Praises, The Family, The Relatives, Traveling

Wedding Plans!

We are in the midst of planning Anthony and Kameko’s wedding and two major milestones have been checked off the list – the DATE and LOCATION!

The date is March 3, 2019!

The location is a beautiful 7-bedroom house in Hauula, O’ahu, Hawaii just 1/2 mile from the beach that Carl and I have secured for all of Anthony’s immediate family to share for the week.


It has a big, open backyard where we will hold the wedding and party afterwards.

The red building is where the property manager lives with his family.

If it’s rainy, the inside is large and open and can accommodate the party inside.


We are very excited as plans and guests are starting to fall into place. We know that my mom; Carl’s parents; my brother John and wife, Laurie; Carl’s brother, Jim and wife, Linda; my aunt Gale; and Zack will be attending and staying in the house with us. We are really, truly hoping that Kelly and Avram will be able to get off of her internship/his school teaching job for the week to come also but they won’t know until both of those start in the fall. We are hoping that our nieces, Kate and Abby will join us but they will have to see what their work schedules allow. We believe Anthony’s birth-parents are coming and we are excited about that and it will be fun to share in such a joyous occasion with them.

We are hoping that a few more family members (I’m talking to YOU, Aunt Sandra and Leslie!) can come. I wish that somebody could win the lottery and treat all those family members that can’t afford to come (like my dad, other two brothers and their families) but know that they will be missed.

We are now working on all of the other details. It’s all very exciting and we are very happy for them and grateful that they are allowing us to assist in preparations and asking for our input (of course, as the financiers of the wedding, that makes it more of a necessity, ha!). Carl and I are actually planning a two-week vacation to Hawaii for the wedding. We will fly into O’ahu a few days earlier than everyone else for some wedding preparations. Then after our week together, Carl and I are going to fly to Maui to stay with a friend that moved there last year. We are so excited!


It's About Me, Praises, The Husband, The Relatives, Traveling

Wait For It….

The other MAJOR reason for stopping in Chicago after Minneapolis was to fulfill my obsession over the past year by seeing Hamilton!

Well over a year ago, I was working on my computer and selected “Showtunes” on Amazon Prime Music (my favorite music venue since it’s already free with my membership and there are NO commercials) to listen to while I worked. A song that I was unfamiliar with popped up and I was instantly hooked. After seeing that it was from Hamilton, I then searched and discovered the whole soundtrack was available for free with my membership. And thus began an absolute obsession with Hamilton music!

I would go on to listen to the soundtrack once or twice a week for months and months, eventually tapering down to just the occasional listening. I also watched many YouTube videos and documentaries on Hamilton: The Musical and Alexander Hamilton in general. Could not get enough!

So last year when we came to Chicago, I looked into tickets but since it was still new, tickets were selling for a minimum of $350 each. Seeing as we could take an entire cruise for that amount, we just couldn’t do it. Hamilton has a lottery each day for two tickets for $20. I tried everyday but it wasn’t meant to be.

So this year, knowing we were going to Minneapolis, I again checked out ticket prices for Hamilton in Chicago and was thrilled to find out that they were much more reasonable (still $140 each but way better than $350 each). So after convincing my husband to make a detour before returning home and asking my mother if she wanted to come too, our tickets were purchased!

We did some research and found some reasonable parking at the Palmer House so we drove down early.

We walked over to Millennium Park and then to Buckingham Fountain for some photos. Then we stopped at Miller’s Pub for dinner and drinks.

Finally, it was showtime!

It was amazing! I loved every minute of it. Obsession fulfilled! Although I knew the soundtrack well, it was even better to see the actors and choreography and to catch some things I missed.

Although I had tried to have Carl listen to the soundtrack before, he never really got into it. So he found himself a little confused at times. After reading a synopsis at intermission, he found the second half much more enjoyable. So my advice to everyone thinking of seeing Hamilton is to familiarize yourself before seeing it. Listen to the soundtrack several times. Read through the song lyrics (some of the songs are so fast paced that it’s difficult to understand if you are unfamiliar). Or at least read the synopsis.

Hamilton is coming to Jacksonville during the 2019-2020 theater season. You can be sure that we will be going again!

It's About Me, Praises, The Husband, The Relatives, Traveling

World’s Okayest Brother

One of our main reasons for detouring to Chicago was to meet our newest nephew, Max. Last year when we came to Chicago, he was on vacation with his mom so we didn’t get to see Lisa or the boys.

So this year I was thrilled to squeeze those chubby cheeks!

