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."