Part 1: Michigan

We spent the majority of June on the road visiting various midwest favorites: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri.  We started by driving to Michigan for my cousins’ wedding.

We’ve found our rhythm for road trips: I drive and listen to audiobooks with the boys (finished Penderwicks in Spring and Hatchet on this portion), while Mike works (and apparently sometimes naps when his schedule allows).  He does all the directions, getting gas, and deciding on food.  It works well!

We arrived in Michigan before the rest of the family, so we enjoyed a quiet evening with my grandpa which was definitely a highlight for me.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had hours of chatting with only him like that.  Such a gift.  This was Ethan’s last night as a 9 year old, so I took some pictures of our evening.  The boys are still working towards their goal of reading aloud for ten minutes for 275 days of the year (I think that’s the goal…I should have written it down somewhere!!).

The following day we celebrated Ethan’s birthday a bit and went to the wedding.  I have a few favorite memories from that day: Eddie dancing with Ger at dinner, Abe and Ivan crushing the dance floor with their moves, and Ivan calling Aunt Dawn a princess when he saw her waiting to greet us, Salina giving kisses to Micah, all the boys teasing Uncle Brad, etc. etc. It was a fun day!

The following day we went to church and then had a picnic in the park.

After the fun, we drove to Wisconsin for the next part of our trip.  Michigan was short, but very sweet!

Valentine’s Day

So, Valentine’s Day is not my favorite holiday and we rarely do much to celebrate it.  But, in general, I am a big fan of traditions and in celebrating.  I also seem to really like themes (who knew?!) and decorations.  I didn’t do much for this one, but I changed out our normal boxes for hearts on our homeschool to-do list and we made some heart decorations for around the house.  Ethan copied down each part of the definition of love from 1 Cor. 13.  Micah made a heart paper chain.  The cool Jesus watch was from CBS (which everyone is loving btw!).  Also, I got a pretty amazing card for tutoring for CC – isn’t that so clever??  We had the pleasure of hosting Grandpa Russ and Aunt Ashley and Caleb for dinner on Valentine’s Day.  I made Grandma Cleve’s lasagna recipe – a hit with everyone, of course.  Plus – lasagna is red.  Win!

Grandpa Russ was in town only briefly on his way to Mexico for Mike’s brother’s wedding.  Mike flew out with him the day after Valentine’s Day and Ashley joined them the following day.  It sounds like everyone had a lovely time.

Meanwhile, Micah reached a milestone: he competed the whole monkey bar set at the park by our house.  I didn’t get a video of him actually completing it, but he did it a bunch of times that day.  Did I mention that the weather here that weekend was amazing?!  We had 70 degree weather on Sunday.  The next day…3 inches of snow!  We love Colorado! =)  I didn’t snap any pictures of E because he was busy playing football with neighborhood kids.

Also, we made cookies and put ice cream in them…yum!  And we watched Fantastia – the old one – and were not incredibly impressed.  It was okay, but pretty dull. =)


Wisconsin: Other highlights

Other highlights of our time in Milwaukee include:

1. Discovery World – a really fun museum and aquarium – followed by lunch downtown and wheatgrass shots with our Auntie

2. Dinner with Cass, Adam and the girls – a special treat for all of us when we are in town

3. Wedding reception – a fun evening to celebrate the newlyweds


4.  Worship together on Sunday followed by a lunch at Kopp’s (famous Milwaukee restaurant)

Sunday afternoon we went our separate ways.  Our family, along with my siblings’ families and our parents, went back to Kenosha for one more evening together at my parents’ house.  Separate post coming for that.


With Grandpa and Grandma taking such great care of our boys, Mikey and I headed to California for a wedding.  We were there with enough time to do a little hike, walk on the beach, and enjoy breakfast at the Bulletproof Coffee Cafe.  We HIGHLY recommend checking that place out if you are in the Hollywood area.  It was delicious.  Mike was definitely in his happy place. =)  So cute!

On Saturday night we went to the wedding.  We had such a wonderful time!  It was lots of fun because we were there with a bunch of other friends and some “celebs”.  Okay, by that I mean people who are pretty big deals in the NFL (past and present).  We took some super nonchalant pics of said people, none of which turned out all that well. =D

Since I was at a Hollywood wedding, naturally you are wondering who I am wearing.  I bought that little number on ThredUp. =D

Mama’s Solo Trip!

