The One with our Fourth

Thursday was the 4th Anniversary of the day I married this guy–
IMG_0348
In celebration of our marriage (you see, we love each other to infinity and beyond, we laugh together a whole lot, and sharing conversation is our favorite pastime), we planned a stupendous getaway that was meant to fit in our favorite things. 
My Uncle Scott generously offered us a set of his company’s tickets to the Cleveland Indians game (they just so happened to be playing the Detroit Tigersour team…which was the hidden agenda in attending this particular game.) They were fantastic seats–just 20 rows back from home plate! 
Besides enjoying the game, the energetic environment, and the company of my mom and grams, we scored FREE PARKING in downtown Cleveland. Unheard of! 
IMG_0324
After the game was over (it was a rather short game………..and we lost…..), we hit the road and headed to Sandusky, Ohio. I had discovered Camp Sandusky on the interwebs and booked us a two night stay. Decent prices, 10 minutes from Cedar Point, lovely wooded sites, accommodating bath houses–we would totally recommend staying here if you’re planning a Cedar Point trip. 
IMG_0334
We set up our tent and our chairs and our air mattress by 5pm and at 6:00 we opted for a trip to the local legend of an ice cream parlor–Toft’s. This ice cream shop serves hard scoop ice cream that they churn themselves with the milk that comes from the factory that’s attached to the parlor. Yeah, it’s that fresh. With over 30 flavors to choose from, we had our work cut out for us.  
We both got a “small” for $3.00 each–four giant scoops. (We were glad they told us that the large was an entire half gallon of ice cream. That’s a bit insane. I have NO IDEA how they fit that on a cone.) And so, we indulged in our ice cream-before-dinner. mmmmmm.
IMG_0327
That night, we started a fire, then roasted brats and simultaneously played 3 games of Rummy–it was a beautiful thing. 
The weather cooled down for a lovely night’s sleep in a quiet park–the Thursday night calm before the Memorial Day storm. :) We slept in and took our time getting ready for the day. (I tried really hard to sleep in, but couldn’t make it past 7:45. I am such an old person.) 
We headed for Cedar Point at 9:45 and walked in the gates just as they opened at 10am. Perfect! (The first time we’ve ever had a leisurely (late) morning leading up to a day at CP. 
(BTW, if you don’t know what Cedar Point is or you’ve never been, you are seriously missing out. It is by far THE BEST amusement park in the World. Quite literally. 

Cedar Point has also received the Golden Ticket Award for “Best Amusement Park in the World” from Amusement Today for the past fourteen years.

If you like roller coasters, you MUST go. We got our tickets for $40 through AAA, which is the same price as the local small-scale park.) 
IMG_0358
IMG_0343
We spent the next many hours sweating like crazy (it was about 90 degrees!), waiting in a few lines and buzzing through others, screaming and laughing at the top of our lungs, and snacking on a backpack full of goodies (avoiding park priced foods.) I was intensely impressed that my hair style–two french-braided pigtails (Kevin’s idea) with loads of hairspray–kept perfectly through coaster after coaster. Astounding! :)
IMG_0341
The Sky Hawk was one of our favorite thrills. It was a new ride, but the line was never more than 15 minutes long, and the excitement was just as high as most coasters. The ride was smooth and high (200+ feet) and fast (70+ mph). That’s a win-win-win in my book. 
IMG_0345
Oh, and this is our exaggerated thrill-seeking expressions. 
IMG_0357
After making our rounds to our favorite coasters (some more than once), and never really stopping for a break, we were tired out by 5:00. (This probably has something to do with our “oldness,” but we’re ok with that.) We headed to Olive Garden for our fancy pants anniversary date. Equipped with the small remains of a gift card, we opted to splurge (for us) and order fountain drinks PLUS dessert! YUM. This triple chocolate strata was rich and velvety and delicious. 
IMG_0360
As we headed back to our campsite at 6:15, we decided–completely on a whim (which had been our trip’s theme)–to pack up camp and head to my parents’ house. And so we did. By 7:00 we were loaded (and we totally folded our tent up perfectly on the FIRST TRY–record-setting!) and showered and on the road. We surprised Mom and Dad with our 9pm arrival, but had a great night talking with them. This morning we had another leisurely routine and even had time for seeing Gramma Mary, visiting my beloved Pastor Jeff & Sue, and eating a Steak and Shake lunch with Mom, Dad, Grams, and Chuck. 
We made it home by 4:20pm, unpacked, started laundry, went for a walk with my bff, had ice cream for dinner (again), and got back to the church for worship practice at 6:30. 
It sounds crazy, but it was perfect. 
I love you, Kevin. Thanks for spending a wonderful “weekend” of celebration with me. 

