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February 21, 2013

Sesame Street Live

I have been wanting to take my daughter, now 3, to see Sesame Street Live at the Fox Theater in Detroit, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay $150+ for three people to see the show. And my most favorite personal assistant failed to tell me about the half off sale on Superbowl Sunday, but she did redeem herself when she told me about the 20% off sale the final weekend of the show. I didn't take advantage of that sale, because tickets were only on sale on Saturday and Sunday and in the end it was cheaper to go on Friday.

When Friday arrived, I let my daughter know that when her dad got home that night he would be taking us somewhere and it was a special surprise. When he arrived home, we all hurried to get into the vehicle and onto the road to make it there in time. We were probably over 35 minutes into our drive and our daughter still hadn't asked where we were going. When we asked her she said, "a special surprise" and left it at that. We finally told her and I don't think she understood until we got there and got into our seats.

We sat down just as the show began and she loved every minute of it. She learned about the letter of the day and the number of the day and then said, "When they say R for Rachel, that's when I come up" meaning that's when she comes onto the stage. Good thing she never asked why she didn't get called up there.

I took the point and shoot camera because I was fearful they wouldn't let me in with the giant one, and of course the battery was dying or pretty much dead. I was able to get 1 photo of her. She's standing by the souvenir stand where she got her $15 glow star (I can't believe I paid $15 for that stupid thing! But I'm a sap, my daughter very rarely asks for anything and so when she does, I think it's so sweet and I often cave!)

 

 

July 24, 2012

OCMD Family Vacation 2012

We went back to Ocean City, Maryland this year over the fourth. We were there two years ago. We stayed in a BEAUTIFUL condo doors away from Dan's aunt's condo just 1 block from the ocean. We went to the beach every day except for the day we went to the pool, watched fireworks, hit the boardwalk one afternoon, drove to Rehoboth, Delaware one night and I got to do some shopping. The weather was perfect, nice and warm but not super hot.The water temperature of the ocean was great.

Rachel had tons of fun in the ocean, or rather, running from and into the waves. The only time she was brave enough to go into the water, was when I was carrying her, and usually I was somewhat forcing her to get wet. She loved running down the beach when we went for walks and enjoyed picking up seashells. At one point, as she was running down the shore, she said, "Watch out birds! Watch out!" as she ran toward them. Every day we'd leave the beach to take a nap or for the evening, she's say, "We'll come back another day." And usually when she woke up, she'd say, "We gotta go back the beach." And almost every day she would ask, "Who house is this?" I had to explain to her this was a condo we were renting. She obviously didn't understand it. While we were making the 12 hour 45 minute drive home (that's how long it took us with two potty stops and a breakfast break) she began to get tired and said, "I wanna go back to the condo and take a nap." Unfortunately we had to tell her our week at the condo was over.

I only took just over 400 photos, so here are a few.

Checking out the ocean for the first time this year. 

 

 

Dan, Rachel and Aunt "Betty." Her real name is Aunt Debbie, but Rachel called her Betty before she saw her and it somewhat stuck. We also have an Aunt Betty. 

 

On this day, we had a beach side pool

 

Running from the waves.

 

The trick with making a super awesome sandcastle is getting the perfect base. To get the perfect base you must pat, pat, pat the sand. 

 

 

 

 

Once you get good at making sand castles, you can help engineer them with your dad. 

 

One of the things I thought of that I am VERY proud of was taking our sled to the beach. I picked up this sled for $2 at a garage sale last summer. We didn't use it this past winter because our winter was so mild and we hardly had any snow. Instead of bringing our wagon like we had in the past, we brought this sled and used the beach cart that the condo had in the closet (which was also awesome). We were able to drag our stuff across the sand and by the end of the week, we were dragging our daughter in it so she didn't have to walk in the sand (mainly because she walks much slower than us). It's similar to using the boogie/body board, but much bigger!

 

 

On our boardwalk adventure, there were two sand sculptures.


 

This is my husband's father. My husband is the one that says things like, "I come from a shallow gene pool." 

 

And this is his sister, our Aunt Nina. There was somewhat of a "how tacky can you get" competition between the two of them.

 

Our only family, pic! Thanks Jami!

 

 

 

 

October 07, 2011

Spontaneous Water Park Adventure

Over Labor Day this year, it was CRAZY warm one of the days and then BRUTALLY cold the next! We took advantage of the 90 degree weather and went to the Aquatic Park in Lansing. I love going to this park and the last time we had been there, I was pregnant with Rachel!

The zero entry pool is the best, the Rachel really enjoyed the splash zone. I literally took over a hundred photos and I think this one is my favorite:

 

 

September 21, 2011

Cheeseburger in Caseville 2011

Every year there is a festival near my hometown. It's called Cheeseburger in Caseville and it's a 10 day event that draws lots of people and festivities to the small lakeside town called Caseville. This was the first year I'd ever gone to the festival and it was unique and fun and Rachel (despite teething) had fun, too!

We stayed with Grandma and Papa in their brand new camper. 

 

We had a cheeseburger. 

 

We went to the health fair and picked a duck....

 

...and spun the wheel for a prize. 

 

Here are some chairs lined up for the Parade of Fools.

 

We saw some floats, and this neat mini semi truck. 

 

Papa helped Rachel collect a few beads. 

 

I found humor in this sign. Maybe you will, too. 

We went to the fire department to learn about fire safety, bike safety and we toured the fire truck, got a bike helmet for free and an ID card. 

This is Andy, the Ambulance. He talked to the kids and moved around. Rachel is tickling him with the help of grandma.

 

Grandpa sat at the kid's table for dinner.

 

We did not want to get our face painted. Or any other body part.

 

The train at the campground was very popular. Rachel went on 3 rides in one day. 

 

We had a lot of fun at the beach!

 

 

September 07, 2011

Drag Racing in Martin, MI

Since we had something going on every single weekend in August, I'm behind on my blog. Rachel and I were fortunate enough to drive on a Saturday to watch her dad drag race in Martin, only to spend 5 hours at the track, dealing with on and off rain, drying and re-drying the track and then going home without seeing anyone race. We returned on Sunday, not too ambitions about driving the trip again, but were grateful to be able to see some races and to see her dad win some money.

Trying out her new ear protection.

 

Posing next to her dad's race car. 

 

Smiling with Daddy after his win!

 

 

She loves to sit in any car and "play." The Gremlin was no different.

 

August 17, 2011

Turtle Lake Camping Adventure

My college friends often go on a camping trip every year. They have always invited me and I've gone once before - and it rained the entire time and our brand new tent leaked the entire time. I didn't make the trip last year because I was so put off about the rain and the thought of tent camping and packing up all of that stuff. But this year my husband and I are SUPER busy, so I decided when I got the invite in the spring, I was going no matter what! So last Friday, Rachel and I took off for Northern Michigan with our tent and truck packed for our first solo camping adventure.

The weather was perfect! Hot and muggy during the day and nice and cool at night. Perfect weather to sleep in a tent! When I arrived, I was 9 out of 10 families. The group was all together spread across a large area, and it was nice to see people I haven't seen in a while and to meet new people. 

I was surprised at all of the kid things at this group event. And thankful Craig and Laura brought so many fabulous kid toys.

There was a bounce house..

And a doll house...

And a jeep...

And play-doh...

And a caged area...

 

with kids inside...

...trying to chew their way out!

And there was a blow up pool, push and ride buggy, play tent....and I'm sure I've already forgotten something!  

Rachel loved the water, ever more than she has ever loved it before. Not sure if it was because there was no one at the beach, or if the water was nice and warm, or if she is just older and smarter! She ran into the water, and out, splashed, stomped in water puddles and even put he face in the water trying to drink it!

 

And she was trying to take a nap!

We met some new faces.

This one's happy.

And now he's sad! And SOOO CUTE!

This one didn't want me to take his photo, but I sneaked this one in. 

 

This guy Rachel LOVED, and I began to start calling him her Manny (Male Nanny).

And we saw some old friends, too.

And at one point the kids all got C R A Z Y in front of the camera. I swear they were about to attack me!

