Happy 16th Anniversary!

Waiting for Tom to get home and enjoying the weather on the front porch. 

Of course we had to start with a traditional anniversary selfie. :)

Our dinner of choice this year was…sushi! This was called the Willis Tower and had layers of crab salad, sushi rice, avocado, spicy tuna, and a few sauces. You ate it with a spoon!

We couldn’t decide between three rolls so let the waiter choose for us. Why yes, that IS gold leaf on there (right).

We wanted dessert and were trying to decide where to go. Our waiter, knowing it was our anniversary, said he’d give us a mochi on the house. We’d never had it, but were game to try it—all we knew is that it would be strawberry flavor. This is what came out: it was strawberry ice cream on the inside. It was tasty but not quite what we had in mind. (I Googled later and learned that mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice. The rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape.)

So we headed toward home and somehow ended up at The Chocolate Sanctuary where we both indulged in our own desserts! (We rarely get dessert and when we do it’s shared between all for of us.)

Tom had Pecan Bourbon Crème Brulé (Jim Beam infused crème brulée with toasted pecans, topped with toasted meringue and Sanctuary caramel) and I had S’mores Dark Chocolate (Dark chocolate flourless cake with toasted meringue, cocoa graham cracker sable, cocoa graham crumble, Sanctuary spiced caramel, and cocoa-candied bacon).

We may also have let it known it was our anniversary (the couple across from us was celebrating their 38th!) so we may have also indulged in free champagne and raspberry chocolates. 💕

And then this was waiting for us when we got home. (Well, they actually weren’t quite finished when we walked in so we were forcefully instructed to go wait upstairs!)

The kids helped Grannie make rice krispie treats (decorated with our cake topper!) and they drew and colored a sign. They were so excited to surprise us.

It’s kind of hard to see, but they drew and colored lots of wedding-related things (my ring and flowers, the train, the cake, the horse and carriage) as well as some of our favorite things (Petoskey stone, a saw, dolphins). We loved it! And then of course we had to have a bite of still-warm rice krispie bars!!

It was a good day. :)

The dress in 1991 and 2016.

Okay, folks, who wore it better? Yes, here’s a DOOZY of a Then & Now. I first wore this dress to my high school Senior Awards Night and then to my graduation party (as seen in the photo, 1991). I loved the dress and kept it at my mom’s house all these years, wanting to get back into it someday. And that day was today to celebrate our 15th anniversary! And I traded the single-strand pearls for the pearls I wore with my wedding dress!


Sidenote 1: Owen took the picture from tonight.

Sidenote 2: When Owen saw me working on the collage, he said “WAIT. YOU HAD THAT DRESS 25 YEARS AGO?” 8O

Leaving the island…

The weather was great in the morning, and we could tell it was going to be a perfectly gorgeous day. Of course. GRRR. :p

And better pics from Sunset Rock.

But, since it was so nice, we decided to walk back to town instead of paying $15 for the shuttle.

Stopping to pick wild raspberries.

Stopping to rescue snails from the trail! They were all over!

Waiting for the boat off the island. :(

Our 15th anniversary night on Mackinac Island

We decided to celebrate our 15th anniversary just a bit early (since we had available babysitters!) and spend the night on Mackinac Island. (It’s actually a bit longer story. I had wanted to go to the Headlands International Night Sky Park in Mackinac City so Tom was in charge of picking the hotel. He thought he was making a reservation for Mackinac City, but when we had to change nights, he realized he had made a reservation on the island—he had a few tabs open on his computer and called a different one than he was looking at! So our plans changed to go to the island instead!)

Unfortunately, we knew bad weather was on the way, so we chose not to do anything time-intensive like biking around the island…so when this happened…


…we stopped our shopping for a quick lunch at Seabiscuit Cafe. We had yummy whitefish chowder and a mediocre whitefish reuben.

The weather app we were checking seemed to predict that it would only last an hour or so, but the rain just kept coming. We decided to take the shuttle back to the hotel and wait out the rain in our room.

Our room was GORGEOUS with an AMAZING view…or a potentially amazing view if it hadn’t been raining and foggy.

The Cudahy room at the Inn at Stonecliffe --- click for a larger version.
The Cudahy room at the Inn at Stonecliffe, Mackinac Island — click for a larger version.

This was our view before the fog rolled in and obscured the bridge:


It was quite chilly in our room and the heat was slow to come on, so we pulled the extra blanket out of the closet, rearranged the chairs, and crossed our fingers that the front passed soon.

We rechecked the forecast in a different app and that showed rain pretty much all day. :( So Tom took a nap and I sat and tried to catch up on writing blog posts…while listening to a wedding taking place below us on the covered back porch :) and watching it rain and rain and rain.