The One with Friday Funnies 05.18.12

On today’s episode of Friday Funnies, we will explore the beauty of wedding photos (ruined), check out some adorable Pandas, and learn how to keep your work buddies (or you spouse!) from drinking from your  mug. 
Friday Funnies
————–
I don’t know about you, but I think this is just plain genius. 
Maybe that says something about me. 
Photobombing like a Pro
see the horse in the background?
source
THE LOCK CUP
so only YOU can drink your coffee
(I think Kevin was hinting at something with this one. I’m a food thief.)
source
Just Jackie Chan with some Pandas
seriously adorable.
Add caption
if this video loads correctly, this is awesome.
I dare you to stop watching.
source
Have a stupendous weekend, my friends!

The One with a (Hopefully) Green Thumb

I do not enjoy yard work. I have never been a gardener. Pulling weeds is basically equivalent with torture. Getting dirt under my fingernails (what little, short, stubby fingernails I have) is gross. I don’t like bug bites or worms or bees. I have serious allergies to pollen. Sweating in the sun while working with a shovel and getting callouses on my palms is not my cup of tea. I have rarely had success in keeping plants alive. 
But this past weekend I put all that aside and got to work. We live in a rented house, you see, and while the landlord takes care of the mowing, the lawn maintenance stops there. Our street is full of rented homes, leaving much of the sights rather sore on the eyes.

Despite my dislike of yard work and my lack of a green thumb, I have been slowly planning an attack on my curb-appeal-lacking yard. I purchased new gardening gloves, borrowed straight edge shovels, bought mulch, potting soil, seeds, and pots.

Friday afternoon I used my little hand trowel and spade to create a new, small flower garden with zinnia seeds and to edge around an existing flowering bush. (That was hard, long work.)

IMG_0312

Saturday I found terracotta pots at a garage sale and paid $2.00 for 12. I used that borrowed shovel and other edging equipment and when to town on the sidewalks leading up to our house. I LOVE STRAIGHT LINES. (Betcha never would have guessed that. HA.) Again, hard, long work.

I brilliantly came up with a place to transfer all of the remnants of dirt and grass from the edging project–the 2 foot wide-1 foot deep sink hole in the front strip of yard along the road. I kept piling it on, stomping it down, and adding layer after layer of dirt and grass (and yes, even weeds.)

IMG_0311

On Sunday, I edged along the main sidewalk in front of our house and finished off the sink-hole-covering project. It was like laying turf.

IMG_0310

Monday I potted more herbs and vegetables–cilantro, basil, snow peas, jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, parsley, dill. Now I’m just going to have to figure out what to do with all of the seedlings. I’d like to keep them contained in pots, but I hate the thought of getting rid of the other little plants in the thinning process.

IMG_0308


Monday evening, after dinner with friends, I headed to the back yard and dug up “forgotten” soil, tilling it by hand, and planted sunflower seeds and more zinnias. *crossing my fingers and hoping they grow. Filling the front corner of our back yard (visible from the road) with 10 foot sunflowers will seriously brighten the neighborhood.

And today, I scored the window box/valence pot I was hoping for–at my favorite store, Aldi! For $6.99 I found this lovely wrought iron basket with hooks hang it from the front railing. AND THEN, at Walmart, I came across a huge hanging pot of petunias on sale for…get this…$3.50! It was definitely a little sad, but I’m hoping I can revive it. I separated the four petunia plants from the pot and transplanted them to their new valence box. Even as unhealthy the as the flowers are, it brightens the house up immensely. I’m so thrilled.

IMG_0315

…The work in progress product…
waiting for the flowers seeds to grow and the front tree and bushes to blossom and other working-bee brainstorms to occur.

