Spin Cycle and Ask Away Friday with Tamara

This week the girls have been watching Fetch on Netflix, which is a reality/game show for kids made by PBS. The host, Ruff Ruffman, (he’s a dog) always gives out Bonus Points! This week, I’m giving you a bonus! Tamara and I are exchanging questions and answers for Ask Away Friday, and I asked my readers some travel questions for The Spin Cycle! If you are not familiar with The Spin Cycle, I host a writing prompt every week. The Spin Cycle was started by Jen at Sprite’s Keeper, and was taken over by Gretchen at Second Blooming, and now I’m hosting for a short time until Gretchen finishes her book! I give a writing prompt on Mondays, you put your “spin” on the prompt, and link up any day of the week. Please visit our Spinners and give them some comment love!

Spin Cycle at Second Blooming

For Ask Away Friday, two bloggers swap 10 questions with each other and post the answers on Friday. Tamara is one of the hosts, and she is on vacation in sunny Florida this week. We decided to swap travel questions! Stop by Tamara (like) Camera to read her answers to my 10 questions! If you have never read her blog before, you are in for a treat. She is an amazing writer and I’m happy to call her a friend.

1. How many of the 50 states have you visited? (I think driving through counts but not flying over). If you haven’t been to all 50, which is the state you most want to visit that you’ve never visited? Why?

When I was in college, I was fortunate to sing in our university’s Concert Choir, which toured the East Coast two years in a row. I live in the Midwest, and I’ve taken several vacations out West, so I’ve covered a lot of ground! If I’m counting correctly, I’ve been to 30 states. I didn’t include Washington because even though I spent four hours at the airport on my way to Alaska, I never stepped foot on Washington soil.

States I've Visited
States I’ve visited

I’ve also been in 4 states at one time! A couple of years ago, we stopped at the Four Corners where Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado meet. My left foot is in Utah, my left arm is in Colorado, my right foot is in New Mexico, and my right arm is in Arizona!

Four Corners
Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona

Which states would I like to go to next? In college, I wrote a paper about old growth forests in Oregon, and I’ve always wanted to see them. However, I honestly want to go to Hawaii!

2. How many other countries have you visited? What three countries would you most like to visit?

I’ve been to Canada and Mexico, and also Jamaica and the Cayman Islands as part of a cruise. I would love to go to France, and Germany, and I really want to go visit my cousin in the United Kingdom! She has lived there for a long time, and I have yet to go see her.

3. What’s your dream trip to take with the whole family?

This is a tough question because we’ve already taken so many amazing vacations with our kids. We’ve already traveled to Alaska, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. Ed and I have always wanted to drive with the kids from Chicago to Yellowstone, just like we did before we had kids. It’s the great American Road Trip. Along the way we’d stop at the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and Devil’s Tower. Of course we’d also stop at Wall Drug! And Yellowstone itself is amazing! It’s so large, and there are several areas to explore that are completely different from one another.

Ed and I in Yellowstone National Park

4. What about just with your husband?

When we were dating, Ed told me he’d never go to an opera. One Christmas, he surprised me with tickets to the Lyric Opera! This Christmas,  he gave me tickets to the Chicago Symphony. Now the next step in our cultural adventures; visiting the Louvre! Ed and I have talked about going to Paris for a romantic trip with just the two of us, including a chance to gaze at fine art.

5. What’s a really memorable vacation you’ve had, and what made it so?

When we were on a day-cruise in Alaska, we saw some humpback whales bubble-netting. They work together as a team to make a net of bubbles around krill, and then scoop the krill up in their cavernous mouths. Of course, we only saw their huge, open jaws emerging from the water, and our tour guide told us what they were doing under the water. It was an amazing sight to see!

Humpback Whales bubblenetting

Another memorable vacation was just this past summer. We stopped at Death Valley National Park. Night swimming in the large, outdoor pool which was fed by an underwater spring was very surreal. The water was warm, but the air temperature was much warmer. It was 9:00 at night, and we kept looking at the thermometer, which read 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Death Valley does not cool down much at night because of the mountains surrounding it, making it a bowl of heat! Right now in January, however, it is 62 degrees! We would love to go back in the winter when it isn’t so unbearably hot.

