Friday, April 30, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!

....And I'm going to take full advantage by heading outside to clean the decks. The Man and his friend are installing our air conditioning unit tomorrow. He laid the concrete pad for the unit with another friend a couple of weekends ago, so it's all ready to install. Last year, just as our families were coming to celebrate The Boy's graduation and Eagle ceremony, the old a/c decided to stop working. My stepdad and The Man were on the deck when it blew. Literally. Fun times. 'Blew' as in there is a hole in the ozone above our house. Talk about inconvenient (for us and for the environment). Of course, the weather decided to turn hot so we had to scramble by purchasing and installing a window unit. The Man, The Boy and my stepdad all did a great job. Mom and I sat back and supervised. :)

So, thanks to my Mom and stepdad for helping us out...and thanks to The Man and his friends for their know-how, we are saving a boatload of cash by putting in a new furnace (did that in October and reaped the tax rewards for that) and new a/c unit because we can do it ourselves. And I use the term 'we' very loosely. I'll be cooking and entertaining...what I do best...while the men are working.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I love....

  • My family....The Man and The Boy are my life. Being a wife and mother defines me.
  • Dutch...I love listening to him snore when he's sleeping, slobber when he sees food, seeing him look at me with unconditional love
  • Working with can be so heartbreaking at times, but it's rewarding when I know I'm making a difference in the life of a child
  • My extended family....I'm so fortunate to have a loving family
  • My 'other' family....The Man's family who love me for me and I love them back!
  • My friends...I'm truly blessed to have met so many wonderful friends over the course of my life
  • Family get-togethers
Now for the shallowness of my loves....
  • My Kindle...a surprise gift from my mom and sister last summer. LOVE IT...Love them more!
  • Aerosmith...singing at the top of my lungs while listening to my cd for the 146th time this week
  • My computer
  • Disney World
  • The Outer Banks
  • the ocean
  • West by God Virginia
  • summer
  • being barefoot
  • pedicures
  • shopping
What do you love?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Date Night

Tonight is a much needed date night for The Man and me. We're going on a double date with his sister and her husband, who we haven't visited with in awhile. Should be fun! We're going here for a lovely dinner.

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My mom's therapy

My mom is many things...a wife, mother, sister, aunt, gumbunk, gaba, grandma, artist. When I was in my hometown for spring break, I took pictures of her sewing room and of some of her quilts. She has a tiny room, but has it packed full of machines, dress form, material, thread...everything a quilter needs to do her work.

She has always been very handy with a needle and thread. She used to make leisure suits for my dad, she made clothing for us when we were growing up, mended our torn clothing, hemmed The Man's pants (since I'm a disaster with a needle and really shouldn't handle one), made clothing for the grandchildren, etc.

She took up quilting when I was pregnant. She bought a panel for The Boy's crib and hand quilted it. That was her first attempt at quilting and I still have the quilt in my linen closet. I'm hoping to pass it down some day...not any time soon, though!

She told me once that quilting is much cheaper than therapy for her. Here is a look into her 'therapy' room.

This is her sewing corner. She was teaching a friend to piece together a quilt, so the quilt hanging on the wall is her friend's that she is making for one of her grandchildren. Mom has a tablecloth hanging on the wall with the flannel part up and she puts the quilt squares up there to see it before she sews it all together.

This is her dress form. I think it was The Boy who made her put a nightie on it because it was 'naked.' :)

This is her 'Wall of Fame'. The top pictures in the circles are her children (I'm the one with the fat head...third from the left). The pictures on the bottom are all of her grand babies. (The Boy is the one in the center.)

Her quilting machine is in the basement since it takes up a ton of room. She was showing me how it worked.

This is a wall quilt that she made for one of my nieces. She made two of them...they now hang in my nieces' bedrooms. :) They were so happy with the quilts.

Now for a sampling of her artwork:

This one I especially love. It's red work that she colored with crayons and heat setted before making it into a quilt. LOVE IT!

