Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tagging along with Daddy to Cincinnati

Steve had to go for training (yet again) in Cincinnati for a few days. Bean and I decided to tag-a-long for a few days while he was down there.  We left late Monday morning and headed south (in separate cars) to Jungle Jims!

We were originally going to go to Bass Pro Shop to check out their Christmas display, but decided to stop at Jungle Jims instead.  It's a huge grocery store that has all sorts of different food.  We spent a little time meandering through the store so Bean could see the singing animatronics and also to check out any weird food they offered.  We came out of the store with a gingerbread kit, some root beers, alligator jerky, and some chips and salsa.

After the big grocery store, we headed over to a mall so I could get my bi-annual wedding ring cleaning (it keeps the warranty valid).  Steve got my rings from a bigger name store in hopes of being able to have it cleaned wherever we end up living.  Of course, the past 2 places we've lived doesn't have that store! So I have to be strategic about where/when to get it checked.  While I got my ring inspected, Bean and Steve scored a pretzel from Auntie Anne's.  Yum!

We were supposed to meed up with Ashley & Scott at their house around 5.  We got done at the mall around 4 and knew it'd take 20-30 minutes to get to their house.  We were able to miss the rush hour traffic which was nice; however, we had to wait in the car in their driveway until they got home (or called us with the code to get in).  Once Ashley got home, we loaded up in our car and headed to see the Christmas lights at the Cincy Zoo.  The weather radar showed possible rain coming, but we gambled the trip anyway.  It was sort of sprinkgly when we started and had a pretty thick mist going at times, but it ended up letting up and ended up being perfect.  There wasn't as many crowds either because of the weather.

(Christmas at the zoo!  We didn't let the rain stop us from having a good time.  Unfortunately, we didn't take any photos of Ashley modeling "engagement photos" she had seen taken in the light display.)

After we were filled with the light displays, we met up with Scott at Mellow Mushroom.  We typically go to Dewey's (our favorite pizza place) when we are in Cincy, but decided to give Mellow a shot.  In the end, it was good, but it wasn't no Dewey's (shhhhh, don't tell Ash & Scott!).  Bean is a trooper (we find ourselves saying this a lot).  She slept a little bit in the car, but was really tired by the time we got to dinner.  We finished up dinner, went back to their house, and Bean went right to sleep.

(Bean typically loves her Uncle Scott.  Don't let her face of hatred be assumed it has to do with Scott holding her.  It has everything to do with her parents schlepping her around for 5 days straight.)

Tuesday morning, everyone else went to work and it was just me, Bean & Tyson.  Bean was a little unsure of Tyson in the beginning (because he's so big!), but she quickly warmed up to him and thought he was hilarious as he played with his ball.  I took Bean out shopping at a nearby Target (another store that we don't have near us) to try to find a cheap pair of black pants for my upcoming Christmas cantata.  I had no luck at the Target, but a quick pop-in their Meijer resulted in a pair for $7.  Sweet!

We got back to their house in time to eat lunch, terrorize play with Tyson, and then put Bean down for bed.  This was the first "real" nap Bean had gone down for in several days.  With our trip to Cleveland and then turning around and heading straight to Cincy, all her naps had been on the go.  She took advantage of being in her pack-n-play and slept for over 3.5 hours! It was quite nice :)! I worked on our Christmas letter, blogged, and of course, caught up on some Jamberry business.  Tuesday night was low-key.  We stayed in and Ashley made dinner.

(Bean teaching Aunt Ashley how to properly use her iPad.)

On Wednesday I packed up all of Bean & my stuff, loaded the car and headed back towards home.  We stopped by at my aunt & uncle's house in north Cincy for the afternoon first.  On the way there, I thought the road noise sounded really load, but just chalked it up to other cars around me.  Well as I pulled off the highway on the ramp, I realized the loud noise was coming from me.  I instantly knew what the noise was.  I was dragging the bumper bracket that the blasted deer broke from 3 years prior.  My dad had fixed the bracket by securing a paint stick over the bracket with wire; however, apparently the life of a jimmy-rigged paint stick bracket is only 3 years.  I didn't have anything to help hold the bracket up while I got to my aunt/uncle's house, so I had to stop a bunch and try to shove it back up into the bumper.  I eventually got there and my uncle was able to duct tape it back up.

