It's official. My baby is a baby no more. She is now a preschooler...at the ripe old age of 2 1/2. She will be attending Central Methodist 3 days a week, Mon/Wed/Fri, all full days (b/c they don't offer 1/2 days). Central comes highly recommended by a few moms I have spoken with, and it is literally 1 block from home and work. Ella seemed to enjoy her 'practice day' yesterday, as I stayed with her and observed. However, I was cringing as her teacher explained to me that "we LOVE messy projects & bring lots of changes of clothes b/c potty trainers will be having multiple accidents daily, & expect her to come home dirty". Needless to say, off to Target we went to waste money on clothes that would likely be ruined by the end of the month. Such is life, right? Today, Jeff, aka Daddy, dropped her off for a day by herself. It was a bit challenging but I'm sure she will settle in and create havoc. Stay tuned for "Confessions of a Toddling Preschooler"...

The Proof is in the Pic

Contrary to popular belief, I think I can hold my own when it comes to the great outdoors. Now, don't get me wrong, I crave a hot shower and lip gloss on a daily basis. But, the idea of going camping last week with some friends definitely sparked my interest. So, we made it happen. And, in true 'Dale Neumann' fashion (for those of you reading this who live on Pluto, that's my Dad), he decided to head out into the wilderness to find his favorite (and only) daughter the best, most perfect place to set up camp. And, boy, did he deliver! We set up our tent quickly (and easily I might add) while Rusty cooked us fajitas that sent us running for the border. Despite the heat, they sure were tasty! With our bellies full, we settled in for a relaxing night by the fire watching stars, listening to Rusty play the guitar, & playing a little 'Never have I ever'. Below are some pics...Katie sitting on the "front porch" of the tent & Katie, Mark, Rusty, & I by the campfire. Can't wait to do it again! :)


Doin' the Dune Climb

Our friends, Ryan and Christine and their boys, Kaiden & Cameron, came to visit from Tampa, Florida. So we got to all spend some time together. Ella and I went along with their whole family for a trip out to Sleeping Bear Dunes, along the Lake Michigan shoreline. While they climbed the dune all the way to the top, Ella decided that sand is sand and she would rather roll around in it and sometimes sample it as if it were an appetizer. Much to the dismay of her mother, I might add. After a nice picnic under a shade tree, we headed over to Otter Creek Beach. Below are pictures of everyone busily creating sand castles & some of the kids floating down the creek. It was a perfect Northern Michigan beach day! Later on, some of the adults headed out for a night on the town.


World Series

My cousin, Todd coaches his son Tyler's baseball team and has for years. They're teams have done well in the past, but nothing in comparison to this year. They went to the Iowa State Finals (they are from the outskirts of Des Moines) which was a bit of joke b/c they are so good. Then they went to Regionals in Fort Wayne, IN, which was a little more challenging, however they swept it and became the Central United States Regional Champions. Which, in turn, sent them to the Junior League World Series! Which happened to be in Taylor, Michigan (major coincidence for us since teams were coming from as far as the Phillipines). They did very well, becoming the 2nd place winners for the United States! Here's a picture from the first weekend they played, when my parents, Ella, & I made the trip down to see them. And, the second picture is the runner-up consolation game, where Johnston, Iowa played Mexico. You don't see that everyday! Congrats to Todd & Tyler!


Just Can't Say No

So I was asked (more like, begged) by my friend Ryan to help plan our 10 Year High School Reunion. Funny story...I went there for 2 years (junior & senior years) and senior year we moved to the new high school & I became a member of the first graduating class. We graduated with over 850 students! So, with that being said, I can name all the people I know from high school on like two hands (if I'm lucky) ...Aah, this should be fun. Thank God I have my new friend Katie...SCORE...she graduated with me! Anyway, the point of my story...All of you people out there who are reading this blog and graduated in 1998 from Traverse City Central or Traverse City West (yes, we're doing this together again, just like we did prom and graduation...shocker, shocker!) Please do the planning committee (a whopping 4 of us) a favor and send your contact info (ie: name, address, email, and phone number) to the designated the Class of '98's email address: TCReunion98@yahoo.com. We promise not to sell your information...unless of course, we get stuck with bill and we need to make some extra $$$ to pay for this thing! Ha, Ha ~ Just kidding ;)


Thinking of you...

There are a lot of people that I know right now who are going through some really hard times. And I just want to share these things and ask those of you who are reading this to please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

My friend Christie, who lives in Chicago, was riding her bike last week and was hit by a truck. She broke her collarbone in 3 places and is in a lot of pain. Thankfully, she has lived to tell about it. Most biking accidents turn out much differently, especially in big cities. It will take about a month to recuperate, which of course, will prevent her from working. Get well soon Christie!

