Halloween 2009

It was the first Halloween that Ella expressed any sort of interest in choosing her Halloween costume, and she insisted on being Snow White. We skipped the downtown Trick-or-Treat walk this year, as it was raining and I had to work. But, Halloween day ended up to be clear and chilly, which isn't too terrible for TC. We invited the Kron's to come along with us on our neighborhood to trick-or-treat. Ryan & the boys came down while Christine & Rylen stayed home, where it was warm. Kaiden experienced a bout of shyness during trick-or-treating and opted to head back to my house early. So I took Ella & Cameron, and off we went hand-in-hand to trick or treating all together. It was really adorable how exciting and amazing this whole night was for them. They took it all in, watching the hundreds of dressed up kids out walking around, and all the houses that were decorated to the max. We saved the "haunted house" for last and stopped for a picture by the giant blowup black cat. Ella and Cameron are 3 months apart in age, and we all agreed they were both smitten. Ryan called me later on after they left to tell me that Cameron was chatting his ear off about Ella Bella all the way home. Too funny. This could be trouble...

Rylen Renea Kron & Ella

Pyramid Point

I've posted quite a few times about the Sleeping Bear Dunes that are about a half hour from Traverse City, and here's another one. I had heard of Pyramid Point for years, and it used to be a popular spot to go to back when I was in high school. But, while I've been to the dunes numerous times, I have never actually been to this particular site. So it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I threw Ella and Rusty in the car and we drove out there. The hike to the point is about 1/4 mile, which Ella walked all by herself. This was a big step for her, so it was a proud moment. Once we got to the lookout, it was breathtaking. The beauty of the dunes never gets old to me, even if it is practically in my backyard. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

Ella found a hairy caterpillar that we named Fred. He was the highlight of her trip.

At one point, Rusty climbed up two sturdy branches that jutted out in one spot overlooking a cliff on the dune, sat on it for a minute, and pondered. It prompted one of the best ideas (in my mind at least) that Rusty has ever had..."This would be a great spot for a hammock." The very next day, I believe, Rusty was a proud owner of a double hammock. "Hammocking" has now become a staple in our every day vocabulary. We've even convinced Ella. I believe the exact words that came out of her mouth when she got in the hammock for the first time were, "Rusty, I love this hammock. It's awesome." Hahahahahaha :-) Stay tuned for hammock posts...

Nice Little Saturday

Not sure if I've written in my blog about this yet, but my bestest friends Ryan and Christine Kron & family moved back to TC not too long ago. It's the first time since high school that Ry and I have lived in the same city as one another. And, well, if you know Ryan and I at all, you know that we tend to become a bit inseparable, and spontaneous. See I've known Ryan since I was about 12 hours old, and we've always been the best of friends...through good times and bad. Haha! So, you can imagine my excitement when I found out the Kron family was moving back to TC from Florida. On a warm August day, Ella and I met up with them and went on a little hike down to a garden full of sunflowers at the old State Hospital grounds and then hiked back up through the woods. Christine was about 38 weeks pregnant this day and had that new mom glow. I couldn't help but take a picture of her when Ryan put a flower behind her ear. I think she looks beautiful. The kids were just starting to get to know each other, and by the end of the day we could all tell they w good buds. Naturally. ;)


The funniest thing about this picture to me, her mother, is the fact that she was NOT wearing these socks when I put her to bed. Hmmmmm...



Our little vacation took a toll on the new car. So, I put Ella to work and we got that baby nice and spiffy.


Ella & I packed up the car and headed to Chicago for Labor Day weekend. It's hard to believe that an entire year had passed since we last saw Aunt Nat! Crazy how time flies. Only a few weeks earlier, Nick & Nat became first-time home buyers of a brand new, beautiful condo in the Uki Village, situated just a few blocks from their previous residence. Words can't describe the amazingness of their guest bathroom's shower, it's a steam shower boasting not 1, not 2, not 3, but 5 shower heads! I felt like that guy in the Kohler commercial that installs the new shower and takes it upon himself to try it out. Best shower ever!