My brother, Rob, even took the day off of work to visit with us and wore the shirt I sent all three of my brothers a few years ago for Christmas.

Ok, I take it back….he’s more than okay!

Rob and Lisa made a great lunch for us with burgers and shrimp and salad.

We spent the rest of the time chasing the boys around the back yard.

I spent time in jail, playing super heroes with Robby.

It was a great day spent with Rob and his family. Now we have to plan another trip next year to meet baby Charlotte, who is arriving in July!

Later that day, we visited with Rob’s eldest daughter, Bryanna, at the restaurant she works at.


It was a great meal and we enjoyed the chance to chat with Bryanna. In an unexpected surprise, Bryanna’s mother, Alex, even stopped by and we got to chat with her for a bit. It was a great family day. Stay tuned for the other MAJOR reason that we went to Chicago in the next post.

It's About Me, The Husband, The Relatives, Traveling

Part Two: Chicago

After leaving Minneapolis on Monday, since we were so far north and the additional airfare was very reasonable, we decided to make a side trip to Chicago. That gave us the opportunity to say hi to some family before heading home.

My dad offered to pick us up from the airport so we rewarded him with Portillo’s Hotdogs. Carl and I were naughty and even ate the buns.

We noticed that the street outside of Portillo’s was lined with Fire Department ladder trucks with American flags hanging over the roadway.

My dad realized that it must be for the funeral of a Chicago fire fighter that died in the line of duty on Memorial Day. After a quick google search, we realized the funeral procession would be passing by in just a short time. Since we had time to kill before getting to my cousin’s house, we decided to sit and wait.

Eventually the procession drove by. There were hundreds of police and fire vehicles of every type filled with mourners on the way to the funeral.

The streets were lined with people showing their respect and some holding flags, including the black flag with red stripe, which signifies the death of a fire fighter. The fellow firefighters stood at attention and saluted as the casket drove by on the back of a fire truck.

It was really a moving and powerful thing to observe. We witnessed some sweet moments as well, such as when a man pushing a shopping cart brought over two cases of water for the firefighters standing along the street and another when a firefighter walked over and gave plastic firefighter hats to some waiting children. We are so grateful for the brave men and women that serve our cities to try and keep us safe and we mourn the loss of Juan Bucio with the city of Chicago.

After getting to my cousin, Jeff’s new house and visiting for a few minutes, dad got bored and left. Thanks for the ride dad! It was nice to spend the afternoon with you.

We spent the rest of the evening visiting with Aunt Gale, Jeff and his girlfriend, Jill. My mom met us after a while and we ordered authentic Chicago pizza… more delicious carbs for Carl and I!!

Aunt Gale, Jeff and Jill all said they are coming to Hawaii for Anthony’s wedding so we are holding them to it!

I am glad we had time to visit with them and see Jeff’s beautiful, new house. Too bad they won’t be there long as Jeff’s “Design and Build” business is taking off and he’s already building his next house! Congrats, Jeff! See you all in Hawaii.

It's About Me, Rental Properties, The Friends, The Husband, Traveling

Thank you for Being a Friend

(Cue the Golden Girls Theme song)

While Carl was busy taping dance recitals all day Saturday and Sunday, I had a full schedule of visiting friends.

My original schedule had to be shifted around when Carl and I stopped at the Chaska Target first thing Saturday morning for some shampoo. We ran into the son of a couple from our church we had attended. He asked if we were going to his cousin’s grad party later that day. “Grad party? What grad party? No, I wasn’t going but I am now!” So after dropping Carl off at the high school for the video shoots, and stopping at Caribou, where I ran into more old friends, I crashed the grad party, which was awesome because I was able to visit with so many people from our former church.

I had intended to take photos of each group I visited but in my rush from place to place each few hours, I typically forgot. I am so bummed with myself. Boo…bad blogger.

After visiting the grad party and bringing Carl a plate of food from the party for lunch, we both visited with Carl’s friend, Paul, in between dance recitals.

After leaving them to visit longer, I headed off to visit with our old neighbors, Lou and Neil. Realizing I was running short on time, I shifted a visit to our rental townhouse to the next day. Then it was on to visit, Julie and Kent. And finally, it was off to Deb and Ron’s house. Phew!

Deb and Ron made me dinner and then we visited for a while until Carl was done with recitals for the day. After picking him up and feeding him a plate of food we saved for him, it was time for some cards with Deb and Ron.

So good to catch up with them after 3 years! I miss our card nights together.

