Owen’s first MSU game!

They’ve had tickets for months and have been getting more and more excited… Unfortunately it was coooold and required many layers but that didn’t hamper the excitement. :)


It was an exciting game, but unfortunately the outcome was an MSU loss in triple overtime… They ended their outing at Culver’s for dinner.


Happy 45th Tom!

Tom got a half day off work so we celebrated his birthday in style at our first local Diners, Drive-ins and Dives restaurant: The Shanty. I started with Pineapple Sangria…

Then we tried one of the dishes they showcased on the show: Whiskey Shrimp. It was delish.


And another dish they profiled in DD&D: Blackened Conch Filet. Super yummy.


And a free birthday dessert!


Then we went to check out the Costco in Wisconsin—just a few miles away! 

Blue Man Group in Chicago!

I’ve always wanted to see Blue Man Group and when I mentioned it to Grannie she said they’d like to go, too…so it was off to Chicago!

Photos weren’t allowed during the show so this is all I got beforehand.

The kids absolutely loved it and they immediately asked if they could see it again. :)

Edited to add some googled pics of what we saw: 


Mermaid hair!

I saved this photo many many months ago as something I thought I’d someday like to do. Well…today is that day!

So this is happening!

I opted to go for teal instead of the pink in the original photo…so I’m going to be a mermaid!!

I’m leveling up! (Yeah, that was a new term for me, too. It’s going up the color chart to a lighter color.)

The parts of my hair that aren’t being touched—a bun on the top of my head and the under layers pulled to the side.

Leveling up (yes, bleaching) completed. YIKES!!! I have never seen my hair this color. The cool colors come next.

Stage two: More colors my hair has never seen!! The next time you see me I’ll be done!

The final product: I totally ❤️ it. I’m sooo thrilled!!

And here are some of the pics my stylist took to add to her album—she was SO excited to get to do it because people don’t often choose these types of colors!!

My poor poor hair.

So, iFly was amazing…except my hair is just about ruined. Seriously.

I honestly didn’t think about my hair again until the morning after (this morning!) when I knew I’d have to really condition it in the shower and detangle it. I mean, I’ve had knots before, but you just really douse it with deep conditioner and then use a wide-tooth comb and yes it’s tedious but I’ve done this before and 20 minutes or so was all it took.



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My hair was SOOOO densely knotted in the bottom 8″ that 30 minutes in the shower with two of my best conditioners and a wide-toothed comb did almost nothing. NOTHING. I eventually turned off the water and just stood there freezing my butt off while trying to untangle. I eventually gave up, planning to try again later leaving the conditioner in for awhile before I tried to comb through it (of course I had a doc appointment this morning so I couldn’t do it right then).

Fast forward to later that morning and this was my hair saturated with spray detangler, coconut oil, and heavy duty conditioner…wrapped in a warm towel. I honestly didn’t have much hope.

I undid the towel and just stood in the bathroom trying to comb out the nightmare. I’ve had knots before…but this is a whole new level I’ve never experienced. Wind speeds from 85-180mph. It’s literally a full head of this. And you know how thick my hair is.

I would dip my hair in a sink of water, spray it with more detangler, add more coconut or olive oil…and nothing. I even got out a fine-tooth comb and tried to do tiny 1/16″ sections at a time. Nothing. Well, I made a little bit of leeway, but every time I thought I was getting somewhere, I really wasn’t. So after maybe another half hour, I gave up and just ended up going brute force on it because I just couldn’t stand it anymore and I wanted to cry—and I pulled out a crap ton of hair. And my head HURT. If I had been making any decent headway, I would have painstakingly continued, but I wasn’t. I was already scheduled for a trim with my stylist, but I can’t wait to talk to her and see how bad it is and if I need more cut off. I may not end up needing extra inches cut off but I definitely screwed it up. The iFly headquarters is definitely going to be getting helpful feedback about dealing with guests with long hair.

Where are my iFly pictures and videos?! (Part 1)

April 9—5:26pm

So we get home and I pretty much went straight to the computer to check out our photos and videos. If you recall, our iFly tickets each came with a free video and then Tom and I added on the High Flyer experience which came with a photo. So I login to get our videos and pictures…and guess what? There are exactly ZERO of either for me. Everyone else has a video (or two). Everyone else has a bunch of pics (Katie and Owen each had like 15). I HAD ZERO OF EITHER. The way their site is set you click on your location > date > flight time > name to see your associated media. Except Katie’s name wasn’t listed and my name showed all of Katie’s photos and videos! I flew right before her so had no idea how they could possibly have skipped me…twice? Including a high fly experience AND a double-length flight?!