Bean LOVED being spoiled by my aunt & uncle.  They have a grandson and let Bean in on all his little play areas (like specific cabinets, his toys, etc).  She loved it.  She was able to explore all around and of course be the center of attention.  She even thought it was pretty fun to decorate my cousin's wheel chair spokes with bright straws.  We hung out there for several hours until it was time to hit the road and make it back home.

(Bean's great aunt Joni!  They bonded and were instant friends.)

(Look at those smiles!  I love having family close to love on Bean.  Now I just have to take advantage of them more and visit more often!  They are now just a little over 1.5 hours away from our house.)

(Bean and her great uncle Dan - my mom's brother and duct tape extraordinaire. Ha)

We got home just in time to unload the car, scarf down a quick dinner, and get back in the car to head to church.  I had to be back early (which is why Steve and I drove separately) so that I could go to all my choir Christmas cantata rehearsals.  When we got back home that night after church, it hit me that i was officially going to be a "single mom" for 24 hours.  That night marked the first time that Bean and I were all alone.  Luckily, she got the memo to be good to Momma and slept through the night.

Friday, December 19, 2014


At the beginning of December, Steve took a day off work and we headed up to Cleveland for a long weekend.  We spent the first day seeing  a few sites around the city while waiting for our good friends Mitch & Alice to get off work and spend the rest of the weekend with them!

We first stopped at West Side Market.  It's a little Market where you can buy fresh food (meat, produce, etc) or they also have some little dessert booths or some "fast" food options.  We walked around a few times in search of what they had to offer.  Right away, Steve spotted a bratwurst but I was hoping to find something I could split with Bean.  Several minutes, many laps, and still no food, I finally got a bratwurst, too and just fed Bean pieces of bread.

(Trying to find food at West Side Market)

After lunch, we drove over to Viaduct Park.  It was a beautiful little park kind of hidden in the middle of the city.  It used to be the site of a working mill, but now is just a stream and tunnel. After the park, we had to make a pit-stop at a McDonald's for a potty break! That was the big downfall of the day. No restrooms at any of our stops, we will definitely plan that one better next time.  We then headed to our friends' house.

(Bean trying to figure out why on earth we are out in the cold.)

(That tunnel used to be the site of a big turbine/saw mill)

We feasted on a delicious dinner of pizza and macaroni & cheese (our friend works for Nestle and shared with us some of her perks!).  After dinner, we moved Bean's car seat into their awesome mini-van, loaded everyone up (4 adults & 3 kids) and headed to the Stan Hywet estate in Akron. The estate was decked out with Christmas lights! You could walk around the grounds through some of the lights and also got to go through the mansion that was decked out in Christmas stuff.  The weather wasn't the greatest, it was cold and rainy, but we made the best of it.  One of Steve's friends from college Blake brought his wife and met up with the group.  It was fun getting to see everyone again!

(Bean's first encounter with Santa! She was unfazed by the meeting.)

(Our group trying to stay dry. We finally decided it was inevitable to get wet and ventured through the rest of the grounds.)

(The Stan Hywet main house on the estate)

(So pretty yet so much rain! If only it was snowing!)

(I carried Bean around the whole time in the carrier. We knew strollers weren't welcomr in the bug house and thought it best to just keep her contained against me.)

(Last two cars in the parking lot!)

After literally shutting down the estate, we headed back to Mitch/Alice's place for the night.  The next morning, we woke up and scrambled to get everything pulled together.  We needed to be out the door by a certain time so that Alice and I could meet up with her co-workers so that we could run the A Christmas Story 5k!  We may not have left the house at the desired time, but it all worked out.  We met up with her co-workers, got to the starting line, and talked strategy before it was race time.  Some of the group wanted to walk while a few (3 of us!) wanted to legitly run.