This last quilt isn't one that my mom made. This was made by the staff at my dad's school when he was ill. Each staff member made a square and then they had it quilted. Mom told me that one day, each of us kids will share 'custody' of this quilt. I told her that I may have to 'lose' the quilt while in my custody so that I can keep it. ;) Just kidding! Maybe!

Every bed in my house has a quilt made by my mom. Every wall has a quilt to remind me of her love. Right now I'm on the couch with one of her quilts over my legs...wrapped in her love.

To Mom, quilting is therapy. To me, her quilts are love.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Girl Time

While I was in Mom's living room chatting with her, I kept looking at her pictures on the wall. She and my stepdad have all of their grandchildren's pictures on a wall in their family room. Between them they have ten grandchildren. Mom has six, Dave has four. I'm very close with my nieces and nephew (my brother's and my sister's children.) Although I do spend more time with my sister's girls, I love my brother's children very much.

My sister only lives 4 hours away from my mom. Since I was already nine hours away from home and had a few days before I had to return home for work, I decided that I HAD to see my nieces. Seriously...who can resist this face:

...or this face:

Aubrey unloading the dishwasher

So, I called my sister to see if they had plans for the weekend. She said, "Hmmmm, let me check my schedule...ARE YOU KIDDING??? GET DOWN HERE!" hehe Mom was planning on heading down after my visit anyway, so we decided to leave on Friday. Then, Dave suggested that we leave on Thursday, pop by my aunt's house on the way and visit with her and my cousins. So, after visiting with my friend Cheryl on Thursday, Mom and I packed up our cars and headed South.

My aunt is my mom's baby sister. She is only three years older than I am and we grew up like sisters. I was very excited to see her and her boys. She lives in the town where I went to college, so it was exciting to head to my old 'stomping grounds.' Pam had to work on Friday, so we only got to stay for one night, but we packed in as much visiting as we could in that one evening. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at her house.

We were up bright and early the next morning to head to Margie's house. We decided that she wouldn't tell the girls we were coming. We wanted to surprise them when they got home from school. I don't know who was more excited...Mom, Margie or I! When we pulled up in front of Margie's house, Mom forgot to turn off her car, so I had to jump out of mine to tell her to turn off the car! :)

Margie greeted us at the door and we were screaming and hugging and just acting crazy as usual. It was so good to see her! She and I moved our cars to a cul de sac in her neighborhood that wasn't developed yet so that the girls wouldn't see our cars when they came home with their dad.

Mom hid in Allison's room and I hid in the playroom. When Margie told them that she had something in Allison's room for them, they raced upstairs and I heard them screaming, "Gaba!" and laughing when they saw my mom. Then, Margie told them that she had another surprise in the playroom. When they walked in, I started screaming and Aubrey jumped into my arms and Allison gave me a huge hug. It was so much fun!

We did silly things like take self-portraits:

Um...I had the zoom on and didn't know it!

Much better!

Aunt Dawn and Allison

Mom and I

Margie and Dawn...sisters by blood...friends by choice

The girls worked on crafts with 'Gaba' while Margie and I prepared snacks.

Al and Gaba making a pillow.

Aubs painting

Our snack...

I got this idea from a dear friend of mine...spear 1/2 cherry tomato, a half of a basil leaf, and a cube of mozzarella cheese....and then drizzle the entire dish with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Very tasty and addicting!

We talked, laughed, and just relaxed. It was a wonderful visit! Oh, and when my sister couldn't find her iphone? All she had to do was find one of the girls because they usually had it playing with one of the apps. ;)

Al playing with the iphone. :)

When it was time for me to leave to come home, I hugged each girl and Allison said to me, "I hope I don't have to wait a year to see you again!" and I assured her that we'd NEVER let that happen...EVER!

I love you, Girlies!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Catching up with old friends

On my last day in my hometown, I had a 'date' with an old friend. Cheryl and I went to high school together and we recently reconnected through Facebook. I left my mom's around 8:30am to drive the 1/2 hour drive to Cheryl's house. She greeted me by running out to my car and giving me a huge hug! I actually got tears in my was so good to see her!