 

I was nervous about going with Rachel alone and asked my friend, Mowen to help me out - I didn't want to assume people would help me because I was a single parent this weekend. I was somewhat freaking out when I arrived and Mowen wasn't there, but my friend, Sarah, helped me set up my tent and get things in order which was a huge relief. Rachel always does very well, she never wanders off or goes very far on her own, and this time was no different. She actually sat in the Jeep while I set up camp with the help of Sarah. 

We had a great time and hope to tag along again next year. And I'm sure if my husband comes, he'll try to bring the rock star motorhome for a much more comfortable camping experience. 

August 09, 2011

Blueberries 2011

I try to remember to pick blueberries every year, but often the seasons slips by me too quickly. I know it's basically the same time every year, but the lack of advertising (post cards in my mailbox, TV commercials) makes me forget about it every year. This year I made it to the patch again and took Rachel and her dad with me.

We left early in the morning to avoid the super hot weather and were at the patch picking for about an hour. Rachel picked a few, and usually ate them. If I picked any berries and put them into her cup, she ate them or she dumped them into my bucket. In the end we went home with just over five pounds and Rachel had a full belly! 

Here is Rachel and her dad ready to pick blueberries - can you sense the enthusiasm in both of them?

And if you need a close of up the girl who won't crack a smile...

 

 

August 03, 2011

Family Reunion 2011

I've only met my husband's Aunt Lee once - and that was at her sister's (my mother-in-law's) funeral. So when the opportunity came up to go to Minneapolis for her retirement party, my husband and I actually considered going for a long weekend to visit. We decided not to go because Dan was so busy with work, the event was on a Friday and I had plans to go to the UP that weekend to hang out with a friend.

Lee and I swapped a few emails. I told her we wouldn't be attending but thanked her for including us in the event. I did make a pretty sweet paper doll for her and sent it along with a donation to her (former) place of employment. I struggled with the paper doll because, well, my paper doll decorating skills were very rusty and I was unsure how do decorate an aunt I met only once! Anyhow Lee gave me dates she was coming to Michigan for a visit, so I kept in touch with her (a.k.a. harassed her) to find out when the heck she would be in Coldwater so I could come visit. If she travels across five states to get here, I can drive 2 hours to visit with her! We swapped a few emails and voice messages and phone calls and on Sunday Rachel and I went to visit some distant and relatives I met for the first time. (My husband didn't make the trip, he was on his way home from a beer drinking, gun shooting guys weekend in the UP). 

I have to admit, talking to Lee on the phone and hanging out with her in person brought some tears of my mother-in-law, her sister, Libby. They sound so much alike on the phone and their mannerisms are very much alike, not to mention they look ALOT alike! 

And thanks so much to Terry and Pete for opening up their home for all of us, making pizza and being fun, genuine, people! I hope we can all keep in touch! 

 

(Great) Aunt Lee & Rachel meet for the second time! 

 

Uncle Nick and his wife Leanne and their daughter Joslynn were able to come for a visit, too! 

 

My niece, and Rachel's cousin, Joslynn. 

 

Grandpa Dave came, too!

Cousins play peek-a-boo with the camera girl!

 

We met a new friend and cousin - Madelyn!

 

I encourage you to find a small place in your pocket book to help donate to Lee's former place of employment - Clare Housing. She continues to pour her heart and soul into this cause. You can visit their website here. Your donation is most likely tax deductible.

Here is the ever-so-neat invitation to Lee's retirement party and the paper doll I decorated!


 

 

July 25, 2011

Sunday Road Trip

We took a road trip on Sunday to the Thumb because my niece, Avery was in Michigan. She had a fun time playing with Rachel in the sprinkler at grandma and papa's house. The two of them also enjoyed playing with all the vintage toys my mom dug out of the attic.

As usual Rachel gets a drink of water from the sprinkler. 

Avery is here!

Check out the vintage chairs the girls are sitting on! My sister and I sat on the same ones as kids. We had to remove Rachel shortly after the photo because the chair webbing was starting to fall apart and she was sinking into the chair! 


 


 

 

July 12, 2011

Oh Canada

Since I am "catching up" on "long lost" events that took place in the spring, I thought I should blog about my trip to Canada in May.

I was invited to a bridal shower for a friend who's (now) wife is from Canada. I was responsible for all of the paper products for her wedding so I thought it would be fun to visit and make the trip to Canada for her open house shower. I got in touch with a friend from Sault College who now lives in Hamilton, Ontario and asked her to meet me about halfway and hang out with our kids before I went to the shower. I realized after me met we haven't seen each other in 8 years! Thankfully Facebook and email has kept us in touch!

Rachel and I left early for the 3.5 hour trip to Canada. We planned to meet my friend Gabe and her son Jonah at a park in Chatham which was the halfway point for both of us. As with any border crossing, I'm always a tad nervous. I had our passports and Rachel was peacefully sleeping in the car when I drove through customs to begin our journey to Ontario. She missed out on the bridge and most of the excitement of Canada. We began our trip across 401 East toward London. I believe the "locals" call this "The 401." The road itself reminded me of the turnpike and toll road across Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania - barren, hardly any traffic, no bill boards - which make for a very boring trip! The signs that I did encounter made me laugh:
Fatigue Kills
Tailgating Kills - Leave Some Space
Drinking & Driving Kills - Don't Drink and Drive!
Not only could I read these signs in English, but shortly after, I was able to view the French translation of them as well.

At one point I passed the Windsor Hotel where the sign said "Electrically Heated." I was relieved, because I was worried if I ever stayed there, I'd have to bring my own wood to keep the wood stove in my room lit and the room warm. Thankfully Canada now has electricity!

We arrived at the park and during our trip it kept looking like it was going to rain. A few sprinkles hit the car on the 401 but didn't amount to anything, and so we remained dry while hanging out. It was GREAT to see my friend from years ago and I LOVE her son Jonah. He is 4 and just full of surprises. We had lunch at Harvey's (new to me) and my friend was excited because they had poutine. For any of you who do not know the Canadian delicacy, poutine is french fries and cheese covered in gravy. I'm always mortified by this dish. I tried a bite once while in college and I cannot eat it. I especially do not like how the gravy makes the fries soggy!

Anyhow, our lunch was great, Jonah called me out for saying a bad word (shut up) and after lunch we took a walk around the cute little town of Chatham and found another park for the kids to play at and us to catch up on the past eight years. It's so great to know you have a wonderful friend when after such a long time you can just pick up and keep talking like you've been hanging out all this time. I love that about my friend Gabe. 

After our fun (and short) time with Gabe, we headed to Kristen's shower. I must admit I felt terribly under-dressed, in jeans and a shirt, but we were at the park all day and I knew we'd be "getting dirty" so I didn't wear a cute skirt or sundress like everyone else! My attire just helped me appear more American to the all-Canadian-except-for-family guests. 

The shower was very cute and laid back. Just an open house to visit and hang out. Enjoy some food and wine and visit with the bride. I was introduced to everyone and immediately forgot their names - I need to work on that. One friend called me out as the Facebook friend with the caricature as my profile photo. And she was correct. Rachel was a big hit (naturally) and I am in love with the Blueberry Hand Soap from Bath and Body Works that was given to me as a favor!

A week or so after Rachel's first trip to Canada, Kristen, the bride, sent me a package with two ADORABLE tee shirts inside. They were both for Rachel as souvenir of her first trip Across the Border.

 

June 29, 2011

Strawberry Patch 2011

I refuse to sit around when my husband is out of town. It's rough working and being a single mom while he is away, but it's just something that I have to do. When I got home at 6:30pm Tuesday night, the weather was windy and cool and I figured it would be a good time to pick strawberries.

I slapped halfway decent dinner in front of Rachel (while I ate crap, of course) and got the dog fed and we were back out the door headed to the strawberry patch.  We were racing the clock, since we had about a 20 minute drive to get there, it was already ten after seven and they closed at eight. Once we arrived we waited a few minutes and checked out the small petting farm before the wagon pulled by the tractor picked us up to take us to the picking area. For some reason Rachel loves tractors, and I love hearing her say trak-tor. The ride seemed long, at least 4-6 minutes and I was antsy to get my berries.

