Around the yard

Having my parents come this weekend and see the house and yard for the first time in the summer (and James’ parents last weekend), made me realize that I hadn’t really posted a lot of pictures of the pool or yard this summer.  Thus after the storm went through and the sun peaked out this afternoon, I headed out to get pictures all around the yard and even a few in the living room.

The first stop on our tour will be the pool. The pool has been holding pretty steady at @ 85 degrees and has been amazing to come home to!  The landscaping around the pool is really pretty and includes a ton of tiger lilies and fifteen rose bushes!

I love nothing better after work than to cool off and do laps in the pool.  James has also been enjoying the pool, but spends a lot of his time reading and snoozing on his hammock!

From the pool, it’s a quick walk over to the garden. I’ve posted a number of garden pictures before, but I just wanted to show how big everything continues to get and how much the pumpkins are growing!! I can’t imagine how big they’ll be by fall!

The yard and creek is next on our tour.  Notice how high and murky the water is from all the rain we’ve gotten lately!

Yet, all the rain has helped the flowers around the yard! I know I’ve taken a number of flower pictures, but I’m I love the colors and different types of flowers around the yard, some wild and some freshly planted this year!

The rain has also helped keep everything else green around the yard and really makes the house look pretty!  It’s also a big difference compared to last winter!

Last on our tour (and having nothing to do with outside) are some shots of our living room.  I haven’t taken any since we got the couch and while we’ve still got a few more pieces to buy for the couch area, I’m happy to say the living room finally looks like a lived in room!

Well that’s it for the tour of the yard and a little bit of the inside of our house! Everything is a work in progress, but we love it and are looking forward to adding things here and there this summer and in the summers to come!

Unexpected guests

Our plans for this weekend were pretty simple, we wanted to enjoy the pool, get some work done in the yard, and get some work work done inside (i.e., job work).  Well, as the song goes, two out of three ain’t bad!

I woke up Saturday morning around 6AM and couldn’t get to sleep, so I got up and was puttering around the house when Mom texted me asking to call her when I work up.  It was going to rain all day in Kewanee, but be hot and sunny in Argenta, so Mom and Dad were wondering if they could come down and visit for the weekend. I of course said yes and plans were made for them to finish up a couple of things and then head our way by late morning.

Excitedly I checked to see if James was awake yet (and woke him up to make sure he was) and let him know that my parents were coming.  We both decided to try and get as much done around the yard as possible before they got there, so James headed out to mow and I took care of some inside chores before heading outside.  By the time I got outside, James was taking a break from mowing and I helped him to clean the pool and the outside bar area.  We ate a quick lunch standing up before James headed back out to mow some more (he wanted to make sure we had clear paths to walk around the property) and I headed to the front yard to put down mulch (a project we’d been working on since earlier in the week).

As James was finishing up and I was just about two-thirds of the way done with the mulch, Mom and Dad (and their dog Nellie) arrived.  They hadn’t seen the yard in full summer bloom, so I finished up the mulch (with a little help from James and Mom) and we walked around the west side of the property a little bit.  By this time we were all pretty hot and sweaty, so we suited up and headed down to the pool to cool off a little.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing around the pool and generally just relaxing and talking.

Kona and James having some fun in the pool!

Around 4:30PM we decided we’d gotten enough sun and were ready to start dinner.  Mom had stopped at the grocery store before getting to the house and had picked up steak, sweet corn, and fresh green beans, so James fired up the grill and mom and I got the veggies ready.  The meal was great and we decided to finish out the evening by going to Clinton to see the movie Knight and Day.

We checked the reviews and they weren’t that great, but we decided to go anyway and were happily not disappointed. The movie was action packed and a little corny yes, yet definitely enjoyable and worth watching.  To finish the evening of overindulging, after a big dinner and popcorn at the movies, we went ahead and got Dairy Queen on the way home!

Sunday morning I woke up early again, this time a little after 5AM, and after puttering around for a bit, texted Mom to see if they were up for a walk this morning.  Mom texted back that they’d be ready in half an hour (Ah the joys of technology, we were in the SAME house texting each other!). We decided to walk the east side of the property since Dad had never seen it before, but unfortunately we had to cut our walk short because the horse flies were swarming our heads like crazy! After making it back to the house, Dad decided to call it a morning, but Mom and I decided to walk our driveway to the road and back (@ 1 mile roundtrip).  Luckily the flies didn’t bother us and we were able to get a nice walk in before it got to warm out.

When we got home, James was up and I was famished, so between Mom and I we made a big breakfast of pancakes, ham, and eggs for everyone.  By this time, it was starting to get overcast and Dad was worried about it raining and having Nellie in the back of the truck, so they packed everything up and said their goodbyes.