My friend Sallie's (who is about 32 weeks pregnant) daughter Kate (who is Ella's age) was recently sent to the emergency room & admitted to the children's hospital for an accidental overdose. It was a very close call & incredibly traumatic for their family. Thankfully, Kate has recuperated & is doing well. We love you Kate!

One of my sorority sisters, Krista and her husband had been trying to have children for years. They were finally blessed with pregnancy...twins! She went into labor at 23 weeks and both of their little girls did not make it. You can read their story on their blog on the right side of this page, listed under My Friends & Favorite Sites. A really wonderful thing their church did was start a prayer pager for them. You can call the number and it sends them a page letting them know someone is praying for them. It's anonymous & only takes about 10 seconds. Their pager number is 616.772.0110. My heart breaks for them & it's a reminder that we must always count our blessings & never take life for granted. My thoughts & prayers are with you & your family, Krista.

Around the time of Len's funeral I became friends with Katie. A group of girls, including my newest friend, Katie & her best friend, Ashley, went out to dinner together shortly after. Ashley told us about her husband, Glen, who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer. Glen passed away this past Thursday. I was able to spend time with Ashley, among others, over this last weekend. She's probably one of the strongest women I've ever met, and is handling this unimaginable tragedy with pure grace. Please keep Ashley, her family, Glen's family in your prayers. My thoughts & prayers are with you, Ashley.

And, please continue to keep Len's family, my friend Ryan, Len's fiance Megan, & all others who loved Len in your thoughts & prayers as well.

"Missing someone gets easier every day because even though it's one day further from the last time you saw each other, it's one day closer to the next time you will."
~Author Unknown


The Film Festival

This year was Traverse City's 4th Annual Film Festival. It was founded by documentary director, Michael Moore. (Fahrenheit 911, Sicko, among others) Quite similar to Cannes, actually. Well, come to find out, he is friend's with Madonna (which, in turn, makes Madonna my friend and Madonna's daughter, Lourdes, Ella's best friend) Yes, you see where I'm going with this. Madonna dropped by the State Theater downtown here in good ole TC to show her new documentary. A few of her close friends casually stopped by the theater to greet her. Here are some of the casual pictures I took.

A New Tradition

So, I think that we've started something without even realizing. So, we live in Traverse City, also known as the Cherry Capitol of the World. Out on the peninsula that separates Grand Traverse Bay into East & West, some of the cherry farms are "u-picks" (self explanatory). So last year my Ya-Ya and Grammy (aka: my parents) took Ella cherry picking and when cherry season rolled around again this year, my mom & I decided to take Ella again. Being the master cherry picker she is, Ella had really caught on by the second annual cherry picking trip. When we got out of the car this year, she knew exactly where to go & what to do. Pick & Fill. 12 pounds later we were driving home with windows down, hair blowing in the breeze and we shoving cherries in our mouth and spittin pits all the way home.

A Tribute

It's unfortunate to have to start this blog on a sad note. But, that's life. And life is not perfect. With that being said, the most monumental part of my life this summer was losing one of my dearest & sweetest friends to a brain tumor in June. Len Scheidel. I always felt so lucky to have as close a friendship with a boy like I do with my friend, Ryan. That is until Len came into my life, through Ryan, and the three of us became inseparable. So, then I had two best guy friends, both of which I will be forever grateful. Len was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the fall of 2007, and fought very hard for about 10 months. On June 25, 2008 the tumor took over completely and Len passed away, peacefully. It's so sad that his life ended at such a young age (he was 27) and I will miss him terribly. But, I am so grateful for all the great times I had with Len and I will never forget his love, generosity, and genuine friendship to me. This is a picture of Len & I when he and Ryan came to visit me & we celebrated our 19th birthdays together. No, we won't say how many years ago that is, but those were some of the best times of my life. The following is a postcard I had kept that Len sent to me from Florida when he was on spring break. I have lots of cards (thankfully I kept!) that are just like this one. Like I said before...I am very lucky. Forever.

Jumping on the Bandwagon

After much debate with myself, I've decided to start a blog. For both personal and professional reasons. And, because, of course I have to be just like everyone else! I've been trying to convince myself to start journaling so I can keep track of all our memories, but I can never keep up with it. Since I spend so much time in front of the computer and because I'm always checking my friends' blogs, I figured it only made sense. Now, instead of sending out mass emails to those of you who could care less about what's happening in our lives, you are now spared and have the choice to check in and see what Ella & I are up to. So hang on and enjoy the ride! :)