Rachel did well. I was worried because we were nearing her 8:30pm bed time and I wanted to get at least 12 pounds or a full tray the farm gives to you for filling. I frantically grabbed berries and began to fill up the tray as Rachel stood and watched. She waved to the dad and son picking near us and she watched the tractor drive away. I gave her a berry to eat and she ate it. I sat her in the straw row and she enjoyed touching and feeling and playing with the straw. She got up and said "help" once. I think she wanted me to help her pick a berry. I tried, but my patience wasn't there because I knew the next time the tractor came around, our time was up. After 10 seconds of trying to get her to pick a berry, I just picked it for her and let her eat it. I think in total she ate three of them.

The tractor came around the corner, distracting her again, and I continued to pick until the last second. The driver of the tractor commented about how I had a lot of berries for only having 20 minutes to pick. I asked him if he was offering me a job. 

In the end, I had 10.5 pounds, almost reaching my 12 pound goal, a tired, but happy 1.5 year old strawberry stained faced daughter, and $14.20 less in my pocket. 

We returned home where Rachel got a quick dip in the tub and was off to bed. I began to clean my berries and made jam, cut fresh berries for our lunches, made homemade strawberry shortcakes and enjoyed a strawberry shortcake snack, and made some popsicles with the left over mashed berries. It was a great night and my Strawberry Picking 2011 is complete! Now I'll just wait for the blueberries! 

 

So maybe her mom neglected to fix her hair, but it was super windy outside!

 

Ready for a bath and bed in the car. 

The 2011 Strawberry Loot - 10.5 pounds!

 

June 22, 2011

Germany Day 6 - Farewell to my Homeland

Monday had already arrived. My husband had meetings at BMW and I went to the city center of Munich to wander around and then wandered around Olympic Park while he was away. We then hopped a train to the airport so we could spend the night there before our plane left for Detroit in the morning. It was bittersweet. By Sunday I was missing my daughter, but I wanted to stay in Germany and be a tourist.

While I was away, I noticed lots of things that were different than being in the United States. 

Hand Sanitizer
There doesn't seem to be an abundance of hand sanitizer at every cash register in Germany. But maybe there should be because shortly after my departure a deadly strain of E Coli was found in Germany.

Check Please
Whenever we ate out, we always had to ask for our bill. We'd sit and sit and sit at our table and no matter how long we waited, we had to wait for the check.

Number 3
If you have ever seen the movie Inglourious Bastards by Quentin Tarintino you may recall the distinct way a German holds up his fingers to show the number 3. I witnessed this while getting ice cream and was immediately reminded of the movie.

Signatures
This was one place my signature was readily checked whenever I swiped my credit/debit card. My card was also hand swiped a lot, rather than me swiping it at a machine at the register.

Portion Sizes
The portion sizes of everything seemed to be smaller - from ice cream to our steak dinner. It wasn't a bad thing, just not over-sized like in the United States.

Pillow Candy
Instead of getting a mint on your pillow, you get gummy treats/bears.

Sugar is Sweet
I noticed some of the sugar packets were not pouches, but sticks or straws similar to a pixie stick, but much shorter. I thought this was brilliant since you often spill sugar when you have to tear open a rectangle packet.

Waiting Game
It seemed like when people waited for the train, they were not super connected to their electronics. Sure, there were people with cell phones and headphones texting and listening to music, but most people just sat and visited or sat and hung out on the train or platform. I kept thinking to myself that we (as in Americans) would probably be playing a game on our cell phones, or texting, or talking on the phone the entire time, or on facebook on our mobile device. I was surprised at the number of people NOT talking on their cell phones while on the train.

Baby Strollers
Being a new mom (and secretly scoping out how mothers travel with kids because I wanted to live in Germany) I noticed many of the strollers were "luxury" strollers - Stooke, Bugaboo and Peg Pergo were some of the strollers and "carriages" I saw.

History
It seems like everywhere you go in Germany there is so much history. It can easily be seen and the one thing that surprised me is how most places were destroyed in World War II. While the United States was booming during the war, Germany was hit hard and had to re-build.

What time is it?
There are no alarm clocks in the hotel room. I still find that CRAZY!

Gideons
The Gideons are everywhere! There was a bible in our hotel room!

 

Relatives
And I found my relatives in a phone book!

 

 

June 20, 2011

Germany Day 5 - Palaces & Concentration Camps

On Sunday, my husband and I wanted to go to two places - Schloss Nyphenburg and Dachau Concentration Camp. We began our day at the palace. It was somewhat busy and we were able to walk around the grounds at our own pace to see various locations on the grounds that were also smaller museums. The place was a summer home and although we thought the gardens could have been more beautiful, we enjoyed the day very much. The sun was awesome, the breeze was warm and it was simply great to be outside, not in the office and more exciting was that we were together in Germany.

 

 

 

 

The Dachau Concentration Camp was awesome, yet sad and somber. Most of the "tour" was reading large boards and walking through various locations that had been preserved. I didn't take too many photos because of the subject matter, and the eerie fact it was a concentration camp and thousands of innocent people were killed there, made it sad. We watched a short movie (thankfully in English) about the camp and it was interesting to see photos and video of individuals lined up at the entrance - the SAME entrance we walked through in order to visit the museum.  The entrance to the camp translates to "Work Brings Freedom."

 

 

This was found during the restoration of the camp. It translates to "no smoking" and was painted over. 

 

I thought it was crazy that after the camp was closed, it was used for refugees. They didn't have a home to go to, so many stayed at the camp until they could find permanent housing! 

 

I should have purchased this book, The Dachau Concentration Camp, 1933-1945 at the gift shop, but thankfully, Amazon has it! 

June 01, 2011

Germany Day 4 - Neue Pinakothek

I knew I wouldn't be able to see a lot of museums since I was only in Munich for a few days and there were so many other things I would like to be doing in the city that were outside because the weather was perfect. I did some research on this museum after a quick question to my husband (modern or 18-19th century art) I picked Neue Pinakothek.

I like museums. Mainly because I like art. I not only like to look at the painting from afar, but I like to look at them from very close. I like to see the brush strokes, the cracking of the medium and sometimes I count in my head how old the canvas I am gazing at really is. How much simpler the time was when the artist was creating the work and how the artist probably never imagined hundreds of years later, people would come from all over the world to gaze at his masterpiece. 

I can't really tell you my husband's thought on artwork, but I will say he was a good sport. Maybe the audio helped a little bit, or the fact that the museum was not very busy that day.

There are so many great artists, and although I can't name all of their works, I can usually recognize them and remember learning about them in Humanities in college. One thing my husband said that brought him back to his days at LSSU was, "Manet and Monet, I remember them from Humanities." When I asked what he remembered about them, he said, "That they are two different people."

Max Liebermann - 1890 - Woman with Goats in the Dunes

 

 

Augustine Renoir - 1976 - Portrait of a Young Woman

 

 

Claude Monet - 1874 - Bridge at Argenteuil

 

 

Claude Monet - 1874 - Monet Painting on His Studio Boat

 

 

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - 1897 Woman in Armchair

 

Vincenzo Gemito - 1881 - The Water Seller

 

 

Paul Gaugin - 1896 - The Birth

 

Vincent Van Gogh - 1890 - Plain Near Auvers

 

Vincent Van Gogh - 1888 - Sunflowers

 

 

 

Edgar Degas - 1890/1900 - Dancer

 

Theo Van Rysselberghe - 1903 - Fountain in the Park of Sanssouchi Palace Near Potsdam

 

 

 

Claude Monet - 1915 - Water Lilies

 

 

 

There are so many more great images I have, but I'll stop here! I'll gaze at them on my own! I do want everyone to know we weren't super stuffy in this museuem. We were able to lighten up a little.

 

 

 

May 31, 2011

Germany Day 4 - Munich

The weekend had arrived! It was Friday afternoon and my husband and I were on another ICE high speed train (reaching speeds up to 255 km per hour, which is 158 miles per hour) and on our way to Munich. We'd be spending the weekend there until our departure to the airport on Monday night.