It was an unexpected, but very nice surprise to have my parents visit for the weekend and we’re looking forward to having them back sometime soon!

Outside in the Summer

When I got home from work tonight I thought I’d check out the garden and the rest of the yard before going for my nightly swim.

We planted the garden around May 8th-9th, the week before we left for Canada, and it was amazing when we got back to see how much they’d grown.  We started with watermelon, cantaloupe, two types of pumpkins, sweet corn, and sunflowers.  When we got back, the bunnies had devastated the cantaloupe and sunflowers, leaving only a few cantaloupe plants and none of the sunflowers.  Luckily everything else survived and as the pictures illustrate they’ve been flourishing!

After checking out the garden and moving some of the irrigation hoses so James could mow, I wandered around the yard to check out what was blooming!  It was so much fun to see how far everything has come and all the colors of the flowers!

Even though it was almost 6pm, it was still pretty hot and humid, so it was great to be able to jump in the pool and do some laps.  I have to admit I absolutely love our pool! The convenience of being able to come home and jump in is absolutely priceless. Then to have the pool area so open and spacious because we don’t need a fence around it just takes it to a whole other level of enjoyment!  I love letting my eyes wander around the yard and my mind relax while I float weightlessly in the water, definitely my little slice of nirvana!

Morning after the Wedding

The morning after the wedding was rather hectic.  My mom put on a brunch for all the family (from both sides) who were still around and James and I helped get things pulled together and ready.  Also during this time, I was trying to quickly go through the wedding pictures, pick out the perfect ones, and get them sent into Wal-Mart for pick up.

The brunch ended up going really well.  The food was excellent (as normal) and everyone seemed to have a good time.  We went through 4 lbs of bacon, 6 lbs of sausage links, a crock-pot full of breakfast burritos, 4 pans of breakfast casserole, shrimp, fresh fruit, donuts, my mom’s iced sugar cookies, mini-cheesecakes, and leftover wedding cake!

Towards the end, as people were starting to head out, James went to get the pictures from Wal-Mart for me.  Once he got back, I hid myself in our room and *tried* to sort the pictures and get them into the photo album.  After pulling a bunch of pictures out because I realized they were out of order, my mom came in and helped me.  I put them in order and she put them in the book.  The only problem with this is that I had to keep telling her to quit looking at the pictures (because we didn’t have time right then) and to just get them in the album!! We finally got the album filled and were ready to put it with the rest of the presents!

After most people left to head home, Ty and Austin sat down to open their numerous presents and cards.  They got a lot of really great things and everyone was very generous!  It was also great to surprise them with the wedding album already filled with pictures from the day before.

Once opening gifts was done, I looked at some stuff with my mom while James, Austin, and Ty all decided to take naps.  After taking care of a few things, James and I finally made it out of Kewanee by late afternoon and after stopping by Culvers in Peoria for dinner, headed straight home!  It was definitely a long weekend, but a memorable and good one!

Congratulations Ty and Austin!!

Ty and Austin’s Wedding

Not to be outdone by his big sister, who had it rain the entire day before her outdoor wedding, Ty’s wedding day started with a torrential downpour (you know, the type of storm where the rain is coming in sideways) and then rain showers on and off for most of the day.

Added to this fun was that due to the size of the wedding party, the first hair appointment of the day was at 7:30AM! Luckily, mine wasn’t until 8AM, but it still made for an early morning and a long day.  It also caused most of the bridesmaids (and mothers) to carry around Wal-Mart bags throughout the day to put over our heads every time we went out in an attempt to keep our hair dry and away from the wind!

The wedding was scheduled to start at 4pm, but most of us were at the church by 2pm if not a little earlier to get ready and have pictures taken.  Austin didn’t want to see Ty before the wedding, so the photographer did the individual families, groomsmen, and bridesmaid’s pictures beforehand.  Also during this time (and throughout the rest of the day), James was running around taking some amazing pictures to document the day!

The wedding was beautiful and went off without a hitch. Well… almost without a hitch!  Austin’s dad (who is use to Catholic weddings) didn’t realize how long he’d be up at the front of the church with Austin and Ty and started to worry that Grandpa had forgotten to dismiss him! It turned out ok, Grandpa (doing a Methodist wedding ceremony) hadn’t forgotten about him at all, but there was a minute or two of panic on Austin’s parent’s part!  Also, during the exchange of rings, Austin was so caught up in the moment that Grandpa had to prompt her a couple of times to say her part of the ceremony!  And, at the very end of the wedding, after the bride and groom and the whole wedding party had already walked down the aisle, Grandpa went to get Grandma and walk her down the aisle without turning off his microphone first!  As he reached down for her, thinking only she could hear him, he said “Are you ready to get out of here?”.  Instead, everyone in the church heard him and had a good laugh!