Death Valley Natl Park
Furnace Creek in Death Valley


6. When you were a child, did your family take trips? Would you always go to the same place or different places?

When I was little, my family went to the Ozarks and we also visited a grotto in Iowa. When I was a little older, we started having a week-long vacation with my dad’s family at a lake every summer. It started at Lake Huron, then we moved around to a couple of smaller lakes in Michigan, and finally we ended up on Lake Michigan. This family vacation is still going strong, and we usually take our girls there for at least a couple of days. This year we’re planning on staying for the whole week!

Swimming in Lake Michigan
Swimming in Lake Michigan

7. Describe the worst trip you ever took. Where did you go? What made it a bad trip?

We’ve been very lucky, and most of our trips have been fantastic! One summer when I was about 15, however, we stayed in a rented house on a little lake. The house was dirty, the lake was full of duck weed, and even though we had fun with our cousins it was just not a good place to vacation. That was the only time we stayed there.

8. Would you prefer to relax on the beach or tour a big city?

I’m definitely a relaxing on the beach with a book type of gal. I dream of listening to the waves on the shore while napping in the sun during these cold, dreary winter months!

9. Have you ever feared for your life while on vacation?

When Ed and I were on our honeymoon, we took a taxi in Jamaica. As our driver was going up a mountain road and honking his horn as he was going around curves instead of slowing down, I definitely feared for my life!

10. If you could go on a road trip with any person (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you go?

I would want to go on a road trip with my mom. Once, we drove from Chicago to Des Moines, just the two of us, and I learned so much about her as a person and not just as my mom. I loved talking to her, and as a teenager I talked her ear off! She was such a good listener. I don’t think it would matter where we went if I could talk to her again.

Thank you, Tamara, for being my Ask Away Friday partner!


In 2015, I’d like to get the Spin Cycle grow. I love you to join us!

  • Write a Spin Cycle post any day this week and link it up here!
  • Copy the code for the Spin Cycle button on my sidebar and paste it in your Spin or include a link back here in your post so that your readers will be able to find more Spins.
  • Sign up for my newsletter to get the Spin Cycle Prompt in your inbox.
  • Send me a tweet @lemondroppie when your post is up!

Have a wonderful weekend!




Skiing Makes Me Nervous

There are a few stories that Ed really likes to tell about me. One story is about Sunday mornings. According to him, I’m always running late and he is sitting in the car fuming, waiting for me to come outside. I think it’s a miracle that I get out the door at all, after dressing both the girls and myself. Plus, I have hair to blow dry and make-up to put on. He doesn’t.

Another one of his favorites is the time he took me skiing. He took me up to a hill that was a little steeper than he expected, and he wanted me to keep turning. I could turn right, but got stuck turning left. Then my fear of heights got the best of me and I started to cry. As I looked longingly at the top of the hill, Ed said, “You can’t walk back up to the top! The only way you can go is down.” While logically I knew this, having him say it didn’t make me feel any better! I eventually did ski to the bottom of that hill.

Before we got married, Ed would go on a yearly ski trip with his skiing buddies. After Lily was born, Ed went skiing on an overnight trip once, but soon after the ski trips stopped because everyone else was getting married and having kids as well. When Lily turned seven, he thought it was time to take her skiing for the first time. Emmy was still pretty young, so I stayed home with her and we had a special Mommy/Daughter day.

Skiing in the Midwest is always tricky. The weather has to be cold enough at night for the ski resorts to make snow. It’s not like we can drive up into the mountains where there really is natural snow, and many of the “mountains” are really just hills rising up out of farmland. We don’t have the money or the time to go skiing often, so our ski trip has become a once-a-year event. In 2013, Emmy and Lily both went for lessons. I went along to support Ed with both girls, but I didn’t do any skiing. I helped with the ski gear, watched the girls take lessons, and went into the lodge (which wasn’t very nice) to warm up. Last year, I had volunteered to help at a church event on the day Ed planned the ski trip, so he enlisted my brother to help out.

This year, Ed decided that this weekend would be the perfect time to go skiing. The weather would be above freezing, and yet we had had a lot of cold weather to build up the snow base. Plus, he has to start teaching a class on Saturday mornings in February, so now was the time to go.

I was debating taking a lesson this time around, because while it was fun watching my kids ski, it’s only fun for so long. Ed casually threw a printout in my direction one evening. Taking a private lesson wasn’t that expensive.

I thought about my choices. I could be the mom who didn’t ski, and I could bring my book and sit in the lodge and read. That wouldn’t be so bad, especially if we ever go to a nice ski resort. Curling up in front of a roaring fireplace with a good book sounds perfect!