The race started and we made plans to meet up at the finish line.  I ran with Alice's 2 co-workers Esther & Erin.  Esther was a little crazy and darting in and out of all the other runners.  About 1/4 of the way in, Erin and I decided we couldn't keep up with Esther and we'd just be each other's running buddies.  I was definitely running faster than I was used to, but I was still able to keep up.  We couldn't find the mile markers and were just having to guess how much longer we had.  We were behind the 10 min pile pace guy.  At around the 18 min mark, we knew we had to at least be over halfway.

The route itself was nothing special.  It did start in downtown Cleveland, and we got to run over a historic bridge; however, after that it was just running through neighborhoods basically.  The point of the race was to run to the house that A Christmas Story was used in the film.  The area is really run down and proceeds from the race are helping to build the area back up.  The run got boring other than seeing people in costumes and the occasional kid sprinting by us.  Erin saw a marker for mile 3, so we knew we were close.  We rounded a corner and low & behold, there stood Steve, Mitch and the kids.  They finally spotted me and started cheering.  They were on the final street and we could see the finish line in sight.

(I'm in all black with crazy pink/yellow shoes- right behind the person in blue/green. Erin is just to my right. Homestretch!!)

Erin said, "Let's sprint!" I said sure and started to, but my body had different ideas.  I immediately started heaving.  Yes, heaving! I had to cup my hand to my mouth (I lessened my pace but kept running, after all that finish line was so close!) and I began to plot where on earth to throw up at.  Erin took off and looked back, but I waved her on.  I saw a trash can just past the finish line.  I heaved a few more times but kept the contents down (lovely, right?).  I made it to the trash can but my body had settled down by then and I was okay (I guess I shouldn't have eaten 2 banana muffins right before running, my mistake).  My official time was 29:56 -- what?!  That put my average pace around 9min40sec per mile.  The fastest I have ever been able to run is just over a 10min mile!  I'll take it!  Erin beat me by a few seconds.  She came in 487th place, and I came in 498th place out of 2388 people! Wooo! We waited at the finish line for the rest of the girls to finish up.

(Waiting on the last girls! Alice is super excited in the link all the way to the left.)

(The group after we were all done! There was an error in the medal shipment and Alice got the 2nd to last medal! Whew!! Anyone after her time was shipped a medal later.)

(Bean celebrating Mommy's PR)

I was done at that point, so the guys, the kids, and I headed to the van (my tummy was still a little queasy and I was read to sit!).  Alice hung with her coworkers just a bit longer and then met back up with us at the van.  From there, we headed to an amazing hot dog place for lunch.  At Happy Dawg, you got to build your own hotdog!  Steve's toppings included pork & beans, spaghettios, and mac'n'cheese (just to name a few).  I went with chili, mac'n'cheese, a pickle spear, and sauteed onions.  I shared with Bean and she ate all my mac'n'cheese.  After lunch, we headed to a famous candy store that claims to be the largest.  I'd believe that it holds the largest variety of candy.  If you can think of it, it was probably there.

(The best hot dog in the world. Well, 2nd to mine - I had chili instead of spaghettios on it.)

(Just what we wanted to do, eat hot dogs after running! And look how adorable Libby is. She insisted on sitting in the booth next to Steve and right beside Bean.)

(Bean scored a free candy cane from the candy store. It was her first and she loved it. She's in the Ergo carrier again. I had hopes of her transferring from asleep in the car to asleep in the carrier. Ya, right.)

From the candy store, we had to make a quick stop at a Walmart to buy one of the kids some shoes (and since Bean isn't walking, you can do the math on who needed them).  We then headed to Brandywine Falls to walk around and see a big waterfall.  It was pretty cold, but once we got down by the rocks, we were shielded by the wind.  We loaded back up in the van and drove to another area in the park to see a beaver marsh.  It was too cold for beavers, but we ventured out anyways.  I was getting pretty cold and Bean was due for a nap, so we called it a day and headed back to the car.