Mikey has been encouraging me to go away for a solo trip for a few years now, so when I received the invite to the wedding of one of my sweet friends from high school, I decided to go!  Samantha was married in Wisconsin, so I was able to stay with my family and have some quality time with them at the same time.  I had a lovely weekend away.

I landed on Friday evening.  Cassia picked me up and I was able to surprise her girls at their house.  I had a great time chatting with them and seeing their toys and books.  These girls are SO special to me; words cannot express what they mean to me.  Then Cass and I went out for dinner and chatted until late that night.  It was a great way to spend a Friday night!

On Saturday, Ger (my brother), Lauren and their two adorable sweet boys joined us for breakfast.  My aunt and uncle came, too!  We enjoyed a delicious breakfast and lots of good conversations.  This was my first time meeting Abe, my newest nephew!  He’s fantastic, of course.  Micah wanted to give Ivan a gift, so he made sure I brought along one of his excavators for him.  Ivan loved it!  I also went for a bike ride with my Dad, which is something I did a lot over the summers in college.  It was great to get out there with him again!

That evening, I went to the wedding in Beloit, Wisconsin.  It was about an hour and a half away and I enjoyed the silence of the car ride. =D  It was such a sweet treat to see my closest high school friends all together again!!  For your viewing pleasure, I’m including a picture of a few of us from high school.  These girls don’t age! =)  I may get more pictures later as friends post on Facebook, but this is all I’ve got so far because I didn’t take a single picture.  Oops!

Sunday was spent at church and enjoying fantastic food and company.  We spent some more time with Ger, Lauren and the boys that afternoon.  It was a relaxing and wonderful weekend.  Thanks for hosting me!!

Cass and Jess over the years

In keeping with my latest two posts, I wanted to share a brief one from pictures of Cass and I over the years.  This girl has changed my life for the better and our relationship has evolved a lot over the years.  I met her the summer before my sophomore year of high school….so we only actually lived near each other for 3 of the 15 years of our friendship.  Crazy.  We do long-distance very well, but I do hope to live near each other someday… =)

This is my graduation from high school.  There are more pictures from before this, of course, but they are even more embarrassing than this one….so since this is my journal/blog, I get to decide what to post. =D



And this is her high school graduation:


This is from our first double date with our (now) hubbies.


Cass’ wedding in May 2005:


A fun double date with the old married couple: 


Our wedding, July 2006: 


We stayed at the same hotel the night after our wedding.  So, we saw them in the lobby the next morning.  SO cool.


We were able to come back to Wisconsin for Cassia’s graduation from college: DSCN4643

Here are some more pics over the years.  We always try to get a picture each time we see each other because we don’t see each other all that often!  

DSCN3716 Jess & Cass

And we are SO thankful that our guys get along so well.  They are good sports about the crazy things Cass and I do…like buying them matching pj pants for our pajama party one Christmas.  

IMG_1519 this one too

These pictures are from my absolute favorite double date of all times.  We stayed together the ENTIRE evening, playing games and darts and just laughing all night.  The second picture is them the following morning at my parents’ house.DSCN3687 this DSCN3693    

And this was the latest time we were together.  Love this girl.

Jess, Cass (1 of 1)

Phoenix Pt 2: the wedding

Ashley and Zach’s wedding was beautiful!  The bride was stunning!  Our boys made it down the aisle…holding hands and smiling…like little champs.  Pictures can’t fully show the beauty of the day…but they come close.  Here are a few of my favorites.  I am sure I’ll be posting plenty more in the future as the professional pics are bound to be much better than ours. =)

1497766_10201243331220737_207030247_n 1506626_10201243137095884_1082409405_n IMG_4407 IMG_9074 IMG_9063 IMG_9099 IMG_9103 IMG_9109 IMG_9128 IMG_9234 IMG_4445 IMG_9230 IMG_9235 IMG_9236 IMG_4441 28181_10201243304940080_1953772233_n IMG_9150 IMG_9158 IMG_4415 IMG_4418


The picture of the cupcake surprise is just for YOU, Ace! =D  sooo good!