Sweet, Sweet, Sweater Weather: 7QT

Shall we spend some time with Jen? Well duh we should. So here we go, off to Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes.

1. Did you know it was football season? I’m assuming, if you do not, you are living under a rock. Because that seems to be what monopolizes the cable networks this time of year. But in the past few years, I’ve seemed to mind less and less. You see David is an avid football fan. He is constantly rooting on the Houston Texans and/or finding out when the next game is on, even if it’s not his team. And ME, being the wonderful and doting wife that I am, have decided to learn about this bizarre and violent, American past time. Every year he trys to re-teach me but THIS year… I have started reading football for dummies. No joke. But what I’m most looking forward to is going to see the Texans play in December. AND maybe a pit stop in Indianpolis for some Notre Dame football. Who knows? I’m feeling generous! But between you and I, the thing I like most about football is that it means it’s fall AND the food isn’t all the bad either ;)

2. So a few weeks ago I mentioned that the Pope was going to be heading to Philly in 2015. What? No fair right?!? But don’t fret, Annie. As Detroit’s mayor AND our Archbishop have just decided to send a formal invitation to Pope Francis to come to Detroit. It all came after one of our local schools started a campaign to write letters to the pope. Being that I work for the Catholic community IN Detroit, I would be placed RiGHT in the thick of it all, and let’s just say I’m not complaining. I’m just thinking… the pope loves the poor and is always talking about econmics, well we have 1. lots of poor 2. We’re probably the poorest large city in the states (but beginning to bouncing back) and 3. the economic state of our city governement is still not up to par. Plus we have a pretty awesome Catholic community around these parts. All these things, in my mind lead to getting Francis here ASAP!

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3. I love getting my nails done. What I don’t like is paying the prices to do so. Especially because I have a pretty steady hand so can make it LOOK ok, but my biggest pet peeve is when I find it chipping a day or two later. So you can imagine how happy I was when I found a CLEAR gel nailpolish that will make your nails not chip AT ALL for at least a week. And then after the week, they may start chipping but nothing too dramatic. The polish is called Gelous: Advanced Gel Nail Coat by American Classics. You can only find it at Sally’s or other beauty supply stores. But the best part is it’s only $6! Whereas a professional mani usually costs $25-30. And that’s only for ONE mani. Here are my nails after 7 days! Not too shabby if you ask me…

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4. There is nothing in life that a little cheetah and ankle boots can’t handle. Maybe that should be my new life motto…

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5. There has been a huge craze over essential oils latley, amiright?!? I’ve been pondering about dabbling with these slippery creations for a LONG while now but finally pulled the trigger and bought a few. And am very happy about it. I bought a starter pack of lavendar, lemon, and peppermint, a bottle of Eucalyptus for cold season, and a roll on headache blend called Past Tense. The ones I bought were from doTerra, as a close friend of mine is a sales associate and hooked me up. I also plan on trying Young Living oils as well as another close friend sells these oils and I’ve heard a LOT of great things about YL plus their selection is gargantuan (if you want either of their contact info let me know or go to Chelsea’s doTerra site here and Olivia’s Young Living contact page here). The lavendar has helped me rest easier, the lemon wakes me up AND curbs my appetite and the peppermint has helped a stomach ache or two. Among many other things that these oils do. I’ll keep you updated on my oil experiences! I’m sure you’re dying to know.

6. Today I brought a sweater to work. To permanently sit on the back of my chair. It’s that time of year. FALL. My favorite season. *Insert happy white girl dance here*

7. Do you know what a polar vortex is? Well that is what we are in. And apparently they can last up to 4 winters. Basically… do you remember how bad last winter was? Well this winter is supposedly going to be worse. Then next winter will be even worse than this one. And THEN the winter after that will start getting better……………………………………………………….No. You’ll be able to find me hibernating or making as many winter trips to Florida as I possibly can. I mean I love winter I really do… but 3 more winters of hell-like winters conditions? Jesus give me da patience…

Have a happy fall-filled weekend!

Challenging the Cat-Callers of the World

I’ve learned a lot of things working in the great city of Detroit. For one, I’ve learned I am, and probably always will be, directionally challenged. I’m not being self-deprecating here, just honest. Second, to speak more on practical matters, I’ve learned the best places to get coffee or which food truck is poppin’ at lunch time.

But when it comes to myself, I’ve learned…well…I AM learning how to interact with people more positivley. Let me explain.