Emmy, however, was resisting the thought of skiing. She was nervous and didn’t want to try it again. Slowly we convinced her it would be fun, but I could tell she was anxious. Maybe if her scaredy-cat Mom took a lesson, she’d feel less anxious. Plus, everyone I saw skiing down that mountain DID look like they were having fun!

Emmy in pink, during her ski lesson
Emmy in pink, during her ski lesson

So I did it. I signed up for the private lesson. I was hoping for an “experienced” instructor. To be honest, I didn’t want a young skier that would make me nervous! And the person arranging lessons matched me up with an older gentleman named Dave. I told Dave, that I hadn’t skied in ten years and that I wasn’t very good. We started off slow with the tow rope hill, but then I moved to the ski lift and the easy hill pretty quickly. I fell a couple of times and Dave asked, “Why did you fall?” He wasn’t being mean; he wanted me to figure out what NOT to do on skis! I got up pretty quickly as well which isn’t an easy thing to do with skis on. But I think those workouts at the gym paid off as I pushed myself up off the ground. My instructor made me feel more confident in what I was doing. He told me to “dive toward safety” which meant to lean forward. I thought I did pretty well for an old lady of 45-almost-46 years old. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Ski Lift
I’m on the chair lift! Ed and Emmy are in front of me.

I’m still not thrilled with heights, or with going fast, but I actually heard the swish of snow under my skis. I turned right and left. I made my way down the mountain slowly and cautiously. I had fun, but to be honest, it wasn’t the skiing that made me happy. It was being up at the top of the “mountain” with my kids and watching them ski down, and then skiing down after them. It was taking the ski lift with my girls instead of being left at the lodge. It was showing my kids that it’s good to try something new, even though I was scared.

Have you ever done something you didn’t want to do, but you did it anyway for your kids?





Traveling {Spin Cycle Prompt}

This weekend, we took advantage of the above-freezing temperatures and took a little road trip up to Wisconsin. It’s really more accurate to say that we took a little trip up the road! We jumped on Hwy 12 and took it all the way up to Wilmot Mountain. Those of you who live by mountains would call this mountain nothing more than a hill. But to those of us in the flat Midwestern states, we’ll call a hill a mountain, make some snow, and go skiing!

Skiing is not an easy thing to do, however, if you have a fear of heights like I do. Two years ago, I went to Wilmot Mountain with Ed and the girls, but I did not put on skis. I just watched everyone else ski! This year…well, I’ll tell you if I skied or not tomorrow.

Midwest skiing

Speaking of road trips, on Friday, I’m combining my Spin Cycle post with Ask Away Friday. I’ll be answering some travel questions from Tamara at Tamara (like) Camera, and she’s going to answer some of my travel questions!

For the Spin Cycle this week, I’m asking you (almost) the same questions I asked Tamara. Pick two or three of your favorite questions to answer, or answer them all!

  1. Would you rather take a road trip or fly?
  2. Where is your favorite place to travel?
  3. Do you have any sanity-saving tips for traveling with kids?
  4. If you could take a vacation without the kids, where would you go?
  5. What is your favorite activity to do while traveling? Do you like to read, sleep, listen to music, or play games?
  6. Is there a place you would travel to just for the food?
  7. One of my goals is to someday come home to a clean house, but it hasn’t happened yet! When you leave your house for vacation, is it messy or clean?
  8. What is one thing you would never travel without?
  9. My husband cannot sit still for very long on vacation; he has to be constantly on the move. How about you? Would you rather have a relaxing vacation or have activities planned from morning ‘til night?
  10. If you could photograph (or see) any place in the world, where would you go?

Link up the answers to some or all of these questions any day this week! On Friday, I’ll answer the questions Tamara asked me.

Spin Cycle at Second Blooming

In 2015, I’d like to get the Spin Cycle grow. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Write a Spin Cycle post any day this week and link it up here!
  • Copy the code for the Spin Cycle button on my sidebar and paste it in your Spin or include a link back here in your post so that your readers will be able to find more Spins.
  • Sign up for my newsletter to get the Spin Cycle Prompt in your inbox.
  • Send me a tweet @lemondroppie when your post is up!


Put a Ring On It {Spin Cycle}

The girls and I were just getting home from the movies on one of those cold, cold days we had last week. It was so cold that school was cancelled, and yet we still went out with our warm, reliable minivan to shop at Target and to see Annie. Ed was already home from work when we pulled into the garage, and he was looking around his car with a flashlight. I carelessly thought he must have lost a glove or his hat as the girls tumbled out of the van shouting their hellos to Daddy. As we walked in the house together, I casually asked, “Did you lose something?”

