We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. - I Thessalonians 1:2

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Before and After

I took this shot of our friend and his son on Saturday at Ash Cave. This is the shot, straight out of camera.
Then I played around in Photoshop Elements, using my trusty guidebook, and got it to look like this.
I'm not totally happy with the lightening that I did around our friend's face, but it's better than the original. Like I've said before, I don't have aspirations to be a professional, but I do enjoy playing around. I've looked into taking a class on PSE just to get more comfortable with the program, so hopefully I'll get to do one this summer.

~Melody :-)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Head for the Hills

Our small group decided back in the late winter (when we celebrated a year of meeting together/knowing each other/etc.) that we would truly put our friendships to the test this summer by going on a weekend getaway together. So for our first trip together we chose somewhere close-- Hocking Hills. We found a house big enough for five families-- 10 adults and 8 kids-- which Cate called the "everybody house" since everybody was staying there.
The kids enjoyed the wide wrap-around porch. It was perfect to run around, bicycle around, or scooter around. Sometimes it was nice to just sit on the swing.
Our large common room was perfect when everyone was together.
The kitchen was right off of the common room and we spent quite a bit of time in there. Each family was in charge of preparing one meal for the whole group.
And our bonfire pit was another great place to congregate as a group.
Friday night, the kids went on a "snipe" hunt. A few of the adults in our group went on these hunts as children. Legend has it that the "snipe"-- a bird now recognizable to most kids because of the movie Up!-- leaves a decoy (a dressed up watermelon) if it feels you're getting to close to it. The kids followed a trail of feathers and other "snipe" clues before they ended up with the decoy-- which was delicious to eat!
On Saturday we did an easy walk/hike at Ash Cave. It was nice and cool under all of the trees and in the shadow of the cave. Of course the scenery was beautiful for photographing as well.
I'm hoping to get more comfortable with Photoshop Elements this summer so that I can edit these pictures even more than what iPhoto allows...especially that last one.

We spent Saturday afternoon at Lake Logan. Poor Eric picked up some poison ivy/sumac/oak/something (even the urgent care doctors couldn't quite identify it) so he spent most of our lake time at urgent care. He had come home from Montauk last weekend with some poison ivy. But then he dug out some plants in the way back of our yard late last week and walked around the woods by our cabin this weekend with flip flops...so he got it from a little bit of everywhere...I have some on my foot, but not bad enough to warrant the steroids Eric is now on. Oh well-- last time Eric was on steroids for poison ivy four years ago, he couldn't sleep and deep-cleaned our whole house one night. So I may get a clean house out of all this. The price was that I have zero pictures from the lake since my hands were tied up with Cate.

Saturday night the kids made homemade ice cream. We mixed it using different size bags so that the kids could each shake up their own batch. Cate helped Daddy shake it for awhile, but then went off to play until the ice cream was ready.
Wanna make your own ice cream this summer (we'll be doing this again for sure)? Here's what you need to do--
1. In a quart size bag combine 1/2 cup milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
2. Put that bag inside another quart size bag to prevent leakage (optional).
3. Fill a freezer bag halfway with ice and with 1/3 cup rock salt/ice cream salt.
4. Put the quart size bag(s) inside the freezer bag, seal, and shake for 10 minutes or until ice cream is firm enough to eat.

Our friend in charge of getting the ice cream stuff together suggested using chocolate milk at home for chocolate ice cream or throwing in candy or cookie bits for extra treats.

We are so blessed to have met this group of friends and to have spent the last 18 months or so getting to know them. We can't wait to welcome Baby B as the newest kid to the group knowing that he/she is already so loved by all of these families. I hope that traveling together (with our without our kids) is something we continue to do for years to come).