We sat in her kitchen, drank about a gallon of coffee and talked. We reminisced about the times when our boys were in kindergarten together and were best friends. We talked about high school and what we've done since...where life has taken each of us since we have last seen one another.

Cheryl has the most beautiful long, curly hair. I was getting pointers from her about my curly hair (it seems like age brought on this hair used to be straight in my youth, but with age, it has turned super curly and unruly....and to think I used to wish for curly careful what you wish for!) Cheryl took me 'shopping' in her closet. She loaded a bag with curly hair shampoo, conditioner, setting cream and gave me pointers on how to blow out my hair, while scrunching it to make it do what I wanted it to do.

After catching up, she received a phone call from another high school friend. She then told me that she had a surprise for me. We were going to have lunch with Jody at Mario's in Weirton! I was very excited to see her. Jody's parents and my parents were very good friends. We frequently got together when we were growing up.

Cheryl and I hopped into her car and drove across the river to Weirton. Jody was waiting in the parking lot when we got there. I hopped out and gave Jody a huge hug. It was so good to see her! After having lunch and talking, it was time to go because Cheryl had to go to work. We said our goodbyes and Cheryl and I drove back to her house. We went back in, visited for a few more minutes, then I left so that she could make her 'long' commute to her home office. :)

Luckily, I'll get to see my two old friends and many more this June when The Man and I go to our 25th high school reunion. We are looking forward to that very much!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Amish and My Mom

My mom and I set out to spend the day in Holmes County, Ohio to spend quality time with the Amish folks there. We left bright and early so that we could eat breakfast, do lunch, and even have dinner while in "Amish Country." On the way, I called The Man to check in and to tell him good morning. I let him know our plans for the day and he mentioned that he needed some office furniture for his new office....a coat tree and a little table for magazines. Shopping is my specialty, so it shouldn't be a problem! ;)

We started off having breakfast at Boyd & Wurthmann restaurant, where the locals eat. It's fun sitting in there among the local crowd having coffee and just relaxing. From there, we ventured out to shop at Sol's. It's a huge arts and crafts mall...HUGE! We spent about 2 hours in Sol's. I found a solid oak coat tree for The Man's office, so I bought it and hauled it out to Mom's car. Luckily, one of her back seats went down, so it fit in the back! It was a close call!

My mom is an avid quilter (I will focus an entire blog post on that at a later date), so we spent a lot of our day looking at material. We drove near and far looking at all of the quilting/material shops, in all of the little towns in the area. I'm not a seamstress or a quilter, but I fell in love with all of the different material that these shops had to offer, plus it's fun to chat with the workers in the shop. We seem to have the same fascination with one another. We found some special material for The Man at a shop in Charm (I think...either Charm or Millersburg), so we started talking about a lap quilt she was going to make for him. After purchasing the material, we went to the Helping Hands Quilt Shop in Berlin to look at more material. In the downstairs part of the Helping Hands, she showed me a quilt that was similar to the one she wanted to make for him. There was a sweet Amish woman, making a pair of man's pants, working in there. We stood and chatted with her for awhile.

We then decided to forgo lunch and have a piece of pie instead. We went back to Boyd and Wurthmann for my favorite: graham cracker cream pie. It is the nectar of the gods. It's a vanilla cream pie (obviously) in a graham cracker crust. It's topped with whipped cream and graham cracker crumbs. After our 'lunch', we were still on the hunt for material and a small table for The Man's office. We were successful in finding even more material...the table, not so much. On the way out of Berlin, we stopped at a huge Christmas store to look around. Fun!

By dinnertime we were starving so we decided to eat at the Dutch Valley Restaurant in Sugarcreek. Oh Mama! It has a buffet of luscious Amish made food...broasted and fried chicken, ham, roast beef, mashed potatoes, dressing, noodles, green beans, corn, casseroles, rolls, a variety of desserts, plus a full salad bar. Heaven!