On my lunch breaks, I’ll often leave my building and head to the center of downtown. I’ll either bring my packed lunch with me or stop and grab something to eat by the fountains in the park while I listen to whatever live band is playing that day. Sounds nice, right? Well ON my way to the park, I often am minding my own business when I’ll have a man lean out his car window to catcall at me, whistle or just say something straight up vulgar.

My initial reaction is to get pissed and not say anything. And I started out by doing that. But it didn’t take me long to realize this is not productive and these men, who just may not know how to speak to a woman, keep on with their…not so pleasant comments. So I’m really not helping anyone by doing this. Which got me thinking. There’s got to be a kind way to get it through to these people that 1. there are better ways to get the attention of women, 2. women are worth respecting and 3. you don’t want to cat call at me cause I’ll turn around and have a full-on conversation with you.

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The first time I actually put this to the test was when I was attending a friend’s bachlorette party in Atlantic City. Before going to Atlantic City, I’d been to Vegas a year before so I knew what the “scene” was like. The night of the bachlorette party, we got all dolled up, had a nice fancy dinner and headed out to a club, as that’s what the bride wanted to do. To set the record straight, I am NOT a club girl. I love dancing and having some drinks with my girlfriends, but I can do that anywhere. In fact, I have done that anywhere. So when one of my close friends and I started to get tired of the club-mentality, we stepped outside for some much needed air.

It wasn’t long until 2 college guys who were well into their drinks for the night stepped right into our path and started trying to talk with us and give us every form of flattery they could think of, just so we’d go dancing with them. Everything from “you are the most beautiful person I’ve ever met” and “This dress looks great on you” and “Hey hottie!” and “You have nice legs”. While under some situations I feel some of these can be very nice compliments, I knew that the way they were saying them was not all that innocent. Eyeing us up and down didn’t help their case…

So I stopped them right there. I asked them ever so nicely, “Why do you keep commenting on our physical appearance?”. I truly didn’t want to ask in a condescending way but just 100% curious as to why they felt this was the best way to get through to us. They both stopped and stared. Speechless.

They went on to say that they thought we really were beautiful but didn’t know how else to approach us. This had always worked for them before and they just wanted an excuse to come up and talk to us. My friend and I went on to explain that if they wanted to talk to us, they should just come up and ask our names. Not make comment after comment about our appearances. Just talk to us.

So they started talking with us. Being very honest. We talked for a good 45 minutes about respect and how it goes both ways. They asked us for advice, how to just talk to a girl. I didn’t realize how nerve wrecking it can be for a guy until then. We explained how much more a girl will respect a guy for going up and starting up a conversation versus yelling some obscenity out at them. By the time we parted ways, they were thanking us for challenging them. No one had ever done that before, they said.

All of this got me thinking. It’s often the mentality that “I’ll respect you if you respect me. Disrespect me, and I’ll disrespect you.” Does anyone else think this is so twisted? Regardless of how we are treated I want to be able to say (no matter how hard it is) I am choosing to be respectful. 1. Because I respect myself enough to not let it slide when others disrespect me but 2. because we are all in this together (High School Musical style). If I don’t challenge others to respect me or even themselves, who am I to point the blame finger about how our world doesn’t know how to interact with others.

So since my trip to Atlantic City, I’ve had many, and I mean many opportunities to stand up and say something.  Here’s a few things I’ve learned.

  • Know what you deserve. And that is the very best. Do not let yourself become complacent with people oogling after you. You are more than your cute dimples or nice butt. You are you and that should be enough.
  • Be kind. Always. I can’t even stress this enough. If you fire back with a snarky comment, what good have you really done? Sometimes I don’t always have time to stop and talk to these people so if they say something, I’ll turn, smile and give them a quick, “God bless!” They always look shocked that I said anything nice at all, but more often than not I’ll be walking away and hear a “God bless you too!” *Instant smile factor*
  • Pray the Litany of Humility. I have a love/hate relationship with this prayer. After praying this, God always finds a way to humble me to my knees. But it’s so worth it. Going into any situation, know and truly believe you are no better than this person. They may have had an entirley different upbringing and just thought this WAS the way to speak to women. You never know the situation behind another person’s life so don’t imply to them or yourself that you do. Each person is just that, a person. They deserve respect as much as anybody else.
  • Be brave. This, my friends, is hard. The first few times I talked with these men I wanted to barf I was so nervous. Pope Francis says, “Ask God what he wants from you and be brave”. Easier said than done, Francis. But try. I’ll be honest. It doesn’t necessarily get easier. I’m still a nervous wreck before I confront someone. But challenge yourself to challenge others. You’ll be so happy you did.
  • Know when to step away. Please. Read the situation. If someone jeers at you, it’s often pretty easy to tell if it’s a good idea to say something or not. You never want to put yourself in a compromising or dangerous situation. I once was talking to a man and had to just get up and walk away. Go with your gut. Always always always.

