Erin's Birthday Celebration

After meeting up for a couple playdates with the kiddos, my friend Erin & I decided we needed a girl's night out, and what better reason than Erin's birthday?! We celebrated the night before Thanksgiving, which also happens to be one of the biggest night's to head out during the year. (no worries...Ella was safely with her Dad visiting relatives in Chicago!) We (Erin, Katie, Jessica, & I) first headed to Poppycock's for dinner where we were treated to yummy martinis called Grape Crush's which coincidentally (and quite dangerously) tasted just like the real thing. We had a blast toasting and telling stories and referring to ourselves hysterically as "Woo Girls"...wooing at every opportunity we got! (Woo Girls are in reference to one of my favorite tv shows, How I Met Your Mother...go ahead, figure it out!) After dinner, we headed to Union Street where our favorite local musician, Mike Moran, was playing. We danced 'til our hearts were content & I even granted Erin's b-day wish of getting a picture with Mike, who we think might just be famous one day. Woo!!! :)


Ella has been over to my friend Katie's house before & met Katie's cats, Puff & Elfie as well as her rabbit, Thumper. Ella is particularly fond of the kitty's, always asking if we can go to "Ki-Ki's house" to play with the "meow's". So, Katie so graciously invited Ella & I over for a sleepover one night & we just couldn't resist. So, we packed up & headed over. Ella was easily entertained by the kitty's & we even watched a little Tom & Jerry...which we think the cats seemed to enjoy just as much as Ella. After staying up until the wee hour of 9:30, Ella was so exhausted she practically put herself to bed. It was a fun sleepover & hope to have many more to come! :)


Way Back in Time

So I told my North Carolina girlfriends I had a surprise in store for them a while back. Please forgive me for keeping you hanging for so long, but I think it will be worth the wait! I found these pictures, mostly from middle school, and couldn't resist sharing. We have an email chain between myself, Natalie, Sallie, Meg, Joy, Catie, & Cameron that we have been slacking on lately but for the most part keeps us all informed on our lives. We all live so far apart that it's really the only sensible way to keep in touch...and I just love it. So, without further ado, here are the pictures.

8th grade Washington DC trip. Sorry Nat, the photographer cut you out! I loved that sweatshirt.

Chaos soccer team stopped after our double header to watch the US Women's team play in Greensboro, I think? Then, we piled into Big Blue & headed home.

The "Jet girls" before the dream sequence in Roberson's "West Side Story". Hot.

Sal's Birthday Bash. In the Neumann kitchen. Such detailed party planners, complete with a construction paper placemat for the birthday girl. Any guesses on what age?

Catie & I all dressed up before a sixth grade dance. Either at the Fire Department or the middle school. Am I the only one that misses the beloved Skyland Fire Department? Good times.

Meg & I climbed the bleachers at a TCR soccer game at Appalachian. What a great pic!

8th grade. After a chorus concert. We were AWESOME singers!

The TCR girl's soccer team. I stopped on my way to Myrtle for Spring Break to catch a game & snapped this pic. The girls' were awesome that year! Can you name everyone? Whatever happened to Sumlee?

Ah. Cruise of '95. One word...DUNKER. I still consider this to be my favorite vacation of all time. Can we please duplicate the ridiculousness of the cruise in the Dominican, 2010?!

Well, I hope you enjoyed the show. A little walk down memory lane never hurt anybody! :)

It's been 10 years?!?!

A few weeks back we had our 10 year high school reunion. I submitted a bunch of pictures for the slideshow & need to share a few. They're just too funny & bring back lots of memories! Top to Bottom: Traverse City West Cheerleaders being filmed for a spot on the news; Ryan, Holly, Brandi, & Len on Spring Break in Myrtle Beach; Senior Prom Photo Shoot in my backyard; my best friend Ryan was a basketball player & I was a cheerleader; parties at the Barn (oh, the stories!); the boys & I headed to Windsor, Canada for a weekend where the drinking age made us legal; my girlfriends at Graduation. Enjoy!


I have a little spare time this morning so I'm going all out with posts. I feel a bit guilty for not blogging much last month. So, here's a comparison from last year's Halloween & this year's. Last year, Ella was Halloween Minnie Mouse. Next year will be here before I know it!

