Category Archives: writing

When Bloggers Meet

This weekend was the biggest blogging conference, BlogHer ’14, in San Jose, California. Unlike last year, I wasn’t able to go. Instead, I was at the southern end of the state meeting a blogger friend for the very first time! Gretchen from Second Blooming and I met in a little coffee shop kitty-corner from the Hollywood Tower. Not only did Gretchen meet me, but she met the rest of my family as well, and she brought Jude with her to meet Lily and Emmy.

Hollywood Tower

101 Coffee Shop

When I saw Gretchen and Jude walk into the coffee shop, it felt like I already knew them. As Ed told me later, “It was like you were two old college friends getting together after not seeing each other for a while.” It completely makes sense; when you read someone’s blog for as many years as Gretchen and I have read each others, you know a lot about them. And let me tell you: Gretchen’s son Jude is just as adorable in real life as he is on Gretchen’s blog! (I probably shouldn’t embarrass him like that, but it’s true!)

Ginny and Gretchen

Jude Lily and Emmy

See what I mean? Adorable!

As you have probably guessed by now, I’m on vacation. Gretchen and I have decided that in honor of our meeting each other for the first time, we are going to put The Spin Cycle on hold for two weeks. Yes, it’s kind of strange that after two bloggers meet we are now putting off blogging. But then, blogging is a strange business. It’s a place where you become friends with someone you’ve never even met. I’m just thrilled that Gretchen and I were able to meet in person.

I’ll still post a blog post here and there if I have wi-fi access or if I’m not too tired from all the hiking Ed is about to make me do. Will we have a relaxing vacation? Time will tell. And Gretchen will be writing about Camp Mama, so be sure to click over and go say hi! The Spin Cycle will resume its regular schedule in a couple of weeks. :)
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Parks and Recreation {Spin Cycle}

We never call a park by its real name. We use the equipment on the playground for identification. For example, we go to the “boat park,” the “flying saucer park,” or the “roller slide park.” The playground down the street from us is “our park” and the playground at the school is “the red park” because all of the monkey bars, slides and swings are the color red.

When I became a stay-at-home mom with Lily, I couldn’t wait to take her to the park. I needed activities to fill my days, besides the normal routines of changing diapers and endless laundry. I started reading to Lily when she was only three months old, and as soon as the weather started to warm up, I took my November baby to the park. I placed Lily into the baby swing and gently pushed her back and forth. Lily would look up at the sky, point, and say “Appy!” which of course meant “airplane.”

Traveling with kids takes on a whole different perspective. We could be at the most interesting tourist spot ever, but if the kids spot a playground, they’re begging us to go play!

playground car

Lily and Ed at a playground in Iowa

playground swing

Emmy on a moose swing in Fairbanks, AK

The weather doesn’t matter at all. We go to our park when it’s hot, when it’s cold, and even when it’s snowy. At the playground, my daughters magically get along.

playground swing

At our park on a mild November day

And so far, it hasn’t mattered how old my daughters are. At the ages of six and nine, they still want to go to the park to play! Now they prefer the monkey bars to the swings, however.

Do you ever visit a park in your neighborhood? Join Gretchen and me for the Spin Cycle this week and link up your Parks and Recreation blog post!


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Picnicking {Spin Cycle}

Our family loves a good picnic; or as Fancy Nancy would put it, we dine al fresco! Every once in while, I’ll call Ed and tell him to meet us at the roller slide park after work. I make pizza pasta salad* and buy Cheetos, and the girls and I arrive early so that they can play on the playground before Ed gets there.

Most of the time, our picnicking happens during a road trip. I pack sandwiches, fruit and veggies so that we can stop at a picnic area to eat lunch instead of eating fast food.

Sometimes, the weather doesn’t cooperate and it’s a bit cooler than we expect. We just bundle up and eat outside anyway.

roadside picnic

Sometimes, we can’t find a picnic table. So we pull over in a turnaround on the side of the highway to Fairbanks, Alaska, and eat in the back of our rental van.

picnic in a van

alaska picnic

Sometimes, we can’t find a picnic table, so we use a rock instead.

Hiking in the Rocky Mountains, CO

Hiking in the Rocky Mountains, CO

Lunch at the Grand Canyon

Lunch at the Grand Canyon

And sometimes, there’s nothing like a hot dog in your own backyard!

hot dog

*I don’t have a recipe; I just make some rotini noodles, throw in some pepperoni, grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese chunks, onions, green peppers and black olives, and toss it all with a vinaigrette. Voila, pizza pasta salad!