From there, we hit just about every furniture store in Sugarcreek. Imagine our surprise when we ran into my uncle and aunt in one of them! How hilarious! I heard this, "Hellooooo!" on my left and thought to myself, "That's a crazy way to welcome a customer!" I turned around and it was my aunt! I gave her a huge hug and turned around to see my uncle at the counter signing papers for new furniture. They showed us the bedroom furniture that they just purchased and I told them I was looking for a little table for The Man's office. My aunt suggested a different store that they just visited. So, after visiting with them for a while in the store, Mom and I took off down the road to the other furniture store.....where we found the PERFECT little table! :)

After we found the table, we decided to head back to my mom's house. It's a 2 hour drive and we were exhausted. We literally shopped until we dropped.

We spent the day talking, laughing, shopping, talking, and laughing some more. I'm so fortunate to have my mother in my life. She truly is one of my best friends! We share many of the same interests (including the love of all things Amish). She is very non-judgmental and really sees the good in all people. I strive to be more like her every day!

I love you, MOM!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quality vs. Quantity

On the Monday of my spring break, I went to visit with The Man's cousin, who also happens to be one of my very best friends. It's wonderful how when you marry into a family, you not only gain another family, but also some good friends.

We started off by catching up over about a gallon of coffee. Then, we went to lunch and talked some more. When we're together, we never run out of things to talk about. Our boys are both freshman in college and her daughter is a college senior. Both of her kids are very special to us and The Boy is special to all of them. Our boys have been very close since they were babies....and we crack up when they are together.

After lunch, we decided to head to the Homer Laughlin China outlet to "finger the dishes." I could spend my life savings in there, but I restrained and didn't buy anything...this time. While we were walking around, she mentioned a nearby antique mall, so we jumped in my car and headed there. Wow! Such fun! However, some of the stuff was truly junk, but there were a lot of vintage Fiestaware and even some modern Fiesta in retired colors.

Then, we headed back to her house so that I could visit awhile with her husband, have an adult beverage, and just relax. There was a huge storm moving in, so I decided to head back to my mom's before it hit.

We have vacationed with her family in numerous occasions. Every autumn, we go to Cedar Point for Halloweekends and stay at the Breakers Hotel. This past fall, however, we didn't get to go because we were saving money for college. We decided that we missed going so much, that we're planning another weekend together this fall. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all of the kids can join us this time!

We don't get to see one another very often, but we usually cram in a week's worth of visiting into the short amount of time that we do have. We speak on the phone and email one another often. I'm blessed to have such a wonderful friend, who happens to be my family!

Monday, April 5, 2010


I arrived at my mom's early Sunday afternoon. We sat and talked and just relaxed. She called my uncle and aunt to see if they would be home, but they were on their way to my cousin's house to babysit the kids so that Amy and Tom could see a movie. They wanted us to go too. My cousin and her husband live near Pittsburgh, which is only about 45 minutes away, but I was sort of tired, so we decided that we wouldn't go. As we were having dinner, I looked up at my mom and said, "How long does it take to get to Amy's house?" She said, "Why, do you want to go?" So, she called my uncle and told him that we'd be on our way as soon as we cleaned up the dinner dishes. I needed to see my cousin and her family. And I needed to see my aunt and uncle. We have always been a very close family.

So, Mom and I headed to Pittsburgh...well, the 'burbs. I called The Man's cousin Joni on the way and set up a date with her for Monday. Then I called my friend Cheryl and set up a date with her on Thursday. Unk and company were out to dinner when we got there, so Mom and I hung out for about 5 minutes until they got back. We visited with the precious children (Amy and Tom have three beautiful children...2 daughters and a son), and each of them took us to their rooms to show us around. After visiting and having a wonderful talk with my uncle and aunt, Amy and Tom got home from the movies and we got to sit and visit and LAUGH (because that's what Amy and I do when we're together!)

Since it was a school night and it was 9:30 and I thought Mom was going to fall asleep sitting up, we decided to call it a night. After saying our good-byes, we followed Unk and Aunt as far as we could until going our separate ways.

I had planned on seeing a few of my 'peeps' on this visit, but this was an added bonus. There were a few added bonuses on this trip in my future! I can be a very spontaneous person and sometimes that is a very good thing. :)

There is nothing like family!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

I hope all of my friends and family have a wonderful and blessed Easter! Enjoy your day!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I've got your back....