Our hotel was in Olympic Park - Four Points by Sheraton and we received a free upgrade and were in an executive room. Olympic Park was constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. There was lots to do in the park, but I had a few places picked out that I wanted to see in Munich, so we didn't spend too much time there. After a long train ride, we caught a late dinner, had some ice cream and turned in so we were well rested to begin our day as a tourist on Saturday morning.

Munich is a very large city, and in my opinion, very touristy. It's the Bavaria of Germany. We took the U or the Underground to the city and checked out the Marienplatz or the town center with the town hall. There were people everywhere - because it was a Saturday is one of my guesses, because it was a busy city and because all of the tourists had come to check out the sites! There was also some sort of protest of Nuclear energy going on. We were unable to understand exactly what was being said, but we received a flyer and there were several "people" that went down when the "nuclear alarm" sounded. Sadly it was comical for my husband and I. 

We stopped at St. Peter's Church and I was quickly "sushed" from taking photos (I even had the flash off!). The main areas of the pews were roped off so we entered into one door, and looked at as much as we could and exited out another door. There was a private event going on, possibly a baptism. I tried not to gawk and actually wanted to get out of there as soon as I was spotted and scolded. When we exited, we saw the entrance and payment area to climb the tower allowing us to view the entire city. There were over 300 steps and it was a breeze! Worth the climb for the views!

We stumbled upon the Viktualienmarkt which is similar to an outdoor farmer's market - food, fresh fruit and vegetables, meats and cheeses, eggs, flowers, plants, dried goods, beer and wine. We grabbed some strawberries and a banana and water and headed out to explore other parts of the city. We didn't have a very big to-do list, but had a small map that showed some notable places.

We came upon a beer garden - Hofbräuhaus. The most famous which we both saw and heard was a tourist trap. We walked through the noisy tavern and opted not to get a beer simply for the novelty. It was loud, old and neatly decorated, but I felt like we had to maximize our visit in Munich so stopping for a beer wasn't a necessity.

We then took the U, or underground subway to the Neue Pinakothek museum. My next entry will pick up there. I can already "see" a few of my faithful stalkers rolling their eyes to my continued blogging about Germany!

 

Town Hall in Munich.

 

Nuclear Protest.

St Peter's

 

Steps to the top of the tower. You only travel on about 2 flights of these stairs - which I assume are original - before you begin to climb on more modern wood stairs. 

 

Hofbräuhaus

 

May 26, 2011

Germany Day 3 - Wuppertal

We arrived in Wuppertal to meet another one of my husband's co-workers. Wuppertal is the location of my husband's European head quarters and his American co-worker had been in Germany working for two weeks. He was happy to see us, simply for the English conversation. We checked into our hotel which was a piece of art.

The Art Fabrik Hotel in Wuppertal, Germany was once a factory that was converted into an artistic hotel. When we arrived, we were given two room keys, we were able to view and choose which room we wanted. Each room was decorated uniquely, in an artsy like decor. I will say the hotel was so-so. It seemed to be a little ratty and ragged and needed a good once-over. But it was a fun experience for one night. I didn't get to check out much of the hotel because the next morning I checked out and headed to Düsseldorf. My husband warned me that Wuppertal was very industrial and there was not a lot to do in that city.

The exterior of the hotel - former factory. 

 

Entrance to the lobby.

 

 

The view from our hotel room.

The interior of our room.

My husband loved the plywood floor that was super shellacked. 

We each had our own tub.

 

The city of Wuppertal.

This is the Germany Home Depot - Bauhaus

 

 

Some sort of crazy three-wheel car!

 

I was less than impressed with Düsseldorf, but I will give the city another chance. I think I was tired of walking around alone all day, without being able to talk to anyone, without being able to read the signs or flyers or understand what was coming through the loud speaker when I was on the train. I got a map at a hotel and started walking. I made it to one church and took photos and walked around the inside and outside. Then I headed back to Wuppertal to meet my husband to take a 5 hour train ride to Munich and enjoy the weekend!

I ran into this cathedral and went inside to explore and take photos. St. Mary's Church - Düsseldorf

 

 

 

I lit a candle and said a few prayers. 

The organ was huge. 

 

 

 

May 23, 2011

Germany Day 2 - Bochum

We took a high speed train - ICE, Inter City Express - from the airport to Bochum. We had first class tickets so we were able to ride in luxury. We ate on the train and I took a short nap - maybe 30 minutes and when I woke up, I felt like a million bucks. We were teetering on 34 hours of no sleep.

We arrived at a Park Inn in Bochum. It was a very nice hotel and I would gladly stay there again. I don't know how my husband managed to stay awake a few more hours and send some emails for work, but I crashed as soon as I arrived and was out like a light. I felt amazing when I woke up. We met for breakfast (the co worker was still tagging along) and then I tried the mini gym the hotel had.

The mini gym was great, because I was free. Free to spend as much or as little time in there as I wanted to. No one came in, or interrupted me. There was a sauna, locker and changing room, showers, treadmill, elliptical machine, and bike as well as weights. And for two euros you could use their tanner. I ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes, did 30 push ups and 30 ab movements. I wanted to stay longer but the two English speaking TV channels we had in our hotel room were not offered in the mini gym. And I was in Europe! The last thing I needed to do was spend hours working out!

This hotel was my first taste of European style (aside from IKEA). I liked the circle light switches, the shower head that was in the middle of the bath tub (eliminating your elbows from hitting the shower curtains because you have to turn the length of the tub to shower), the gummy bears on my pillow at night, the Senso 1 cup coffee maker. But I didn't like the location of the toilet flusher. It was on the side of the wall, but I didn't know where it was like on my good ol' American Standard toilet. So when I got up around 4am, I was unable to flush the toilet without turning on the light. And you know how blinding the hotel bathroom lights can be!

That morning, after the gym, I took a shower and enjoyed time by myself. I may have put the robe and slippers on and sipped a cup of coffee in bed, under my cushy white duvet because I could. I may have plucked facial hairs and eyebrows in the ultra magnifying bathroom mirror because I could. I may have stood in the shower for an extended period of time and enjoyed the overly hot water and shaved my legs twice because I could. I may have taken a very long time to get dressed, dry my hair and put on my makeup because I could. I didn't have anywhere to be, anyone to get ready to take to day care, any laundry to get done, lunches to be made or phone calls to answer. It was  F A B U L O U S!

I ventured out onto another 15 minute walk to a mining museum. This walk took me over an hour because I'd get turned around and find myself in a market area and then have to back track and re-read the map and figure out where I was. But I made it! It was a beautiful day for walking and when I arrived, I took some photos outside and then asked about the tour being in English. I was told "no English" by the ticket booth. But the hotel clerk told me it was in English. So rather than waste my euros (the exchange rate stinks) I decided to skip the museum and continue walking.

As I was taking photos outside, I stumbled upon the gardens. My husband told me about these gardens on his second trip. They are plots, owned by the city that residents rent. Each lot has a "shack" type building. I saw these from the train and just happened to stumble upon them while walking outside of the mining museum. Most of them were very well manicured. While I was walking through this park-like garden area, I saw a couple sitting on lawn chairs chatting in the sun.

On my way back to my hotel, I stumbled upon some good photo opportunities including a cathedral that was under construction, but it was still beautiful from the outside! And then I ran into an ice cream parlor, and was in heaven.

Exterior of the Mining Museum - Deutsches Bergbaumuseum

 

Here are the gardens!

 

 

They each had a tiny door as their entrance. 

Some had swing sets and play structures for kids. 

 

I'm thinking this is some sort of pest catcher. 

The Cathedral I stumbled upon. 

 

 

The FIRST semi truck I saw in a city!

The mail man was delivering mail on a bike.

For those who love the television show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

The price of gas! This shows 1.42 euros for 1 liter of gasoline.

If I did my calculations correctly, the conversion is $7.50 a gallon. Maybe you won't complain about $4.00 a gallon next time you are at the pump.

 

Back to meet my husband I went, we had dinner, ice cream and boarded a train and headed to Wuppertal to our hotel for the night. 

