Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Midwest Summer Days

When we go back to Ohio to visit now I have such conflicted feelings about it.  It doesn't feel like home anymore, but it's not like a real vacation either.  I love seeing family and friends and going to all the old places I miss, but then sometimes the memories and feelings flood over you all at once and make you miss it so much it hurts.  On the other hand, it's not home anymore and you can't wait to get back to your new home because you miss it so much.  Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm explaining well, but you get the idea of how conflicting it can be, right?  I still am glad to visit there when we get the chance.  While we were in town this summer we crammed a bit of fun into the time we had.  We went to Kings Island for a few hours when they had "Bring a Friend" night for only $15 a person.  We used to have season passes and we really, really miss that place, so I'm glad we were able to go.  We also just hung out at my brother's pool which is another thing we did in the summer when we lived there.  I forgot how cold the water is in pools in the summer up north!  I got to hang out with my husband's side of the family too and spend some time with my sweet nieces.  My other niece waited until we were in town to have her birthday party because she really wanted my girl to be there.  How sweet is that?  We saw my sisters and their sweet baby girls too.  We stayed with my brother so my boy was in heaven getting to hang out with his favorite person, my nephew, 24/7 and I enjoyed hanging out with my brother and my sister-in-law who is one of my best friends.  I miss my nieces and nephew so much so it was good to see them all while we were there.  My girl got to see all of her old friends too and I was so happy that it worked out that she could spend time with each of them.  We went to my cousin's farm in Indiana one day and got to see her miniature donkeys and peacocks which my animal loving daughter always enjoys.  I did a bunch of photo shoots while I was there but for the most part I just used my iPhone for personal photos.  I kinda wish I had busted out the big camera a little more, but at least I have these memories and that's all that really matters.  Here are some favorite photos from our midwest summer trip!

My kids with some of the their cousins.  I wanted to get a pic for my mother-in-law of all her grandkids.

Always have to get a pic of my boy with his 'hair twin'!

My mother-in-law's house was on the market while we were there (she has moved since then) and it was so weird to think that next time we visit she'll be in an entirely different place.

I had a Skyline lunch date with my sisters and this cutie pie.  She played with the salt the whole time and was such a little angel.  And of course I had to go to the Gap Outlet while I was there too.

My girl wants to live on a farm (in Florida) when she grows up so she was in heaven playing with the miniature donkeys.  They are so cute!  You can lead them around on a leash.  They are definitely stubborn though.

She enjoyed feeding them treats.

Anna and Olaf.  My cousin has a five year old daughter, can you tell? ;)

We got totally drenched at King's Island, but it cleared up and most of the people there had left so we were able to go on everything we wanted to with hardly any lines.  That's my girl's friend who she has known since kindergarten.  They met on the bus.  I'm so glad we've been able to stay in touch with her and her sweet family.  And I love my niece's pose in the bottom photo.  She's too cute!

We ran into another friend at the top of the Eiffel Tower!  I used to babysit her and my nephew so it was so fun to see those three together again.  

I love this photo of my boy!  He still talks about how his favorite ice cream is the blue kind from King's Island so I'm very happy that he was able to get it.  And it was even better than he remembered!

Looking at these photos again makes me miss Ohio so much!  Summer was always my favorite season there.  We'll be back next year!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Summer Camp

Just typing the words Summer Camp brings up so many memories for me.  I can almost even smell the funky camp smell if I think about it hard enough (not that I really want to smell that).  I think summer camp memories and friendships are some of the most treasured things from my childhood.  There is no other experience quite like it in life.  Where else can you spend an entire week away from your parents with hours of free time where you don't even have to tell anyone where you're going or what you're doing? Time to be totally ridiculous with your friends and write boys names on the ceiling with flashlights long after lights out (don't ask).  Swimming in the lake at the crack of dawn while singing the Polar Bear Song, sure, why not?  Getting a Mountain Dew from the vending machine any time you want, spinning on the merry go round til you are sick and dizzy, crying your eyes out giving your testimony at the campfire, tie dying shirts and painting little ceramic figurines, and humming the Olympic theme song after every Recreation class are just some of the hundreds of little memories of moments that I can still vividly see.  Ask me about most days from my childhood and it's all a random blur.  I can't even remember my 4th grade teacher's name, but I can remember the name of that one girl from camp who I only saw one week a year.  I mean, seriously, I would not trade those weeks at camp for any of the fancy vacations in the world.  And I am so incredibly happy that my children get to have the same experiences.  

