visiting ohio.

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ronni!style
jacket: levi’s | jcpenney
pants: rockstar | old navy
sweater: mickey mouse | kohl’s
scarf & arm warmers: five below
purse: rosetti | kohl’s

Last week, Adam and I drove out to Ohio to visit my mommy for our annual September trip. I was very much looking forward to visiting my mom, getting the heck out of Chicago, and eating at Bob Evans!

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One thing that Twinsburgh, OH has that Chicago doesn’t is trees. Lots and lots of trees. The highways here are clogged with cars, and on the sides are buildings or grassy knolls… but the highways in Northern Ohio are bordered by woods. Actual woods. It’s gorgeous and refreshing to see. I always forget how thirsty I am to see trees until I’m around them and can’t stop looking.

Anyway, we arrived at my mom’s at about noonish Monday morning. We wanted to be there earlier, but the drive took forever! I-80 was just stuffed with construction, and that’s never any fun. And there were cops everywhere there wasn’t construction. But we made it and immediately headed to Bob Evans for lunch. :) We shopped and then went home and hung out for a while.

My cousin Falandos came over and we headed out for Mexican food at this place called El Camino. I’d been there only once and remembered amazing margaritas. The margaritas are just as delicious as before. We may or may not have made our way through two pitchers.

Best margarita ever!!!!

Some more of my family met us at the restaurant, and we had a lot of fun eating delicious food and catching up.

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aunt geneva, me, terri

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me, falandos, janae
i am totally not drunk

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my cute mommy

It was a good night.

The next day, I could not wake up! I was trying to work from home but kept falling asleep at the computer. It was so annoying. But I finally got the work done, and we headed over to the west side for Adam’s book event. While we were there, Belinda and Patrick showed up! :D We ended up going with them to dinner at this wonderful little place called Cafe Stratos.

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patrick, me, belinda,
and stella the greek

We had the cutest server named Stella, and the food was SOOO GOOD. All homemade. Everything was good, the soups, the dessert (I had blueberry pie), and the crusty bread that came to our table before the main course.

Also, it was customer appreciation night, so our entrees were half price with the purchase of a beverage. The menu had a ton of stuff that looked good. I went with the veal which I think was an excellent choice. It reminded me of the veal at Marone’s, a place I loved when I lived in Columbus.

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belinda and patrick
i adore this couple
my mom said she loves their energy

After dinner, we headed to my friend Andy’s to FINALLY meet Odin, his rottweiler who’s now seven months old. Odin is huge but he’s got a sweet heart. It was funny, he’s so protective of Andy. When we first arrived, he seemed all tense and all, you know how dogs do. But then I hugged Andy and I could see the dog visibly relax. It was amazing. After that, Odin and I were totally BFFs.

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The next day, we hung around the house relaxing. We were all tired from a whirlwind two days, so we watched The Food Network and talked. Later that evening, the cousins visited again and that was fun.

Thursday, we were slated to leave, but Adam started craving sandwiches after watching them create such lovely ones on Food Network shows. Now, I am always up for a good sandwich but Adam rarely is. My mom mentioned Corky & Lenny’s and we were on our way.

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corned beef, juicy
smothered in mustard
sweet damn

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mommy biting into her delicious sandwich

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adam got some fancy sandwich
with corned beef and pastrami
and cheese and i think some sort of dressing

We did some more shopping, and I took the chance to spoil my mommy a bit. :) Then it was time for us to head back to Chicago. We made it after an uneventful trip back that didn’t seem nearly as long as the trip to Ohio. Maybe because I had a good book to read in the car. Or maybe because there wasn’t nearly as much construction.

Anyway, it was a much too short trip, but it was a lovely trip nevertheless. I am quite blessed.

Autumn and Ohio (Lots of Pictures!)

Gourds Happy Autumn!