May 20, 2011

Germany Day 1 - Mainz to Russelsheim to Bochum

I failed to mention one of my goals while in Mainz was to obtain a cell phone. A few days before my trip we called Verizon and were notified it takes about a week to get a loaner phone for European travel and since I just upgraded, I wasn't about to purchase a new phone. It took a good hour or so, and I picked up my new German Handy with my new German phone number. The men at the Conrad Electronic store were very helpful, but for some reason we were unable to call my husband. We were trying every International Dialing Code to reach him and had no luck. I left the store thinking I would eventually figure it out because I was flustered with the one guy's inability to speak any English and the other guy's broken English. But I really wanted to stay until I was able to call a US number, which was my main goal while in Germany. 

I headed to the train station to make my 3:30 pm deadline to be in Rüsselsheim to meet my husband. I missed my train because I was instructed by my American travel companion to always take the "S" train and the one that arrived at the platform did not say "S" so I did not get on. But there was another train leaving 15 minutes later for the same destination, so I was all set. But, in my fear of not meeting my husband in time and him thinking I was mugged, robbed, beaten, raped and sold into prostitution, and coming to look for me, I thought our paths might cross and he would end up in Mainz looking to save me while I was in Rüsselsheim looking for him. So I asked a German for a favor. I asked him to use his laptop which he clearly had internet access on while sitting outside on the train platform. I was able to email my husband my German Handy number and he was able to read his email on his blackberry and call me back. Ever since that first call, I was able to get in touch with him with my new phone without any problems.

I made it safely to Rüsselsheim from Mainz taking the train by myself. When I arrived, I had to wait for my husband and then wait around a little more because he had a second meeting come up.

Rüsselsheim is an industrial town and my husband was there to work on Opel automobiles. I wandered around the town while he went to another meeting before we headed to Bochum for the night. This tow was quieter, not as busy or loud as Mainz. Not quite as beautiful, but still fun. It was around 4pm and there were kids on balance bikes riding through the streets with their mom, shouting German at each other. I sat and waited for my husband outside of a cafe sipping caffee (coffee) and enjoying a pastry. My biggest complaint about outdoor seating is cigarette smoke. And the Germans LOVE to smoke. I tolerated the smoke and attempted to stay awake as long as I could - at this point, I had been up for 28 hours so sitting down made me want to fall asleep.

So I wandered through the town and took photos. 

This is the Opel Plant

Adam Opel

This little girl was having a blast in the water bubbles that were on the square in front of the Opel plant.

 

Artwork in one of the town squares I stumbled upon.

 

A street

All of the taxis are this color!

 

Once my husband's meetings were over, we boarded a train back to the airport to pick up our luggage and headed to Bochum on the train. 

May 18, 2011

Germany Day 1 - DTW to FRA to Mainz

My trip to Germany began on a Tuesday evening when I boarded a plan from DTW and flew to FRA - Frankfurt Airport in Germany. Germany is 6 hours ahead of us, so when we arrived at 7:15 a.m. local time, it was 1:15 a.m. in Detroit. I tried to sleep on the plane but I must have been giddy knowing I would be in Europe very soon! You see, this Germany trip has been "in the works" for some time. My husband and I talked about Rachel and I tagging along on one of his business trips last summer when she was 6 months old, and that date got pushed back to the fall, then he went on a few shorter trips without us and and finally this spring I was able to come with him. It was somewhat last minute, and I didn't want to get my hopes up in case I wasn't able to go, so I didn't talk about it much, I didn't do a lot of research on where I would be going. I just sat tight until it was official-which was about a week before we left.

First of all, I love flying. I love the IFE - In Flight Entertainment - movies and games on international flights, I love the food and snacks and beverages you get, I even love the bathroom, unless it smells funky. I wasn't so sure about loving a 10 hour flight, but it wasn't 10 hours, it was 8 and a half. My husband and I sat next to each other which is always nice. I watched two movies on the way there and enjoyed my chicken dinner. We even had a breakfast snack an hour and a half before landing.

I spent a little time in the airport at Frankfurt with my husband while we waited for his co-worker to come on another flight from Atlanta. We simply hung out and my patience was wearing thin because I was ready to check out this new continent. I used the bathroom and it had a stink of pit toilets at National Parks, so my first initial impression of Germany was not a good one. The co-worker arrived late, we all purchased train tickets and stored our luggage at the airport and our day began. We hopped on the train to Rüsselsheim. My husband went off to work and I stayed on the train, traveling 15 minutes further to a city called Mainz.

I will admit, I was a little scared. I was in a country without a cell phone, without knowing any German language (not even how to say, "Hello") and I was alone. I exited the train and began following the people to the exit. I realized earlier "exit" in German is "Ausgang" which actually translates to "output." This one word, and two others I will reference later, were very helpful on my trip. 

The weekend before I left, I checked out a few books at the library and did some quick research on what I could do in these cities my husband said I would be near/visiting with him. I knew in Mainz there was a Church called Dom and the Gutenberg Museum. Being a Graphic Designer, I was very excited about this museum!  Those were my two goals, and I really wasn't worried or concerned about achieving either of them. I was just so happy to be in Germany and still in awe I was able to accompany my husband on this trip!

Once I made it outside of the train station onto the city square, I headed to the first hotel I saw  - Hotel Hammer - and asked for a map. I was told the Cathedral was very easy to get to, just a 15 minute walk, and was on my way. I was very conscious of checking my map at regular intervals to be sure I was on the correct street. Navigation wasn't easy because not all streets were named and I was very unfamiliar with the name of the streets or how to pronounce them. Things aren't in a nice grid pattern like I am used to. Plus, I was trying to keep my map hidden, because I didn't want to stand out as a tourist, although my husband tells me that all the Germans can spot the Americans, I'll disagree with that quickly on this trip.

The day was B E A U T I F U L! The sun was warm and shining and my yoga pants and fleece were all I needed to enjoy the day. I passed some great shops and landmarks, most of which I don't recall or even know what they were because I know no German, but they were different and cool and old. There were cafe's strung out here and there, fountains with people hanging out on the brick paved streets and groups of people walking. Twice I was asked something in German while in Mainz (clearly proving I don't look that American) and I simply said, "English only" and the people nodded and went on their way. I truly felt bad when a person would come up to me, or politely say what I thought was "excuse me" and then begin to talk to me as I stared at them like they had three eyes.

I found the church and I found the museum. But I failed to make it into either one. I was somewhat nervous being there alone, somewhat nervous getting off path and making it back to the train station in time - I had to go from Mainz back to Rüsselsheim to meet my husband and co worker at 3:30pm. I failed to remember to exchange money so I had a wad of US Dollars and a Credit Card with me. As for the church, I wasn't sure where the entrance was or if I could go in. So I took some photos from the outside. And as for the museum, I really had no idea where the entrance was. I did make it into a hands on workshop where a drove of kids were on a field trip and having a great time with the letter presses.

Figuring out the train map I was then back at the train station and on my way to Rüsselsheim to meet my husband and continue or day's journey. One of the first things I told my husband was that I wanted to LIVE in Mainz - just for 2 to 5 years.

And now the photos begin...I have over 1,000 of them and it is very hard to pick and choose which ones to post!

 

The Mainz Train Station

 

The City of Mainz

 

I think this is called the Schillerplatz. 

 

Giant wood type outside of the Gutenberg Workshop.

I still don't know what this building is. 

How can you NOT want to live here? 

I quickly taught myself if you ever get lost to follow the "rail" in the street. It almost always leads to the train station. 

 

The Dom Cathedral

 

Ahhh, a familiar site on day 1: The UPS guy was giving those people directions!

 

February 16, 2011

Elmo and his Work Bench

It is always nice to travel somewhere and not have to bring a bunch of baby gear and toys. Toys seem to be the hardest thing to pack and bring so I was relieved my sister had things for Rachel to play with when she was visiting. The Elmo Work Bench was in the basement and when my sister brought it up, Avery and Rachel couldn't stop playing with it.

Cousins hanging out in their PJs before breakfast.

Very excited to be using the circular saw!

 

Did you need the screwdriver? 

 

 

February 15, 2011

Lost Photos From Georgia

Writing on your magnadoodle is very tiring.