I called them immediately and told them what was going on and they said they’d have to look into it and call me back. It didn’t sound terribly promising. They did call back within about 15 minutes to ask what color shoes I was wearing—I’m assuming so they could scrutinize the video feed and try and find my media. So I was a bit upset…but in a holding pattern hoping they would come through.

And what really gets me is that I didn’t take (or have Tom take) one single picture or video with my phone!! Why not you ask? Because I was thinking I didn’t want to keep it in my pocket while I was flying…but DUH I could have easily handed it off to Tom because we obviously weren’t flying at the same time. I was so pissed at myself about that for quite some time.

April 9—8:32pm

When we hadn’t heard anything back from them, Tom called to see what was going on. They assured him they were taking care of it.

April 9—11:24pm

I checked my email before bed and discovered they had sent the download links for two videos (so I actually got a free video!) but…they didn’t send any pics (!!) so I had to email them back about that. And after watching the videos…it’s two snippets from one flight and not a video from both flights! (Believe me, I’m very happy to have gotten the videos at all, but I am still very much hoping there’s a picture or two since they are much clearer than the video.)

We all flew at iFly!

Today was the day I got to cross something off my bucket list—skydiving!! Or at least a close enough approximation of it to satisfy me!

We had about a 15-minute prep class where we saw a video on the basics, saw a brief demonstration of proper form, and learned the hand signals that they would use (since you can’t hear anything in the chamber).

There were only a few hand signals and basically you relax in the tunnel while bending your arms and legs a little and keeping your chin up. Easy, right? Of course! (Until you step into the tunnel, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)

After the class, it was time to get suited up. We all got jumpsuits, plastic goggles, ear plugs, and a helmet. I asked how to best wear my hair and was told braided or in a low ponytail so I took the easy way with the ponytail (I actually tried a quick braid but it wasn’t working and we didn’t have THAT much time to suit up). And I have to say: What a joke. They really should have stressed wearing a braid, wearing a cap (which I would have gladly done), or at the very least putting the ponytail inside the helmet. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We were each slated for two one-minute flights, plus Tom and I had added a “high flyer” package which meant the instructor would take us up higher towards the top (instead of staying at or below chest/head level); it also came with a photo.

There was a group of about 10 of us and we filed into the chamber. Katie was the youngest and there were a few older than us—and everything in between. A set of grandparents and a granddaughter went before us. The granddaughter was a previous flier because she started out with a bit more advanced moves which was fun to watch. Soon it was my turn—and as soon as I stepped foot into the wind tunnel my mind kind of went blank. How was I supposed to bend? What were my arms supposed to do? What did the hand signals mean? It’s amazing what 120-180mph winds will do to your brain as you’re being blown around like a leaf! :) (I never once felt unsafe—the instructor is RIGHT THERE with you and your jumpsuit has handles on it for the instructor to grab—but it was FREAKY.) It probably took a good 20-30 seconds to calm down (maybe less, but time almost has no meaning in there) and start thinking more clearly, but by then you’re on the downswing of your allotted time. Needless to say it was VERY, VERY cool and I had A LOT of fun and my first minute was over too quick.

Katie was next and HOLY COW she REALLY flew around like a leaf! (They can adjust the wind speeds on the fly, so they probably calmed them down a bit for her once she got in, but she took off like a shot!) She did very well and appeared to be having a good time…but after her turn was over, she said she didn’t want to do her second flight, so I would use her time instead and get a two-minute flight for my second time!

Then it was Owen’s turn. He actually did better than I expected, considering he’s generally afraid of anything out of the ordinary.

Then it was Tom’s turn. Then it was time for the second set of flights. And let me just say that two minutes practically feels like an eternity in the wind tunnel! But, since I was now somewhat experienced and was getting the hang of it, the instructor let me do some hand movements that made me spin around. It was completely amazing how the tiniest of finger tilts could send you spinning around and around—tilt to the left, spin to the left; tilt to the right, spin to the right. It was also super cool to be zoomed to the top of the chamber with the instructor—we did that two or three times in fairly rapid succession (as seen in Tom’s video after mine below).

Then it was Owen’s turn again, and he didn’t have as good of a time on this go-round. His legs were like spaghetti and he just couldn’t seem to get them under control. Again, there was no danger and he didn’t seem concerned or scared, but the instructor pretty much had his hands on him the entire time.

Then it was time for Tom’s second flight. This is a picture from his instructor-assisted high fly as they came down to the bottom of the chamber:

So, you may be wondering why there is no good picture of me. Funny story, but I’m getting ahead of myself. :|

So after all the participants were done flying, we filed out, received our certificates, and eventually disrobed.

We also took some pictures. :)

And it was at this point that I realized my hair had a big knot in it—I had tried to take out the ponytail to wear my hair down (we had plans to meet friends for lunch afterwards) but it was nothing I could fix with my fingers so I just put it back up in a pony tail and honestly didn’t think much of it.

