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 airbnb.com. 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?

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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!

Chasing fall

Do you ever feel like you just cannot wait for fall to arrive? Do you ever feel like you can’t wait for it to come to you so you decide to just go chase it down? That’s just what we did when my mom came to visit. On Saturday we went Up North to find fall. As it turns out, the best color was found off our beaten path. Is it that way with just us or do you find that happens to you as well? Our trip was originally only going to take us to the tunnel of trees on M119 (you can read about this beautiful drive here) but when we stopped for lunch about 1/2 way we changed our plans a little, thanks to hashtags and a very nice gentleman at Bear’s Den Pizzeria in Grayling, MI. If you’re looking for a yummy pizza with super friendly people, this is your place. All morning we had been joking about hashtags and how they’re getting out of control. (And if you know anything about my family, you know we beat that dead horse for hours and hours.) Before I go any further, if you haven’t seen Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake poke fun at the hashtagging phenomenon, then do yourself a favor and watch this:

Back to my story. I went to Instagram, put hashtags to work for me and happened upon a picture from Deadman’s Hill (for you Michiganders, this is near the Jordan River Valley). One of the employees heard that we were trying to find it and was so kind to come back with written directions. Talk about going above and beyond! After devouring the pizza, we were off! Here are some photos I snapped on our way…My mom has become quite the Instagrammer!
This is the view from the scenic overlook. Beautiful, isn’t it?I need your opinion. The overlook is situated on a hill. Should this photo stay as is and have a wonky fence and straight horizon…

OR should the fence be straightened and the horizon become crooked?
Which one looks better? Obviously, I think both are perfect since this hottie is in them. By the way, he has lost over 40 pounds this year and I think he looks simply looks amazing. 

After some more picture taking, we were back on the road.I’m pretty sure I could live here:It was a great day and I’m so glad my mom was able to see some color. Hopefully next year my dad can come along, too! And since it’s been a while, I made a movie of my mom’s visit.

Visitors!

We had our very first non family visitors come to see us last month. Anthony and Melissa came to see during her spring break. You might remember them: they’re the goofballs that followed us all the way to Georgia last year. Yes, they came to Michigan on spring break. Yes, they live in Florida. Yes, they were warned what Michigan weather is like in February. But they came anyway. Don’t you just love friends like that? Here’s a short video of a few things we did while they were here. Thank you guys for coming to see us. We’ve missed seeing our friends’ faces and it was such a nice way to break up the winter blahs! 

 

 

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:

 

“Get your booties on ’cause it’s coooold outside!”

(Can you name that movie quote?)

Hey guys! I’m fresh off a visit with my family and revved up to start blogging again! We had 10 people in our little house and it was…amazing! People everywhere! Food everywhere! Jackets and stuff everywhere! I loved every minute of it. Here are a couple of pictures from their visit. I didn’t lug my camera around so you’ll have to settle for iPhone photos. (I’m on Instagram as #shortlong if you care to follow me there, too.) We took them to Frankenmuth and my boys showed Molly how to roll down a hill. I think she might still need some practice:

It was so cold that Ethan and I shared a scarf for a little bit:(Yes, I’m short. Be nice & tell me you imagined me as someone who was 5′ 5″, m’kay?)

While they were here, we also checked out the cider mill:We took them to the Tiger Stadium:Rode the Detroit People Mover: 

Then the day after they left (of course), we got a little surprise:

It’s been chilly around these parts. Jackson has left his mark:How has the weather been in your neck of the woods? It’s so funny to me that we’re all bundled up with scarves, hats and gloves and it’s still not winter yet! That’s just crazy for this Florida girl!

Treasure hunting in Michigan

I don’t know about where you are but it was a beautiful weekend here in Michigan! We stayed close to the house on Saturday but don’t let that fool you; we still had fun. We decided that since it was such a nice day out on Saturday, we would go geocaching. (Remember when we did that in Florida? If not, let me refresh your memory here.) It’s not exactly Ken’s favorite thing to do but he plays along nicely anyway. (Thank you, honey.) Besides, who doesn’t love a little treasure hunt? Jackson found our first treasure in a birdhouse inside this tree. Good one, Jackson! See, didn’t I tell you it a beautiful day?We never did find that log book though. We left behind our treasure and took off for the next one.

Which we didn’t find.

Not to be defeated, we headed for our third cache. I was the lucky one to find it this time! See the cork and the little box made from scrapbooking paper? We left those for the next geocachers to find. My little box contained a mini pumpkin, a fall leaf and a note saying “Happy fall!” I say you can be crafty and adventurous at the same time!

Ken and I headed to Ann Arbor to see Ingrid Michaelson on Sunday. She was amazing, although I really didn’t expect any different. This is our 4th time seeing her and I loved it just as much as the first time. She is so funny and has this way of telling stories that suck you in and you feel like you are right there with her. If she ever comes to your area, I highly suggest going to check her out. You won’t be disappointed. Unless you’re a grouchy person that doesn’t like to laugh or tap your foot to some good tunes. And if that’s the case, maybe you do need to see her so you can get happy. What’s wrong with you anyway?

So, how was your weekend? What kinds of things did you do to pass the time? 

Old vs new

{Mom, Crystal…if you’re reading this you might want to grab some tissues. I needed them as I wrote this post}

Last night I saw a picture of our old Florida house and it felt…weird. It just looked so foreign. In some ways it seems like we’ve been in Michigan forever and in other ways it seems like just yesterday.

Leading up to the move, I really wasn’t all that emotional about leaving our house. Honestly, I was OK with it. I knew we were supposed to move, and to be honest the whole being separated from Ken thing was getting really old and I was ready to move on. I had counted on being weepy and crying about leaving my children’s childhood home. After all, I was leaving the house that sheltered us as newlyweds. I have so many memories in that house:
countless movie nights with family
dinner with friends
Christmas breakfast with my family
Christmas decorations
10:00 coffee with my mom
evening wine with my mom and dad
bringing home our boys for the first time
first steps for those boys
Ethan making friends with birds in the front yard
writing with chalk on the sidewalk
sleepovers
first days of school
homework at the dining room table
home group Bible studies
additions to the house
remodel of the kitchen
laughter
tears
good times
hard times
Our times.

But I think I was almost more emotional about the house last night than I was when we left in July.

On the day we left, my mom took this picture of us saying goodbye to our house. (Mind you, I had been living as a single mom for almost 5 months and we were on water restrictions and neither of those bode well for a yard.) 

As much as I miss that place and the memories it holds, I had to remind my self that it’s just a house. I had to remind myself that we will experience new memories in our new home. We signed a three year lease so by the time our lease is up we will:
have one in high school
and one in middle school
host dinner with friends
do homework at the dining room table
eat dinner outside on the deck
watch deer from our backyard
listen to the faint sound of the train downtown
have sleepovers
celebrate Christmases
and Thanksgiving dinners with my Florida family (cannot wait until they come in November)
see first snow
take summer vacations
and who knows what else.

Our current house will never hold the same spot in my heart as the one in Florida does but that’s expected, right? That little yellow house held a mountain of Firsts. But our current house will also host its own lists of Firsts. Do I regret moving to Michigan? Nope. Do I wish I could have my family (and friends) with me and hear my nieces’ little footsteps in my house? You bet your life. For now, I can anticipate and prepare for everyone coming to visit in November. We’ll have 10 of us in our little house. I’m so excited, I can’t stand it.