In all situations though, just give it to God. Pray for that person before you say anything and after. You’re not going to get through to everyone. People very well may just continue/ start mocking you. That’s okay. Let them. Just know why you are going into this. You’ll be happy you did. So next time someone cat calls at you, I challenge you to challenge yourself to challenge others. Challenge accepted ?! ;)

The Besto of Pesto

If you haven’t heard, I love green. Green food that is… I mean I’m all about going green without being a hippie and all, but I’m not the first person to sign up for recycling programs (I also waste paper as though Microsft Word was never invented). Sorry guys, gotta be honest.

Back to food, there’s no surprise when I decided to start a garden on my miniscule balcony. Of course there is your occasional tomato or geranium, but pretty much everything else is … well… green!

My favorite, however has been my herbs. And by herbs I mean my basil because I killed everything else. Apparently I don’t have the green thumb I thought I did. So since the sprouting of my little basil plants, I’ve been researching recipes I want to try it in. Naturally first up was going to be some homemade pesto. Because I put it on everything and it’s too expensive at the store.

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Now keep in mind I used spicy basil for this recipe which was a great idea except for picking it. The leaves are 10 times teeny-tinier than normal basil so it took a lot longer. Word to the wise? Stick to normal basil unless you’re a culinary genius or are exceptionally picky and need to have your fix of spicy basil.

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups of fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (can be toasted if you prefer)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt and pepper

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- Load your basil, nuts and garlic into your food processor or blender, depending what you have.

- While it’s running, slowly add your lemon juice and olive oil.

- Scrape your pesto into a separte bowl and mix in your parmesan cheese and season away with salt and pepper.

- Lather over bread and make a panini. Or some pasta. Or a salad. Or a pizza. Or eat a spoonful…what?

Enjoy some more green food lovin’ :)

 

Happy Camper

Do you remember when you were a pre-teen? Raging hormones? Questionable things happening to your body? Your voice plummeting mid conversation? Ahhh yes. The glory days of awkward meets confusing.

Well one thing I forgot about those days is how much energy comes along with it. You see, I just spent all of last week with about 80+ girls ranging in age from 8-16. And it wasn’t until I was leaving camp did I realize how absolutely and positively exhausted I was from running around after all these girls all week.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a blast. In fact, I had a blast and a half. But this coming weekend, I will be catching up on missed Z’s and enjoying every blissful moment of it.

The entire week I was thrown into running all sorts of programs. And I really forgot how much I love working with the youth. Because it was a Catholic camp, I got to talk with the girls on a different level about their faith (or lack of for some girls). I’ll admit, sometimes when I am talking with my own peers about my faith or theology in general, I tend to freeze up. In my mind I’m thinking, “What could I possible have to say that this person doesn’t already know? How could I even be of any help?” But with the younger girls, some of them don’t even know the basics of our faith.

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Plus, little kids tend to not have a filter which I (almost always) love. They say whatever they are thinking, which isn’t always a good thing but when learning about their faith, it’s perfect! They were asking about the saints, the Eucharist, adoration, praying by your self, Bible stories, even the devil who some didn’t even know was real. I even got to lead several groups in learning how to start a prayer journal.

Some of my favorite parts about camp you ask?

Horse Back riding: I have never been an avid rider, going on the occasional trot when visiting Mackinac Island. But this week, I got to not only trot and canter, but gallop on a horse. Picture John Wayne in The Searchers … that was me. Flying through the wind, not a care in the world. Okay not as cliche as that but it was pretty exhilerating. And a bit scary too. But I’m kind of an adrenaline junkie, always jumping off bridges or cliffs into large bodies of water. But this was new for me. And I’m a fan!

