Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy birthday to an amazing Mom! My mom knows how to throw a party and celebrate. Memories of childhood birthdays include a surprise party at HVSC for me, a trick 'r' treat party for Dan, Easter birthday celebration for Alex and backyard birthday filled with rover red rover and other lawn games run by big brother Dan for Ellen.

One funny memory my mom tells is of the first birthday party she threw in England. One of the guests kept asking "when are we going to play pass the parcel?". My mother had no idea what this girl was referring to and assumed that she was asking when we would open gifts so she told her "after cake". At the end of the day everyone had enjoyed themselves but this little girl still inquired about "pass the parcel". Well it took Ellen and me attending a few parties of our own to catch on to this party game; a gift is wrapped in lots of layers of wrapping paper and is passed around in a circle to music. When the music stops the person holding the prize takes off a layer of paper. This continues until every layer is removed and the gift is claimed. Our mother quickly incorporated this into her party repertoire because that's the kind of mom she is.

Pass the Parcel; Mary in the plaid dress, Alex in yellow and Ellen in the background wearing awesome 80s pants
 Today she is celebrating at Karmanos with birthday cake, balloons, fake flowers and lots of smiles :-). For her 60th surprise birthday party we played a fun version of win lose or draw here she is below with her drawing of . . .
Mom at 60

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Tomorrow my mom is going in for a stem cell transplant at Karmanos hospital. If you're reading this then you probably already know how awesome my mom is, but if for some sad reason you've never had the privilege of meeting her - she rules! She's amazingly supportive, encouraging, funny, smart and kind. She's the kind of mom that says "Of course" when you ask if you can bring 4 college buddies home with you for a football reunion weekend and then proceeds prepares to host a dinner party for everyone! She's the one who plans beautiful weddings and lovingly welcomes her new son-in-laws into the brood.

In July 2009 she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and with the help of amazing doctors, the support of a loving husband, family and friends she's been battling this cancer. The next step in her journey begins tomorrow when she goes in for her stem cell transplant. In honor of her courage as she undergoes this procedure I decided to cut all my hair off and donate it to Locks of Love.

Before - ready to chop it all off

Goodbye hair!

After - Annie approves of my new do!
Not wanting to be outdone Annie also recently got her hair cut and asked if she could donate it to the Mexican Hairless dogs that she's heard about. She was sad to hear that there wasn't a dog hair donation site so she agreed we should throw it in the backyard instead to let the birds use it to build their nests . .

Annie,the blogging dog, models her new cut

A Mexican Hairless Dog - a unique look

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

Here in Springfield we're lucky enough to have a Double A ballpark within walking distance of our house. The St Louis Cardinals' Double A Farm Team, The Springfield Cardinals, plays at Hammons Field which is about a 30 minute walk from our house. Since moving here we had hoped to get to a game but we never got around to checking the schedule until a week ago when we discovered that their last home game (a Texas Division Championship game) was the next day. Annie and I took a walk over to the ball park and we bought two Row 1(!) seats in front of third base for Wednesday evening. Tickets were only $8!

Annie claimed she only roots for the Tigers and would have no part in attending a Cardinals game so Dan accompanied me instead. We had a great time at the game - it was a thriller; at the bottom of the 8th with the Cards down 4-0 to the Frisco Rough Riders the home team proceeded to go on a hitting streak, six runs in the inning, and ended up winning 6-4! There were fireworks to celebrate the victory and we were given vouchers for a free ticket to a 2013 season game on our way in.

Dan and Mary in Row 1

There was one player on the Frisco Rough Riders' team that I just had to cheer for; Chris McGuinness:

Chris McGuinness at Hammons Field
 Dan indulged in an ice cream sundae in a mini batting cap (somewhat of a tradition for him). Funny thing was that the cap was an Astros cap (perhaps they ran out of Cards caps earlier in the season?).

Dan enjoying his Ice Cream Sundae

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Missouri's Great Outdoors

Dan's Mom grew up in nearby Lebanon, Missouri so one weekend Annie, Dan and I took a road trip up to Lebanon's Bennett Spring State Park on the Niangua River. Bennett Spring State Park is a major fishing attraction in the area as it's a trout hatchery and the water is teeming with fish. Annie enjoyed walking along the water and watching the fish swim about.

Mary and Annie on a Hike overlooking Fishermen in the River

Lots of People Fishing!
 Dan's second week at work Drury hosted a kayak outing on the James River (yes - Springfield also has a James River!). We got to go take out some kayaks for a nice long paddle along the river into Lake Springfield for free :-). There are lots of caves in this area and we are looking to exploring some of them when David, Gabrielle, Noah and Sonja come visit next month.
Dan expertly navigates his Kayk

Mary in her Kayak

Springfield Festivals

 Springfield and the surrounding areas host many festivals this time of year. Before heading out to Maine Labor Day weekend Dan and I checked out the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in downtown Springfield featuring a car show, food, music and craft vendors.