Fall Colors

Last Sunday Rusty & I took a little trip out to Sleeping Bear Dunes to see the fall colors that our great state is known for. We were about 2 weeks past "peak season" so the drive out was pretty barren, but once we made it to the Dunes, the colors were a sight to see. There's a little drive along the Dunes that you can take with about 11 stops where you stop for pictures, picnics, or even hikes. The pictures I took of the bright yellows & oranges of the leaves on the trees that line the drive don't even do it justice. It was gorgeous in person. We attempted to have a picnic, only to have it start raining on us...3 different times! So, we gave up & ate in the car. On our way back into town, we saw a family of six deer hanging out in the road. They were checking us out as we slowly crept by. Despite the rain though, we managed to have a nice day. Check out the pictures and you'll see why they call northern Michigan "God's Country".


Wonder Woman

The day of Halloween was total madness. Ella went to preschool in the morning, walked in a parade with her class downtown. I worked. Left early to pick Ella up, made a mad dash home to throw on her costume, and headed back downtown. We met up with our friends Erin & Carter (he was a dinosaur) and trick-or-treated at the downtown stores from 3:30 until 5. 6 suckers, 5 tootsie rolls, 30 pictures, & 2 meltdowns later, we decided to head home & begin our journey down Washington Street. When we got home, Ella was intent on being Grammie's candy-passing-out assistant. The street filled up quickly with kids & parents lining up at houses to gather their candy. We decided to join them & made it for a total of 6 blocks...hitting up quite a few houses. Ella would run up to the houses, say "Dick or Deat", take her candy, come running back to me, sit on the ground, and check to see what she got. She did this at every house. But, she did seem to have a ball flying around the neighborhood, in typical Wonder Woman fashion!

Corn Maze

One of the best things about northern Michigan, according to my father, is the amazing sweet corn grown up here. It really is the best & he's from Iowa. They grow a lot of corn there. Anyway, so one of the bigger corn farmers up here decided to cut a path through his corn field, charge admission, & allow the public to stomp through his "Corn Maze". There were 3 courses, we only did 2. But, totalling almost 3 miles of Maze! Ella had a blast running through the corn, picking the corn, & eventually ditching her shoes to run barefoot. After we were finished, we stomped through the pumpkin patch & picked out 2 perfect, Ella-size pumpkins. Oh & did I mention it was 80 degrees in mid-October?? Yeah, that's pretty much unheard of up here. But, we were loving every minute of it!

Leaf Blowin

I remember when we lived on the lake when I was about 4 years old, the house being pretty much surrounded by forest and, during fall, the trees would sprinkle hundreds of thousands of leaves all over the yard. Dad would make piles that would tower over our heads, and BJ & I would barrel through them over & over until we would fall over from exhaustion. And, now, as most kids love to do, Ella has been treated to giant piles of leaves to jump into & takes full advantage. Not too mention, she gets to hang out with Ya Ya, her buddy.


Ella meets the Stahle kids

My cousin Kurt & his wife Kerri have 3 kids...Sophia, Ali, & baby Nick. Kurt's brother Kyle & his wife Jennifer have 4 kids...Colby, Jack, Joe, & Sean. 5 of those 7 kids I had never met. However, naturally, as kids do, they all bonded immediately. Sophia & Sean were the flower girl & ring bearer in the wedding & they were busting a move with Ella almost immediately after we arrived at the reception. They were definitely the guests' dinner entertainment! Every so often Ella would break from dancing to run over to the dessert table (situated conveniently next to the dance floor) & grab a mint from the bowl next to the cupcakes. She would spin with Sophia, then jump with all the boys off the head-table-platform onto the dance floor, followed by a little jig, and back to the mint table. Repeat. And repeat. 37 mints later...she was passed out cold & snoring soundly in bed. Here are some pictures of the kids. The last pictures are the morning when the girls were treated to leftover wedding cupcakes, followed by races up & down the hallways of the hotel. What a weekend!!