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Prayer Journaling: When I was leading the Prayer Journaling Sessions, I talked to the girls about keeping a prayer journal for your prayer life. I spoke about how it can be your personal relationship with God and a place for you to pretty much put whatever you want. I showed them my ratty old journal and all the little girls kept flipping through finding saint quotes they liked or doodles I had scribbled down. But the best part was answering their questions. They all wanted to find different stories in the bible or hear about different saints. I told them all about Maximillian Kolbe, Joan of Arc, Bernadette… but they really seemed to like the story about St. Lawrence and his cheeky remark on his deathbed “flip me over, I’m done on this side.” They LOVED those stories. And I loved telling them. Little kids are so innocent about their questions. One of the many lessons I learned at camp.

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Cabin Time: Everday before lunch, we’d have “Cabin Time” where everyone would come back to the cabin and hang out after our morning programs. I loved this time because it’s when I really got to know my girls.They all had very different backgrounds, some had no father, some had 10 siblings, some were homeschooled, and some were nervous about starting new schools. Everyone had something to say, even the quieter girls. We would just hang out in the cabin, listen to some music and craft. Because girls, no matter the age I’m learning, love to decorate and make things beautiful. Even if it’s only the cabin they are staying in for a week.

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^^That picture on the right… Water bottle malfunction. Not bladder Malfunction. Promise.

Baked Alaska: Being my first time at this camp, I quickly learned about all the traditions that have gone on at camp for years. One of the many being Baked Alaska. On the last night for the girls, everyone would come back to the Mess Hall later in the evening for a homemade dessert of Baked Alaska. Now I’d only heard of Baked Alaska in old movies (Desk Set anyone?!) and have always wanted to try it since. So I was only too willing to give it a try. What is it you ask? Picture a layer of cake, with a bunch of ice cream on top, another layer of cake, all covered in meringue that has been torched a little. Soooo an ice cream cake meets a meringue pie. Very delicious. A little weird but good once your taste buds get a hold of what you’re doing with the meringue… Oh and meringue is not easy to clean off I’ve learned… How did I learn? Apparently the Baked Alaska tradition was not complete with out smearing meringue all over a few people’s faces. Yes, I was one of the victims.

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Gaylord, MI: If you don’t know about my love for my state by now, then you should just leave. Just kidding. Do not leave. But in all honesty, I love up North Michigan. In Michigan, when people go on vacation, they stay in state. Apparently, to some of the non local counselors this was unheard of where they come from? But there is some serious beauty all over the state. And this week I got to experience Gaylord. I’ll be honest. There isn’t much happening there. They just built a Walmart a few years ago and their biggest attraction tends to be Norman’s, a massive wearhouse for camping and hunting enthusiasts to drop in as they continue their treck up north. But it has a charm all it’s own. Once we were set away at camp, you still get the up north feeling with the lakes and the trees but you’re still not that removed from life. And the stars at night?! Who needs a flashlight when you got those babies!

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Color Run: I’ve always wanted to participate in a color run. And I finally got to. Although I was geting over a cold at the time, I was NOT going to miss out on this. So I volunteered to be the caboose of the run. Just to make sure no girls got lost and everyone was accounted for. The best part of being the caboose? When I finally got around to all the color stations, because I was the last one, they just dumped all the left over color-stuff all over me. By the time I finished, everyone was wondering how I had gotten so much color on me. Thank you, I’d love to be the caboose again next year!

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Last Night: Every night, before we go to bed, everyone gathers in the chapel for Night Prayers. But on the last night we were to do Night Prayers in our cabin with our girls. So Katie (the other counselor in my cabin) and I brought the girls back and quieted everyone down. There is always a scripture reading with a testimony or talk slipped into night prayer but Katie and I had no idea what to talk to them about. They had heard bits of mine and Katie’s testimony’s throughout the week, and to be honest they weren’t exciting enough to be some epic story. Neither of us had any serious life changing things happen to us. There was nothing out of the ordinary except for maybe a reversion in college. So being that it was the last night, I pulled from the Transfiguration. I told them how although many of them may want to stay here and not leave (just as Peter had wanted to pitch tents and stay on the mountain), Jesus wanted us to go home, or down the mountain, and tell everyone what we’d learned and how we’d expereinced Jesus. He wanted us to spread His love to others who may not be aware of it. There was more to it, cause let’s be honest, when I start talking, it’s hard to get me to stop ;) Thank God the Holy Spirit was all up in that cabin otherwise I’d be at a loss for words. He’s good like that. — I then had to get the girls to bed after they’d had a fare share of Baked Alaska and bags upon bags of candy… God bless all you mothers out there. You must have some serious patience.