Ed gave me a stricken look and said, “Yes, my wedding ring.”


I tried not to panic as he told me all the places it could be. The cold weather made his fingers shrink, and his ring must have just slipped off. He remembered taking off his gloves and twirling it around with his thumb while he was driving home from work. When he got home, he stopped at the curb to get the mail from the mailbox, and then once inside, he did a load of laundry. We concluded his ring was either in the snowbank or in his laundry hamper.

Ed looked through his hamper and shook out the clothes carefully. I took his laundry out of the washing machine and checked his wet clothes and the inside of the washer. Nothing. Ed traipsed outside several times in the snow to look for his ring, but that was hopeless. Even worse, we were getting 2 more inches of snow that evening.

I hugged Ed and told him the ring didn’t matter; either it would turn up or we would get him another one and either way it would be okay. But that night as I lay in bed and listened to the snow plows go by, I kept imagining that they were pushing his wedding ring farther and farther up the street from our house.

The next day, I checked Ed’s hamper again. I looked carefully on the garage floor to see if it possibly could have ended up there. I carefully shoveled the snow by the mailbox, looking for any glint of metal.

Nothing. Ed sent me an email simply titled, “I Need a Ring.” After work, he went to the gym as usual. When he got home, he joked that all the women were busy checking him out without a ring on his finger. Mmm-hmm. He started quoting the Britney Spears song the gym plays all the time: “All eyes on us. All eyes on us.” Yup, one of the reasons I married him is because he makes me laugh.

That evening, Ed decided he should finish doing his laundry. He had been a little distracted the night before, so it didn’t get finished. When one load was in the washer, I thought I heard a clicking noise and saw a flash against the window of the washing machine door. I opened the door and found…a zipper that was making that racket.

Just as I was thinking we’d never find it, Ed came down the stairs, wearing his wedding ring! He had been pulling laundry out of the hamper for the FOURTH time, and his ring fell out onto the bathroom floor!

We went to the jewelry store last Sunday, and had that ring tightened. I’m glad to say that Ed is still a happily married man.

Have you lost something recently? Have you found it?

Link your Spins here; I can’t wait to read your writing!

Spin Cycle at Second Blooming

In 2015, I’d like to get the Spin Cycle grow. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Write a Spin Cycle post any day this week and link it up here!
  • Copy the code for the Spin Cycle button on my sidebar and paste it in your Spin or include a link back here in your post so that your readers will be able to find more Spins.
  • Sign up for my newsletter to get the Spin Cycle Prompt in your inbox.
  • Send me a tweet @lemondroppie when your post is up!


It Comes and It Goes

The other night at dinner, I really wanted to order a beer.

But I didn’t. I was still feeling achy and had just taken some medicine, so I thought a beer wasn’t a good idea. Beer makes me tired, and then I get all crabby when it’s time to put the kids to bed because all I want to do is crawl into bed myself. Ed told me he had some beer at home, so I made him promise to make me have a beer after the kids were in bed.

I had such a taste for beer! Even so, by the time we got home and put the kids to bed, I went to bed myself. Ed said, “But what about your beer?” But it was too late…literally. This mom had had it.

at the Ronneburg
At the Ronneburg in Amana, Iowa

Really I’m not much of a beer drinker. Lately I’ve been more of a red wine drinker, but I don’t drink often. Tonight was the perfect night to have that beer. The girls are in bed sleeping soundly and I wanted to do a little writing. I had a taste for beer. And oh, did it taste good!

That taste for beer, it comes and it goes. If I have a taste for beer and don’t have one…then it might be a while before I crave beer again.

Ginny cooking at Christmas
Peeling potatoes for Christmas dinner

Usually I like to cook, but lately I’ve been off at dinner time. I can’t think of what to make and whatever I make tastes horrible (to me, anyway). I think this is partly because I lost my appetite when I was sick. Why cook for someone else when nothing tastes good to me? Ugh, it was a bad cooking week.

Today I tried a new recipe that I was actually excited to try. Easy chicken paella–any time a recipe has the word “easy” in it, I am willing to make it. It was easy, and it was delicious! Even Emmy ate it! It felt good to enjoy cooking and eating again. I actually have a plan for tomorrow’s dinner, too–thank goodness! Let’s hope that dinner ideas stay for a while.

What comes and goes for you?




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