We planned our summer vacation around the week of camp again.  Yes, I realize that we could send our kids to a camp here in Florida, but it really does mean that much to me that they go to the camp I went to.  This camp is old school and that's exactly what I like about it.  I love the people too.  My son is going to be old enough to go to camp next year so I wanted to get him excited about it.  He didn't quite get what was so great about it so I decided to visit my daughter at camp for one day while she was there.  It's about 3 hours away from where we stay in Cincinnati, so it was a mini road trip for my sister in law and her kids and me and my boy.  It was pretty fun and guess what, he now thinks camp is way cooler than he thought it would be.  Which makes me pretty happy.  Here are a few pics from our day there.  These are just snaps from my iPhone.  

They have this great climbing wall that when you get to the top you go across this tight rope thing and then over to a tiny platform where you zip line down into a ravine.  They didn't have anything like this when I was kid.  But we had horses.

So, this boy really wanted to do this.  The last time he tried rock climbing a few years ago he couldn't make it halfway up a smaller wall than this one, so I was pretty nervous for him and honestly thought he wouldn't make it, or if he did, he would chicken out about getting over to the zip line and have to rappel down.  He totally proved me wrong though and did the whole thing!  I was so impressed!

Here is the tightrope thing I was talking about.  It is so, so high up there!  It was scary to watch!  His poor arms and legs were really shaking.  He was just barely tall enough to do it.  The guides they had working up there were great and encouraged him the whole time.  He's got a safety strap clipped to the back of his harness thing just fyi (it's the yellow strap behind his head).

I got a video of him going down the zip line!  After he got back over to me he said, "Mommy, feel my heartbeat!"  He thought it was pretty scary, but he says he'll do it again next year.

They have 2 small lakes there.  Here's my girl on a paddle board.  She did that blob behind her the first year and got the wind knocked out of her and still says she won't ever do it again.

Just another view of the lake.  I love how green it is there and the forest behind them just says midwestern camp to me.

Happy girl.  She was glad to see us, but she kept running off with her friends which I was completely fine with.  I'm glad she even tolerates her mom showing up at camp!  She even wants me to come next year.  I hope she always feels that way about me. :)

They brought out the giant slip and slide for a little while and my boy loved it.  It was his favorite part!  They put soap all over it to make it slippery and then hose it down.  The littler kids weren't quite heavy enough to get all the way down to the bottom.  They needed a little help from the bigger kids.

I can't wait for next year to have both my kids experiencing camp and making life long friends and memories in the process.

Monday, August 17, 2015

My Ohio Girls

I love my new friends, I really do, but there's nothing like old friends.  Even though we've lived here for 2 years now and I have formed some pretty strong bonds with some amazing women here, I still have moments where I just want to sit and chat with someone who has known me forever.  Someone who knew me before I got married, before I had kids, when I was just me.  I miss having friends who love my kids because they've known them since birth and have watched them grow up.  I miss friends who you don't have to explain your backstory to because they were there when it all went down.  I just miss my girls.  I was so lucky to see most of them when I was in Ohio earlier this summer.  It was so nice getting some one on one time with some sweet dear souls who I cherish.  Facebook and texting and even the occasional phone call cannot ever replace that time spent face to face. 

I was able to throw together a quick girl's night out while I was there and we went downtown Cincinnati to the Christian Moerlein Lagerhouse for dinner and drinks.  The All-Star game was going to be in Cincinnati the following week so the city was looking fabulous and there was a huge fireworks display after the baseball game for the 4th of July that we were able to stay and watch right by the river.  We spent some time walking around the new Smale Park before dinner and it was so nice to see all the changes they've made since we lived there.  Why didn't they make them before we moved!?  Oh well, now when we come to visit we can enjoy exploring our old city.  I really do miss it!  Being back there just brought back so many memories.  Not that I regret our move or anything, but Cincinnati will always have a special place in my heart.  It's where I grew up and where I met my husband and where my children were both born, so really how could I not feel a special connection with it?  I think maybe the fact that I went there in the summer might have something to do with all my warm, fuzzy feelings about it right now though. ;)

Love these pics of us.  My hair is longer now since this was over a month ago, but it's pretty much the same.