Copy and paste the code in the box to add some Spin Cycle bling to your post! (On some blogs, you will need to delete the quote marks and replace them with regular quote marks.) Then link up your picnic posts here!



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Growing Up Together {Spin Cycle}

I like to tell people that I grew up with my cousins, but that’s not necessarily true. The ministry had scattered the family on my dad’s side all over the country; from Alaska to Ohio. I never knew my dad’s parents, in person anyway. They died before I was born, but they live on in stories told frequently by my dad and his brothers and sisters. Despite death and distance, the sisters and brothers remained close. Our families met, when we could, twice a year, at Thanksgiving and at The Lake.

Our family took  a week-long vacation at a lake every the summer. The Lake changed from time to time; we started renting cottages at Lake Huron, then one summer rented at Duck Lake (yucky, only lasted one year), Lake Hemlock (a camp, which was cool because the cousins stayed in our own “chalets”), and now, a large house on Lake Michigan. I’m using the term “growing up together” loosely because we didn’t live around the block from each other, much less the same town. As cousins, we loosely grouped ourselves into age groups. We had an older group that all of us younger cousins loved hanging out with, but as you can imagine, the older cousins did their own things away from the younger cousins. Occasionally we would do things together, such as act out plays for our parents or walk to the gas station to buy candy. And cards. We loved to play cards. Our cousin Mark taught us the finer points of the game 500, such as going in the hole just to keep the other pair from getting the bid. (His brother plays the same way.) Mark drove us to the movies. (Spaceballs one summer.) He played the game of Risk with his brother and teased his little sister unmercifully.

Mark

Playing 500 (Mark is on the left.)

As we became adults, the age groups dissipated. Jobs and families scattered us apart, from California to the United Kingdom, but we still kept up with each other. Out of all the cousins, we probably prayed for Mark the most. He was a West Point graduate, and the Army sent him all over the world. We prayed for Mark to safely come back home, and he always did. But then Mark was attacked by an enemy that we didn’t expect. Cancer.  We all prayed even harder for Mark and his wife Kathy, and it looked like he was winning the war.

When the email came from my cousin that Mark had died, I didn’t quite believe it. I had to call my dad just to confirm the news. It was a quite a shock to us all.

The last time I saw Mark was at my mother’s funeral. He was in uniform; probably the only time I’d ever seen him in uniform. We usually saw Mark on vacation; out of uniform. My cousins and I were so lucky to grow up with Mark. He was well loved, and he will be missed. Especially when there’s a good card game going on.

Playing 500 (Mark is on the right)

Playing 500 (Mark is on the right)

 


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Kicking Off!

It’s the first full week of summer! Lily and Emmy have been out of school for almost three weeks now, and we’re slowly adjust to summer’s routine. I should write “lack of routine,” which is both freeing and horrible at the same time. We can sleep late, there’s no homework, and we can watch TV in the middle of the day. And we can also lie on the floor moaning about how bored we are and how no one will play with me, watch TV until we’re zombies and then not want to go to sleep at night because we’re not tired, and whine at the grocery store even though the cupboard are completely bare at home.

Yes, summer’s wonderful!

Our summer routine includes:

1. Swim Team for Lily. She has two hour practices every day, which wore her out at first. She’s becoming a stronger swimmer and has been working on diving off the block and flip turns. She was really looking forward to her first swim meet last week. Unfortunately, dark clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped into the 50′s, so it was cancelled. We were looking forward to her second swim meet on Wednesday…and then dark clouds rolled in and the Thor guard went off, and it was postponed. Ah, summer in the Midwest! Finally yesterday, Lily was able to swim in her first swim meet!

Lily swimming with her team during warm-ups.

Lily swimming with her team during warm-ups.

She was so nervous, but she did fine! It was a home meet, and the coaches asked for parent volunteers to time the swimmers. I’ve never done it before…but I volunteered anyway. I figured if Lily was brave enough to do something new that made her nervous, I’d go ahead and do the same thing! It turned out to be an easy job, and I was able to meet one of the other swim team moms.

2. Vacation Bible School was this week! This was the first year I was not the VBS director, and I have to admit it was a welcome change. I can’t stay away from VBS, though, and I was the Bible Story Teller. When I started helping with VBS, I was pregnant with Emmy. Now both my girls are in the oldest groups for VBS! How did that happen?

Emmy VBS

Emmy came down with “leprosy” during VBS.

3. Daily Visits to a Playground: This was one of my goals for the summer, and while weather and schedules have interfered somewhat, we’ve gone to the park a lot! We’ve also been trying to eat plenty of ice cream to make sure we have energy to go to the park.

How are you kicking off your summer? Link up your summer posts here or tell us in the comments!


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