IMG_0309

The One with Friday Funnies 05.11.12

My husband and I communicate often via Skype chat, namely to send computer links from one computer to the other. Many times a day, I get links sent to me from my tech-savvy husband who is constantly finding notable videos or images on sites like reddit.com or imgur.com. These sites seem to be the first place to look for the latest additions to the ever-growing world wide web. Most of the time, if there’s a funny photo or video shared on Facebook, Kevin’s shared it with me 2 weeks ago. Impressive record, methinks. 
Thus, I am instituting Friday Funnies, a way for me to share with you a few of the top photos or videos or other links sent to me by my internet-sleuthing husband. Most of them will be funny, some impressive, and some thought-provoking. Hope you enjoy!
Friday Funnies

imgur.com This is why my daughter is cooler than yours.
source

This is far too accurate. Which makes it twice as hilarious.
source: click to view larger font. 
If you know anything about band and care at all about Lord of the Rings, 
you should find this pretty awesome. 
source: click to view larger font.

This may be the most awesome commericial ever. Or at least of the 90s. 
(Please watch the entire video. It just keeps getting better.)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0LSkX46dS4]

The One with the Fairy Running

This past Sunday I went on one of the most FUN runs ever! It was Run for God night at church. A group of anywhere between 15-30 people of every skill level and age come together to learn to run or run better. There is a Bible study involved, helping the runners focus on doing everything for the glory of God. It’s a fantastic program and has revitalized our church and our community. It has changed people in amazing ways–not just physically, but emotionally pushing past boundaries they never thought possible, and spiritually by trusting God to empower them beyond their own abilities and focus their hearts and minds on Him. 
Everyone meets for group runs (following the Couch to 5K running program) on Wednesday and Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Typically, we divide into two groups based on skill level–beginner or intermediate. We follow separate running paths and have different running goals. But this past Sunday was different. In an effort to be united in mind and action, the two groups ran together. We stayed on the Erie Canal bike path together, the more experienced runners go back and forth, back and forth, as the beginners get plugging on. It was encouraging to be alongside one another, encouraging, spurring on toward greatness. 
It was the beginner group’s first ever 20 minute run. (Up to this point, the longest they had run in a row was 8 minutes with a 2 or 3 minute walk, then 8 minutes, etc.) It was intimidating and scary for many of them, but with 10 or more experienced runners coaching them and keeping their morale high, they finished strong! 
My run was a little more unique though. I was running with a 10 year old and a 7 year old. The girls had asked me to run with them–which actually surprised me because when I had run with A. on Friday, I had coached her like crazy and pushed her pretty hard. I wasn’t sure she’d ever want to run with me again! But she did! (She must really be a runner, because we’re gluttons for punishment…that’s what running is, right?! lol) 
Off we went, and boy did we have a blast. Little Miss 2nd Grader and I were inserting fairy leaps into our runs–bounding off the group and flapping our arms like wings. (You cover a LOT of ground that way!) We kept encouraging Miss A who was having a bit of trouble with her brand new shoes, and we all finished we spirits high! 
Along the way, we picked up Miss 2nd Grader’s little sister, W. Boy oh boy can that 5 year old run! She would take off at a full out sprint in front of us, and we’d race to catch up with her. Back and forth, again and again. And giggling like school girls (oh wait…) all the way. :)
Being carefree and whimsical isn’t my typical modus operandi, but it was so wonderful to act like a kid again! 

The One with the First Garage Sale of the Season

It’s GARAGE SALE season, people!! YAHOOO! (Here, let me create a simile for you–deer season is to deer hunter as garage sale season is to bargain hunter.) I went to my first set of sales with a a wonderful friend, Andrea. When she told me last Thursday that she was a thrifter and has seen my blog post about my $5 Goodwill dresses, she was hoping I might also be a garage-sale-goer. BOY WAS SHE RIGHT. She probably didn’t know just how “hardcore” I am about deal hunting, but if she is gutsy enough to garage sale with a toddler and an infant, I’m sure can handle my antics. :)
Sure enough, we were perfect shopping partners! We had the same standards for prices. (“No, I wouldn’t buy those sandals for $4. I would pay $1 or maybe 50 cents.”) We could spot a “good” or a “bad” sale from the end of the driveway. We didn’t mind letting the other come or go at their own speed. No pressure, just fun, relaxed rummaging. 
And at the end of all that, she made a stop at my favorite store (Aldi) for me and we found out she’s an Aldi lover as well. Awesome!
IMG_0289

I found a few perfect items for very little money–my favorite kind of purchases. A blue tri-fold lawn chair (low to the ground, you can lay flat or elevate your back, etc.) for $1.00! Plus these great music books and a few classic reads like Pride and Prejudice and Huckleberry Finn–all for $3.00. 
Let the hunt begin!