On Saturday, Nat & I took Ella to the park in the morning, napped, and then headed to the Lincoln Park zoo, picnic in tow. We plopped down in the grass and chowed down on chips, dips, and spreads. It was delicious. Then, of course, we walked around to see all the animals. Later that night, we joined some friends' of the Tay's who live directly behind their condo for a little rooftop wine, music, and bags. I met a girl there that I share many mutual friends with from college...such a small world.

Sunday morning we headed to Wicker Park so Ella could play and then took a walk through my old 'hood. I couldn't go to Chicago without stopping at two of my favorite stores...Urban Outfitters & Psychobaby, among others. Later on, Nat & I headed up to the 'burbs so that Ella could spend some time with Papa & JuJu, and on our way back to the city, stopped at Nordstrom, another one of my favorites. Ella scored pretty good during that trip...just ask her about her new shoes. ;)

That night there was one mission. SUSHI. And, sushi we did. We went to Coast, a BYOB restaurant, which was fantastic. My mouth is watering just thinking about the White Dragon Roll. Delish!! We stopped by Cans for a cocktail and people watched on the patio. Later, we headed to The Boundary for a night cap. The next morning I slept in a bit and we ordered breakfast sandwiches from Milk & Honey. I sure miss that place. With my belly full, off I went to pick up Ella and make the 5 1/2 hour drive home.

What an awesome little getaway! Thanks Tay's for your awesome hospitality, as always!! I sure wish we still lived 5 minutes from each other! XOXO


Are ya ready, kids? Aye Aye Captain!!

Normally, my brother comes to Traverse City for a week in the summertime, but not this year. With a new job and limited time, he just couldn't make it up. So, my mom took it upon herself to plan a Neumann Family Vaca, something that hasn't happened in many years. Being the avid Fox News Channel viewer that she is, Mom heard about these "Freedom Concerts", a nationwide concert tour headed up by Sean Hannity. She found out that one of these concerts was going to be held in Cincinnati (exactly halfway between BJ's house in Atlanta and our house in TC...yes, my Dad has mapped it. Shocker.) at King's Island, an amusement park similar to Six Flags. The concert ticket came with a free day pass to the park. Well, Mom did a little more research and found out that King's Island's theme is Nickelodeon, which could only mean one thing...Dora the Explorer!...And Spongebob Squarepants!!! Perfect, right? Agreed.

I began mentally preparing Ella a week in advance for the Spongebob meeting. She couldn't stop talking about it, and insisted every day that she wanted to "GO NOW" to see him. We picked up Uncle Beej from the airport on Thursday night and headed to the park Friday morning. Barely inside the entrance, there they stood. Dora on the right, Spongebob on the left. In all their glory, just waiting to greet us. Ella's eyes almost popped out of her head, she was in shock. Speechless actually. It was adorable. After the meeting/greeting excitement, we headed to the Nickelodeon kids' rides. Ella rode every ride she was tall enough for and then we breaked for lunch.

Ella was exhausted so my parents took her off for a walk, and sent my bro and I off to ride the rollercoasters. We were seriously like teenagers again. Hilarious. Rode the Diamondback (with some ridiculous 250 foot drop) that nearly scared the bejeezies out of both of us. Naturally, we rode it again. Phenomenal. Two other rollercoaster's that we were waiting in line for actually broke down while we were waiting. Lame. But, the Diamondback made up for it. Awesomeness.

It was 7pm, concert time, and Ella had just passed out in her stroller, after a VERY long day. So, everyone took their seats while I walked around the park with the sleepy little girl. She woke up still tired, cranky, and hungry. And so began the Biggest Meltdown EVER. It was intense. I must say I handled it like a champ, as I was already mentally prepared for an angry, exhausted child. But, this was, like, devil child. I hadn't really seen this side of her before. But, she was tired and, well, my kid needs a nap. It's just a fact of life. But, this did make for a long concert, which I was somewhat able to enjoy. I was also battling some stomach issues (that's another post) myself. The concert was good, I enjoyed the music. I've always been a big fan of Michael W. Smith, who sang, and Sean Hannity performed "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", which was pretty entertaining. Jon Voight spoke and Ollie North was there also. It was pretty cool. I got a mug. Ella got a flag.