 

The next images do not need any sort of explanations or captions. You simply look at the people and surroundings and create your own caption. And hopefully you laugh, too!

 

 

February 13, 2011

Sledding...in Georgia

Sledding in Georgia was a little different than sledding in Michigan. The attire might be the same, but the conditions are very different. The temperatures were warming when we ventured out to go sledding, which can be seen in the photos below. It didn't matter, all three of the kids had fun. Mine being the most boring, just sitting in the sled, speechless, emotionless, content and at peace.

It was so sunny, Avery had to cover her eyes to take this photo! 

 

Caleb joined in on the fun, and didn't leave the dog chuckit behind. 

While trying to get my kid to smile, Caleb got excited and Avery just couldn't handle all the sunlight in her eyes. 

 

Note: Caleb didn't come over prepared to go sledding, so he had to borrow some of Avery's gloves and a hat. His mom does NOT normally dress him in pink accessories. 

 

February 12, 2011

Uncle Steve

Rachel wasn't 100% herself when we were in Georgia. She slept and ate well, but had a runny nose, was drooling, pink cheeks and just "off" from how happy she usually is. One night while we were winding down and getting books to read before bedtime, Rachel picked out a book and took it to Steve who was sitting in the recliner. She handed it to Steve and said something. He picked her up and the two read Barnyard Dance together before bed. It was a very precious moment.

February 09, 2011

Babes in the Bath

Avery loved taking a bath with Rachel when we were in Georgia. Rachel didn't say much while in the tub, she often chased the duck in the water or just listened to Avery talk - which is a 24 hour event.

Avery smiling for the camera!

 

Overview of the tub. If you look closely, Avery is playing dolls/telling Rachel something and Rachel is just staring at Avery, with her duck in hand, and listening. 

 

 

February 08, 2011

Gage in Georgia

Rachel loves dogs. She points them out in person, when she sees one in a book or on a poster, and when she finds her tiny stuffed dog at home. Gage, my nephew-dog, was no exception. Gage wasn't too thrilled with Rachel. She attempted to touch and pet him (in a very nice way) which caused him to relocate to another area of the house. And a few times Rachel got nabbed in the face with Gage's tail, which was pretty entertaining for the onlookers.

My sister wanted to see if Rachel would give Gage a treat. I knew she would, since she loves giving Rockwell treats. I was curious if Gage would take a treat from Rachel because he had been running away from her every day! 

My sister gave Rachel a treat. 

Rachel handed it to Gage. 

Gage took it and Rachel was quite happy about this new friendship! 

 

Gage walked away and ate it while Rachel clapped, happy and excited about her accomplishments! 

 

 

February 07, 2011

Dress Up in ATL

Playing Dress up is important for every little girl. Avery was nice enough to share her dress up clothes with Rachel when we went to visit.

You'll have to excuse Rachel's runny nose, pink cheeks, nose and face. That was part of her cold/teething event that naturally had to take place while we were on vacation.

 

February 04, 2011

ATL in January

Rachel and I went to Atlanta to visit my sister and her family in January. Of course, we flew to the Peachtree state when they just got dumped on with lots of snow and cold temperatures. The city was shut down for Monday and Tuesday and by Thursday when we arrived, people and businesses began to come alive again. My sister's neighbor was very concerned - their mail hadn't been delivered for four days!

We arrived at the airport and got parked and everything unloaded out of the car - stroller, suitcase, and a backpack which was serving as a diaper bag. It was just starting to snow, but we managed to get inside where it was warm. Rachel had a great time pushing the stroller around the empty areas of the airport and she especially liked going through security - with the pilot of the plane. She reached out to him just before we were to walk through the metal detector, so he, Mark, walked through the metal detector with Rachel in his arms. When we entered the plane, Mark greeted us again and gave Rachel some wings and a signed "trading card" of the airplane we were on. I didn't board early because I had a child, I actually waited until almost the end so I could be sure to keep the two of us on the plane for the shortest amount of time possible.

Rachel did fabulous on the plane - she didn't sleep one wink, but she didn't cry. My friend suggested stickers, which was a great idea! Rachel stuck and unstuck them to a notebook that I brought - with plastic dividers, so removal and reapply of the stickers was easy. She ate some of her own snacks and she loved the Biscoff cookies that Delta gives out. She gobbled one up and I had the other. This kept her occupied for a while.

Thankfully she slept on the way to Aunt Dawn's house in the car, otherwise, she would have been extra cranky that day. 

Overall our trip went well, Rachel had possibly a cold/teeth coming in so she was a bit off, but she did great considering feeling sad at times. She loved playing with Avery and especially enjoyed seeing the dog, Gage. 

February 02, 2011

Bendaroos in ATL

I gave my niece a 500 pack of Bendaroos for Christmas. Bendaroos are simply wax coated colored strings that are bendable sticks. When Rachel went to bed every night, Avery and I played with a lot of her new Christmas Toys. Our list included playing with Bendaroos and Moon Sand, Monopoly, Cootie and her other new games.

Bendaroos were somewhat boring if you ask me, but I took the instruction sheet and was determined to make a hamburger. The directions were a bit advanced, but Avery was able to help my sister and i with some of the prep work in making the burger. She cut the strings in half, she counted the colors we needed, she even rolled some into small coils for us. Once the burger was complete, it was time for Avery to go to bed, but my sister and I dove into the Bendaroos on a much larger scale. We stayed up until midnight creating the creations to surprise Avery the next day. She was very excited! 

The burger that started it all! 

 

My sister made this plate of spaghetti. 

 

And no meal is complete without dessert!

 

December 06, 2010

Baby Lemon

My high school friend is pregnant and due at the end of December. When I found out she was knocked up, I assured her I would come and visit before the baby and help her with anything she needed. Rachel and I made the three hour trip to Indiana one weekend to visit Heather and her husband in an attempt to clean the house, organize the baby room and give a foot massage.

We arrived on Friday after Heather got out of work and I brought a nice pan of lasagna for dinner. It was delicious and we relaxed that night while we made a list of goals for the morning. Rachel got to try out Lemon's new pack-n-play and slept like a champ in it. On Saturday Heather and her husband sorted through baby items and returned a few things at the store and I began to organize some of the things that needed to go upstairs. We hung clean clothes, filled the dresser drawers and got the mobile installed and night light plugged in.

One of my main objections of traveling to Indiana was making sure I had a sandwich at Chick-Fil-A. We accomplished that when we went out to the store to do some additional returns and shopping. We even stopped at Sam's Club and picked up a package of diapers and a crib mattress. Everything was coming together very well until we got home that evening. 

My stomach didn't feel "right" and a few hours later I went to bed - early, around 9pm. I woke an hour later and tossed my Chick-Fil-A sandwich down the toilet. I continued to vomit through the night and tossed and turned getting very little sleep. Rachel and I left first thing in the morning to drive home. I stopped at a gas station and got a box of crackers and a sprite and managed to keep that down during the drive home. I anticipated sleeping when I arrived home just after noon but I received a call from my husband that he wasn't feeling well. So when I got home, the two of us sat on opposite couches and dozed in and out of consciousness while Rachel played in front of us. It was a very rough Monday.

And sadly, I didn't take the flu home with me. I left it in South Bend, which meant Heather got sick on Sunday night and missed a few days of work, just before Thanksgiving. I felt so terrible and hope that I never do that again. 

We didn't get as much done as I had planned, due to my cookie tossing, but we made a small dent in the mix, and I had a great time hanging out with Heather and Sam.

 

Rachel was the official baby gear tester. She tested the Sungli and the Baby Bjorn. She was much happier in the Snugli.

 

 

November 10, 2010

Rachel's First Trip to God's Country

I decided in October to visit my college roommate. I haven't seen her since my Wedding Celebration in October 2008 but I haven't seen her at her house in the Upper Peninsula since her first child, Alicia was born. She now has three children and Alicia is (gulp) eight!

