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! :)

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…)

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.

Wedding Weekend 2008! (Long, Pictures)

The Wedding Weekend officially started Friday morning, when I got up to get my hair done at Eshe Day Spa & Salon. Here’s my new hairstyle!

New Hairdo

Ivy got into town Friday afternoon. Here we are, being cute.

Ivy and Me!

Saturday night, Aidan, Ivy, and I met Kelly and Garth at their hotel, then we all went up to Jen K’s place to eat and hang out. Here we are, waiting at the bus stop. The #65 bus takes FOREVER to show up, so we had to find ways to amuse ourselves.

Ivy! It's Me! Silly Aidan Strike a Pose

After dinner at a great cafe (where I had a waffle with strawberries and whipped cream and bacon!), we headed back to Jen’s to hang out. It was a bachelorette party, of sorts, but not really. Aidan wore a tiara, though.

Aidan

Woke up early Sunday morning. It was my wedding day! :) So of course, I had to play “Happy Wedding Day” by The Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby. I think it set the tone for an awesome day. Adam had gotten donuts, and I took a nice, long bath. Kelly and Garth showed up while Aidan was in the bath, and then Chris showed up with the beautiful bouquet that he’d made for me, and daisies for the girls and moms and grandmas. Pretty soon, the Weird Chicago bus showed up! And off we went.

Adam and me on the Weird Chicago bus. We’re going to get married!

Before the Ceremony

When we showed up, it was like the paparazzi. It was a bit crazy! All the camera snapping at me. I loved every moment of it!

Ceremony Ronni & Jen
Ronni & Ivy Getting Ready Blowing Bubbles The Bride Cassidy!

We all walked to the beach for the ceremony. There were people looking surprised sitting on benches, and one random biker said “Congratulations or whatever.” HA.

The beach was very pretty. There was a Song of Solomon verse on the block we jumped from. Dragonflies swarmed all around, and waves lapped the shore. The sand was hot, but I quickly got used to it.

Ceremony Playing in the Sand On the Beach
Ceremony Pretty Ivy Aidan and Sharon
Bridesmaid Cassidy Ceremony Dork Bride

Newlyweds!
Ceremony

After the ceremony and lots of pictures, a bunch of us hopped back on the Weird Chicago bus and headed to Eleven City Diner to get some eats. Good times ensued. A vase flew off the bus and scared some people standing on the street. We simply yelled “Ooompa!” or whatever it is that Greek people yell in celebration. :) (Hmm, I kind of have the urge to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding right now!) Aidan wasn’t too happy with all the noise. He was tired and trying to sleep.

Sleepy Aidan and Bride

Poor little guy. He had been up late the night before and had gotten up a lot earlier than normal, he was afraid of the dragonflies, and the sand was hot on his feet. Oh well, he cheered up once we got to the diner. The food at Eleven City was amazing as always (I had corned beef on rye and a pickle, mmm!), and after that, we came home and hung out a bit with friends and family before Adam and I took off for downtown. We rode in a horse drawn carriage along Lake Shore Drive, and checked into the Allerton for the night. ♥

I’m very happy. :)

As more and more pictures trickle in, I will make posts featuring some of my favorites. In addition, you can go here to see some of the pictures Jen H. took, or here to see pictures from my camera and other people who have shared their pix with me so far. :)

YAY Adam just came home with My Big Fat Greek Wedding. We’re gonna totally watch it! Woohoo!

‘Til next time!

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

Doing it the Semi-Easy Medium Hard Way (Pictures, Long)

Wow, what a week it’s been. Three meetings downtown, having my soon-to-be sister-in-law Cassidy in town (which has been awesome!), Aidan’s growing pains, a trip to the vet for Helena, a trip to the library for me…. whew. And it’s not over yet. I mean, I’m getting MARRIED in a few days!

Plus, more visitors are coming! Tomorrow, Adam’s family makes it into town, Ivy gets in. Saturday, my friends and photographers Kelly and Garth get into town, and Sunday morning, Chris flies in just for the day. :) It’s going to be a crazy next few days! On top of all that, I have a hair appointment at noon, so I will be looking fabu for the ceremony.

Yesterday, Helena had to go to the vet for a dental cleaning. They told us not to feed her after 8pm Tuesday night. Cassidy and I were out with Deborah getting our nails done (thanks for the mani/pedi, Deborah!). We got home really late because the Grand Ave. bus sucks, and when I dumped out the last of the food (it was after 8 by then), Helena just looked at the bowl so sadly. At about midnight, we heard her crunching. That little booger had gotten into the big bag of food! She was so pissed at me, she actually turned her little back on me. :O

When we went to pick her up at the end of the day yesterday, she was a feisty little something. I thought she’d be loopy and out of it. No way. She was ready to kick SOMEONE’S butt for leaving her there all day! But once I held her close, she stopped fighting and became still, her little heart pounding. She was glad to be home, but upset that there was no food in the dish. They’d told us to go light on the food that night, to give her half of what she normally eats. Then I realized that she eats a LOT, so half is a lot more than what we were giving her! She was happy after that.

Isn’t she pretty? She totally matches our floors:

Beautiful Helena

Saw Batman last night with Jeff and Deborah. We made the date last year during our “spying on the movie set” phase. I have two words for you regarding that movie.

Holy Crap!

The coolest part (besides the freaking awesome movie) was recognizing Chicago is almost all of the Gotham City shots. That parking garage scene at the beginning with all the Batman impersonators? I totally spied on them when they were filming that scene. I remember we were like “Dude, why are there so many Batmans running around?” It all made sense once we saw the movie. :) The Batmobile is totally in these pictures; you can click on the link to get to bigger versions on my Flickr site. Lookee:

Batman Set The Set

It is VERY cool living in a city where they film movies. It’s kind of surreal to go “Hey, that’s the bank I sometimes go to!” and “That’s the building where the law firm I temped at is located!” The movie was great. VERY intense, not sure if I can handle seeing it in the theatre again. My body’s in so much pain from being so tensed up, but I promise, you will NOT be bored watching it. Now, I am ready for Twilight, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I have several months for those, though. I’d like to see Get Smart and Wall-E too. We’ll see.

People have been so generous with our Disney Honeymoon Registry! We are so excited about the trip, and it’s fewer than sixty days away. Wheee!

I’m getting excited about the wedding, too. I’m excited about the people who will be there, the picture taking, the good times. I’m mostly excited about finally being married to Adam. ♥ Again, if any of you locals want to tag along, everyone’s meeting about 10:30 at the Edgewater Beach Cafe, then we’re going to walk over to the beach. It’s going to be short and simple and awesome. I got Adam’s ring today, and after I get my hair done, I think that will be everything! No fuss, no craziness, just goodness. :)

I think that’s all for now. My brain is tired, and I’m ready to go to bed and read. ‘Til next time!

P.S. Do you say “I have to scratch my arm, it’s itching” or “I have to itch my arm, it’s itching”?

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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