Of course they had a sales pitch at the end as well, offering more flight time at a pretty good discount. With the assurance that we could use it at ANY location…and since there are three in the Chicago area…we went ahead and bought it. The kids aren’t interested, but I certainly am. Tom might or might not—he enjoyed it, but it really messed with his back (though he thinks that if he stretches out more ahead of time it might be better).

So we left and I was excited to get home and check out our photos and videos—remember, our package had come with one video for each participant plus Tom and I each upgraded to the high fly which came with a photo. But first we had to go meet friends for lunch…

And you will have to keep reading to find out what happened with the photos and videos…

White House Tour

Touring the white house has been on my bucket list for awhile but I’ve been too lazy to do anything about it…so through a chance encounter, we met someone (a friend of a friend) who had two openings for New Years Day. At the time I was even MORE geeked because I thought the holiday decorations would still be up and Christmas is totally my thing…but unfortunately, the decorations were already down. :cry: The only slightly bad things were that 1) we would have liked to take the kids, but I wasn’t going to pass this up and 2) we had New Years Eve plans in New Jersey that would be cut a little short. But again we couldn’t pass this up. Uncle Rob was staying with us over the holidays so he watched the kids for us.

First stop: The Ellipse…and The National Christmas Tree.

“The walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree features 56 state and territory trees decorated with handmade ornaments that are unique to each tree.”

Workers were maintaining the trains…

Vacuuming the tracks (I thought this was funny but if you think about it it has to be done).

There were so many people milling about that it took a few minutes before we could get in front of the White House with no one else in our selfie. :) It was also hard to get the White House lined up between us because it was VERY bright and we could barely see the phone screen.

See? White House placement fail.

The hordes.

I just had to. :lol:

Potty break. We sent it to Owen and told him it was a Pidgey (Pokémon) nest.

Starting the queue to get to the tour.

First ID and ticket checkpoint.

Through that building was the dog who sniffed everyone one at a time.

We couldn’t take pictures in one building, and then we were spit out here.

Entering the White House!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t so much a tour as a regular museum experience. There were lines and hordes of people just like every other museum so you had to wait your turn to poke your head through a doorway for 10 seconds or wait for people to get out of your way to see something on the wall.

I like that you can see my reflection in this one.

Gift shop at the start of the tour! We got a White House ornament.

This was literally a 3′ doorway to poke your head in to take a sweeping look around.

And look what was in the middle of the tour… :) We each caught a few Pokémon and hoped they’d be good ones (they weren’t) but I now have a few I caught in the White House.

We opted not to wait in the huge line to take a picture directly in front of the Presidential Seal and doors so we got this instead. Had we not been trying to hurry, we could have tried to move to the side ever-so-slightly and hidden people behind Tom’s head. :)

And then it was done! They weren’t kidding when they said it only takes 45 minutes or so. I’m glad we did it, of course, but it wasn’t what I expected (though I don’t know why I was expecting an actual TOUR, like with a few people at a time—this is DC! Nothing happens without hordes of people!). The other bummer is that all the Christmas decorations were down. You were also encouraged to ask the guards about the house and the individual rooms and whatnot, but with as many people as were there and how crowded most of the areas were, you almost felt guilty if you held up the line just to chit chat with the guard.

We quick had someone snap this before more people walked out and ruined the shot.

See? The lady took a minute to reframe the shot and…people.

Fun with photoshop.

So, since we were in DC, we had to pick somewhere cool to eat—the Old Ebbitt Grill was on our way back to the parking garage!

The French Toast Breakfast Club (bacon-wrapped ham sandwich, apple compote, pecan butter, Vermont maple syrup) was DIVINE.

And then it was back to the car and off to New Jersey where we were going to be surprise guests!

National Museum of American History

One museum down, 43 to go. :lol:

Original Cookie Monster and Elmo!

It called to me.

Julia Child’s wall-o-cookware.

A model of the cruise ship we first cruised on—the Holland America Zuiderdam.

Three attempts at a family photo in front of the presidential hall.

Our little DJ.

Three hours and done!*

* I’m just not a huge museum fan (or history in general, which is why being in the DC area is pretty pointless for me). This was probably my first choice of all the museums and while I think some of the stuff is cool I just don’t care enough to read about all of it. I probably could have spent a bit more time in the First Lady and Presidential halls but most of the rest was easily done with a quick walk-through. I also very much dislike hoardes of people and being crowded and not able to see things easily so that’s a huge issue here. It wasn’t too bad when we were some of the first 500-1000 people in when they opened but after a few hours when the entrants have doubled? No thank you. The kids also weren’t very interested so they would have really been bored to tears if we took any longer.