~Melody :-)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bike Rodeo

We are lucky enough that one of our friends from small group is a police officer. So yesterday, he invited us to a "bike rodeo." His police department puts these on every year to teach kids about bicycle safety, inspect their bikes, and check their helmets. The sky was cloudy, so it ended up just being kiddos from our small group at the rodeo. Cate was all excited to wear her bicycle gear. She actually listened pretty well to the safety presentation and recognized the stop sign when another officer pointed to it.
For kids that don't have helmets, the police department is kind enough to provide them. We've been a little lazy about getting a toddler helmet for Cate, but it looks like our trip to the bike rodeo saved us a trip to the bike store.The kids also had fun riding their bikes around an obstacle course that the officers had created. And of course, they posed for a picture by the cruiser.
Thanks Michael (and Tina) for inviting us to a fun event!

~Melody :-)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

We certainly have not been lacking in the "things to do" department this summer. First there was the wedding. Then the family reunion. Our next adventure coming up is a "camping" (we're staying in a really nice lodge/house with plumbing and electricity) trip in Hocking Hills with our church small group. After that we have another wedding. Then I'm leaving Daddy and Cate for five days to visit a friend and family in Tucson just before we head to Hilton Head for a week. We pretty much don't stop until August.

But in the meantime, we've been soaking up time at the pool (sorry, no pictures yet) and time at the zoo. On yesterday's trip, Cate got to feed an alpaca. She loved it. My sister's friend's family raises alpacas, so I think Aunt C is going to need to take Cate to the alpaca farm next time we're in Hudson. Cate also got to pet Saffron, a bearded dragon.
She really showed how unlike her bug-fearing mommy she is when she decided to touch the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.
And we couldn't let a trip to the zoo go by without a ride on the train. Our zoo pass expires at the end of this month and I think we're going to wait until August or September to renew it. Why? Well, barring any major financial crisis, I'm planning to take the rest of next school year off after Baby B arrives and then return the following August. Which means no paycheck for me for about six months or so. Our thinking is that if we take some time off from the zoo this summer before renewing our pass, then we'll have our pass to enjoy all throughout next summer when the budget will be a little tighter. It's why we've waited to renew our museum pass as well. We've already trimmed our budget in several areas to help save for the lost pay next year. But in the end, if I need to go back to work after B's birth, then I'm okay with it. Most days I really love my job, so it's not a big deal. But more on that later, when a final decision has been made.

I'll leave you instead with a post-swimming picture of Cate and I along with my friend, Jane, and her daughter, Collette. Jane, her husband, and daughter were in visiting from Arizona and we went up to her parents' neighborhood to enjoy a swim in the pool-- twice, actually-- while they were here.
We took a similar picture when Jane was visiting back in the fall. It's amazing how much our girls have grown in just 8 short months.

~Melody :-)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Eric is a wonderful husband and a fantastic father! He's been out of town since Thursday in Long Island with a Team in Training cycle team doing an event and won't be home until late tonight. Man, I miss that extra set of hands when he's away. Especially since Cate gets out of bed every night for really no apparent reason and Eric is so good about getting up and putting her back in bed while letting me sleep.

So since I got Eric his Kindle for Valentine's Day and spent way more money for that holiday than we ever do, he told me that that gift also had to count for Father's Day and our anniversary. Fair enough. I'm impatient and didn't want to wait until his birthday in August to get him one. But I can't let Father's Day go by without recognizing it some way, even if Cate won't even see her Daddy for Father's Day. So I took a few bottle caps we had lying around (don't ask me why I had saved some of these...they were in a round vase with some wine corks on top of our wine cabinet).
I glued them onto an unfinished wood frame that cost me a whopping dollar at Michael's......inserted one of my favorite pictures from our trip to California last summer (I kind of thought the bottle cap frame was not appropriate for a family picture even if it is a Father's Day gift-- Cate had fun playing with them and counting them though), and voila...
...Happy Father's Day!
Part of this weekend while Eric was out of town, I headed to pretty much the middle of nowhere Kentucky (near Greenville, in Muhlenberg County) for a family reunion. While no one on my dad's mom's side lives there anymore, it was a good gathering place since that's where both of my great-grandparents are buried.