(Bundle Bag Buddies)

(Alice braved wearing Libby in my carrier. How awesome is that thing? And check out that waterfall!)

(Learning about Beavers at Beaver marsh. You had to continuously turn a crank to hear the info.)

From the park, we headed to dinner at Melt Bar and Grilled.  They are known for their crazy grilled cheese sandwiches.  Steve got a mac'n'cheese grilled sandwich, while I got a spicy pulled chicken grilled sandwich. As we left the restaurant, Steve's friend Blake just happened to be driving by.  We were actually headed over to his house so Steve randomly decided to jump in the car.  Bean and I crawled back into the van and we headed to Blake's.  Alice and I decided we had had enough taken the kids in and out of the car and since it was close to bedtime, we would call it a night and head back to their house.  Blake, Mitch, and Steve stayed and had a "jam session".  They played all sorts of crazy songs using Blake's band set up. The didn't come back to the house until almost midnight! I crashed once they got home.

The next morning, we got up and decided to go out for breakfast.  We were going to go to a local brunch place, but it was too busy. So we ended up at a Bob Evan's where we were entertained by a balloon animal guy.  The kids were loving it! Mitch and Alice had tickets to a big football game and had a sitter coming at 11 to watch to the kids (that sitter just happened to be my running pal Erin!).  We didn't leave Bob Evans until after 11, haha, ooops!

(Bean got a monkey in a tree from the hilarious balloon guy.)

We got back to their house, packed all of our stuff up, and then hit the road to return home.  On the way back, we took a different route and made a stop in Huron, OH.  That's where Steve's grandparents & dad grew up.  We made a stop at their gravesite, drove by the old house, and made an extra special stop at Toft's Dairy for some ice cream.  Mmmmmm, it was as good as we remembered it! We got home just in time for me to make it to choir cantata practice, unpack, repack, and hit the road for Cincinnati the next morning!

(Getting to "visit" Grammy & Grandpa)

(We did an awkward drive by and snap a quick picture of their old house. The new owner was in the yard. I really wanted to chat and tell him who we were, but Steve wouldn't have my shenanigans. Maybe next time.)

(Tofts! Need I say more?)

(Sharing ice cream with us. I got pumpkin & Steve got cookie dough. Pretty neat to think about Bean being 4th generation Ackerman to enjoy the ice cream!)

(When we got home, we discovered Bean had mastered climbing onto our footstool. Now it is "outside the gate". And don't worry, she only had the balloon under our supervision!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


It's the middle of December and I just realized I am so far behind on my blog that I never posted about thanksgiving.  Sheesh.  I'll try to catch the blog up before our inevitable Christmas hiatus.

This year, we changed things up and headed to my family for Thanksgiving.  Typically, we spend the actual Thanksgiving break with Steve's family and then just go to Indiana the weekend before or after; however, this year it all happened a little different.  We headed into Indiana on Tuesday night and enjoyed 4 whole days with my family.  We spent the actual Thanksgiving day at my aunt's house.  It was so good to get to catch up with my cousin Hannah!

(Happy Thanksgiving from our little Turkey.  She scored this sweet little outfit for $4 the day before Thanksgiving! We got it big enough that just maybe she can wear it again next year.  Wishful thinking right??)

We had our own family Thanksgiving on Saturday.  This year, we had it at my parents' house.  We had spent part of the previous day cleaning up the basement so that the little girls could play down there.  The guys set up their computer game land in the office, leaving the rest of us to watch the babies play in the living room.  After we ate our feast at lunch, my sisters and I randomly decided to go see the Hunger Games movie.  So we rushed to make it to the movie while Ahm and all the little kids played together. 

(My parents have acquired a dog and she gets very jealous whenever Bean is around.  Luckily, Bean and Coco get along great, other than that whole jealousy thing from the dog.)

