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Just A Little Bit Busy… (Pictures)

It’s fourth quarter again. Looking at the trends from the past few years on my Web site, it’s obvious that fourth quarter is not the time to be expecting many updates from me! And this year, I am busier than ever.

In addition to Schawk! (where I am working part time this year–three to four long days a week), I am doing freelance work for Critical Mass (an ad agency in Chicago), Shakespeare Squared (an educational publishing company in Chicagoland), and I will be starting a project for Rainbow Educational Concepts (an educational publishing company based in Chicago and Arkansas) in a few weeks. (I have to admit, I am most excited about my opportunity with Rainbow. I saw a sample of what I’ll be working on and yeah… SQUEE!) In addition to that, I am still doing occasional work for Loyola. I am swamped, and even though I am tired, I am grateful.

Most days, I work from home, right here on my couch. Usually, a certain sweet orange kitty cuddles at my feet:

Cuddly Kitty

But the days I go to Schawk, I have a marvelous view, even if it is noisy, sitting by a window.

Room With A View

Since the last time I updated, I went to Ohio to visit friends and family at the beginning of September. First I visited Cleveland, where I saw my mom and my friend Andy. I got to eat at Hartville Kitchen (nom), and I visited the “A Christmas Story” house. I also managed to snag an entire tub of old pictures for scanning. That’s a project I’ll be working on this December, although I got a bunch of them done already.

Then we visited Columbus. It was so nice being in Columbus again. I was sad that I’d forgotten my way around, though. Thank goodness for my GPS. I bought one of those since last updating–a refurbished TomTom that helped us get around with no problems. I got to visit my friend Heather when I was there, and meeting her new little baby was fun. Adam dropped in at the school where Ms. Yingling works and was treated like a rock star!

Adam and Ms. Yingling

Since I’ve last updated, I attended the Urban Pig Roast, which was a block party on my street. Lots of free food and booze, but I didn’t have any of that. I did have lots of pink lemonade, though. And pork. Mmm pork. I went to two yoga workshops (one with master teacher Seane Corn), met Suzanne Collins (author of The Hunger Games trilogy), visited the new Disney Store that opened in the Block 37 Shops downtown, ate turkish food at Pars Cove (om nom lentil soup yum yum mmmm), acquired two new Monster High dolls, read many new books, lost count of the number of Molly’s Cupcakes I scarfed down, and though I did this before my last update, I forgot to mention that I rode in a boat on Lake Michigan in August.

Here is a small photo montage of the past six weeks:

Chicago Skyline from Lake Michigan Montrose Harbour
The A Christmas Story House
Jeni's Ice Cream Aidan and His Plane Cherry Ice Cream Soda
Out with Friends at Pars Cove The Disney Store at Block 37
I Got To Meet Suzanne Collins! Seane Corn and Me

Meeting Suzanne Collins was quick, but she was very sweet in the very short time we had together. Learning from Seane Corn was amazing and I really hope to get the opportunity to attend one of her workshops again.

I had a great summer and can’t believe it’s already over and that we’re pretty much into fall now. Time is flying. Only 73 days until Christmas. I’ve barely begun thinking about Christmas shopping, let alone decorating and things. And travel. Blah. I’m worn out just thinking about it.

Fourth quarter is when I let a lot of things kind of slide by the wayside. I’ve cut down my Facebook games to only two that I play regularly now, and even those get neglected when I am buried in work as I am now. I haven’t cleaned in ages. Writing is definitely on hold. My brain is fried by the time I am done proofreading or copyediting for the day. When I the work of the day is done, I want to eat fried foods and watch mindless TV. Yoga doesn’t happen as often as it used to, either, although I did go Saturday and yesterday. Mia, one of my favorite teachers, even commented on how much stronger I am. (I don’t feel much stronger, but I did rock that long chattaranga pose, so maybe I am.) I plan to get myself back on track once fourth quarter is over. But for now, I’m just makin’ that money.

Oh well. I’d like to update more, but I’m tired. And thirsty. Two long work days ahead, but I’m very much looking forward to Saturday because Aidan will be here!! I hope to take him to the new Disney Store. He has $15 that I forgot to give him when I saw him last, so maybe he can pick out something cool there.

OK then, good night!

ETA: I forgot to post one of the best pictures of summer:

A Real Modern Family!
Aidan’s very own Modern Family

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I Can Has Corn? (Lots of Pictures, Long)

Yes, indeed, we had corn. Got a lot of it from one of those roadside stands in Iowa. Nothing like sweet, Iowa corn. Well, except the corn we had at a potluck. 18 cups of bi-color corn, baked in a pound of butter and a pint of half-and-half, frozen, and then slow cooked for hours. Yeah, probably enough cholesterol to last me until Christmas, but DANG was it good.