Now that it’s here, there is no good reason to keep fighting it, right? Getting out of Chicago and to Ohio to visit friends and family really helped me remember what I love about autumn. First of all, the colors. The glorious colors! We were in Ohio for six days and every day I watched the trees get more and more brilliant. Then, harvests and pumpkins and apple cider and all sorts of neat things. So, yay for autumn. Just wish winter didn’t have to happen after. But not gonna dwell on that. Instead I’m going to dwell on the fun trip to Ohio I had this past week!

I got to eat yummy Mexican food and drink a delicious margarita, I got to feed a giraffe, see a camel up close, and ride a horse. I met a friend who I’d been emailing with for years, and I saw Andy, one of my best friends. Chris and Matt brought up Aidan and we all went to Amish country, where I bought lots of pies, cookies, and cheese. My camera was on hand, and of course I got loads of photos.

We hit the Amish country in the middle of the state. First place we stopped was Hershberger, where there was lots of good desserts and breads, and animals (including a HUGE Clydesdale) to pet. Then we went to the cheese barn, and then to Berlin. Adam and I agreed that the more authentic Amish/Mennonite places were better because they weren’t mired in touristy gimmicks. Just yummy food.

Aidan and some Pumpkins Aidan and some Pumpkins Aidan and some Pumpkins
Pumpkins Galore!

I got to ride a horse for the first time ever. My friend Amy (who I’ve known for years but only through email) arranged for us to get together at the stables. There, she saddled up Jessy and let me and Adam take turns riding her. By the end of the ride, I was going a pretty good job of getting Jessy to walk and go in the direction I wanted her to go in. We also go to ride Pablo bareback. That was neat, too.

I'm on a Horse!

Horseback Riding! Horseback Riding! Horseback Riding!

We got to eat good food, have good laughs, and have good times. The Mexican restaurant, El Camino, was delicious. I had an enchilada and a tostada, and a yummy raspberry margarita. Delicious!

Mommy My Magarita Hi Aidan!

Mommy and Greg

Most of my extended family is in Cleveland. I don’t get to see them often, so a lot of us used this trip to reconnect. It was good. Some of these people I hadn’t seen since 1996. I hadn’t seen all of them for many years. That’s a long time. It was nice to see them again.

My Cousin Mazayron and Me Aunt Geneva Falandos
Good Saturday Night

So many new experiences. I got to feed a giraffe! Do you have any idea how much I love giraffes? They’re so graceful and beautiful. They’re definitely in my top five of animals. Getting so close to one was amazing. Also, I never knew how gorgeous camels were until I saw them close up. Petting zoos are cool, especially when they have animals like emus and llamas and zebras.

Aidan and his Grandmommy A Big Chair! Aidan Playing in the Corn Pit
Awesome!

UM Camel
Pumpkins!

Another really cool thing. I am an Ohio State alumna, but I had very little OSU clothing. I’ve been slowly, slowly building up a collection of tee-shirts, but I really wanted a hoodie. They’re expensive, though! Well, we went to Marcs to get snacks and groceries (and my BBQ Fritos and Snyder of Berlin chips that are not sold in IL) and they had OSU gear. CHEAP OSU gear. So, I got three sweatshirts and two tee-shirts for a grand total of $40.00. I’m wearing one of the shirts in a few photos above. I really, really, really wish we had a Marcs in Chicago. I’d go all the time. I love that place.

Anyway, I had a great time. What a wonderful way to start off autumn 2011. It’s just gonna get better! :)

I’ve Been A Bad, Bad Blogger (Pictures, Long)

It seems that blogging once or twice a month is going to be par for the course for me, which makes me kind of sad. I still read everyone’s blogs, but when I sit down to blog myself, I just kind of get overwhelmed with a sense of non-motivation and non-inspiration. I’ve been working a lot–a ten hour day is pretty much the norm these days (except today was pleasantly slow and I got out on time), and we’re short handed, with people out for the holidays. It’s tiring, but the money is good. And tomorrow I get a half day off, I am off Friday-Monday, and Tuesday I get another half day off. I’m looking forward to all the resting and the extra time with Aidan!