Another Stahle Wedding

This past weekend we packed out bags and headed to Iowa for my cousin Kevin's wedding. 10 hours there & back in the car took a toll on Ella, but she was quite the trooper. We watched a LOT of movies on the road, and in between each one, we would go through the videos and Ella would tell me, "No Dis, No Dis, No Arrrr" (translate: "Not that one, Not that one, Not Lion King) until we would come to "Madagascar" & she would eagerly shake her head yes and jump around in her car seat. We did this close to 10 times, and every time the same reaction. How is it that kids can watch the same thing over & over again and never get sick of it?! It's truly a phenomenon.

The wedding ceremony was beautiful, at a cute little hilltop church, nestled in the middle of endless acres of corn fields (remember...Iowa). I breathed a sigh of relief after the 20 minute ceremony was over as we managed to get Ella through it without a peep. It was so fun to see all of our cousins again, all on the "Neumann" side. And, Grandma Ella (Ella Rae's namesake) was just elated to see all of her children & grandchildren again, too. Pushing 90, she's looking fabulous! The last picture is Grandma with BJ & I, then Grandma with all of her grandchildren (the 10 great-grandchildren were left out, probably out dancing!) Then there's the new happy couple, Kevin & Jackie (wearing a gift from the Elvis impersonator who showed up to serenade us all...). And, of course, the top picture is my family, and according to Ella our names are, from left to right, "Dukle, Gway, Deegon, Mama, Ya Ya".
Stay tuned for more from the weekend...


Preschool Update

It's been a pretty busy month which is why I haven't written much. Plus, I always like to include pics with my posts, but I don't really have any new ones right now. So, I'll just give an update on our "Back To School" month thus far.
As you know, preschool started just over 2 weeks ago, and it sure has been a major struggle. The poor thing would become hysterical at the mere thought of preschool...not to mention the cling-to-my-leg-for-dear-life ordeals once we actually got in the preschool room. There was even one morning when I had just gotten settled in at work, after one of those heart-wrenching, drop-off moments when suddenly I hear a voice that sounded vaguely familiar yelling "Ma MAAAAA...." coming from outside (I work 2 blocks from her school & the store door was open). By the time I get outside, I see Ella's class taking a walk downtown & there was Ella running to me with tears just pooring down her face. It took an excruciatingly long 5 minutes before her teacher was able to pry her off of me, and off they went with my uncontrollable child.
Well, after all that & then some, I am happy to report, that this morning when we got to school, she sat down with her friends, started coloring, & actually waved goodbye to me as I left. NOT ONE TEAR!!! I even saw her class walking downtown again (on the opposite side of the street from the store), and she pointed this way, but again, no tears. I was thrilled & so happy that Ella will not be permanently traumatized by her first school experience. I kid. :)


Famous Namey's

I officially have the coolest friends. Sallie, Tom, & Kate Namey are going to be television stars! Premiering on the DIY network in their very own show, called "Bonus Room Breakout" (definitely not their first choice for titles, but apparently they have no choice in the matter), the Namey family will be showcasing their Bonus Room makeover for all the world to see. Saturday, September 20 starting at 1:00 the show airs as a marathon, all day, with 5 episodes following them on their journey to transforming their not-so-livable-basement into a beautiful guest suite masterpiece. I've personally seen the "before" and it was pretty scary...and now, after seeing the "after" photos, Ella & I can't wait to go visit our friends in Knoxville & stay in their famous guest quarters. We are so proud of you guys & can't wait to see you in action! :)


Aunt Nat comes to town

My good friend Natalie braved the 5 1/2 hour drive from Chicago over Labor Day weekend (after some highly unnecessary car trouble) to come see the Neumann clan. It also happened to be my dad's birthday. So, we decided to take Nat down the Platte River, along with the other 938 people vacationing this weekend in Northern Michigan. It actually went pretty smoothly, considering it was a first-time adventure for Ella. ~Note: Giant minnows nibbling on your toes are not Ella's idea of a good time~ We soaked up the sun while switching from canoe to kayak to tube...an 85 degree day floating down the river is the best kind of day. We all headed to North Peak for dinner & music on the patio before the ladies headed out for a night on the town....taking full advantage of living within walking distance to town! Thanks for coming Nat & next time bring Tay! :)