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All in all it was a successful week at camp. I’d never been to an actual camp before so I’d like to think that my first time, even if I was 24 years old, was a as good as it gets.

 

7QT: Nerd Talk

Lucky lucky Jen is busy at the Edel Gathering so I’ll be with Carolyn today for 7 Quick Takes over at Svellerella!

1. Well. We are FINALLY new car owners. Well, leasers. You may have heard a bit out our stressful car situation. No? Well to keep it short we leased a car, were given the wrong car, didn’t realize till we were on vacation. Had to wait a week to get a new one and then another several days to get papers signed. There were a few more pickles thrown into the mix but after two weeks, we are finally home with our new car.

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No no, not that car. David only wishes…

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There we go. A GREAT alternative if you ask me :)

2. Michaels is magnificent. Michaels as in the craft store, not some man that I think is magnificent… For my birthday, I got a giftcard there so after much planning and trying to figure out what exactly we needed, I went last night and actually did a good job of not veering from what I came for. I picked up some great silk flowers to finish off our floating shelf in our living room AND some others I found that I couldn’t pass up that fit perfect into this little blank spot in my living room that I had NO idea what to place there. Needless to say I did veer a little over to the framing department and picked up this great burlap pin board that I’m using for some Instagram photos I printed off. Pictures to come soon. Very very soon!

3. Do you have a Charming Charlie‘s near you? It’s one of my new favorite stores. Think jewlery. Lots and lots of jewlery. I came across it when I was grocery shopping one day and saw it right by my house. So when I ventured in, I didn’t venture back out for about 1.5 hours. It’s dangerous in there. For the most part, the prices are great. I think some of their bracelets are a bit overpriced compared to their necklaces but there is something for everyone in there. Here are a few pieces I was debating between to wear with a white dress in Mackinac Island. I got the far left one but it took me a good 15 minutes to decide PLUS a group text to my girlfriends for their advice.

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4. Pope Francis is coming to Philly next year! Losing.My.Catholic girl’s.Mind. Apparently, the mayor of Philly gave Pope Francis a mini Liberty Bell back in March as an invitation. So……. do you think if OUR mayor gave Pope Francis a mini Ford F150, he’d come to Detroit? Just a thought.

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5. When it comes down to it, I’m a bit of a nerd. It’s like that secret side of me that’s actually not all that secret. I love superhero moveis, sci-fi books, hobbit-filled entertainment, and books galore. So whenever Marvel is coming out with a new movie or another of J. R. R. Tolkien’s books is being adapted to film, I’m right there following along. With that said, I can’t wait to see this movie.

6. Speaking of books. This has been the summer of reading. For me at least. And D. About 3 days a week, David and I drive together to work. We start around the same time but since I get out before him, I have about 1-2 hours to kill while I wait. With it being summer, it’s convenient because I can just sit out in the sun. But also, I have 2 blissful sunshine-y hours to read on my new Nexus. Because there isn’t much else I can do while I wait. I’ve read about 4 books this summer, which for me as a veryyyy slow reader, that is a tall order. My newest endeavor is a trilogy by Francine Rivers called The Mark of the Lion. The first book in the series, A Voice in the Wind, I finished in about a week (it’s 500+ pages…). I’ve just started the second, An Echo in the Darkness. If you’ve read her most popular book, Redeeming Love, then I highly recomend this. It takes place in ancient Rome, about 15-20 years after Jesus walked the Earth. I’m learning so much about that time period! Also a big PLUS. Francine’s Redeeming Love is being made into a move. *insert nerd fist pump here*

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7. When I told you I was nerd I forgot to also explain that I crochet. And I made this the other day for my Nexus. It’s my Nexus-Sock. Just because I had yarn in the house. Go ahead. Call me Grandma. See if I care.

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On that note, I hope everyone has a great weekend! Don’t forget to check out the other Quick Takes!

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My Beef With the “Baby Question”

As some of you know, David was one of my best friends long before we started dating. I never looked at him as anything other than “David, my lunch buddy” or “David, my I-really-need-to-vent-about-life buddy”. But lo and behold, God had another plan for us and somewhere down the line, he paved a way for us to present day where we get to spend the rest of our earthly life together.