Lots of stuff happened since I last made a *real* update. I’ve fallen out of my yoga practice, which I am regretting. I REALLY want need to get back into it ASAP. I can’t wait until the work hours lessen so I can do so. Just walking into the studio is good for me. I attended WindyCon, and got to see S.J. Tucker perform (and also bask in some s00j love). I also met some new friends there and heard some good music.

A Pretty Pixie

And oh! Check out the hair fall I made!

My First Hairfall

I’m working on a mate for it so I can have two ponytails, but I need to find my materials. I’ve misplaced them. Hmm.

Yeah, that’s a bad thing about working so much. I can’t find anything. I make huge messes that I have no time to clean up, and I get overwhelmed with the lack of free time to do much besides bathe and sleep (hence the lack of blogging/updates). I also didn’t get to go around and take pictures of the Christmas trees, visit Chriskindlmarket, or see the big tree in the Walnut Room at Macy’s. No time, or just too freaking cold to go out. Thank GOD for Amazon Prime. I did a lot of my shopping online this year. It’s fun getting packages!

Aidan arrived December 17th. It was really cold, his flight was delayed but we didn’t care. We decorated the tree as soon as we got home!

O Christmas Tree 2010

The next day, I’d planned on just staying in all day, but I decided we should pop into the Moksha Yoga holiday party. I am so glad I went. I got loads of hugs, and all three of us attended an acroyoga workshop. Check out Aidan flying!

Aidan Flies!

Anywhere Is turned ten at the end of November. I’ve had my domain for ten years, y’all. I used to have a huge following. Not so much anymore. The site has seen its share of drama, slow times, layout changes, and migrations from blogger to greymatter to b2 to wordpress. I was around in the heyday of the Internet Girl World, and I’m one of the few who is still hanging around, and hanging on.

I remember the trends back then. All sites had a basic format: Me, You, WWW, Site. Under all of those links there were tons of stuff to explore, if the site was good. Cliques, cjb.net, pixels, woogoo, being “hosted” (I remember how awesome it felt when Dara asked me if I wanted to be hosted!), UBBs, gbook.nu, virtue.nu, banners, link buttons, blinkies… tons and tons of things! I can’t believe how much the Internet world has changed and simplified!

Moving on from that trip down memory lane, I HAD A REALLY AWESOME CHRISTMAS. We began celebrating December 21st, on the Solstice. We opened our presents to each other and watched Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. It was REALLY NICE to be able to spoil people like I’d wanted to for years. And Adam got me a really pretty Tiffany necklace! :)

After a couple more nights of opening presents and eating Ivy’s delicious cookies, we set out for Ohio just before 5am on the 24th. Thank God we had clear weather. Even though the car needed a $323 repair during our travels, I was less concerned with the cost and more concerned with getting the thing fixed so we could make it to our destination. And we did! We went to Columbus first to drop Aidan off at his dad’s, then to Aurora to spend the holiday with my mom. My sister, who I hadn’t seen in years, was there! The food was excellent, my mom LOVED the record player I got her, and Chris surprised us by bringing Aidan up Christmas night instead of waiting until December 26th. There was also a Doctor Who marathon on BBC America, and I got to see Doctor Who at the Proms. Awesome.

My Mom's Gorgeous Tree! My Sister Leah
Christmas Dinner

I had an OK birthday. It started off great, but I ended up working late and I got a migraine. Still, I got a couple of cool gifts and they threw a small party for me at work. It could have been worse, so no real complaints. Plus, Aidan is here, so who cares about everything else!

Thanksgiving was weird. Adam and I usually have Jeff and Deborah over, but this year, they wanted us to go to their place. It turned out to be a relief because I was just too exhausted to clean or prepare for guests. I’d worked so much that week, plus I hadn’t been feeling well at the beginning of the week, so it was rough. It was nice to go and relax, eat, hang with friends, and watch Doctor Who. :)

Aidan turns eight in two days! I know, right? Last night, Adam and I surprised him with a trip to the LEGO store, where he made three LEGO guys for 9.99, and I got him a LEGO City sports car that was only $5. He’s obsessed with LEGOs and video games, and drawing.