(And quite simply because I took zero photos at Thanksgiving, I'm going to spam you with my Turkey Jams! While at my aunt's house, I may have gone a little Jamberry crazy and showed them off to my aunt and cousins. I also did little "Jamicures" on all my nieces over the weekend as well)

(Who would've thought that last year when I made Bean's Turkey onesie - last photo on this post - that I was starting a tradition?  On a whim, I quickly made her a Turkey onesie for this Thanksgiving the day we left for Indiana.  I hope to try to keep this tradition up in some form!)

We headed back to Ohio on Sunday once we were awake and got everything packed up.  We had really good friends who were moving from OH back home to FL and we wanted to make sure we got back to see them and help them load up the moving truck (even though we secretly wanted to sabotage and keep them here).  We will sure miss Candace and Jonathan!  They both constantly loved on Bean and were great friends to us.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Running Update

Am I still running?!  The answer is yes & no.  Ha!  I ran a solid 3x a week for over 2.5 months.  Then I got sick and took a 2 week hiatus.  Then I picked it back up as winter set in! I feel guilty taking Bean on runs now.  I've decided I won't take her out if the weather is under 40 degrees (nice mom, right?).  So with that new rule, I only get in 1 maybe 2 runs a week.  I now run on Saturday or Sunday when Steve is around to watch Bean.

I have plans of using my friend Sara's treadmill, but she JUST had a baby, so I won't invade yet.  (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!).  During Thanksgiving, I took advantage of my parents' treadmill.  While running on it, I remember how much I HATE running on a treadmill.  It's so much easier (and goes by quicker) when running on the road.  I think part of it is that you HAVE to run back home vs. on the treadmill you can just say "I quit now!".  My speeds and endurance is way better on the road too! I only got a couple treadmill runs in this past week, and they were awful.  So awful I won't even mention the fact that both runs combine were less distance than my typical 1 run on the road.  Yikes.

I finally caved about a month ago and splurged on some new running shoes.  I went to a store and officially got fitted and everything!  They watched how I walked/ran and picked the best shoes to support my gait.  I was too cheap to purchase in the store and originally was going to put the shoes on my Christmas list.  However, they had  a good deal running on Amazon (and I wanted to break my shoes in and have them for my first race THIS WEEKEND!).

This weekend, I'll be running the A Christmas Story Race in Cleveland with my good college friend Alice!  I wasn't going to run it, but she talked me into it (it also helped that Sara knows the coordinator and got me a discount code).  This will be my first official race (okay, so that team challenge was techinically my first, but that was more for fun and not serious at all).  I don't know how serious I'll be for this race.  It's more about the experience and having fun!

(So it's really hard to capture a good picture of Bean nowadays.  She won't sit still!  When these shoes arrived, she was more excited than I was.  She wouldn't let go of them and were dragging them all over the living room.)

(These babies have logged around 14 miles so far!)

(My new favorite shoe! Asics GT-2000.  I got them a size bigger than I normally wear, per shoe place's suggestion.  At first, they felt really big and I wasnt as happy with them as I was in the store.  But after re-lacing and wearing them a few more times, I'm really happy with them!)

(So funny story - another reason why I caved and bought the new shoes - because I lost a toenail from running in my old shoes.  The old shoes were actually hiking shoes- which was basically a structured tennis shoe.  They were a bit snug.  Mix the tight fight with a gel manicure and long toenails and it's a recipe for losing toenails.  I thought I had a picture of the missing nail, but I don't. So you got lucky.  Instead, I'll plug my new endeavor.  I recently became a Jamberry independent consultant.  Jamberry are nail wraps that are applied with heat and pressure.  They are perfect for hiding disfigured (or missing) toenails! Ha)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Indiana Trip

Just when I start to get caught up, I fall more behind!  After just a quick glance at our calendar, I recognize the blog is going to be pretty  neglected over the next month. We've got a lot packed in a short amount of time, and I'll try to keep on top of updating, but no promises!

