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...


Cherry Fest '09

The week of Cherry Festival was just chaos for me. I was in the middle of trying to buy a car, house sit for some dear friends of mine, and attend as many Cherry Festival activities as possible, for Ella's sake. Although, we didn't get to do as much as usual, we still attended both parades, both firework displays, ate some Gibby's french fries, and rode some rides at the Midway. Ella had a ball at everything. The fireworks were a first for her and she "oohed and aahed" throughout the shows. We took her on the lots of rides, and this year she was just tall enough to do the swings, which is a favorite for Mommy, so we did those and many others. Rusty and a few other friends ran the 5k on Saturday morning so Ya Ya and I took Ella down to watch that bright and early Saturday morning. Passed Elie Krieger from the Food Network as we stopped at Crema for a breakfast sandwich. All in all it was a good week though. Here are some pictures...


The Marshmallow Trip

As most of you know, Rusty and I are into the camping thing. And, although he and I have had a few trips out in the wilderness, Ella has never been on an official camping trip, in a tent. Well, this summer's weather has been less than desirable, but finally at the end of June it was warm enough to set up camp! If you recall, last year we found the perfect camping spot, out in the middle of nowhere, along the shore of the Platte River, which is where we headed this weekend. We arrive, start unloading all of our stuff, and there are dogs chained up about a hundred yards away barking their heads off. We decide that this was last thing we wanted to listen to all day and night, not to mention the fact that I was already unsure how Ella would adapt to sleeping outside. So, we repacked up and left.

Off we went to seek out a different "perfect camping spot", and another, and another, and another. And so this went for the next 4 hours. UGH! It was awful. We didn't want to go to a campground. and all the places on the map that had little tents to signify "camping" simply did not exist. It was exhausting and trying on all 3 of us. But, I must say, the best sport of all was Miss Ella Bella. She was a trooper. I kept promising her that we would roast marshmallows, but I don't think she was totally convinced. Finally, after hours of unsuccessful attempts, it was either go home or go back to "our spot". So, being that I was not going to allow this day to be a total bust, we headed back to our original campsite.

We step out of the car, I hand Ella the entire bag of marshmallows, tell her to eat as many as she wants, and we start walking towards the spot. As Little Missy saunters nonchalantly down towards the river, chomping on marshmallows, she stops and says, "Oh. Here again." Classic Ella moment right there. That was, by far, the funniest thing we heard all weekend. Probably a "had to be there" moment, but just so appropriate and such perfect timing. Leave it to the 3 year-old. Cracks me up just thinking about it!

We set up camp and built a fire. Rusty made his amazingly awesome fajitas. We roasted marshmallows. Got rained on. Twice. Played in the river. Ella passed out from sheer exhaustion. And, Rusty and I watched the fireflies illuminate all around us as darkness fell. I had never seen so many fireflies in all my life. Just so peaceful and serene. A perfect camping trip.

Funny thing. The dogs were pretty quiet almost the entire time we were there. Ironic, isn't it?


Ella's New Look

Ella has fully embraced her new look. She was very excited about telling all her friends at school what happened to her tooth, and then proudly smiles to show it off. We keep the tooth in a little velvet bag that she insists on holding and playing with quite often. Occasionally, she'll look and me and say, "Mommy, I miss my tooth". But, all in all, she's dealing with it quite well. So, without further ado...


A Very Long Day

Ella's schedule now consists of Mondays' & Tuesdays' with her Daddy and Wednesday through Sundays with with Mama. So, a week into my new job, on a Tuesday, I'm walking home from work and receive a frantic phone call from Jeff..."We were playing with the ball outside and Ella tripped and fell on the sidewalk. Her tooth is really, really loose and it's about to come out..." I remain calm, assure him that I am on my way, hang up the phone, and run home. Thank God I'm less than a block away. I race over to Jeff's, walk in the door, and all I hear is "The tooth is GONE". I take one look at poor Ella, with her tears running down her face, whimpering, and all I see is an empty black hole in her mouth. I turn away for a split second to stop my own tears from forming, and I immediately decide that remaining calm and rational at this point is going to be in everyone's best interests. I take Ella and try to calm her down as best I can while Jeff makes dozens of phone calls to doctors and dentists. We have no idea what to do. One of her two front teeth is completely out, root and all, and her other front tooth is chipped. She has a nice scrape on her chin and her knee is pretty banged up too. After about a half hour of runaround's with doctor's, Jeff is directed to go to the emergency room (after being told not too when he called 911 the first time). We all hop in the car, and off to Munson we go. I, being that it was a Tuesday, had plans with Rusty that evening, and on our short drive to the hospital, I receive a text message from him stating, "I'm going to be a little late. Just got in a wreck on my bike."