I seriously don't know what I'd do without good girlfriends in my life!  I'm thankful for all of you, even those of you in Florida and those of you I didn't get photos with while I was in Ohio.  I'm so glad God chose to bring us together whether it was 30 something years ago or just last month. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Weekend in Orlando

I cannot believe that summer is almost over and I haven't blogged about it at all!  Okay, actually I can, because I'm such a blog slacker anymore.  I am determined to get back on track though.  I haven't totally been neglecting the blog lately, I've actually been getting it prepared to be printed into a book.  I'm going to make a book for each year of it so far.  I've got the first year ready to print, so once I get it, I'll definitely do a post about it so you can see it.  I'm so excited, I can't wait to hold it in my hands and flip through the pages as opposed to clicking through.  

Catching up on our lives though, I'm gonna go back to the beginning of our summer to the first weekend in June when we took a weekend trip to Orlando.  We had friends in town visiting Disney for the week and they decided to stay a few extra days so that my husband's friends could all come in for a golf trip.  My husband has 4 good friends who were all the groomsmen at our wedding and they do a golf trip every year.  They used to all live in Ohio, but now there's one in Los Angeles, one in Delaware, one in Dallas, us in Florida, and just one left in Ohio.  So, it's pretty impressive that they all still get together.  One of them has ALS so we were determined to make this trip happen since he was the one at Disney and he told us he might not be up for travelling after this trip.  The wives haven't always been able to go because it seems one of us always has a baby at home (which was the case again!) but I was able to go with our kids and of course our friend going to Disney had his wife and their 2 adorable little girls with him.  It was so nice to have everyone there!  We rented a big house through and it was so great to have a place where we could all stay together.  There were many games of Settlers played and a few games of Poker as well.  We mostly just hung out together and of course the guys played their golf tournament.  We spent a really fun evening at the Gaylord Palms resort eating at their sports bar called Wrecker's and watching the Belmont Stakes horse race.  They had this amazing magician there who was so funny and spent a ton of time entertaining us with his card tricks.  He honestly was one of my favorite parts of our trip!  The Gaylord Palms is amazing too, I would definitely like to stay there someday.  

Getting to talk face to face with our friends and spend such precious time with them as they deal with this devastating disease was so bittersweet.  I loved getting to know my friends sweet little girls too.  I would love for us to do another trip together where we rent a huge house again and get all the wives and kids to come.  It would definitely be a bit of chaos, but I think it would be the happy kind. :)  Hopefully we can make that happen sometime soon.  Here are some photos from the weekend.  I just realized that this was right after I had finished radiation and I was so nervous about being tired and I didn't really have my energy totally back yet.  It was also the first time I went out and about without my wig on.  No pics of that though...I'll get my courage up and post one soon.  Watching someone deal with ALS definitely put my cancer struggles in perspective though, I will say that.  I have so much admiration and respect for my friend and his wife as they deal with this.  They are amazing people! 

I love that has my husband has such great friends who have also become my friends.

I forgot to mention that we spent a day at our friends' Disney resort earlier that week.  They were staying at the Art of Animation Resort which has a Cars theme, a Little Mermaid theme, a Lion King theme, and a giant Finding Nemo themed pool.  I was so excited about all the Cars stuff because my son used to be super into them when he was a toddler.  He wasn't that impressed since he doesn't really remember his obsession.

This girl is such a sweet tiny thing!  I adore her and her big sister.  They just loved us from the moment they saw us and would sit in my lap and let me play with them.  I seriously wanted to stuff this cutie in my bag and take her home with me!

Cuteness times two!  They were so entertaining.  I kinda miss having kids these ages (4 and 2) around my house saying adorable things and making me laugh.

This was the water slide at the resort where we rented the house.  It was a great pool and my kids (and me and my husband too!) had so much fun on this.

One last pic of the guys because I couldn't decide which was my favorite.  Hope to see them all again soon!


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