The five hour trip was uneventful. I have determined that I last about three hours in the car alone. I don't count my daughter as a passenger because she can't talk. Around mile stick 212 on US 127 I saw a fox attempt to cross the road. He made it half way across and then turned around. I saw a few cars pulled over by cops, but nothing more. My daughter did excellent on the ride to and from the UP. She never cried, I was able to make a bottle while driving and hand it to her. I stopped just across the bridge to change her diaper because I felt guilty for not letting her "stretch her legs."

I was warned by my friend that her son, now 19 months old, was somewhat of a bully and she was concerned he would pick on my daughter. We discovered that he was far from a bully with Rachel. He was such a kind and gently boy that he loved being with her! 

We relaxed on Friday night when I arrived and then on Saturday went out to lunch and to the zoo. My husband was questioning my trip to the zoo because he was certain there was no zoo in the UP and he confirmed this with a college friend who was born and raised in the UP. There was a zoo and the older kids loved it. You can purchase apples to feed the bear and cones of food to feed other animals. My daughter had fun watching the goats move about and I was fascinated with the little pigs. The weather was perfect! Sunny and warm enough for a light jacket/fleece.

I brought sugar cookies on Saturday for the older girls to decorate while the "babies" took their naps. They did an excellent job and we all enjoyed eating them after they were decorated. We had a great time, my daughter slept well at their house and was fabulous in the car!

Some of my favorite signs:
US 2 is not a freeway, please drive safely. 

There are 12 passing lanes in the next 128 miles. 

I forgot all about the signs advertising Sea Shell City on the way north: Rare oddities from Davy Jones Locker

One of my favorite events of the weekend happened when were in the "town" of Engadine. We were walking from the car to the restaurant and I was asking the girls what the different buildings were. Lauren pointed out the bar and said, "That's the bar. You know, where people go to hang out."  I was also in awe that there was one school, for K-12.

 

I helped Lauren line up these blocks, in alphabetical order, and then I insisted she lay next to it and get her picture taken because it was longer than she was! 

 

My heart melted when I got to meet Lexi. 

 

 

Russell loved Rachel. He was so gentle and interested in her. 

 

Lauren was trying to read a book to Rachel but she wasn't too interested. 

 

This is what greets you when you go to the zoo. 

 

 

Alicia (the oldest, and pictured above on the right) was awesome with Rachel. She will be an excellent babysitter in the future! 

 

I took this photo (below) for Lauren. She was taking pictures with her mom's camera and took a photo of an animal's butt and thought it was hilarious. 

 

I was into the pigs. This was what I thought was the "runt" of the litter. He was obnoxious, fast and my favorite.

 

Here he is "in action." 

 

 

Russell feeding the goats. 

I'm thinking the girls were attempting to feed an animal they were not supposed to feed. I gather this because they are waaay far away from the fence! The animals that you could feed had a fence you could walk right in front of. 

 

Lauren wanted me to take some photos of her dancing. I put these together so you can get the dancing idea. 

 

 

November 01, 2010

Drag Racing - Ubly, Michigan

 

We had the rare opportunity to watch my husband drag race in the Thumb area in September. It was nice to be able to stay at my parent's house and drive to and from the track (it's a 10 minute drive), because I am always worried about how my daughter will sleep and nap in a motorhome, parked at the racetrack, around loud cars.

Of course any trip with our daughter requires a separate vehicle just to haul all of her gear. Toys to play with, lots of clothes, bottles, diapers, food, etc. I rarely forget anything and this trip was no exception! We had it all figured out and my husband did awesome in the 1/8 mile races. Rachel and I stayed away from the staging lanes/burnout zone and watched her dad fly down the track!

The Gremlin set a new track record of  6.56 seconds at 98 miles per hour. This record was surpassed a week later when the Gremlin ran 6.50 at 102 miles per hour.

 

 

This may have been Pete and Patzi's first trip to the Thumb just like Rockwell! 

 

Saving money on ear plugs and only having to use one! 

If you've ever been to the Thumb area, you may have seen the Windmills. For more information on the over 40 windmills, read here. They are clearly visible on your way to the track and while at the track.

 

Our daily hang out in the pits when her dad wasn't racing! 

 

October 20, 2010

Rockwell's First Trip to the Thumb

This post is mostly for my parents. They still don't believe that while they were gallivanting around Missouri, I brought my dog to their house. He did really well in the 2 hour car ride - with my husband and daughter - and then even better at my parent's house. He had fun in the Thumb!

Not sure if you can tell, but he is a little wound up in the photo above. He was SO EXCITED to come to Bad Axe! 

 

He loved jumping on the couch when a car came down the street. 

After the car passed, he would run into the other room to see the car continue down the road.

August 06, 2010

Camping Trip Round 2

The joys of having three cameras -- a "big" camera, a "compact" camera and a cell phone camera! This means I find all sorts of photos I forgot I snapped! Here are some more photos from our Rock Star Camping Trip we took at the end of June.

This is Grandpa's Coach. It comes with rules -- you must wear very large sunglasses while driving or being a passenger. You cannot go the speed limit, it must be lower, and you have to go to bed at 8pm and get up at 6am!  Okay, so I made all of that up, but when you pull into a state park with this rig, you almost draw a crowd and when you get out with an infant, you turn heads.

 

 

Rachel was enjoying eating cereal in the motorhome. She isn't usually this messy, but on this particular day, she wasn't focused. She got a sink bath shortly after this!

 

Here she is, all ready to go to the beach for her nap! 

 

And here is all the stuff we took to the beach in the other stroller!

 

 

February 17, 2010

A Trip North & a New Bow

Rachel and I surprised my mom for her birthday with a trip North. While in the thumb, I got my hair cut and colored and Rachel came to the salon with me. I couldn't resist getting her this bow for her hair.

October 23, 2009

A Trip to Georgia

You can read all about my plane ride to Georgia to visit my sister here, but I know everyone wants to see photos of my niece, Avery!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 19, 2009

FNT to ATL

I went on a mini vacation to Atlanta to visit my sister, her husband and my niece. I'm 29 weeks pregnant at this time, and my doctor says I am fine to travel. My husband has a dentist appointment that morning, so he is able to drop me off at the airport. I don't think I've ever been taken to the airport by someone before. I usually just drive myself. So this was a nice treat. I flew from Flint, which is one of the easiest places to fly to Atlanta - small airport, quick check in, quick security pass through and a direct flight to Atlanta via Air Tran.

I checked in online the day before I was to leave, and was offered an upgrade to business (first) class for only $49. I wanted to take the upgraded seat. I texted my husband and he said to go for it, but decided I should try to stick with my budget and money-saving plan so I declined. I paid my $15 for my one checked bag and was ready to roll.

I arrived at the airport, checked in, got my bags checked in and was in the bathroom when I hear a woman come over the loud speaker. She was paging "all passengers on flight 255 with non-stop service to Atlanta." The flight had been overbooked and they needed one passenger with flexible flying plans to take a bump and receive a round trip ticket for free. Bummer, I would have been the first to sign up for this offer, because this was the first time in a long time I was flying alone, I didn't have a hotel to check into, and my sister can pick me up at any time.

When I finally get to board the plane, I find seat 14B, the middle seat, and I'm in between a skinny, maybe 150 pound man and a larger 300+ man. All I think of when I say, "I'm 14B" is that for $49 I could have been 6 rows up, in first class sipping my sparkling grape juice and sitting Indian style because those seats have so much room. But I'm fine. I can tough out two hours in these "close" quarters.

Just after I sit down, I stuff my reading material into the seat pocket and realize the seat pocket in front of me is falling apart. The magazines manage to stay and I go through the airline information card, as I do for every flight, noting my exits, where my life vest is located, which exits I cannot use in case of a water landing, etc. I then go for the Sky Mall magazine. And I DON'T HAVE ONE! Ugh! I love looking through that catalog at overpriced and often unnecessary luxury gadgets and must haves. No big deal, I have to fly back, so I'll hope that of the 100+ seats on the return flight, I will have a Sky Mall catalog and I'll have something new to read.

Now the skinny guy has the window seat, but I notice out of the corner of my eye he does not have the window shade open. This kind of bums me out because everyone likes to look out the window of the plane to see what's going on while we sit and wait for people to board, the door to close and everyone to get their bags to fit overhead. Our plane begins to push off and the window shade still isn't open. We begin to take off, and still no shade! I finally turn my head to look over at the man and realize row 14 does not have a window! I sigh and chuckle under my breath because I realize I am spoiled when I fly!