We had almost the same view at dinner:


And then we got to watch the wedding guests wander around during the reception:


Our meal was very, very good. We knew we’d blow NS principles out of the water, but we didn’t care because it was our anniversary and everything sounded amazing. And everything WAS. We were very happy with our dinner. :)

  • Appetizer: Cheddar-Crab Fondue | Thyme-Lemon Gremolata | Toasted Brioche
  • Soup: Lobster Bisque | Lemon Tarragon Oil (which surprisingly Tom loved—he’s not a big lobster fan)
  • Entrée (me): Sea Scallop | Cheddar Polenta | Bacon-Fava Succotash | Ver Jus | Citrus Micro
  • Entrée (Tom): Battered Whitefish BLT | Smokey Caper Aïoli | Peppered Bacon | Tomato | Frisée | Toasted Brioche
  • Dessert (Tom): Chai Crème Brûlée

It had stopped raining during dinner so we went for a walk around the grounds and out to Sunset Rock.



2016-07-17 21.13.38

And the panoramic view (click for larger version):


And do you see what we saw in the water? :)


It really was a pretty place.


After our walk we headed back to the room where we listened to the reception rave on while we watched Breaking Bad on Netflix. :) Then it started raining again but thankfully didn’t storm since it was bedtime (though I wouldn’t have minded watching a storm from our room).

While overall it stunk that the weather was so crappy, we still enjoyed being together—alone!—all day! That’s always worth something. :)

Anniversary dinner…outside the box!

Tom and I were celebrating early since he will be out of town on our anniversary. Fourteen years. Holy wah.

First, my obligatory pre-dinner selfies since I’m dressed up (and wearing a dress I haven’t worn in who knows how many years!). :)


We didn’t take our traditional pre-event selfie because we were running late and then of course the traffic was horrible and it took 45 minutes (instead of 25) to get there so as it was, we were 15 minutes late for our reservation.

So, as you may remember, we have a tradition of eating Chinese on our anniversary. And I’m sure there are many über delicious Chinese places in the area, but we decided to go outside our box and have a Greek dinner at Mike Isabella’s (from Top Chef) Kapnos Taverna (recommended by a friend). Delish. Three “small plates” was too much food and we each left a few bites (we did technically eat too much but it was seriously a quarter of what we’d normally have eaten!). We splurged and shared a chocolate dessert, too. :)





Then we got back to the parking garage and saw this:

How funny is that? You know they saw this car and parked next to it on purpose!

And then we finally took our anniversary selfie! :)

Happy 12th Anniversary!

Happy 12th anniversary from halfway across the world, baby! It feels like just yesterday but also like we’ve been together our whole lives as I can’t imagine my life before you. I love you and miss you desperately!

Obligatory Flashback Wedding Photo


And this year—after a respectable 11-year run—we FINALLY ended our accidental-turned-scheduled anniversary tradition of having Chinese for dinner. Damn marine corps not offering anything remotely Chinese in Afghanistan today. Hmph.


We’re possibly starting a new tradition as Tom had steak and shrimp…so I figured instead of me just grabbing Chinese take out, I’d go and get steak and shrimp as well!


I didn’t really want to get it take-out (who wants steak and shrimp to cool off on the 20-minute ride home?) but I honestly didn’t want to go by myself (well, with the kids)…so I sent an open invitation to my moms group…and one mom offered to come out with me (well, plus one of her kids). So…YAY for friends! And new traditions!

That said…WOW. I don’t think I’ll be taking the kids out by myself anytime soon. Or if I do, it will be to a FAST FOOD place or somewhere we can get much faster service.

Those of you with small kids will understand—you do everything QUICKLY. You order quickly (you quite possibly even order the kids meals first), you pay the check quickly, and you’re hopefully out of there before the squirming and whining begins. But unfortunately that was not how tonight played out. I fully blame the waitress, who constantly disappeared for loooong periods at every stage of the meal. Tom and I can usually get in and out in under 40 minutes. Ruth and I were there (at the same place) for just under ONE AND A HALF HOURS. Good god.

Ruth was a godsend, though. At one moment when it was a bit of a circus—everyone was noisy, there was too much crap on the tables and nowhere to put anything, Katie had reached for the knife three times in under a minute and was spilling corn all over the floor, Owen was asking for the third time where his milk was (damn slow waitress!), we were trying to share the onion appetizer…all while trying to place our food order—she volunteered to take the kids (my two and her one) for a brief walk so I could have a breather. And then she noticed Katie needed a diaper change so she did that, too.


Of course, Owen didn’t follow along quickly enough and then Ruth was too far away for him to chase after so he stayed with me. Then announced he had to pee…so I had to take him back to the bathroom anyway. But then I left him with Ruth and went back to the table as they took a quick roundabout tour of the restaurant and I got to eat three bites of my salad in peace.

