Introducing Tina

When we moved to Michigan we knew only two people and both of them were almost 200 miles away. One day I happened to read in our local newspaper about the TimeBank and decided to join. A TimeBank is “a community of people who support each other. When you spend an hour for an individual or group, you earn one Time Dollar.” I figured it would be a great way to meet people. It didn’t turn out to be exactly what I expected; I envisioned making lifelong friends where we would share our days and common interests. While it looked different than I thought it was going to, it gave me one particularly lovely connection.

Here’s how it went down: Sue, an elder lawyer and a member of the TimeBank, saw my offer to visit people that are homebound. She has a working relationship with Tina and thought I would be a good match. Each time I visited Tina, Sue would pay me one hour.

Tina is 96 years young. She’s sharp as a tack and a great conversationalist. She’s a little hard of hearing and almost completely blind. She loves to talk about her kids and things she did when she was younger. She grew up in Michigan but has traveled all over the world. In fact, she tells me the best strawberries she’s ever eaten were in Switzerland. I’ve learned that her husband was a doctor and I’ve also learned that he wasn’t the nicest guy in the world. Being a doctor’s wife, she has known riches. Being a divorcee with three children, she has known lack. Even still, she might be the happiest person I have ever met. She tells me, “Life is so beautiful” every single time I meet with her. And she doesn’t like to say “goodbye”. Instead she says, “Ciao, Baby.”

When Sue didn’t have any more hours to pay me, I decided that I wouldn’t stop visiting Tina. In the five short months that I had known her, I had grown to enjoy our visits. Sure, like anything else, there are some days I just don’t feel like going. Sometimes I’m having a lousy or lazy day and would rather stay on the couch and watch TV or lounge around the house. But that’s so selfish. So I go anyway. And I promise that when I leave Tina, I’m in a much better mood. Works every time. Funny how doing something for someone else gets your mind off your own problems or worries or “pressing” schedules.

These are Tina’s sweet hands. These are the hands that raised three children. The hands that baked countless batches of cookies and crocheted untold amounts of scarves and hats. The hands that now have to do the “seeing” for her failing eyes. The hands that reach out and hold mine. While Tina doesn’t have the youthful beauty that society tells us we all must have, she’s so very beautiful. I’m so privileged to have met her and look forward to many more visits.

Tina black and whiteCiao, Baby!



So very Wright

Before heading back to the real world we decided to check out the cute little city of Oak Park (thank you, Teresa!). Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked in Oak Park. In fact, Oak Park contains the largest collection of Wright-designed properties in the world. He spent the first 20 years of his 70 year career (!!) in Oak Park. You can actually take walking tours of the area but we didn’t have time (this time) so we spent just a little while taking our own tour around the neighborhood where his studio and many of his designed homes are situated. And we drooled the entire time. So much talent in one man.  IMG_1291 copy

 The above property (Edward Hills House) also includes an original ticket booth from the 1893 World’s Fair:

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IMG_1295 copy This house, the Moore-Dugal house, was actually built twice. From the plaque outside the residence: 

“Completed in 1895, this is Frank Lloyd Wright’s first independent commission in Oak Park after Wright left the offices of Adler and Sullivan in 1893. On December 23, 1922, at 2:24am, a spectacular fire destroyed the third and fourth floors of the home. Wright immediately returned to Oak Park in 1923 to redesign and rebuild the home for a second time.
‘A porch on a half timber English tudor, that never happened before.’ Frank Lloyd Wright”

So not only is this house designed by Wright, he built and designed it twice!

And now my favorite house in the neighborhood. I just couldn’t take my eyes off it. I imagined what it looks like inside. What stories could it tell? Who lived there now? How could I peek inside? (OK maybe I didn’t really try to think of a way to peek in the windows, but oh how I would have loved to!)IMG_1306 copyThose windows! That arch! The lines! Even the simplicity of the yard with the two huge planters is so brilliant.

After we came to the conclusion that we probably couldn’t afford to purchase this house (not that it was for sale) we agreed that it was time to head home to our boys. Thanks, Chicago. Thanks, Oak Park. It was a delightful weekend and we shall be back. You can count on it.

Oh, the places we’ve “Bean”

Once upon a time, two kids fell in love. After a few years of dating, they got engaged. They had the most magical wedding ever with lots and lots of guests. And after living happily together for 19 years, they decided to celebrate with a trip to Chicago. This is the story of our little weekend get away.

I try not to make you guys think that my life is perfect. But this weekend came pretty darn close. The weather was sunny, warm (well, warm-ish) and it was an all around delightful weekend.