All settled in, snuggled next to the big guy - yes, my entire right side is touching him as I sit in my seat - leaning a tad toward the little guy, I read a magazine and soon the flight attendant comes to the beginning of the coach seats taking drink orders. I nab the flight magazine to see what beverages are offered, pick out my choice and plan for my refreshing free drink. As the flight attendant takes beverage orders on a piece of paper, she stops at our row and returns to the front of the plane. I sink into my magazine and an hour later, a beverage cart and two different flight attendants bring us beverages. Finally, my free drink and bag of mini pretzels. How great! I take a few sips and before I know it, the flight attendants are back asking if we need a refill. We just go our drinks! I guess when you are the last to order, you are the first to get a refill! Again, should have paid the $49 to upgrade!

Overall I survived. My baby was kicking like crazy, but that seems to be her normal active time anyhow. She may have been a bit more active than usual, but it could have been the fact that I was not distracted while on the plane like I am at work when she moves around in the afternoon. Coach or first class seats, the flight went well - on time, smooth sailing, free drink, bag of pretzels and now I'm in Georgia visiting my sister and niece.

FYI, on the return flight four days later, I got a window seat, next to a skinny guy but there was NO Sky Mall Catalog in my seat pocket.  

July 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, America!

My July 4th vacation was extended a day when my husband and I took Monday off to enjoy a day at the pool. I've been wanting to go to a pool or a beach to just relax and soak up the sun. He found the Family Aquatic Center in East Lansing online and we arrived shortly after it opened on Monday morning.

This place was fabulous! Clean, fun, and not too crowded - maybe because it was a Monday. The zero-depth pool is always nice to walk into, especially when the sun went behind the clouds we had to ease into what seemed like cool water. There was a sandy area with activities for kids, and a wet splash area for kids as well. Of course we had to check them all out! There was a diving board that the kids were loving, a super slide that was short but fast, another slower water slide and a side that tubes went down. We enjoyed using our combined body weight to zip down the double tubes on the tube slide. First we tried with my husband in the back and me in the front, and then we changed positions. We concluded we can go much faster with his body weight in the back.

Being in a bathing suit made me appreciate women with bellies a little more. I felt huge, but realized most people wouldn't even know I was knocked up because they would just think that I was a woman with a little extra fat. My husband says I look fine, and if he said anything differently, I'd probably kick him where it hurts.

We had a fabulous Monday. Soaked up some sun, enjoyed water, tubing and read a few magazines. Oh, and the super slide had a warning sign with it. It was only for strong swimmers because of the current. This allowed for a few "saves" by the lifeguard staff, which was highly amusing for my husband who was a lifeguard in college (and has 2 documented saves.) When we arrived home, he rushed to softball, while Rockwell and I took a much needed nap.

This concludes segment three of my Around the Corner blogs. 

June 26, 2009

Strawberry Season

 

This is the second segment to my Around the Corner travels. This time I was able to drag my husband to a u-pick strawberry farm! We spontaneously went one night after work, he amazingly got out of work early, and I rushed home to meet him and get to the strawberry farm!  I didn't want a ton of berries because I knew we wouldn't eat them in time and they would rot. Plus, I could always come back for more.

We visited a place not far from our house and spent about an hour and a half there. That included the walk thru of their small animal farm filled with chickens, peacocks, hens, rabbits, goats, pigs and the wagon ride to the fields where we picked jewel strawberries.

We came home with 10.25 pounds of berries and $12.30 less in our pockets. My husband even admitted it wasn't "that bad" so maybe I can drag him to pick blueberries with me.

With all of the fabulous strawberries, I decided to make some jam. I crushed the entire 10 pounds (minus some we had eaten a few days before) and made 60 small jars of jam. Below are some photos of my first-time canning strawberry jam.

Clean Jars ready to be filled!

 

I can't decided which masher I like better, the waffle one or the standard potato masher. I do know I like the handle on the white masher better!

 

Instead of pouring the berries into the jar, I decided it would be much more fun to pour the molten lava jam onto my thumb. Causing a nice burn. I found the easiest solution to making it feel better was a glass of ice water. Our solution to numb it so I could continue working was a custom made ice pack. My husband helped me wrap it and helped me finish the first batch since the injury happened when I poured the molten lava jam into the first jar.

 

May 22, 2009

Around the Corner

I often ask my in-laws and husband if have ever been to various local places and festivals that pop up in the area - balloon fest, melon festival, art in the park, etc. Sadly, they say, "No." Well, this summer my ultimate goal is to visit local places to plan day trips or even weekend vacations (of course this is all in between the race schedule/season so it may be difficult.)

One place my husband and I did go to was the Howell Conference & Nature Center last October to climb the climbing wall and take a few zips down the zip line. It was a lot of fun and literally around the corner from where I drive to work every day! My husband has never been to the nature center and he has lived in this area all his life!

I have the pleasure of seeing the Howell Nature Center newlsetter come across my desk a few times a year when my company is hired to print it. This is how I learned of the events and activities they offer and what prompted me to try the climbing wall and zip line. It was a fun experience. Dan made it to the top of the climbing wall which I think was 60 feet tall. I only made it half way because my hands were so cold I couldn't make them work anymore. We each took a zip across the 500 foot zip line.

I encourage everyone to check out all of the local events in their area this summer!

 

 

January 14, 2009

Tequila, Mexico Style

 

I just got back from Puerto Vallarta Mexico. I know what you are thinking if you are in Michigan...uh, that bit¢h, she got to go to Mexico in January while I sat here in the friggin' cold snow! I did get to go to Mexico, with 20 other people I knew, but I had to come back to MI where I missed 6 inches of snow and now that I'm home the below freezing temperatures are here.

While abroad, we took a very short and small Tequila Tour. We learned what plant makes tequila, how long it takes to age the tequila, what three types of tequila there are and then we did some tasting and purchasing of tequila. Here is what I learned:

Tequila is made from the Agave plant. (Wikipedia says the Agave plant "is an important economic product of Jalisco state in Mexico due to its role as the base ingredient of tequila" and we were in the State of Jalisco when we were in Mexico!) The plant must be at least 10 years old before it is suitable for tequila making. Each year, the leaves are pruned so the heart of the plant can grow better. It is the heart of the plant that is used to make the tequila.

 

Authentic tequila is made completely from the agave plant. It will say 100% agave on the label. The most "famous" tequila, José Cuervo, is not 100% agave. It is 51% agave and 49% additives such as color, sugar, water, etc. The tour guide assured us it is the additives that give us the headache in the morning. Maybe this is why most of us create a sour face when we hear the word tequila, it isn't 100% agave! 

There are 3 types of tequila, blanco, which means white, is clear and is used for shooting/shots. It's aged for a very short time or bottled just after it is distilled. Reposado, the second type, is gold in color and is used for mixing drinks, such as margaritas. It is aged for at least 2 months in oak barrels. The third one I cannot remember the name of, but it is dark in color and is used for sipping and I think it says longer in the oak barrels to age. Perhaps a few years. I tried all three, the sipping drink tasted the best. 

But then I tried three more! They were flavored tequilas! They had an almond flavor, chocolate/coffee flavor and a cream flavor that was similar to your Irish cream liquor. The flavors were all wonderful. We ended up bringing home two bottles, one of the almond and one of the chocolate coffee. I would have nabbed two of each of the flavors (that is what is allowed by law to bring back to the US) but my suitcase and pocket book were not big enough.

The brand of tequila we purchased is very unique. It's called Cava Antigua It's a small company that makes about 300 bottles a month and I was unable to locate the brand in any store in Puerto Vallarta, so the guy must have told me the truth when I asked if I could go to a liquor store in town and purchase a bottle. Thanks to the world wide web, we found the website!

The glass bottles are very unique (the website says they are hand made) as is the leather stamped label. There is a cork like top that pulls off when you open the bottle. My new mission is to figure out a way to get the tequila here in the United States...