After the wedding, the bridal party went back into the church and the photographer took pictures of the bride and groom, the whole bridal party, and the families.  Upon finishing with pictures at the church, all eighteen people from the bridal party boarded a trolley and headed to the reception!

The reception was held a little outside of Kewanee at The Dunes (formerly Midland Country Club).  The place was packed with family and friends who warmly welcomed the bride and groom as they made their grand entrance!  After doing a little bit of socializing, we ate a tasty and filling dinner, toasted the new couple, and watched as they cut (and smeared) the cake!

The bride and groom also enjoyed quite a bit of dancing, definitely showing that they both have some serious moves!!

James even took a break from taking (a ton of) pictures and did a little dancing with me… including a couple of fast songs and a number of slow songs.  He even had me request “our” wedding song for us to dance to!

The reception was a lot of fun and the dance floor was kept busy with dancers of all ages (and styles!).

At the end of the evening, the bride and groom came back to my parent’s house to get changed into more comfortable clothes and also get a quick snack before heading to their hotel for the night!  James and I on the other hand spent the next couple of hours transferring pictures from the numerous camera cards James filled up during the day and looking through them for really good ones to include in the wedding album for Ty and Austin.

All in all a long, but wonderful day!

Wedding Rehearsal

The day before Ty and Austin’s wedding started pretty well.  My mom had scheduled a 10AM massage for James and I decided at the last minute to get a pedicure while James was getting his massage.  The pedicure was amazing! They had a massage chair that you could program yourself and I was so relaxed, I went ahead and got a manicure as well!  Just as the lady was finishing with me, James showed up.  He had finished with his massage and walked the 2.5 blocks to where I was getting my nails done.   He was so relaxed and looked completely out of it!!

After my nails were finished, we then went to my Mom’s chiropractor, who I occasionally see when I’m in Kewanee and need an adjustment.  My neck had been driving me nuts and it was a huge relief to have her adjust me back into shape!

By this time it was just about noon and the wedding rehearsal didn’t start until 5:30PM, so James and I decided to take a quick trip to the Quad Cities.  James had been eyeing a new camera lens that would allow him to take more professional looking portrait shots and he needed some new shoes, so after some quick checking online we found Camera Corner and Tradehome shoes located within a few blocks of each other in Davenport, Iowa and headed that way.

The Camera Corner ended up being a great shop with a pretty good selection in stock.  Added to this was that the salesperson James was working with was very knowledgeable about cameras and didn’t do any hard selling (which James really dislikes!).  James ended up with the lens he had been looking at, a new lens shade, some lens cleaning paper, and a new (and much bigger) camera bag.  While he was checking out, I noticed a cute wedding photo album on the back wall that I thought would be perfect for Austin and Ty! I already knew that I wanted to print some of the pictures James was planning on taking at the Wedding, but I hadn’t figured out what I wanted to put them in, so the album was perfect and I went ahead and added it to James’ purchases.

Our next stop was Tradehome shoes, located in Northpark Mall.  We grabbed a quick bite to eat at Chik-fil-A in the food court before looking for James’ shoes.  Basically James wanted the same athletic shoes he had, just new ones that weren’t worn out.  After trying on the same ones he had (yes, they still make them) and comparing them with the better model, he ended up going with the better shoes.  Along with the new shoes, he also ended up with waterproofing spray and a cleaner that should get rid of the awful stench from his sandals.  Amazingly enough (note sarcasm here), I found a pair of really cute sandals on sale that I couldn’t live without to add to what James was getting.

Once we got back from Davenport, I hurried to get ready while James organized his camera stuff into his new camera bag.  Once ready, James drove me, Austin, and Dad to the church (First United Methodist Church in Kewanee) for the rehearsal.

The Wedding rehearsal went pretty well and Grandpa Jones did a good job explaining what everyone needed to do.  Luckily we also got to practice walking down the aisle and back up a couple of times, just so everyone felt comfortable.

After the church part of the rehearsal, we headed to the Grill-and-Chill for the rehearsal dinner.  Since a lot of Austin’s extended family was going to be in town already for the wedding, my parents invited all of them as well as our extended family who was in town to dinner.  This ended up being a great idea and made for not only a family reunion for Austin’s side, but also a chance for the Davis’ to meet the Farrell’s before the wedding.

Everyone had a great time and the rehearsal definitely set the mood for the wedding the next day!

Just one of the zillion reasons why…

Many people don’t realize what a funny sense of humor James has.

The other night I was busy vacuuming and James came up to me and pointed to his watch.  I thought he was pointing at the TIME on his watch because it was rather late to be vacuuming (around 11PM), so I turned off the vacuum to ask if the noise was bothering him, but he kept pointing to his watch until I finally understood that he was trying to get me to notice the watch itself and not the time.