Apparently back in the days after the Civil War, my grandma's family owned most of Muhlenberg County. As time went on though, the land was sold, traded, etc. However, the family remained and my grandmother, the oldest of eight, was born there. After the county had been strip-mined, there wasn't much left, so when my grandmother was born, her family moved to Kent, Ohio. After marrying my grandfather and starting their family, they moved to Cincinnati and the rest, as they say, is history. I was so thankful that my parents were able to ride down to the reunion with Cate and I (my dad actually drove the whole way) and that they were able to help with Miss Cate. It left me a lot less stressed. And Cate sure did enjoy the time with Nanny and Poppy.
So Happy Father's Day to my dad, Eric's dad and stepdad, and most especially to Eric. You are an amazing Daddy and handle everything fatherhood throws at you with amazing ease and grace. Cate and I both love you a ton!

~Melody :-)

Friday, June 18, 2010

She is So My Daughter

She may look like her daddy, but her personality comes from her momma for sure. She heads down that "waterslide" with abandon. We've been in this little pool almost every day this week. It's hot! And with her splashing tendencies I didn't trust bringing the video camera outside. This cell phone video will have to do.

And then today, when I asked her to pick up her train table before heading out to run some errands, I came back into the living room to find her wooden trees like this:
That little bit of OCD and having things "just right" is definitely a trait from mommy.

We're enjoying summer-- lots of it at the pool or in the backyard. This year she's a little afraid of the "big pool" (ie. the neighborhood pool), but is totally content in the backyard. I'm hoping by going often, this "big pool" fear and the clinging to mommy that it causes no matter how many flotation devices she has on will be gone by the time we head to Hilton Head in July. But I have to admit, the backyard pool is nice because she entertains herself for awhile and I can sit nearby and read.

~Melody :-)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Music to Our Ears

We heard Baby B's heartbeat today! It was music to our ears. Cate got to come with us to the doctor and kept telling me all day about hearing the heartbeat. As we were making our next appointment, she lifted up her dress and pointed to her belly and asked to hear her heartbeat. So cute! She will make a fabulous big sister!And since we've had the question, "Why Baby B?", I'll go ahead and answer it. Both our boy and girl names start with B. Many people know them, but I think we'll wait until he/she is here before we announce the name to the blog-world.

~Melody :-)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Best Friend's Wedding

On Saturday, one of my dearest friends whom I've known since middle school, got married. Eric and I dropped Cate off at my parents' house before heading to Pittsburgh for the festivities.
We rehearsed on Friday and enjoyed the company of the other members of the wedding party.
Then all the women went to get their hair done Saturday morning.
Eventually we all ended up looking like this:
And before I knew it, Jenn's dad was walking her down the aisle (this is pretty much when I lost it...thank goodness for waterproof mascara).
Then her husband, Sean, was walking her back.
The reception involved lots of food, including a cookie table (apparently it's a Pittsburgh thing)...
...and lots of dancing.
We had an absolutely wonderful time and I was so honored to serve as matron of honor (even though that title makes me feel old and I'm only 26 days older than the bride).

Congratulations Jenn and Sean! We wish you decades of happiness!

~Melody :-)

PS...Thank you to my hubby for putting up with me when my bridesmaid's dress didn't fit (and then did again through the miracle sewing of my grandmother), and for driving since I was tired (I thought that was supposed to go away in 2nd trimester), and for playing photographer all weekend.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

She Gets in From Her Dad

Not only has Cate inherited her Daddy's blue eyes, curly hair, small nose, and infectious laugh...but she seems to have inherited his musical talent as well (yes, my hubby was a vocal performance/music education major in college and yes, he loves his work at a cancer fighting non-profit which has nothing to do with either of his degrees). I have some musical ability as well. I played clarinet for nearly a decade (including pep band in college my freshman year), sang in the choir at the church I grew up in, and performed as a chorus member in two high school musicals.

We hope you enjoy listening to her as much as we do! I have a feeling there might be many choir concerts and musicals in our future.

~Melody :-)

P.S. School is officially out for summer! I can't wait to spend every day (except for the five that I'm in Arizona visiting family and a friend sans Cate) with this sweet, singing, girl.