In the beginning of those “dating days”, I remember specifically one day when I was hanging out at D’s apartment and we filled each other in on our lives, the things we didn’t know about each other. One thing I remember him asking was “If you could be anything, what would you want to be when you grow up?”. It made me laugh because those questions always seem like a question you’re asked when you’re 4 instead of 20 (which I was at the time).

But I gave it some serious thought for a moment. I had always wanted to be an actress (don’t you dare laugh) but I didn’t know if I could do that forever. I had studied journalism but I knew that still wasn’t number 1. Then it hit me. The one thing I could see myself being happy doing for the rest of my life is being a mom. More specifically, a stay at home mom.

I remember being really impressed with his reaction because he thought it was the coolest answer I could have given. He was expecting I’d say a news anchor or an author. Never did he expect me to say the job I want forever does not pay monetarily and is probably one of the hardest jobs out there.

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Fast forward to present day, we have always kept this in mind. I was blessed with a husband who wants kids as much as I do but also had the same mentality. However, with the two of us coming into marriage with debt (damn you, student loans) and only having a small amount in savings, we had decided to wait on activley trying to have kids for 1.5 – 2 years. Being that we are as pro-life as it gets and Natural Family Planners (apparently it’s NFP awareness week?! yess) to the max, if God decided (or decides) to give us a baby before then, obvi we will be ecstatic and are 250% open to life. But we knew we wanted to try to get some things situated before that time comes, if at all possible.

With that said, it hasn’t always been easy being the baby-less couple. Often, I’ll have people (whether it be close friends or family) ask me, “So, you guys pregnant yet?” or “When are you two going to finally have a baby?”. Most of these questions come at me in jokingly posed questions. And I want to clear up by saying, I DON’T MIND people asking me this. That’s not the beef I have. I don’t mind people assuming we might have a baby on the way. I don’t mind people being curious and assuming this pro-life Catholic couple just may have a baby soon. It’s an obvious thing to think. I actually love when people ask me this because it gets me excited for when someday I WILL be a mom. Yes, many people look at it as a “none of your business” kind of topic, but I don’t care. That isn’t the way I look at it and I’d be curious too. Ask away!

With that said. There is something I do have beef with. Latley I’ve been coming across several blog articles or people in conversations or something I’ll hear on the news about family. Most of them have been saying how once you have a baby your family can begin or my family started with my children. And maybe I took it too seriously. Maybe I read into the comments. I personally can’t wait to grow my family, but I would never think that David and I were any less of a family because we didn’t have kids.

When we got married, I became his family and he became mine. Together, just the two of us, we make up our little family. It made me feel as though my little family, or worse, the little families of couples who can’t have children were being belittled. Family has grown to be one of the most important things in both my life and in David’s so I hate when I see it made less than it is. And in today’s world, as most of you know, that’s all too common.

As a blogger, it can often be hard to find your voice amidst all the mommy-bloggers out there. And don’t get me wrong, I love me a good mommy-blog. I never want to be one of the women who join the mommy-wars or talk ill of another woman, although I’m sad to say I am guilty of it. I am human afterall. I’m not really sure what category my blog would fall under. And I suppose I like it that way. It’s this ever-changing documentary of my little families life, I guess.

As I said, when I “grow up” I want to be a mom. But since that is not in God’s plan for us right now, I’m LOVING this time with my little family. Just the two of us enjoying vacations as a little family or going out for dinner as a little family or hours spent in a bookstore as a little family or happy hour as a little family. And when God decides to bless us with numero tres, I’ll be beside myself with joy. And I know D will too. And I’ll be even happier when you ask me “So, you guys pregnant yet?” because I’ll finally get to tell you that I have my dream job!

Hazy, Crazy, Lazy Days of Summer: Pt. 2

So if you havn’t heard, these past few weekends have been packed full of summer weekend-cations. Which I just about love. I am the biggest fan of going on vacation, even if it’s only an hour away. The excitement starts building up months in advance as I plan what I’m bringing and what snacks I’ll make.

Months in advance? Really Annie? Yes. Yes it’s true. Vacay is what I look forward to.

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This time around, I had two to look forward to. Mackinac Island and Sleeping Bear Dunes. Yes it’s true. I was northern bound once more. As many of you know, I pretty much grew up going to Mackinac Island every year. So it’s safe to say I wasn’t going to miss this year, my second year with David tagging along and first year as a married lady.