The next day YaYa and Uncle B took Ella swimming at the hotel pool, as the weather stunk and blew our plans to go to the water park. This was no issue with Mom, BJ, and I as we headed to the Premium Outlets to do a little damage. And, damage we did. More awesomeness. That night we headed to the Montgomery Inn and had some world famous ribs. Mmmm. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. I must say though, as amazing as they were, Nick Taylor (Nat's hubby) makes the best ribs I've ever had in my life. :) After ribs, we took Ella to an indoor "Krazy City" that had go-carts, rides, glow-in-the-dark mini golf, arcade games, you name it. A nice cap to our mini vacation.

Thanks YaYa and Gray for an awesome time!


More Beach Pics

Beach Day

Now, if you compare my posts from this year to my posts from last year, you'll notice there were a lot more beach and "summer-like" photos, but really, this was our first true beach day for Ella and I. The date, August 9. But, it was pretty amazing. We left Cara's house Sunday morning and rather than wasting the 90 degree day in the car, I took Ella to my favorite beach in Holland. Tucked away off a private road that no one knew about back when I was in college, has now turned into a local haven. Thank goodness we got there early b/c that beach was packed!

I couldn't even say how many stairs you have to climb to get up and over this massive dune, but it's a lot. My pictures don't really do it justice. My 3 year old beat me to the top and she even managed to impress the people who were stopped on the "break" benches that were strategically placed alongside. I snapped some photos b/c the view is just breathtaking.

Side note: There was one night in college when a big group of us "night owls" came out to this very beach to watch a meteor shower. Ah, to be able to stay up until 3am just to look at stars...I thought those days would never end. I also remember coming out here with Benj quite a bit, just to get away. I always drove, she always sat shotgun. I'll never forget those days, not a care in the world. Except, of course, where to go that night and the stress of all stresses...WHAT TO WEAR! Cracks me up just thinking about it.

Anyway. Back to my beach day with my favorite little girl. I literally sat and watched as she ran up and down the shore, and jumped waves. We built sand castles' and ate chips and cookies. The wind was so strong that day, we hardly noticed it was 90 degrees with 100% humidity. We didn't care. It was our one and only beach day of the summer. And, we were taking it all in. But, trouble was lurking...

Like I said, it was windy and that wind created some of the biggest waves I've ever seen Lake Michigan produce. Ella quickly discovered the fun of "jumping waves", something I used to LOVE as a kid. I was taking some pictures and watching her closely, but soon I noticed that she had begun to wander down shore just a bit too far from where I was sitting. And, just as I was getting up to guide her back a little closer to me, a wave flipped her over. It took her down and under....FAST! An older gentleman and another mother jumped to their feet no faster than I had already scooped her up and out of the water. She was just fine and, luckily, didn't inhale any water, but it definitely scared the dickens out of her. And, me too. She took a minute to catch her breath (and by "she", I mean, "WE"), and shortly thereafter we were back to playing and giggling and having a ball.

Nevertheless, it was an awesome day, and we both thoroughly enjoyed our mommy/daughter day together.

Ladies & Babies

There's so much to write about, but being the "Anal Annie" that I am, I have to go in chronological order. So, it's been a few weeks now, but Ella and I headed down to Holland for the Second Annual '02 Sigma get-together. Not that we would want to leave any of our other Sigma ladies out of the loop (we would happily welcome anyone who wants to join, of course!), but we decided as a group at Brush's wedding last year that our "class" needs to get together more often, at least once, annually. We all live so far apart...Fensler in Cali, I in Traverse City, BA in Detroit, Jax in Atlanta, Cara's in Holland, while Brush, Benj, Korstange, Baxter are all in G.R. While there are many other delightful Sorority Sisters that we all would love to see more often, it was merely this group that came together one evening, over lots of wine, who decided that we see far too little of each other. Cara and I were the only ones who made it to the first annual get together last year, with our 2 kids. And, even though it was just the 2 of us, we still had a ball laughing, giggling, and exchanging mommy stories until we couldn't hold our eyes open any longer (it was maybe 10 p.m. when we had to retire). We vowed to do it again, no matter what, the following year.