Over a month ago, Bean and I squeezed in a quick (but eventful) trip to Indiana.  Bean's birthday party was on a Saturday, and the next day when we should have been recovering, I randomly decided to pack us up and plan a quick trip to IN! Steve was supposed to have had a trip to China and I had made some plans to visit friends.  When his trip fell through, so did mine :(.  That week after her birthday party, Steve discovered he was going to have a busy work week filled with long hours.  So Bean and I took advantage and skipped town.

We left Monday morning and drove 3 hours just south of Indianapolis to visit with my good friend Bree, her daughter & new son! Bree and I went to the same school (and church) while growing up, but really became good friends in college.  One of our roommates (Julie) was also able to come to Bree's!  While we were there, we caught up on life, snuggled the baby, fed ducks, and laughed a lot.  It was just like old times, only with babies and animals, ha.

(Catching up while the kids play!)

(Ahhhhh, how on earth are these two little people playing together?! Bree is one of my go-to people for baby advice.  It's hard to believe that 8 years ago Bree and I were sharing Mad Mushroom pizza, diet coke, E.L. Fudges/Milanos while watching House in my dorm room.  We've gone from that coolness to being stay-at-home moms.  Can we get any cooler?!)

(Julie conquering her fear of animals - starting with the dog first.  "I do what with the toy?!")

(More chit-chatting while the "babies" shared bottles together - I'm still in denial that I have a toddler and no longer a baby.  Seeing Bree's little one really put that into perspective for me, ha!)

(Bean feeding dried mealworms to a duck!  This was the highlight of her trip - "Duuu!") 

(Conquering animal fear step 2 - feeding the duck)

Around 3, we left to head north towards Carmel, only we had a "hitchhiker" - Julie came along with us!  I dropped her off near her house on the way to visit my former teacher, mentor, friend, and one of Bean's adopted grandmas - Mrs. B! We beat rush hour to get to her house a little bit before 5.  I wasn't planning on staying long.  My plan A was to leave before dinner and just grab something on the way to my parents.  However, Plan B worked out better - Mrs. B had made extra food for dinner and invited us to stay.  We got a longer visit and yummy food! We headed out around 7:30 and got to my parents by 8:30.

("GranBerry" snuggling with Princess Bean!)

(I'm not sure who is teaching who how to use the Ipad.  I do believe both learned new things together!)

Bean was an absolute trooper in the car all day!  It was nice to have the trips broken up, and it just so happened for her to be in the car during "nap times".  She slept a little in the morning (until I started yapping on the phone and woke her up) and was definitely zonked during the trip through Indy in the afternoon.  I thought for sure that she would zonk in the car on the way to my parents; however, it was the opposite.  Bean talked and quickly turned into complaining the rest of the drive.  When we got to my parents, my mom got Bean all ready for bed.  Just as she was about to settle down, Bean got very fussy and then puked all over my mom and the chair.  It was the most puke she has done since she was a baby! After she puked, she was fine and went right to sleep.  I'm guessing she maybe got car sick (as I get really car sick)?  Who knows when it comes to babies.

On Tuesday, my mom, sister, Bean, and I headed to Lafayette to hang out with my sister-in-law, niece and nephew for the afternoon.  It was good to see their new house and let the kids play together! That evening, I got to introduce my good friend April to the Duggar clan.  I didn't purposefully time my trip to correspond to the big wedding debut, so that was an added bonus!

(Bean & Cousin Oliver playing with a baby doll! Ha!)

(Charlotte probably singing and dancing for our entertainment.)

(Cousin snuggles while watching Daniel Tiger!)

I had to be back to Lima for choir practice on Wednesday, meaning Wednesady morning we had to pack up and head back east.  (I told you it was a quick & full trip!).  We got home in time for me to make dinner and get us all ready for church - whew!  What a trip!

(Need to calm Bean down or entertain her? Ahm can just whip out her Ipad with Frozen in no time! The child is addicted to that movie now!)