Dylan, who also is a fan of Indiana Jones, wanted to know why he had a whip when most other costumed performers carried swords or other weapons. Bob gave a thorough historical explanation of how a whip could reach an enemy before the enemy’s sword could reach him. Then he went on to say that the whip was made by his good friend Adam Winrich, also known as Adam Crack.

Adam, too, is a performer at the Bristol Renaissance Faire and holds nine Guinness World Records for his skills with a whip. Bob’s suggestion led us to see Adam’s show and his amazing performance cracking fire whips (click on the link below to see our video.)


Conversations like the one we had with Bob—that offer a bit of history or introduce a new art or activity—can pique curiosity and make any event more interesting.

Now the question is: Should learning to crack a whip be one of my 47 new things? What do you think? I can see it coming in handy…when our boys need to clean their rooms…or…


When I started my 47 and fearless project, I had to search out activities that pushed me outside my comfort zone. But a few months into it, opportunities are more plentiful than gold teeth in Captain Jack Sparrow’s mouth.

Last week, our family spent a couple days with our friend Mark and his boys, Hunter and Kasey, at their cabin near Eagle River, Wisconsin. (His lovely wife, Tracy, arrived later.)

When Mark mentioned we could take a cruise on a pirate ship, the boys were intrigued. When he added that we could walk the plank at the end of the ride, I was sold, too!

We reserved spots for our afternoon adventure with Pirates Hideaway on Duck Lake in Eagle River.

Captain Steve and his son, First Mate Stevo, manned the 50-foot pirate ship that they built from the ground up, and it’s seriously awesome. Flying the Jolly Roger and decked out with pirate decorations, it has treasure chests (to hold lifejackets), plenty of seating on two levels and glass (plastic?) sections in the floor of the lower deck to view the water below.

The relaxing two-hour cruise on the Chain of Lakes included popcorn, lemonade, great music and cool, hand-drawn tattoos by Captain Steve.

Passengers on passing boats couldn’t help but wave and take photos of the vessel—she be a right, fine ship! Scurvy dogs on one speedboat even attacked me mateys with water blasters—all in good swashbuckling fun!

When the ship returned to Duck Lake, the crew dropped anchor quite a distance from the dock and forced me hearties to walk the plank! (Just kidding…plank-walking is 100% voluntary.)

The plank extends a few feet from the top deck, so there is not much walking to be done. But standing directly above the water lookin’ two fathoms down can befuddle even an ol’ salt. Shiver me timbers! Thar be a great, grand way down!

The lasses shook a leg, walking the plank first (see video by Mark by clicking the link).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7-J2xYPzX8

If my last blog bragged on Dylan, who has amazed me with his growth in confidence, this one is about Jamie. He turned 5 a few weeks ago and was right behind me in line. I was in the water watching him as he stood on that plank. He looked terrified! I held my arms up to catch him, and on the count of 3, he jumped!

When I told him how brave he was, he said, “Mom, I wasn’t brave. I was scared.” I explained being brave means doing something even when you are scared.

Dylan, who had told me he was “not going to think about it and just do it,” jumped next. Guess I not be raisin’ any lily-livered lads!

Kasey and Hunter followed, and each of us jumped at least twice more before it was time to reboard the vessel and head back to shore.

All in all, it was a right grand adventure on the high seas with memories we be treasurin’ for a long time to come. Arr!

{July 8, 2012}   Oh, the Places You’ll Go!


“You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.”
~ Dr. Seuss

I’m 3 months into my 47 and Fearless project, and if I stopped right now, I’d be happy with the results. I accomplished one of my goals—to encourage my sons, Dylan and Jamie, to embrace something new, even if it’s scary.

Recently, the boys and I made our first attempt at indoor rock climbing at Adventure Rock. Dylan, 8, initially said he didn’t want to go.  He’s cautious in general, so I really had to talk up the experience. But Moms can only do so much. The fact that his Auntie Lisa and cool, 16-year-old cousin Mac were joining us for the afternoon sealed the deal.

Adventure Rock’s Clip ’N Go Program makes it easy for beginners of any age to start climbing. After a short orientation that explains how to use the hydraulic auto belay system, climbers are fitted with harnesses and encouraged to try the many climbing stations on their own.

To use the auto belay, you remove the clip from its anchor on the wall, clip it to the loop on your harness, check that the clip locks and then start scaling the wall. The clip is attached to a cable that runs to the top of the wall and over. As you climb, the system automatically keeps tension on the cable so if you lose your grip, you won’t fall.

The best tip the staff member gave during orientation was to climb a few feet, then grab the cable to slowly descend. This gets you comfortable with the feel of coming down before you’re at the top of a 20-foot wall, looking down and feeling nervous.

Mac had visited Adventure Rock before, so he was a great guide for all of us. He helped both boys feel secure on their first climbs. Like me, Lisa was new to the sport, but eager to learn. We preferred to start out at stations that had convenient hand and footholds.  Once we got the hang of it, it was a lot of fun—and a lot of work! It didn’t take long to break a sweat, and I was out of breath after a few climbs. (The next day, the muscles in my arms, shoulders and back reminded me that I’m not in the best of shape.)

We worked our way up to the tallest walls, which top 35 feet. Rappelling down was the best part!

Jamie, who is 5, liked to climb up a few feet, then hang from the wall for a bit before climbing back down.

It was watching Dylan grow in confidence as he climbed higher and higher that truly made my day. He scaled even the tallest walls, and when the rest of us were tired, he was eager to continue. As his mom, I couldn’t be more proud of the places he’s going.

I will remind the boys, whether they are climbing rock walls or embracing other challenges, that Dr. Seuss is right:

“On and on you will hike and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!”

et cetera