And, so we did! This year, however, Korstange spearheaded the get together and it ended up being her, Baxter, myself, BA, and Benj who all congregated at Cara's, who played the "hostess with the mostest". Ella came with me, Cara's son Caleb was, of course, there, and Baxter's hubby brought her twins, Wyatt and Dylan to join in the fun. The kids played, we ate, and caught up. A LOT can happen in a year...

Poor BA was going through some health issues, but as always, was still her chipper, happy, smiley self as her attentive hubby changed her IV during mid conversation. (You're alright in my book, Kevin!) Benj was only able to join to us for a short bit, but it was so awesome to see her! And, I just received an email from her yesterday...she's ENGAGED!! Congrats Benj!...Aben is one lucky guy. Korstange is also engaged and well on her way with wedding planning...another email I received last week is the set date...9.11.10. Congrats again and can't wait to celebrate! And, more news on the homefront...Mama's Cara and Kate are preggers with Baby #2 and Baby #3! Wow, can you even imagine the chatter going on in that house on that day?? Sheesh. Not to mention, the 4 kiddos running around. Although, I wouldn't have had it any other way. It was a great day! I was able to snap a few shots but in order to protect their privacy, I don't want to post pictures of my friends' kids without their permission. So, I'll just tell you that it was one good looking group of toddlers that's for sure! ;)


Nurse Ella

Ella: "What's a matter Mommy"
Me: "Mommy's tummy hurts, Ella."
Ella: "Do you have a baby in your belly?"
Me: "Um. No. I don't have a baby in my belly."
Ella: "I sorry Mama. You want me to read you a story? Ok. I read you a story now."


Trip To Da U.P.

This past weekend I was pleasantly surprised by my boyfriend who took the initiative to plan a weekend getaway to Munising, Michigan. One of his coworkers has a charming log cabin up there which he so generously offered to us. So we packed up and headed north, about 4 hours to an area dubbed "Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore". The UP (Upper Peninsula for you non-Mid-Westerner's) is filled with hundreds of waterfalls. Just to give you an idea, we were able to visit Miners, Munising, Memorial, Tannery, Alger, & Chapel Falls...all within 15 minutes of the cabin. Most were short hikes into the woods for viewing, however Chapel Falls was a 2.8 mile round trip hike.

I have to say the summer weather up here has been just shameful, even for Michigan. It has rained entirely too much, especially on weekends, and the temperatures have rarely gone past 75...mostly in the 60's actually. I wouldn't necessarily mind the lower temperatures if we didn't have a winter featuring sub-zero temperatures for 8 months out of the year. Nevertheless, that's what I get for living in the Tundra. (Sigh...) Well, our weekend in Munising didn't steer too far from this cruel pattern, although I will say the cooler temps made for easy going hikes. It rained all morning Sunday, was dreary and cool, and I thought for sure our hike to Chapel Falls would be ruined. But, Rusty had gotten he & I brand new rain pants last week and we decided that now was as good a time as any to break these suckers in. So we geared up, and headed out. It was a 2.8 mile round trip hike to the fall, which ended up being totally worth the jaunt as these were by far the greatest and most beautiful of them all. We were even noticing how the fog settled into the trees, which made us feel like we were in a rainforest. Very cool. Pictures don't do it justice.

We ate very well...yummy Guy breakfast burritos, jalapeno & cheese grilled hot dogs with guacamole, and hot ass fajitas that are absolutely to die for but make Mommy cry. (Can you tell I'm dating a guy from New Mexico?) The cabin was filled with toys for Ella to play with (the owners have 2 kids) as well as an awesome playhouse and swing set. We relaxed, built a bonfire, drank a couple Stone IPA's, and listened to records. It was a weekend to remember.

The Jarema's "Little Slice of Heaven"...

Memorial Falls...

Miners Castle Rock (Most of it has eroded into Lake Superior, but it's still a great lookout)...

Munising Falls...

Obviously, Wagner Falls...

Hike to Chapel Falls...

Rusty seriously contemplating a kayaking session down these falls...

Ella and I happy with staying onshore...

All geared up...