WHAT???? Are you freaking kidding me?! Um. Ok. Let's stay calm people. I immediately call him, ask him if he's ok, tell him I'm on the way to ER with Ella, and he says he's fine. We arrive at the hospital, tooth in hand, and are told by the doctor there is absolutely nothing he can do. She has no lacerations in her lip, which is great, and the tooth came out so clean that there is no need to repair anything. As for the tooth that's in the baggy, it will have to be a keepsake. Because it's still a primary tooth, the damage that could be caused to the permanent tooth if they were to try to put the primary tooth back in is too risky. Not to mention the trauma it would have on Ella. The other front tooth that is chipped has no sign of nerve damage and will just remain chipped. And, so we left. Ella will now be toothless until around the age of 6 when her permanent tooth will grow in. This is causing a bit of stress for me, as you can imagine! Some time has past, and the hole where her tooth was, is healing nicely, and the chipped tooth doesn't seem to be dying or anything so that's all good news.

On to Rusty's accident. He was biking with a buddy down a hill on a residential road, going about 35 mph when a Ford Expedition, who had stopped at a stop sign, pulled out right in front of Rusty (who had the right of way). Rusty crashed right into the driver's side door, leaving quite a dent, breaking the bike, literally, in half in 3 different places, and cracking his helmet in two. Rusty walked away with nothing more than a sore shoulder and a few scrapes and bruises. He was LUCKY. Knowing how fast he rides his bike, that could have ended much more tragically. And, now Rusty is the proud owner of a brand new Cannondale bike and Giro Helmet, thanks to the owner of the Ford Expedition.

Although, it was a day I certainly wouldn't ask to do over again, I am so thankful that things didn't turn out any worse than they did. It was a day of accidents and headaches, but at least we are all ok and alive!

So, everything happens in 3's right? I spent 2 hours on the phone later that night with my best friend...he lost his job. He has 2 children, one on the way, and his wife is a stay-at-home mom. UGH!

I was pretty happy for that day to end!

Jobby Job

This year I've really been trying to keep up with my posts, but that was pre-working-40-hours-a-week-Brandi. On June 11, I received my first call back from a job application in over4 months. At this point, I had sent out over 60 cover letters/resumes and received nothing more than a few, generic unacceptance letters. I was, needless to say, ecstatic! This phone call came unexpectedly, but I immediately scheduled an interview for the next morning. The interview went very well, and I was offered the job the next day. 4 days later, I started my new, full-time position on Monday, June 15. Now, being a single mom and having a very strict schedule that I needed to uphold, not too mention my desperate desire to find a job that allowed me to keep my weekends open, this position -on paper- could not have been more perfect. Here is the criteria: 40 hours/week...Monday thru Friday from 8-5 with a 1 hour lunch, at whatever time I choose...Hourly position (perfect for someone who needs to leave at 5 every day in order to pick up Ella from daycare...immediate Medical & Dental Benefits...vacation time & personal days effective immediately...and last but not least: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: 1 block away from my house & 1 building away from Ella's daycare. So, all of these things alone was a true answer to prayer. Now, onto the actual J.O.B. The company is called Real Tour Vision, an internet-based company that provides virtual tour & photography services for clients like residential & commercial real estate companies, retirement homes, hotels, car companies, etc. There are less than 10 people in my office, and 2 of the women are pregnant and going on maternity leave in a few short months. My position is "Tour Track Account Manager. I place all orders and schedule/dispatch photographers (over 1000 nationally) to shoots. I then receive the images, process (or edit) the images, and deliver the them to our clients. So, not only is this position appealing to me on paper, it's something I will thoroughly enjoy doing on a daily basis. I haven't worked this much since I was pregnant with Ella, and it will take some major adjusting for all of us. But, I'm thrilled to be back in the workforce and excited for this new chapter!