Overall it was a great meal—the steak and shrimp were REALLY good. It may have spoiled my usual order at that restaurant as well (I have ever only ordered one single thing every time we’ve gone there). The only thing that could have made it better? To have been able to calmly and slowly eat the yummy meal in peace and quiet—appreciating the food—instead of just shoving in a random bite here and there between managing two kids. Well, I guess that’s technically more than one thing. :)

I am so glad to have made a few new good mom friends who just UNDERSTAND and are willing to lend a hand—or supportive meal—when it’s needed.

And on that note… I mentioned that I’d probably order steak every time I went out because I wouldn’t be eating it at home because I don’t grill. And Ruth pipes up “I GRILL!” So I’ll provide the protein and the grill, she’ll provide the actual grilling, the kids can play in the pool…YAY!


Happy 11th Anniversary

Eleven years. Wow. It just kinda sneaks up on you every year (and even moreso this year since we’ve been a little busy with Katie).

We didn’t even try to get a sitter to do anything this year, though I’m sure our friends would have obliged. Instead, we made a family trip to Wilmington to go to Costco…and have our traditional Chinese meal (we did lunch instead of dinner, though).

Katie was a complete gem, sleeping the entire hour ride down, our entire hour in Costco, and about 75% of our lunch…then took a bottle and slept the entire way home. Of course, Owen was just as awesome, sitting in the cart with stuff piled all around him, not even noticing really because he was having fun with daddy’s phone. :)

We had a slight brush with fame at Costco…we saw Keith from Top Chef Texas fame (we’ve eaten at his restaurant, Catch, before). That’s as close to famous as I’m likely to get living here. And he said hi to me in passing, likely because I was staring at him. :)

Our lunch was really, really good. I picked a place off Yelp pretty much at random…just going by reviews and proximity to Costco…and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. Everything on the menu at Double Happiness was tempting, but I ended up with the Dry Wok Chicken and Tom got the Coconut Shrimp with Candied Walnut (and we got a Double Steamer dim sum basket). And surprisingly good Hot & Sour soup—as close to mine as we’ve ever had. We definitely want to go back there to try more of the menu!

All in all we had a really good day. How can we not when we have such a great little family?! :D (The only downside is that I forgot to take a picture of us to celebrate the day!)

Happy 9th anniversary to us!

I actually didn’t even think about our upcoming anniversary until I saw the notice on Facebook. Yeah, embarrassing. :o I blame it on thinking about my mom’s birthday (the 15th) instead.

Anyway, through a few back-and-forth emails, we decided where to go out for dinner. On the way there, Tom says “Are you sure you don’t want to get Chinese?” I looked at him and said “OMIGOD! Of course we have to get Chinese! I can’t believe I forgot! Why didn’t you say anything when we were emailing?!” He thought I was just dead set on using a coupon we had.

For those of you who have been following along all these years, you may remember that we ALWAYS have Chinese on our anniversary. The first few years were complete accidents, so then we made it a tradition.

And I forgot. :meh:

So Tom actually saved the day…


And that’s why I :heart: him.

So much for recreating our wedding day.

I can’t believe that 1) the Grand Traverse Dinner Train is no more and—more importantly—2) no one thought to tell me about it! I mean, it’s not like it just happened—according to news stories, it’s been out of service since late 2005 and sold/out of Traverse City since 2006!!

I’m bummed. I really wanted to do an anniversary dinner on it sometime. :(

Chinese for five years in a row!

So, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before… after our wedding, we crashed at the hotel and then took a four-hour nap. When we woke up at 9pm, we were starving and didn’t want to eat at the Trillium (we would have had to get dressed up), so we went into town and Chinese sounded good, so we ate there.

Fast forward to our one year anniversary and without thinking we said “Let’s order from our favorite chinese place” — and only afterwards did we realize/remember we ate chinese the night of our wedding as well.

Ironically, about the same thing happened the third year — we couldn’t decide where to eat, so we picked our favorite chinese place — and again said “OH MY GOD! We did it again!”

The fourth year was planned, to keep with tradition.

This year, Tom planned to take me somewhere else we would LOVE to go, but I decided we really shouldn’t spend that much (it would have been probably $100—well worth it, but just so much money) so I said “Well, we might as well make it chinese!” and went to a chinese buffet place in town we’ve wanted to go to since we’ve lived here but haven’t made it.

So, after five years in a row, I’m pretty sure we have to do it now until we die. It’s a good thing we like chinese!

Has it been four years already?

It’s our anniversary today…woohoo! Four years. It doesn’t seem that long at all…but on the other hand, it seems like we’ve been together forever (but not in a bad way)! And I vaguely recall saying/thinking the same thing last year and the year before. That’s a good sign in my book!

We didn’t do anything especially special…what with the new house and all. Without going into the whole loooong story, we couldn’t decide on where to go out to eat as usual, so guess what? We ended up getting Chinese—which, if you remember, is what we always end up eating, since that’s what we ate the night of the wedding and what we ended up eating on our 2-year as well. I’d have to dig through my journals, but I’m sure we ate Chinese on year 3, too…so why not just make it a tradition and stay with it?