The trip started … well… not on a great note. You see, we are in the middle of leasing a new car. And we picked up said car on Thursday night. Fell in love with this Sunset Ford Escape. Friday morning we wake up and start packing the car and realize our bikes (the only way to get around on Mackinac Island) wouldn’t fit in the back. After about an hour of finangling and shoving, we gave up and realized it wasn’t going to happen. Thankfully my parents were coming up the next day so we were able to pawn one of the bikes off on them and just barley squeeze the other in. Cool. Ok. On the road now.

Well we were driving for about 2 hours when we stopped for a quick rest stop. Jumped out, did our bid’ness and before we leave, David starts checking out our new car. Because he’s a boy and I guess that’s what they do. Finally, he jumps in the car…pissed. Ford, bless their hearts, had given us the wrong car. We wanted a 4-wheel drive (in case of another winter-from-hell) and instead were given a front wheel drive. And it was signed for. And insured. And all that jazz.

So as we made our way up north, we spent most of the time on the phone with Ford trying to get it figured out. Unfortunatly they couldn’t really do anything until Monday, however. So we were gonna have this looming in the back of our minds the entire vacation. Ok. It’s okay. We just need to take a chill pill and try and relax and enjoy vacation.

We both sensed we needed some serious Jesus time so we made a pit stop at The Cross in the Woods, the largest crucifix in the world sitting amdist the peace and serenity of up north Michigan. We took our time and decided to make the best of everything. And once again, we were off.zw

^^David’s reaction when he saw it: “Thats’s the largets crucifix?! I thought it’d be bigger…” Mind you it’s the largest crucifix. There are plenty of larger crosses obviously. But once you get under His feet, you feel the immensity of it.

When we finally made it to Mackinaw City (the city at the very tippy-tip of Michigan’s mitten), we checked in to our hotel. And as soon as we checked in…we wanted to check out. The place was covered. AND I MEAN COVERED with squished bugs. All over the door. The walls. Later I found some ironed into the bed sheets. We were at the point that we couldn’t believe how this vacation was already turning out so we just started laughing! Naturally we laughed all the way down to the Dixie Saloon for some burgers and beer. Several beers. Normally I would have complained but we’d spent the first several hours of our vacay complaining (mostly to Ford or God) and we were only there for a night so I was in the “screw it” mentality at this point.

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^^Bug-infested hotel. Never again.

Can you believe that was all in the first day? The rest of the vacation started better. We got to the island on Saturday morning and went off on a long bike ride. I took that time to really take everything in once again.

The water! The horses! The fresh fudge! The sail boats!

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And then it all took another turn. Apparently, my aunt had made hotel reservations back in January for a specific room for all of us. But for some reason the hotel could not give us that room for the first night. So my aunt was… well… not too happy. She was driving up that day and spent most of her drive talking on the phone with the hotel and getting more and more upset. All the while my mom was in the car with her. So it’s safe to say there were some not-so-great moods when they arrived on the island. Once everyone else (my dad and brother) finally made it to the island that evening, we all had started to relax and unwind a bit. Thankfully.

 

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We spent the rest of the trip riding our bikes around or shopping in main street or enjoying the freedom of taking a nap just because or reading a book on the beach with the biggest/fattest moon out over the lake. We even got to go to a fancy party on the porch of the Grand Hotel. My favorite part was riding to Arch Rock in the middle of the night with D, my brother Tim and my dad, climbing all the way to the top and drinking a beer as we looked out over the water.

Sometimes, there is nothing better than silence.

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Despite the fact that we had our shares of laughs and fun moments, it was a different year. It wasn’t one that will go down as my favorite year in Mackinac. Everyone, at some point or another, had been in a furiously bad mood. Which happens. I just have never had a vacation like that before.

You see, I’ve been learning a lot about expectations. Not that I need to lower them, but I think I expected it to be like evey other year and for us to do the exact same things as every other year. But I’m realizing now what it means to have realistic expectaions. Now that I’m walking further and further into the “adult” world, I see more than ever that things are sometimes going to go wrong. We’re going to stress about stuff that we didn’t when we were 16. And sometimes, there’s nothing you can do about it right away. Sometimes, you just need to take a chill pill, shut up, and enjoy what short amount of time you have. These lessons are hard. It’s hard learning them because it’s something you don’t learn until after it’s happened. The stress has already come and it’s your choice, yours and yours only if your going to just learn to smile through it or be a lump on a log. We had had some lumps this weekend but we also had some smilers.