Also, Uncle Rob was supposed to have been with us, but he wasn’t thinking and had a pocketknife with him…and since these are federal buildings everyone has to go through security and he could not bring it in with him. He tried to go back and put it in the car, but he would have had to go back through security to get to the car…so unless he wanted to toss it or hide it, he was out of luck (we entered through the parking garage so the car got a cursory check but we didn’t get personally checked and we didn’t have to exit through security so it passed—but to re-enter the building to get to the parking lot, you had to pass security). So he wandered the area seeing the sights and taking pictures.

Bucket list lunch: complete

We lived in Troy for three years and I wanted to eat at Zingerman’s Deli the whole time but we just never got there. Today, since we were literally right down the street, it happened.

Linda and I split a large reuben and it was still too much (we should have split the small).

Then we sampled this $26/lb cheese and it was VERY tasty. I was sad I couldn’t take any food home…

I wish I could come back here because there were A LOT more sandwiches I wanted to try…

Vacation bucket list item (food truck): complete

This place—Food at Northbound—came with rave reviews…and it didn’t disappoint!

Smoked pork torta (with pork, lime aioli, jalapeño slaw, cheddar, and sweet & spicy jalapeños) and BBQ fries (with beer-battered fries, BBQ-rubbed pork, white cheddar, sweet & spicy jalapeños, and bourbon BBQ sauce). TOTALLY AMAZEBALLS.

Finally, after 26 years…

…I got to see Top Gun on the big screen!!!


Why didn’t I see it in 1986? Because I was 12 (or 13) and my mom saw it first and said “It’s just a bunch of planes flying around and it made me sick.”


So I’ve watched it about 25 times on VHS…then DVD…just waiting for the day it MIGHT come back to the theater.

And that time was now…for a special limited release in IMAX 3D!

To help promote the films upcoming 3D Blu-ray release on February 19, Paramount decided to re-release the classic in a six day run that started on Friday, where the film averaged about $6,600 per screen.

And it was only an hour away in Wilmington so HELLS YEAH I was going! WOOHOO!!!

We considered it an anniversary [of when we met in February 1997] / Valentine’s Day outing so ate a sushi lunch first then walked down the street to the theater where I saw this:


And had to have some!



Then it was off to the movie. Aren’t the 3D glasses stunning?


And the movie was AWESOME! Wow. The 3D aspects didn’t blow me away…but there were some cool aspects and the actors felt very close and sometimes it felt like you were IN the cockpit with them!

Also, interestingly, with the awesome THX surround sound, I heard A LOT more of the background noises that just melted away in TV showings even with a decent home surround sound system (like a running shower and background music that were never as pronounced).

It was my first actual 3D movie (other than Honey, I Shrunk the Kids at Disney about 20 years ago or 3D/IMAX attractions at Cedar Point) and I’d have to say 3D has come a long way. And it took a good 20 or so minutes until I finally stopped noticing that I was watching the movie through glasses and just enjoyed it without distraction. Well, except I had to pee about 30 minutes in but hell if I was going to miss one second of the movie after waiting 26 years!

We ended our day’s outing with a trip to Costco…so it was a great day! And I can cross See Top Gun on the big screen off my bucket list!

Garth Brooks Rocks!

Through a bizarre set of circumstances, I ended up flying to Nashville to attend a Garth Brooks charity concert.

And wow. Just…wow.

He was AMAZING. A. MA. ZING. He did a 2-hour show which included (I think) three or four encores.

It was an awesome experience. Especially since I haven’t gone to many concerts in my time… But to hear ~16,000 people singing every word to every song just blew me away. And his energy? Holy crap. I was exhausted just standing, singing, screaming, and applauding for two hours…he had to be dead. But he just kept going and going and going. As I said in my Facebook post, he was “balls to the wall for two straight hours.”

It was just pure awesome, and I am very thankful to how everything worked out in a matter of hours…and how things all came together in the end!

  1. Seeing Garth on Oprah and thinking how I’d love to see his acoustic concert in Vegas.
  2. Me tweeting that if anyone wanted to know what to get me for Christmas, it was “Garth Brooks Vegas.”
  3. A friend of mine from Alabama, Jen, posted a reply that she had an extra ticket for one of his Nashville shows if I wanted to fly down.
  4. My dad and stepmom were planning on being here anyway on that date, so they would be able to babysit (Tom had to work).
  5. Tom agreed I could spend the money—Merry Christmas to me!
  6. A week later I tweeted that I arrived in Nashville—and my friend who lives in Nashville (Laurie, who I graduated high school with) called me to say “I didn’t know you were coming to see Garth HERE! We have to get together!”
  7. My friend with the extra ticket had another extra ticket for MY friend…so we all went together!

Everything was apparently meant to be. And I am a very, VERY happy woman!