Ken found our place on If you’ve never tried it, I recommend it. You rent accommodations from regular people all over the world. You can rent a whole house, a floor in a house, a room, a tiny house (some of these look enchanted) or even an artists’ flat (that’s what we did). We stayed in a house built in the 1880s in the Historic Pullman neighborhood in Chicago. George Pullman built the town and the row houses for the employees at his railroad car company. He charged them rent and even established behavioral standards that his employees had to meet in order to live in the area. After a depression in 1893 the demand for his rail cars declined and the company laid off many workers and changed many other employees to pay-per-piece work. Even though the company went through these cutbacks, rent was never reduced for employees. After Pullman’s death the state of Illinois told the Pullman company that they had to sell the town since it was operating outside the company’s charter. And within 10 years the company sold the houses to its occupants (seemed to me that was a long time coming). Since that time, the town has gone through many changes (including being absorbed into Chicago) and was almost demolished for an industrial park! The residents were responsible for saving their neighborhood and I’m so glad they did.

This is the outside of the house. Charming, isn’t it?


The owner is an artist and you can see his touches all over the house. I could have stayed there for a month!IMG_1113 copy"IMG_1109IMG_1256 copy 2
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I love how he left the lath and plaster still visible inside the medicine cabinet.

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And then we were off to the city. We were walking distance to the train station and it was a short 15-20 minute ride and there we were. The city was in bloom all over the place. It was a perfect Spring day. Our first stops were Millennium Park and the Bean:

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And of course, we did our jump/levitation photos:

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We had lunch at one of our all time favorite places:

"IMG_1202Hey, it’s our anniversary and we’ll celebrate how we see fit, thankyouverymuch.

After lunch, we walked all around the city, went to the top of the John Hancock building:"IMG_1216 Navy Pier, along Lake Michigan and to Lincoln Park to theeee best pizza place I’ve ever been to, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. It’s a tiny place in Lincoln Park that has the best only pizza pot pie I’ve ever had. Yes. Pizza.pot.pie. There’s the cutest little old man who doesn’t keep a host ledger. He remembers your face and comes to find you when your table is ready. Even if there are 10 other parties ahead of you he will remember your face. It’s amazing. If When you go, I suggest you get the Mediterranean bread, the chef salad (and try both the sour cream/garlic and sweet and sour poppy seed dressings) and the meat lover’s pizza pot pie. You will not be disappointed. After we had finished stuffing our faces, we decided that the walk to the train station was too far so we took a bus there instead. We’re such the city folk. Well, ok, maybe the real city folk don’t get excited about taking a train, bus and walking all over the city. But I can pretend.

It was the perfect day in such a great city. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. The next day we got up and drove to Oak Park. Can’t wait to tell you what we saw there!

God’s sneaky peak

Yeah, so I haven’t been around lately.

I could tell you that I’ve been super busy or that we’ve been to Florida and have had three visitors since May or that I took up running like Forrest Gump and I’ve been running all over the nation or that I was abducted by aliens and they just returned me back to my home planet last week. I could tell you any one of those things. Some of them are actually true. I’ll leave you to decide which ones are and which ones are just a little fib. 

Things are starting to feel different around these parts. Summer is on her way out and fall is sneaking in on her shirt tales. It’s a funny thing, fall. Just like spring, it’s an escort for another season; almost like a sneak peak of what’s to come.

And sometimes I need a sneak peak.
Sometimes I need a change of pace.
Sometimes I need something different.

Not that things are terrible the way they are but who doesn’t want a change in (at least) one area of their life? I think I got a sneak peak of the good things that are on the way. Forever the optimist, I know that good things are always ahead of me. But I also like to think that God put this little leaf right in my path today to remind me of those things. If I looked around the neighborhood, most trees are still green but a few are showing speckles of color. The changes are starting to take place but you really have to look for it. Fall is not in full swing just yet and most of the leaves that have already fallen are brown, not pretty like this little gem. I’m choosing to believe that this was God’s way of saying, “Pssssttt…just look what I have for you. Just wait till “fall” comes and you see everything I have waiting there.” Do I really think that as soon as September 22nd rolls around that some amazing change will come my way? Not really. But I wouldn’t turn it away if it did. I’m just believing that this little leaf was a taste of what’s to come:

Beauty all around me
Everywhere I turn, a wonderful feast for my eyes
Things bright and beautiful

So, welcome back to my little blog. I probably won’t wax this philosophical all the time. Probably not. But who knows? Maybe along with the change ahead of me comes a change in how I blog?

Happy (snowy) New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year’s. We were all recovering from a cold last night so it was an early night for us. Grab a warm drink and let me tell you what’s been happening here the last week.

We’ve gotten snow and lots of it!

It started Christmas Eve. Just like a movie, it started on our way to the Christmas Eve service at church. This is what it looked like when we got back:

We got a break on Christmas day but it started up again the day after Christmas. It was amazing (says the Floridiots)!

There’s a rumor that I may or may not know how to make a snow angel. Ah’em…The following photo is for my Florida friends’ benefit. I’m sure you northerners are all too familiar with images like these:Jackson is still shirtless most days. And if he’s not watching the snow from inside…then he’s outside playing in it.The two of us built our very first snowman of the year. Ethan was under the weather so he decided to skip the very cold activity.