After I left The Boy for his dinner out, I drove about an hour East to visit Pam. Pam and I have 'known' one another for 13-14 years. We met on AOL's momsonline when we posted on a cooking board together. After The Man and I got rid of AOL, I was invited to post at another message board by an online acquaintance at the time, so I went and met some lovely people. Pam posted a recipe called Dixie Chicken, which I recognized, and I got very excited. I asked if she used to post on AOL and told her my 'name' on that site. It turns out, she was one and the same! YAY!

Over the years, we chatted and shared recipes and stories about our children (she also is raising an only child.) We both talked in length about the misconceptions people have about 'only' kids. Both of us are raising kids who are generous, loving, caring individuals. We're fortunate.

We finally met in person twice last year. The first time in Indianapolis for lunch (yes, I drove 3 hours one way to meet friends for lunch.) The second time was in the suburbs of Chicago for a weekend in the city. Four of us stayed at Jackie's (another good friend I met online) apartment, one drove over to take the train to the city with us and another met us in the city. Good times!

So, fast forward to two weeks ago....I arrived at Pam's house and she greeted me with a glass of wine and started making some yummy appetizers. We sat in her kitchen and chatted. Her husband came home from work and chatted with us for awhile, then went off to his garage. I'm thinking I made 'the cut' because he called the house from the garage and asked us to come on down to talk. We headed down to this fantastic garage that they just built. It's every man's dream, I'm sure (of course, I'm not a man, but I was drooling myself over the cars in there.) Her Man is a collector and he had many classics in pristine condition. Cool! He has a bar on one end of the garage, so Pam and I sat at the bar stools and he stood on the other side and we talked for a couple of hours. I felt like I had known him forever. They are the type of people who make a person feel right at home.

We went back up to the house and ordered a pizza. After we had pizza, Pam and I were waiting up for her daughter to come home from being out with friends. Her husband was going to bed, but before he went, he opened another bottle of wine for us.

We talked and laughed and had catty moments. Morning came too quickly. I awakened to find Pam in the kitchen making coffee. We spent a couple hours talking over coffee and then I decided I should be on my way. So, after saying goodbye, I took off for my mom's.

Thank you so much for a wonderful visit, Pam! You are a true friend and if our current message board breaks up, then it IS all about us! ;) I've got your back, sista!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hangin' with the Delta Sigs

Day one of spring break led me to The Boy's university in a small town in Ohio. He took me for a tour around campus. The first stop was at the dorm.

This is where The Boy lives.

After we saw the dorm, we headed over to the science center. This and the scholarship he received are two of the reasons we chose this university. The scholarship makes this private school more affordable than a state school in IL.

The outside of the science center.

glass bridge inside the science center

waterfall and sculpture inside the science center

Then, we passed the Methodist chapel.

We crossed a bridge and came to the beautiful black swans. The Boy informed me that these cost $10,000 EACH. BTW, there are THREE of them! Our tuition money at work, folks!

We finally made it to the fraternity house! I was then infomed that it was the nicest house on campus. Hmmmm....what about THAT one?

NOT the Delta Sig house

This is the Delta Sigma Phi house.

We went inside for a tour of the nicest house on campus. Here are some of the highlights:

The kitchen

The sunken living room where they play foursquare, wrestle, and just hang out.

Their homemade stadium seating where they watch tv.

The bell outside the house.

Proud to be a Delta Sig

And if he ever decides to scrap his chemistry major, he could always be a carpenter....

The picnic table he and his fraternity brothers built.

I got to meet some of his fraternity brothers. They seem like a great group of guys.

We had a wonderful visit. I took him to lunch and we talked, laughed, and enjoyed every minute of our visit. He and his fraternity brothers were taking their sweetheart out to dinner for her 21st birthday, so I did what any good mom would do, I slipped him some cash and took off so that he could have some fun with his friends.

I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful relationship with my son! As he grows older, the relationship becomes more of a friendship, but he still needs guidance...and cash! ;)