The good part in all of this, however, is that D and I came up with the idea and are seriously considering going back up to Mackinac during the winter. There are about 3 inns on the entire island open, it’s basically a ghost town except for skiiers and people who love winter (enter David), and it’s something that not many get to say they’ve done.

So a toast to yet another year in Mackinac! May they never be like this year again :)

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Hazy, Crazy, Lazy Days of Summer: Pt. 1

Do you ever feel a little sad when you come back from vacation? I sure do. And it was no different coming back from my two back to back vacations. So I’m spending this week dreaming of blue skies, blue water and sand everywhere.

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Times like this I’m pretty darn glad I married David because he is SO fun to travel with. Except for the occasional hangry moments. But car rides are a hoot and he’s good at relaxing. I, on the other hand, take a little more time to wind down. And since I’m sure you’re dying to read the recap of our week in northern Michigan, I’ll oblige and show you what we’ve been up to.

On July 4th, we woke up crazyyy early to get on the road to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes which is right on Lake Michigan. Naturally I was exhausted because I’d stayed up way too late making car snacks like granola bars, roasted chickpeas, pasta salad and tuna sandwhiches. But at least we’d eat well :)

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Our drive up was a blast, as always. It generally involves a lot of red bull, jamming out to obnoxious 90’s beats, and people-watching as cars drove by. Once we got there, we checked into the cutest little motel I’ve ever seen. And then we were off!

People always talk about the sand dunes and say you have to do “The Climb”! So we get to the climb, and we see a big hill of sand and we think, “well that doesn’t look to bad. Lake Michigan must be right on the other side of that hill. Let’s bring food and our towels to go swimming.” When people saw us starting the climb, they must have laughed because we clearly had no idea what we were in for.

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Apparently Lake Michigan is NOT right over the hill. There are several more miles of very steep hills till you get to the water. A little 15 year old informed us we still had a long ways to go. We considered going back. But we’d already started, we were going to finish.  I’ve hiked difficult things before. I once did a 16 mile hike in Austria. But I still think this 3.5 mile hike to Lake Michigan was the hardest yet. Mostly because it was ALL incredibly steep hills in the sand. AND we were barefoot. I encourage anyone to do the hike, but come prepared. Not like us. Once we finally got to the beach after about 1.5 hours, we got to cool off for a bit, only to realize we still had the hike back to do. Yikes.

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^^ This is so deceiving. The water is still another app. 2 miles out. Eventually we made it.

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Nothing that a big ole’ burger can’t fix afterwards. Which is exactly what we did. The next day we were lucky enough to come across a beach that not many people knew about but was beautiful! For the better part of the morning we had it all to ourselves. Which meant swimming in the freezing water (I’m still bitter about our previous winter, as it’s made summer cooler), feeding seagulls (one of D’s favorite summer past times), laying out under the cloudless sky (one of my favorite summer past times), and eating all our snacks (both our favorite summer past times).

 

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^^ Probably my favorite picture of summer.

After many hours of this picture-perfect summer day, we headed to one of the inland lakes (Glen Lake to be exact), and went Jet Skiing! I’d done this once years ago in Mexico, however I was a bit scarred after getting run over by it, slicing my arm nad rushing out of the ocean for fear of a shark smelling the blood and coming to get me. Have I ever mentioned my illogical fear of sharks?

Moving on.

David had never been jet skiing but it was right up his alley. We spent the rest of the afternoon speeding around the lake, jumping off and taking amazing photos thanks to David’d LifeProof iPhone case. Followed by another evening of delicious junk food and tending to our sunburns.

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The next day we were heading out but not without stopping at one of the many Michigan winerys. We stopped at Douglas Valley Winery where we did a $5 dollar wine tasting where we could try all of their different wines and ciders.

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We took home some Cherry Vanilla Cider and a spicy Blueberry Wine. All in all it was the perfect way to cap off our first weekend away. Now we only had three days of work and then it was off to our next vacation! My faorite: Mackinac Island :) Although this year had it’s… we’ll call them “stressful moments”. I’ll explain in a later post. Now I’m just going to enjoy looking at my vacation pictures while trying not to get depressed that this isn’t our view anymore…

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