The One with the Pain of Forgetting

Last weekend on my quick drive through my hometown, my mom and I stopped by the assisted living facility to visit my Grandma Mary. Grandma has had many health scares in the past few years, and always it’s hard to know if and when to rush to her side (me being a few hours away.) But she’s almost 89 now, and I realize I need to take every opportunity I have to see her. I have watched her transition from my spunky, independent, mobile grandmother to a more and more frail (yet still spunky) version of herself. It’s been hard watching her body show the signs of age, but it’s manageable.

CIMG0923

But last Friday was the first time I’ve felt the devastating pain I’ve only heard about in second hand accounts. My Grandma Mary didn’t know me. When I walked into her room to say hello, she looked a bit confused, but nothing out of the ordinary. I didn’t notice that she had never spoken my name (a “must” for my adoring Grandma) until she was talking to me about “Danny” (my dad) few minutes later. I finally said, “Yes, my dad has shown me where he grew up.”

She walked slowly out of the bathroom and said, “I’m sorry, but who’s your dad.”

“My dad is Danny, your son, Grandma,” I said as kindly as I could muster.

I went right to find my mom to tell her the situation and she couldn’t believe either. This was a first for Grandma. She had long-ago lost her “social filter” on the things that come out of her mouth, but never before had she forgotten any one of us.

For the next few minutes, Grandma kept asking my mom who I was and calling me Donna–most likely after her niece. I broke down in tears when I called Kevin to tell him of the heartbreaking experience.

We went back to visit Grams two days later. I had my hopes up that her mind would have clicked back into reality, that she would know me and look at me with her eyes filled with pride. We have spent so much time together over the years, my Grandma Mary and me. I never considered the possibility that she would forget her granddaughter.

IMG_0025

But upon entering her room a second time, she called me “Hun” and “Donna” once again. And even when my dad tried to tell her I was his daughter, all she could say was, “Well I can see why you’d be so proud.” But there no understanding in her eyes.

And so my grieving process begins now. All too soon for my liking. 

The One with the Pastors’ Conference

The month of April was a complete blur for me. The first week led up to Easter Sunday, and we started our long drive to Florida immediately after that service. We were in Florida for the next Sunday of church, and the following weekend, I took a drive to Ohio and then Michigan with my parents to visit an ailing relative. That weekend was a great time with all of my family (both mine and Kevin’s) but Kevin wasn’t there. It was sad. And like something was missing for all of us. At this point I’ve missed two Sundays in a row of church. Two days later, Kevin and I get in the car again; this time for a 6 hour drive Pennsylvania with Pastor Randy, Sheryl and the kids. 
*whew* I’m tired just thinking about it. Lots of car time, lots of eating out, but lots of wonderful time with friends and family. 
The trip to PA was for the long-anticipated Ministers’ conference for a few hundred local Free Methodist Pastors and their families. Sheryl had been eagerly talking about attending this event since we first arrived in New York–and for good reason. We had a wonderful time!
The food was indulgent, the speaker was riveting for all four of us, the hotel was fancy and our room was luxurious (can you say, Jacuzzi suite?) We met lots of new friends and had great conversation with Randy & Sheryl on our long drives. We had fun playing with the kids in the pool and soaking in the hot tub during our free time. 
And then it was back to real life. (Which, for Kevin, meant jumping out of the van with our luggage and taking his bookbag with him into our car to head to his 6 hour evening of seminary class. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the second half of my Subway sub, caught up on finances, and watched some Grey’s.)
We are so thankful for the opportunity the church gave us to attend the conference and to the leaders of the event for planning every detail to make it a success.