He then pulled me into the center of the kitchen and proceeded to put his watch on the floor and gesture towards it.  At this point I was completely mystified and couldn’t figure out if his watch broke and he was upset (even though he didn’t look upset) and wanted to stomp on it or what.

Yet, he then grabbed me up in his arms and with me laughing and trying to keep up, he proceeded to dance me around his watch.  After a minute or so of us dancing around his watch and laughing, he finally let me in on the joke.  He was rocking (dancing) me around the clock (watch)!

I guess he had the song “Rock around the Clock” stuck in his head and figured this was the best way to either get it out of his head or at least have some fun with it!  Or… it, could be that he’s watched too much “Glee” and “So You Think You Can Dance” with me!!

Regardless, it’s unplanned times like this that illustrate just how funny and spontaneous James is, and just one of the zillion reasons why I love him so much!

Canada Trip Summary

Magnets

Quick (Magnetic) summary of the "main" places we went on our trip!

Our Canada trip started Saturday, May 15th and ended 14 days later on Friday, May 28th.  We drove 5,352.6 miles, took 5566 pictures (137 GB) in more than 56 locations, and visited 23 states, 2 Canadian provinces, 7 state/provincial capitals, and 2 nation’s capitals.  Also, as we were reviewing everything we did on our trip, Kona realized we visited the site with the most casualties of war in the United States (Gettysburg) and Canda (Fort Erie).  Interestingly enough, the US was directly involved in BOTH battles!

Canada

Kona and James in Canada during their May 2010 trip

The route to Canada was a roundabout one that started with us heading south from Illinois, stopping in Tennessee to see some of James’ family before driving almost straight through to surprise Kona’s brother in Florida on his birthday.  We then headed east up the coast, at least crossing through each state on the east coast, if not stopping and doing something. We crossed over into Canada from Vermont and then worked our way south along the great lakes to Niagara Falls, where we crossed back into the United States at Buffalo, New York. We then followed the southern side of the great lakes back to the west and up into Michigan before finally heading back home to Illinois.

Route for our Canada Trip

Below is a day-by-day summary of our activities, which is also linked to the full blog posting.

Day 1: Left Illinois @3AM heading to Florida, stopped and visited with James’ sister and her family outside of Nashville, TN.

Day 2: Surprised Kona’s brother for his birthday in Vero Beach, FL (Letter B).

Day 3: Left Florida and started up the East Coast, stopping in North Carolina.

Day 4: Crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel heading into Maryland and Delaware (Letter C).  Made a brief stop in D.C. to see the White House.

Day 5: Started with Harpers Ferry, then Cunningham Falls, and last Gettysburg where we did the full auto tour (just without the really helpful map or audio directions; Letter D).

Day 6: Hershey Factory and Trolley tour, Roadside America miniature extravaganza (Letter E),  and the highest point in New Jersey.

Day 7: Dinosaur State Park, Wethersfield (CT that is; Letter F), Devils Hopyard, Capital building in Hartford, Newport (RI), and the Cliff Walk.

Day 8: Walden Pond, Choate Bridge (oldest arch bridge in North America), James got a much needed haircut, the Clam Box, *reputed* tallest Paul Bunyon statue in the world, and Jasper’s Restaurant in Maine for some fresh (and amazing) Lobster!

Day 9: Acadia, Acadia, and more Acadia National Park in Maine (Letter G)! We did the full auto tour, this time WITH the map, extra booklet, and audio CD!

Day 10: White Mountains of New Hampshire, Franconia Notch State Park, Flume Gorge, Old Man of the Mountain, capital building in Montpelier, and an amazing steak dinner at J. Morgan’s Steakhouse.

Day 11: Rock of Ages (largest granite quarry in the world) quarry and factory tour, Ben & Jerry’s factory tour, finally crossed into Canada (see it WAS a Canada Trip… sort of…), and the Montreal Biosphere and park on Île Sainte-Hélène (Letter H).

Day 12: Ottawa (Canada; Letter I)), Canadian Parliament Hill, and made it to Niagara Falls (Letter J)where we got a room with view of all three falls!

Day 13: Niagara, Niagara, Niagara!! Went on a tour of the Niagara area that included: Maid of the Mist, Journey Behind the Falls, Souvenir City, Niagara Whirlpool, the Floral Clock, Butterfly Conservatory, and Skylon Tower. Then since that wasn’t enough, on our own visited the Welland Canal Lock 3 and drove the length of the Niagara River from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.

Day 14: Made it across the border back into the US. Followed the great lakes around to the west, dipping up into Michigan, before arriving home @ 11:30PM (Letters K, L, M, & N respectively).

And on the 15th, 16th, and 17th day we rested and all was good… Well, except for the bunnies, mowing, and pool covered in algae, but that’s another story!