Monday, June 7, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Summer Vacation

Last Friday, we filled up Cate's baby pool (which incidentally started as a pool for our dog) and put it at the bottom of her slide. The slide is actually at just the perfect height to line up evenly with the pool. After stripping Cate down to her diaper-- because really, no two year old needs a bathing suit in the privacy of her own backyard-- she was ready to head in.

Cate was a little unsure about the waterslide at first, but she climbed to the top anyway.
And away...
She loved it so much, we spent considerable time out there again on Saturday. It was the perfect reminder that summer is almost here and I will probably spend many a day in our backyard with my sweet girl. I have two days left with students and then a 3-hour teacher work day. Then. I. Am. Done. For this school year anyway. I will say that the past couple of weeks have been really fun. My students have been doing a new project this year making movie trailers for books they read. Today we had our premiere party with a rented popcorn machine and everything. I can't take any of the credit though. The other language arts teacher on my team totally came up with the idea and made all of the handouts. I wish I could show you some here, but it would violate my students' privacy. Seriously though-- many of them were outstanding!

And speaking of books-- summer reading has officially started at our library. I'm kicking off my summer reading with this book. Which will be followed by this book (one of my book club's summer reading picks). And my favorite go-to-chick-lit author, Jane Green, has a book due out this summer too. Cate and I have already made a couple of trips to the library and she already earned this stylish pair of sunglasses for reading 5 books.
To be fair (because we easily read a dozen books a day around here), I only count books we check out from the library and I only record enough for her to move up a prize level every 7-10 days (otherwise she'd have moved up through every prize level already-- there are only 4 and you only need to read 5 books for each). And that outfit she's got on in the above picture? It was mine. I love that she can wear all of my old handmade by my grandmother goodness. My mom cross-stitched the ducks on that outfit. There are some on the bottom of the diaper cover too.
Yes, it is definitely beginning to look a lot like summer around here!

~Melody :-)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Love a Parade!

Memorial Day weekend is kind of a crap-shoot in Northeast Ohio. Some years it's rainy and cold and other years it's sweltering hot-- like this year. Still, I hadn't been to Hudson's Memorial Day parade since probably the summer after my freshmen year of college. In high school, I used to march in the parade with our 200+ member band (I know these kids were miserable in their uniforms).Despite the heat, Cate enjoyed the parade. She got a flag to wave around.
Then she took a seat with Aunt C where she pretty much stayed for the entire parade (or "pu-raid" as Cate pronounces it).
And when it was over (the band is actually first, but I like this parting shot), we headed back to my parents' house for a quick lunch before the car ride back home.
I think this wraps up my posts about our busy weekend in Hudson. Can't believe it only took me a week to get them all in. Happy belated Memorial Day and God Bless our service men and women.

~Melody :-)

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Bachelorette

No this is not a post about that mind-numbing show on ABC that I every once in awhile get sucked into (and no, I really am not watching the new season...no time and I can't stay awake). But this is a post about a very dear friend who is getting married a week from tomorrow.
Jenn and I have known each other since middle school and have been through just about everything a friendship can go through in 16 (wow, that makes me feel really old) years. Last weekend's trip to Hudson was not just for Thomas (see my last post) or for a parade (coming soon), but also for Jenn's bachelorette party. Six of us-- mostly bridesmaids in the wedding-- headed out to a nice dinner in Cleveland at Porto Vecchio. I forgot to take pictures, but I did enjoy great conversation and a wonderful prosciutto and fontina stuffed chicken breast. Then it was off to The Chocolate Bar for dessert.

Talk about your chocolate desserts (and the fact that they play the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on some of the flat screen TVs)...man, they were to die for. The other 5 started off with shooters in edible chocolate shot glasses. No shooter for this momma though...obviously.I opted for the molten chocolate cake-- delicious chocolate cake with a hot fudge center served with a mini-eclair, strawberry, chocolate straw, and whipped cream. Jenn's chocolate sorbet was creatively served in half of a cocoa pod. I'm pretty sure I speak for everyone when I say we were stuffed and tired by the end of the night, but are so looking forward to spending more time together in a week for the wedding. ~Melody :-)