We’ve been pretty busy these days. Here’s what we were up to today:


We made it

As I type this entry, I’m sitting on my deck in my new house in Michigan. We made it! We left Florida on July 7th. Three days, two nights and over 1,200 miles later, we landed in Michigan. I had grand plans of taking lots of pictures and video and even making another iMovie. But when you’re busy driving the whole way, there isn’t much time left for photos and movie making.

I was overwhelmed with amount of help we had packing and loading our truck. Friends and family started arriving the Thursday before we left and continued Thursday night and Friday. I had friends help load, pack and clean my house. I had no idea we were such messy people until I started putting everything into boxes. But my friends never once pointed it out to me. We have some awesome friends and family, I tell you. The goodbyes were tough Friday night. We said our goodbyes to friends but the hardest was to my brother, my sweet sister in law and her two precious girls, Molly & Ruby. I still tear up thinking about that night. That was a really hard goodbye. If they’re close, go hug your family. I love my brother and his family but they’re more than family; they’re friends. That’s wonderful but makes moving that much harder. 

The actual trip was pretty uneventful once we actually left the Florida house. (We got a late start that morning.) Two more friends came over that morning to say goodbye to us. Anthony and Melissa showed up promptly at 6am to see us off. They waited while we finished up the odds and ends around the house. Then these two goofballs followed us all the way to Georgia! They took a mini road trip that day and saw us off on our way to Michigan. What a wonderful surprise!

My awesome dad volunteered to drive the truck all the way to Michigan. The poor guy was bounced all over the place on rough roads in a truck that didn’t have shock absorbers and kept pulling to the right. He’s such a trooper. I know he doesn’t love the fact that we moved so far away and for him to still volunteer to drive us means a lot to me. A lot. Thanks, Daddy. And my wonderful mom helped me so much with unpacking and setting up the house. I couldn’t have gotten so much done without her. She worked her tail end off while she was here and I want her to know it didn’t go unnoticed. Thanks mom. They stayed for a week and it was a great time. I loved having them here but saying goodbye to them wasn’t easy either. In case you don’t know, I married at a young age (20). So I moved right out of my parents’ house and in with Ken. We moved all the way across the street from my parents. I loved living there for 17 years. We have an awesome relationship with them. We’ve spent countless hours together, watching movies, having coffee, dinner or just spending time together. I’ll admit that the thought of being without my “mommy and daddy” took my breath away as I left them at the airport. (Thank you to Ken for being there for me.) Thanks, mom and dad for all your help with this move. I promise that we’ll see each other more than once a year. I promise. 

Where was I? Oh yeah…The six humans and one lab/shepherd mix made it safe and sound to Michigan on July 9th. So far, we love it. It’s usually cool enough at night to take walks around the neighborhood and a few nights we’ve even slept with the air conditioner off and the windows open! We would NEVER do that on a summer night in Florida. Ever.

I love our little city, too. We’re close enough to walk to all of the following:
grocery store
drug store
Jackson’s school
hardware store
movie theater
and countless restaurants

We’ve already made some friends through the church Ken has been attending. They’ve welcomed our little family with open arms. I’m sure these will be lifelong friends. No one could ever replace our friends in Florida but it’s nice to know that we’ll be making some new ones on our adventure here in Michigan.

So there you have it. In a nutshell, that’s our trip to the Great North. I’m sure there will be tons of stories for this Florida Family to tell once winter comes. Heck, I have a hunch that Fall will be colder than any winter I experienced in Florida! I already have some stories I want to share as well as some pictures, so stay tuned. 



A stand out day

Some days are normal, forgettable days but some days stand out in my memory. A few weeks ago I had one of those stand out days. Let me explain:

For the last year or so my neighbor has had a bee hive in the walls of her house. Yep, in her house. She once told me that at night she could hear them buzzing around in the hive. Yeah, that gave me the willies. 

Every once in a while, if I left the light on in our play/craft room (it’s the room in my house that’s closest to the bees) at night, I’d wake to find a dozen or so dead bees. Apparently, they’re like moths and follow the light but they don’t live through the night. 

A few weeks ago she hired a bee keeper/pest control guy to come out and remove the hive. Here’s how it went down:

First, he removed a few outer boards of the house and smoked them to calm the bees:

Once he had all the boards off, you could see the hive. It wasn’t what I expected. Instead of being a big round thing, it was vertical; in between the studs:

Then he “vacuumed” them into a bucket:

He removed the hives, one by one, and put them into his box.

See this box full of bees?

That’s thirty thousand bees. Thir-tee-thousand.

He let my neighbor keep a bunch of the hive with the honey inside. It tasted really sweet, but if you look closely, it’s a tad gross with the bees still inside:

And she was kind enough to share her loot with us!

It was so much fun to watch the whole thing unfold. The bee keeper was a hoot who was formally allergic to bee stings but then he had lymph node cancer and had them removed. Once he took care of that, he was no longer allergic. Crazy, right?