Corn Pretty Landscaping

Iowa was busy, overwhelming, and fun. Aidan had a blast, and meeting little Lola was amazing (and did nothing to alleviate this ever growing ticking of my biological clock that has restarted for some reason). Lola is a total adorable squishy little sweetheart. I love her.

It's Baby Lola
Precious little Lola

Us with Baby Lola
Here we are, with little Lola

Aidan was so good with Lola. He loved holding her, and every time she’d cry, he’d hold her cheek and rub her ear and calm her down. I forgot how magical babies are to kids, and I don’t know HOW I forgot, because babies are magical to me, too.

Aidan and His Cousin Lola

One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting a century farm. That means it’s been around at least 100 years, original farm house and everything. Interesting that I was able to get a decent cell phone signal at a century farm, but there you go. While we were there, we got up close with some turkeys, saw some peacocks and chickens, and Aidan gathered some eggs that we had for breakfast the next morning. Just so you know? I will never eat a “regular” egg again if I can help it. Organic, cage-free, grain fed eggs from now on. They are SO much better for you and they taste way better. And I always buy brown ones because they’re cool.

The ones we ate from the farm came from Easter Egg Hens (Araucanas), and the eggs were different colors, like light blue or light green or yellow. Very neat and pretty, too.

Anyway, here are some photos from the farm, including one of the eggs from the Easter Egg Hens:

Turkeys Are Funny Aidan + Tractor

Gathering Eggs

Farm Details Pretty Eggs

We visited with lots of family and took lots of pictures. I’ll try to refrain from posting too many here, but I must post some, of course!! :)

Dinner! Selzer Girls Girls! It's the Family!

Super Parents! IMG_0812

Aidan and Little Lola Grandma Bel Sharon and her Grandkids

…and the obligatory Selzer silly photo:

Silly!!

* * *

When we got back from Iowa we immediately jumped into finishing our summer with Aidan.

City Kid
Aidan is definitely a city kid!

We tried to make the most of Aidan’s last week here. Monday, we went out to dinner with Adam’s agent and some other cool writing folks at the Atwood Cafe. It was very yummy. I had the pork duo which included pork belly. It was my first time having pork belly. IT WILL NOT BE MY LAST, FOLKS. Wow, it was good. I had pineapple upside down cake for dessert, also good.

Pork Duo Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Crookshanks got really, really sick. Adam was afraid that it was the end for Crookshanks. Fortunately, we put two and two together and realized that the poor cat was just constipated. The vet prescribed him some Metamucil, and Crookshanks has been MORE than fine. He’s jumping and wailing in the morning for attention and chasing Helena and climbing to the high shelf like normal. (Oh wait, he puked today, but that’s because he ate some carrot leaves. Silly cat.)

We took a trip to this huge shopping center Oak Brook, where the sales tax was only 7% or so, and I got 15% off of my American Eagle purchase (a pretty yellow shirt and some earrings) just for checking in on Foursquare. Aidan loved all the fountains out there.

Aidan Loves Fountains

I loved that it was like Easton, but WAY bigger. I was overwhelmed! (I am looking forward to Christmas shopping out there!) Aidan was pretty patient, considering, so he earned himself a Build-A-Bear that he named David.

David at Molly's Cupcakes
David, hanging out at Molly’s Cupcakes

We ate dinner at Home Run Inn Pizzeria, and that pizza really was delicious. Something about the sauce… and the cheese. It reminded me of this pizza place I used to go to when I was little called Scotto’s Pizza. Anyone who shopped at Randall Park Mall in Cleveland in the early 80s would know what I’m talking about. Mmm. We definitely want to go back. After dinner, we all shopped some more. I *finally* used my Michael’s giftcard that I’d gotten for my 30th birthday back in 2004! It was still good! I was tickled pink. I wasn’t sure if I’d gotten that card before or after they passed all those laws preventing stores from screwing over gift card holders. At any rate, I picked up some scrapbooking stuff because guess what? I plan to do some serious scrapbooking this fall and winter. I am very, very, very behind on my scrapbooking. I want to make an Aidan book, a Ronni + Adam wedding book/honeymoon book, a Disney World 2009 book, and a family book. Seeing as I am not all that ambitious with the fancy embellishments and stuff, it’s gonna be a lot of paper and stickers. :) I am going to post some of my old layouts on Facebook. If we’re not friends there yet, why not?

