Category Archives: Photos

Cedar Point 2019

Last week we made our now annual trip to Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. This was a favorite place for Mike and me when we were kids, and it makes us pretty happy to be able to share the magic with our kids. The odd thing is that they each love it for different reasons. Luke loves all the thrill rides, and Natalie loves the petting zoo. So while the boys run around riding rides, the girls mosey and shop and make friends with camels and tortoises.

You can see in the first picture below that we had to get a photo to show where we were while the boys were waiting in line for the Steel Vengeance. We were happily exploring the museum, NOT riding the Steel Vengeance. When we got a closer look at the model of the ride (you can see it behind us) and the 90 degree drop it makes, we knew we had made the right decision.

We have always been able to buy our tickets ahead of time and get two for the price of one, but this year Mike found us an even better deal that included drink passes. We all got bracelets that allowed us to get free fountain drinks all day long. This turned out to be a really great thing because they have refreshment stations all over the park, and they don’t just serve soda. They had fruit juices and teas as well. I’m not a soda drinker, but I do love my sweet tea, so this made me very happy. Also, it completely wiped out the begging that’s gone on in the past when the kids are thirsty (as they should be, walking around in 80 degree weather) and Mom doesn’t want to spend $10 on enormous fountain drinks they will likely not be able to finish drinking. With the unlimited drink plan they gave you small cups, so you only got what you needed at the time and by the time you finished it, you were close enough to the next station so you could just get another.

ALL that to say, we never felt dehydrated the entire day! So hurray for that.

Also, isn’t my husband cute with his Coca-Cola logo looking Guns & Ammo shirt? I tried to get a nice photo of us but our goofy daughter photo bombed us. That picture on the right was taken at the end of the day and Natalie was trying not to smile. Her dad always manages to cheer her up when she’s trying so hard to be in a bad mood.

We finished the day with a night ride on the carousel, which was both beautiful and terrifying. I’m not crazy about being up so high in the air and this was the first year I went on it without the benefit of Zoloft. That’s another blog post altogether, but let’s just say I came really close to a panic attack at the top of the carousel. Thankfully Mike could see I was not okay and he held my hand and reassured me we would be okay. I survived, obviously, and will now be working up the courage for next year’s carousel ride. Because tradition trumps anxiety, and also I’m a smidge sentimental.

My legs held up really well all day. Towards the end my knee was hurting a little so I put my knee brace on and that helped some. My balance was suffering and my left foot felt like it was dropping so Mike held my hand at that point in order to give me some stability. I walked a record 21,693 steps that day and nobody had to carry me to the truck, so I call that a win. Everyone had their brand of fun and it was a great and memorable day. I look forward to going again next year!

Twizzler Force, it’s a thing

This is me saying no. Mike bought a five pound tub of my one and only favorite candy because it was a Prime deal and now it’s here and I’m trying to lose the 4 pounds I gained on vacation.

Send help! I think I’m gonna have to have the family hide it from me. This is not a battle I can win. The Twizzler force is just too strong!!

Girls’ Trip to Valhalla

Saturday was a beautiful day. Not too hot. Sun was shining, there was a slight breeze. Just gorgeous. And the boys were off doing their thing, so we decided to pack lunches and ride our bikes (me on a trike) to Valhalla Park. This is a great local park with a picnic area, playgrounds, and a small lake (aka giant pond) for swimming. Natalie loves to swim so she was more than willing to bike the three miles to get there. Not only that, but she packed our lunches for us!

I let her swim while I sat and relaxed on the shore. We ate our lunches and then she dried off in the sun. It was just a really relaxing day. We had no place to be, no responsibilities to attend to. We just enjoyed the time and each other. It was a lovely day.

Earlier in the week she had asked me if I had a favorite kid, and I told her no, of course not. I loved both of them equally, but sometimes in different ways. However, on this day, our day at the park, I told her that day she was my favorite. And what she said surprised me. She said thank you. Because I think she just needed to hear that encouragement. I think her heart had been doubting a bit because she’s the younger child. Her brother is very active with sports so often it probably feels like he gets more attention. I don’t ever want her to feel like she means less to us. So that’s why this was an important day and an important outing. I plan to make more trips like this with her this summer.

The Zoo Snooze

You may say I’m crazy, but I spent the night at the zoo last weekend and I LOVED it! This was a really fun event put on by the Girl Scouts and my daughter was super excited to be going. She’s an animal lover right down to her core so this was right up her alley.

We rode down Friday late afternoon to Binder Park Zoo and stayed until Saturday afternoon. It’s only an hour away from us but I don’t think I’ve ever been. After this trip, I’m sure I’ll be back. I was extremely impressed with the staff and the conditions of all the exhibits. None of the animals looked sad, like they sometimes seem to be at the zoo. They all looked happy and relaxed.