Aidan and the LEGO Woody

I’d better wrap this up. I’ll try to find time to do the end-of-the-year review. I get four days off, plus a half-day off tomorrow (apparently, I have accrued .50 days of PTO that I HAVE to use before the end of the year–I tell you what, it can’t be every day that your boss calls you and says “I need you to take half a day off this week so you won’t lose your PTO”–so I’ll be using that tomorrow. Yea!), and I am taking 1/2 day off Tuesday. So looking forward to the time to relax and be with my family.

Life is good.

Til next time! :)

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

Christmas Recap (Pictures)

Adam and I exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve, because we knew we’d probably be rushing the next day. He got me lots of cool stuff; a bed desk (WOOHOO), THE PATRON SAINT OF BUTTERFLIES, candy just to name a few things. Santa and Hanukkah Harry brought us The Dark Knight and Mario Kart. :) It was a nice Christmas Eve.

My Presents from Adam

On Christmas Day, Adam and I flew to Ohio to see Aidan and family. See, Aidan’s Christmas list consisted of only four things:

– a Spiderman puzzle
– a Wii
– a bike
– his Mommy

They pulled up at the airport and Aidan, who’d been excited at the prospect of seeing me (all he knew was that Santa was working very hard and picking us up and etc., and we tried to keep it a secret as best as we could), was fast asleep. He woke up while we were putting the luggage in the truck, and the smile that was on his little face was just… wow. Best gift EVER. :)

We spent Christmas evening with Chris, Aidan, and Matty. It was great! They loved their presents, especially the toffee we got them from Terry’s Toffee.

Slinky!
Aidan playing with stocking stuffers!

This picture cracks me up:

Adam and Aidan

Adam looks like the innocent child and Aidan looks like a little gangsta.

The next day we headed to my mom’s where of course, I got a food picture:

Christmas Dinner
Mmmm.

YAY. I also took random shots of anything and everything:

Happy Aidan At the Dinner Table Mommy Aidan & Mommy

My mommy got me lots of cute pajamas, a soft cuddly robe that I am wearing now, and she and Greg got me a $50 American Express gift card meant to spend on books! Woohoo. She got me a Mickey Mouse fleece hoodie for my birthday. Adam cleaned up on clothes and pajamas this year. My hubby is styling! :)

After Mommy’s, we spent some time at Andy’s, and thank goodness. It was dark and rainy and I HATE driving at night when it’s raining. I can’t see a thing on the roads. I can’t imagine trying to drive all the way back to Columbus when the weather is like that. So we stayed at Andy’s, and ended up staying another day because that’s when I started feeling icky. I got randomly sick and achy. Boo. A lot of rest and medicines helped me push through, though. And Aidan got to watch Wall-E twice. It was nice and relaxing. Andy has a nice house. He also got me cool gifts, including an adorable Domo tee-shirt.

We got back to Columbus on Sunday. A package from Ivy came Monday, full of Disney goodies and COOKIES!!!!!!

Santa Aidan
Here, Aidan is enjoying one of Ivy’s icicle cookies. Yum.

Then……

Yesterday was Aidan’s 6th birthday!!!!

Aidan's Spongebob Cake

Happy Birthday, Aidan! Happy Birthday, Aidan!

We had a nice little celebration for him, and he once again, cleaned up with the presents! He’s so excited to be 6. I just can’t believe he’s no longer 5! He got Mario Kart, too, so we’ll be able to play with him online once Chris or Matty gets it all set up over on their end. YAY! I got him Wall-E, which he watched right away.

In case you’re wondering, Aidan DID get everything on his list above, AND THEN SOME. And when I say “and then some…” well, basically, you have no idea how much stuff the kid got. It’s really, truly overwhelming. I doubt he even realizes the magnitude of love that was poured out to him in the form of gifts. But you know, you’re only five on Christmas once, and I’m pretty sure his was more than magical. :) I’m so grateful I was able to share it with him, and be part of what made it so good for him.

I didn’t get to see nearly as many people as I wanted when I was in town, but maybe next time. I got to see the most important person–Little Aidan, and that’s what matters most.

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