Oh, and I went to Whole Foods for the first time. But not any Whole Foods. Folks, this was the most epic Whole Foods ever. Oh my God. This place is HUGE. It has all these food bars, free WiFi, a cheese counter, a fish counter, fruit forever, breads, tarts, cupcakes, cookies, salad bars, soup bars. Holy cow. I can’t even. And samples everywhere. Oh yes. I even tried an anchovy (and it wasn’t bad). Aidan was pretty bored (he wanted to get home to play with a toy or something), but I was fascinated. I hope I didn’t act like an idiot. We prefer going to Trader Joe’s (it’s way cheaper) but Whole Foods is fun, too! Nice people work at both. Nice people behind counters can be a rare thing to find in Chicago.

Summer is now winding down. :( I didn’t care much for the steamy nearly 100 degree days, but I’d rather have that than dead of winter any day! Now, it’s cooling down and I like where the weather’s been lately–low 80s or high 70s. Aidan went back to Ohio yesterday. He got to walk onto the plane with the Captain again, which thrills him to pieces. In the meantime, I was trying to hold back tears. I wasn’t fooling anyone, though, and a sympathetic mom hugged me. Adam and I went and drowned our sorrows in a trip to Burlington Coat Factory, which really didn’t help much. I got a cheap yoga tank and a cute short-sleeved hoodie (orange!), but there were some people in there who I wanted to shake!

Now it’s quiet in the apartment. So very quiet. At dinner, Adam said “Focus on eating,” because it didn’t feel like a meal without him needing to say it at least once. But there was no Aidan to say “I am.” :( It’s weird without him here.

But there is a lot to keep me busy in the meantime. I’m picking up more proofreading gigs (most of them are from home, which is great), I’ve been listening to kirtan like crazy, we’re gearing up for a trip to visit my family (especially AIDAN) and friends in Ohio, we’re going out on the lake in a boat next week, MOCKINGJAY comes out Tuesday, I’m going to meet Suzanne Collins in October (I’m #221 in line!), OVFF and Windy Con will be happening in a few months, a new America’s Next Top Model starts soon, Doctor Who Series 5 will be out on DVD, Beauty and the Beast will be out on Blu-ray™, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 will be in theatres, and I’m trying to talk Adam into a Disney World trip in January, when it’s cheap enough with the free dining that we’d get to stay in a moderate resort rather than Pop Century (although I LOVE me some Pop Century).

For now, I’ll continue my yoga, enjoy listening to kirtan, work on my writing, reading, and just enjoying life as much as I can. ‘Til next time.

David Watches the Planes

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The Winding Down of Summer (Long, Multimedia)

I can’t believe how fast the summer went. My mom was here for a week; that sped by. I can’t believe I’ve already been home from Disney World for a week. Life’s too short, babe, time is flying….

My mom was here and that was cool. She made us fried chicken and meatloaf, and she bought me a new doll. (I am up to 11 dolls now–and just when I think I have enough, I find out that a bunch of new ones are coming out next week. Aye yi yi.). Here is my mom, Aidan, and me at McDonald’s for lunch one day:

Isn’t my mommy pretty? :)

And here are a bunch of pictures from the week she was here. She had her first Chicago hot dog, she spent lots of time with Aidan, and even went to American Girl Place with me. We also went to Naperville, where I love to go to get away from the city and shop at the indie stores, especially Anderson’s Bookshops.

DSC02094 Buzz Mommy! Mommy at Hot Doug's Cuddle Wuddle

Aidan

Goofy Family Portrait

Riverwalk Crime Scene

Sonali Matthews
New doll, Sonali

After my mom left, it was time to throw ourselves into preparing for Disney World. That meant last minute trips to Target for stuff, laundry, and packing. And then, the night before, the neighbors behind us had a guest who was drunk and yelling from 7pm until 5am, when I had to get up. I got NO sleep. I’m pretty sure they were still yelling when we left at 6am for the airport. I thought, foolishly, that I’d get to sleep on the plane. Nope. I mean hello, a flight to Orlando, where Disney World is? Kids and babies. Babies hate flying. Babies were screaming the whole time. My iPod Skullcandy ear buds were pretty good but I still didn’t sleep well. Fortunately, I had enough adrenaline running that I was able to hit the parks at about 2:15pm and I kept going until 1am, when the awesome Extra Magic Hours ended. Woohoo.