We saw SO many animals! Peacocks, a sloth, bears, kangaroos, a snow leopard (if you can find it in the 2nd row photo), goats, red pandas, zebras, and my new favorite: giraffes!! We also saw a lot of other animals I didn’t photograph, like rats, bunnies, doves, tarantulas, turtles, ostriches… the list is longer than my memory.

There were so many great moments throughout this trip but my favorite and most memorable moment had to be watching Natalie feed lettuce to the giraffes. The joy on her face was just priceless! Those giraffes just came right up to us as we all stood on the platform. I couldn’t get over how enormous they were! I mean I know giraffes are tall, that’s kind of their thing, but the heads attached to those long necks were huge! And they were so stinkin’ friendly! All those giggling girls with their arms out and those gentle beasts just came right up to us. Just stunning. I’ll never forget it.

Several times throughout the second day Natalie would tell me how much fun she was having and she would thank me for coming with her, or thank me for letting her come. We walked over 6 miles that second day and there was not one complaint from anyone. And if anyone was going to complain, I would have expected it to be my daughter, but no, she was truly grateful to be there and sharing this experience with me. Neither of us had ever seen a giraffe in person before and we got to share that first together.

These are the moments, folks. Natalie is only 9 once and she’s quickly approaching 10. I’ve got to grab hold of these opportunities while I have them. This was such an incredible adventure for the girls to have and I’m so happy I was there to share in it. Who knows what the future holds but I’m hopeful it’s full of lots more exciting adventures.

With lots of recuperating in between, of course. This momma took a serious nap when she got home!

My son’s 6th grade field trip

Last week was our children’s last week of school. For my son, this was the ending of his first year of middle school. He is no longer a 6th grader, no longer a novice. This was a challenging year for him, as he adjusted to life with a locker combination, waking up ridiculously early, moving from one class to another, and having to keep up with homework assignments and tests from multiple subjects. I’ll be honest, he struggled a lot in the beginning of the year. He has a lot of energy, and he had a hard time focusing. That quality may never change, but he changed nonetheless. He worked extremely hard to manage everything and he ended the year in even better shape than he had expected to. Attending the end of year class trip was an enormous privilege, one that he very well could have lost. But he didn’t! AND, he asked me to be a chaperone on the trip!

We met at the middle school with all the other 6th graders and chaperones to board charter buses for the 2 hour drive west. We were headed for Michigan’s Adventure, an amusement park in Muskegon. Our day at the park was memorable, for sure. Luke rode a few rides, he walked around with some friends while I hung back and read my book. He swam and rode some rides at the water park. We ate Dippin’ Dots (did you know they have a dairy free flavor?)!

One really exciting thing Luke decided to do was ride the RipCord, which is basically a thrill ride where they pull you up super high (180 feet, to be exact), you pull a cord, and then you go flying. It’s insane, and it has always made me really dizzy and freaked out to see people riding this ride. It’s one you have to pay extra for, and I told Luke he would have to pay for it out of his birthday money if he really wanted to go. This kid loves thrill rides. I don’t even think he’s afraid of heights. He paid his money and waited TWO HOURS with no complaints. And as you can see in the photo, he was happy to wait and ready to go. I got the whole thing on video so we could show dad when we got home. It was terrifying and a lot of fun all at the same time.

The amazing part about the whole day for me was that Luke actually wanted me there as a chaperone. Though I could groan at having to walk around all day with a bunch of middle schoolers, I didn’t. Because I know in the coming years he may not want me anywhere near him and his friends. And since I don’t get to bond with him over baseball like his dad does, it was really great to be able to spend this day with him. That, and at the very end of the day, we enjoyed a fresh elephant ear as we hustled back to the buses. He and I share a love for this sinful confection, and we discovered that our favorite parts of the “ear” were opposite (he likes the crispy, I like the doughy) so there wasn’t even any fighting over the last bite.

All in all it was a fantastic day and I hope I never forget it. I am so proud of Luke for all his hard work this year and I look forward to making more good memories with him down the road.

Summer break has begun!!

We started off our summer break with a trip to the dentist yesterday (because I’m the best mom ever) via Spec-tran. Then today we went to Taco Bell via bikes (theirs) and feet (mine). I refused to buy fast food for the kids so they opted to pay for their meals. I was just in it for the miles.

This run went pretty well, considering my recent knee problems. I wore a new knee brace that was surprisingly comfortable to wear. I still had some knee pain beginning in the 4th mile, but the compression from the brace seemed to keep it tolerable. What I noticed in the beginning was that the added support on my right knee seemed to help me lift the left leg when I began to experience a little foot drop. I’m not sure how or why that works but I’m not complaining. The drop foot used to be so much worse and now I barely think about it. I’m just praying my body continues to cooperate as I add on more miles.

I really love that my kids enjoyed riding their bikes while I ran. This will allow us to go to a lot more places around town. They get their fun and I get my training runs. It’s a win-win. Of course the ultimate bonus is that we are spending quality time together.

I am super excited for this summer. Kids are getting bigger, I am getting stronger, it’s gonna be great.