My Favorite Convertible

Dan's Favorite Convertible (although I think it's a bit small for him!)

 Last weekend we went back to the Mizumoto Japanese Gardens with some friends to check out the Japanese Fall Festival. In contrast to our first trip to the gardens when we didn't see a single other person this time the gardens were packed! There were food stands and craft stands selling various Oriental goods and art. We had fun walking around and exploring and were treated to some interesting Japanese drum music and a dragon dance.
Justin, Dan, Olive and Elaine in the Zen Garden

Dragon Dance

Mary, Olive and Elaine
This coming weekend we're planning to checkout the Springfield Cider Days which is about four blocks from our house - should be a good time!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Main(e) Event

On Sunday afternoon after lunch and our trip to the lighthouse we headed back to the hotel to get party-ready for Alex and Liz's wedding. After a drizzly gray morning the skies opened up around 2 'o'clock and it poured! Would this force the 4 'o'clock ceremony inside? No! Miraculously the storm cleared, the sun came out, and Liz and Alex wed outside in downtown Portland with a view of the Bay in the background. Liz walked down the aisle to Bright Eyes' "First Day of My Life" - she was stunning and elicited cheers from the onlookers at the neighboring bar as she stepped out.

Beautiful Bride Walking Down the Aisle
 Alex's father, Jeffrey Lovit, presided over the ceremony. Alex and Liz's vows were extremely sweet and heartfelt - they brought tears to both my and Dan's eyes.

After a lovely cocktail hour we sat down with Alex's Amherst buddies for a lobster dinner. The crustaceans were outstanding - there were lots of laughs at the table as we cracked them open. We capped off our meals with blueberry crisp.

Lobster Bibs
 Liz's awesome sisters made the delicious (and beautiful) wedding cake and cupcake in a variety of flavors including whoopie pie :-). There was kareoke at the wedding so in keeping with the theme we sang to Liz and Alex "the bride feeds the groom, the bride feeds the groom, high-ho-the-derry-oh, the bride feeds the groom" and the vice versa for when Alex fed Liz. Alex almost jumped the gun in feeding Liz without a choral accompaniment but she wasn't having it!

"No Cake without Singing" says Liz

 There was lots of dancing, singing and merrymaking throughout the evening - what a wonderful end to a fantastic weekend!

Congratulations Liz & Alex

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Alex and Liz's Wedding Weekend

This past weekend we dropped Annie at the Pet Hotel and headed to Portland, Maine for the wedding of Alex and Liz, our dear friends. We flew first class (thanks to Dan's Delta Silver Status upgrade) from Kansas City to Boston then rented a car and took scenic Route 1 up through New Hampshire to Portland. Since it was Dan's first time in the Granite State we decided to stop in New Hampshire along the way for a lobster roll dinner (the first of many lobster meals).

When we arrived at the hotel in Portland we ran into Matt and Diana in the lobby. We accompanied them out as they ate their (lobster) dinners at a Maine brewery and we discussed plans for the weekend and caught up. On Saturday we met up with Matt, Diana and Allison (who arrived late on Friday from Mississippi) in the hotel for breakfast. We then headed out to explore downtown Portland.
The gang in Post Office Park in downtown Portland
We hopped from tourist shop to art gallery picking up wild Maine blueberry jam, postcards and, of course, an ornament for the tree along the way. After a delicious lunch we headed back to the hotel to gussy ourselves up for the boat tour of Casco Bay that we were invited to by the bride and groom-to-be. With the sun shining we were treated to a fantastic tour of the Bay featuring lighthouses, seals and boats a plenty. 

The Casco Bay
Alex and Liz
After the boat cruise we headed over to adorable Freeport where we were treated to a lovely wedding welcome dinner at the Harraseeket Inn featuring fresh seafood and blueberry pie.
Liz and Alex
 After dinner we headed to the Portland Harbor Hotel where we met up with friends to watch the culmination of the Michigan game :(. To lift our spirits after the Wolverines' loss we headed off to $3 Deweys, Portland's oldest alehouse, and enjoyed some Allagash White (per Becky's suggestion) and toasted Alex and Liz on their last night as an unmarried couple.

On Sunday we gathered again at the Comfort Inn for breakfast then headed off to explore before the wedding. The Portland Head Light lighthouse, in Cape Elizabeth, was calling our name. We toured the museum learning about the history of the lighthouse (built at the directive of George Washington) and hiked around the trails of the park. As we were making our way back to the car, in a slight drizzle, we spotted a food truck hawking whoopie pies and lobster rolls! Score! Dan and I shared a phenomenal lobster roll and Allison divvied off a piece of her whoopie pie for me :-). By the time we reached the car the drizzle had turned into a steady rain . . .
Mary, Allison, Diana and Matt

Enjoying the View
Along the Park Trails
The rain cleared for us to climb some rocks along the coast before we headed back to the hotel to pretty ourselves for the main(e) event! Stay tuned for Part 2 . . .