Family Photo
We really are having fun. It’s just that the sun is all up in our faces. :D

A few highlights that we didn’t get video of pix of. On our first night, we were eating at Liberty Tree Tavern. There were LOADS of people celebrating birthdays. There was a birthday in our room. After everyone sang Happy Birthday and applauded, Aidan yelled out the biggest YAY I’d ever heard. My first instinct was to be kind of mortified, but then the entire room burst out laughing. Another thing happened at LTT. Aidan had asked for a root beer and was given a Coke. I told him to ask the server nicely for a root beer instead, which Aidan did. Not only did the server replace Aidan’s Coke with a root beer, he gave it to him in one of the $7 souvenir cups with a light-up Lightning McQueen!

Aidan's Bonus!

Watching Aidan during the parades was SUCH a treat. I remember how I felt the first time I saw a parade, but it was nothing compared to watching Aidan see Celebrate a Dream Come True and Spectromagic.

Aidan also got to help the, well, I call them Magic Makers. They’re the guys with fancy brooms that paint Disney characters on the ground with water.

Magical Characters

Aidan was so enthusiastic during the shows that he got singled out at Crush’s Turtle Talk, and it was hilarious. He was next to the man who got picked on during Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor so he was on the big screen quite a bit. During two parades/parties, he was pulled out into the street by characters and performers to dance, and at the end of the Toy Story Block Party Bash, he got a little Nerf ball that says “Block Party Bash” on it. He was terrified of Soarin’, but when we got off, he said he loved it and said “Can we do that again???”

Garden Grill, as usual, was a pleasure. The characters there are TOP NOTCH, you get to see them tons of times, and the food is outstanding, especially the blueberry buckle. YUMMMM. 1900 Park Fare’s characters were hilarious. And autographs are fun.

I watched the High School Musical 3 show, and we got to meet the $heriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood and Marie from The Aristocats. And THE FAIRY GODMOTHER!

Fairy Godmother

But you don’t want to read my jabber. You want to see MORE pictures, right? Here goes!

Southwest FTW! Adam and Aidan

On the Magical Express

Daisy Duck Aidan and Goofy Me and Lilo

Us With the Mouse

Aidan and Dale Aidan, Adam and Mickey

Aidan and Stitch Aidan and the Gang

Aidan and Spaceship Earth Love! Aidan and Buzz

Here’s a slide show of the whole trip, minus the Photopass pictures, which are not here yet:

DISNEY WORLD!!!

And if you’re still reading, I encourage you to check out this video of highlights I made of the trip (if you haven’t seen it already).

About halfway through the trip, Adam said “We’re coming back next year.” :) Wheeee! He mentioned trying out Chef Mickey’s, and I sure do wish we could stay at the Polynesian, but hey, I’ll be happy with Pop Century again if it means having more money to spend in the parks. Shopping for Disney stuff is FUN (especially during the parades when the stores are pretty empty)!

Aidan went back to Ohio on Sunday. :( Fortunately, he didn’t cry at the airport. When he cries, I cry. Or at least a lot worse than normal. But when he doesn’t cry, I feel OK. It’s been so quiet here, though. I miss kissing his little cheeks, and I keep watching videos of him over and over just to hear his voice. He started first grade yesterday. Apparently, he’s popular. Kids leaping out of their seats because they were so excited to see him! How fun is that? Today, he rode the school bus to school. I can’t believe my baby’s a first grader now. First grade is like REAL school, you know? Next summer should be fun, with all the reading he’ll be able to do.

OK, I guess this entry is long enough. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go and continue recovering from a busy August. I’ve been hit with a cold or mini-flu or something and I’m been drained. Hope you enjoyed my recap and my Disney memories! :)

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California Here We Come (Pictures)

I have to admit, visiting Los Angeles in the winter is the way to go. Well actually, it’s sort of bittersweet. Adam and I were there during an unseasonably warm weekend, and that made coming back to Chicago and its VERY COLD TEMPERATURES that much harder. But getting away from the cold was very nice.

We got into town Thursday night and apparently, while we were on the FlyAway Shuttle to Van Nuys, a 5.0 earthquake hit. Because we were on the bus, we didn’t feel it one bit. There were a lot of accidents, so the 30 minute trip from LAX to the drop off actually took 90. I was pretty hungry, but Melissa and Eli, who met us at the shuttle drop off, took us to In N Out Burger which made everything worth it. After dinner, we went to Amy’s place and stayed up pretty late talking. She’s awesome, just so you know. :)

Amy and Me!
Amy and me!

Friday morning, Amy went off to work, and Adam and I got ready to spend the day with Melissa. She took us sight seeing on Mulholland (there was smog, so the pics are just OK), and then we walked near the WB Studio lots. We had to get a picture of the Animaniacs water tower for Aidan, who LOVES that cartoon!

Where the Animaniacs Live!

The highlight, though, was touring the Disney Studios lot.

Disney Water Tower
Disney Lot Water Tower

Me & The PartnersWalt Shows Us Something! Roy, Minnie, Adam & MeDisney Archives SignStreet Sign

Besides the obvious photo ops, there is so much to see and do on the lot. So much Disney history.

We ate lunch in the commissary and then toured the lot a bit more. I bought some stuff in the store that was only available at the theme parks which made me happy. I had a blast on the Disney Studios lot and would LOVE to work in such a place. Immersed in Disney culture, how wonderful, right?

After that, we went to the Griffith Observatory which was out of this world. It was free, which was amazing to me. They had so much cool stuff to look at. All sorts of neat instruments and exhibits (I found out that on Jupiter, I’d weigh 300 pounds), models and a giant telescope. It was extremely impressive.

Griffith Observatory
The entrance is not an entrance, huh? Adam is confused.

Griffith Observatory
Infrared Me.

Griffith Observatory
Einstein checks out my sunglasses.

We ate dessert at a place called Porto’s, which was inexpensive and delicious. Check out these pastries:

Food at Porto's

I had the strawberry shortcake. :) OK, I had THREE over the course of the weekend, but seriously, look at it. How could I resist?

Friday night, we had dinner with some friends of Melissa and Eli, and they were cool people. After dinner, we headed back to Amy’s, where Amy and I were hyper and stayed up talking forever. Adam kept telling me to go to sleep so I wouldn’t be tired the next day because we were going to DISNEYLAND!!!

Well, seeing as I’m a Disney nut, the adrenaline kept me going pretty well all day. I only had one crash in the afternoon, but once I got some food in me, I was good to go again. We got there before the park opened (the first time I’ve ever gone to a Disney park at opening), and it was good times from then on.

Brothers & Sisters
Adam, me, Melissa, and Eli

YAY!Adam, Me, and Goofy!Dare Me To Do It?Watch This!!Meeting Conductor Mickey!Princess Fantasy FaireTwo Thumbs Up!

Disneyland kicked butt. In a nutshell, we rode tons of rides, the weather was beautiful, the crowd level was low, and even though the character count was nothing like at Disney World, I GOT TO MEET PRINCESS MINNIE who I didn’t even know existed in the US parks! Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean WIN at Disneyland, and Indiana Jones is unlike anything I’ve ever ridden. Tower of Terror is just as nerve wracking and fun, but it IS different from the one at Disney World. I got to ride California Screamin’ this time around, and even though I enjoyed it, I would have liked it more if I hadn’t been getting a sick headache. (Fortunately, a cookie and some bread took care of that later). We watched the Pixar Play Parade, and later, Melissa and Eli treated Adam and me to dinner at the Blue Bayou which was yummy. We stayed until closing. I’d never stayed at a park from open until close before, but I will do it more often (because OH YES, I do plan to go back someday!). It was a great time.

Sunday, Melissa and I hopped on the Metro and went to Roscoe’s to meet Tasha for lunch. Tasha is sooo awesome. I’ve known her through the online world for nearly a decade now, and we finally got to meet in person. She’s fun to talk to and very, very cute. I had a great time with her–the time we spent was not long enough at all! I can’t wait to see her again soon!

Tasha and Me!
Tasha and me!

The food was good, too. Mmm, chicken and waffles.

After lunch, Melissa and I walked around Hollywood Blvd., and we popped into the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store. That store was cool because it had some exclusive merchandise and the VAULT. Disney freaks surely know all about that blasted vault where our beloved animated features go after a certain amount of time.

The Vault!

It might not be the ACTUAL vault, but still.

Melissa got a picture of me in front of the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars are held. I’m trying to look “fierce.” I don’t think I pulled it off, though.

A-List Ronni

That evening, Dave and Angie came over to Melissa and Eli’s and we had pizza and hung out. That was fun. It’s always good to see Dave and Angie. :)

Angie & Dave

It was a great, great trip. If I ever got rich, I’d like to have a 2nd home in L.A. A place to escape during the winter, a place where I have plenty of friends and family. A place where I can get In N Out Burger all the time. And of course… Disneyland!

Want to see more pictures? You know you do! Just click here.

‘Til next time….

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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