The next day, we went to our former church for the worship portion. After dropping Carl off at the high school for his day’s shooting, I returned to church to meet up with a few ladies for lunch. We had a great afternoon dining at one of the newer restaurants in downtown Chaska and seeing the beautiful new Curling Center and recreational area around the lake there. What an amazing addition to our former small town! Well done, Chaska!

I then zipped over to our rental townhouse to meet the tenant and check out the place. I was grateful to learn she is not planning on moving out anytime soon. I was then able to meet up with my friend Tina and spend time with her and her twins at a local park on an absolutely beautiful Minnesota afternoon.

My final stop was for dinner and drinks with our friends, Steve and Kathy and kids.

It made me really regret not spending more time with them in MN because they are so sweet and so fun. I hope that I convinced them that we would love to have them visit JAX at any time.

I am extremely grateful to have been able to visit so many friends in a whirlwind two days. I love friends that you can just pick up your friendships like it was yesterday and the conversation and laughs are plentiful. I miss all of those wonderful people and loved seeing them all!

We are grateful we were able to stay with Kelly and Avram in their cute duplex.

We are especially grateful that Kelly had cleaned so well that her cat, Peach, didn’t bother Carl’s allergies.

Peach is a real loveable sweetie and we are glad that Kelly adopted her.

We are grateful for a productive and fun weekend in Minnesota. Thanks to all!

It's About Me, The Husband, Traveling

MN Vikings Performance Center

On Friday, Carl and I were able to tour the new multi-millionaire dollar MN Viking Performance Center.

When you first walk in the employee entrance, you see the “One Team” wall, with the name of every employee that has ever worked for the team engraved on the wall.

We had to find Carl’s name, of course.

So cool! As we walked around the facility, Carl ran into former coworkers at every turn, including the accounting staff.

Vikings (5)

After seeing the offices, meeting rooms and cafeteria upstairs, we got to see all the fun stuff on the main floor, including the indoor and outdoor practice fields and the weight room.

Our tour guide, Kim, the head of security, took us into the press room….

…the Draft room…

…and the locker room.

Coworker, Kelly

There were all sorts of interesting details throughout the facility. The ceiling over the seating area in the locker room was bowed to simulate the bottom of a Viking ship, with the wood beams simulating the oars coming out of the ship.

There was also this interesting photo in the lobby.

When you look closely, it is actually made up of words that tell the story of the MN Vikings from the inception to the present day.

There were only two pieces of furniture or equipment brought over from Winter Park to the new facility and that was Max Winter’s desk and credenza (shown in top left photo below) which now grace Bud Grant’s office at the new facility.

That desk was previously used by Bud Grant years ago and then Head Coach, Mike Tice and then some lowly employee, named Carl, for 14 years. I told Carl that he should have carved his name inside the desk drawer while he had the chance.

It was a really amazing tour. The owners really spared no expense and the attention to detail was impressive. It almost made Carl wish that he was still a part of the organization. Except for the longer commute that he would have then had…in fact, there is no way we would have stayed in our former house. We would have had to move closer. And other factors that were instrumental in his leaving were still an issue. So we are grateful for where God has brought us! We are so glad to have had a chance to tour the new facility. Thanks Kim!

It's About Me, The Friends, The Husband, Traveling

Minneapolis Weekend

Last Thursday, Carl and I flew to Minneapolis for our last dance recital of the season. This is our big recital, with 6 shows in one weekend, whereby Carl gets to watch nearly 250 dance routines in one weekend. And I got to spend all my time visiting one friend after another!

But first came the fun of trying to get there. I shared the following story on Facebook.

We had an interesting experience at airport security while still in line. There was a loud shout by an employee, all the machines came to a complete halt and there was dead silence and nobody moved. Airport police descended upon a man who had just gone through the XRay machine, put his arms behind his back, handcuffed him and led him away. Then it was like somebody flipped a switch and suddenly everybody started moving again and making noise. That’s the first time we’ve ever seen somebody getting arrested in the security line!

That was exciting and a little freaky! We made it through the first leg of our trip without any further complications, landing in Nashville at around 5:30pm. Our next flight was supposed to take off at 6:10. However, immediately after landing, we got a notification that it was delayed until 6:50 due to weather on the East Coast, where our next plane was coming from. Then it was delayed until 7:20. Then 7:50. And so on and so on for the next three hours, with our flight getting delayed for another half hour at a time. Ugh….so aggravating! Fiiiiiiinnnnnally, our flight took off at 11:30 pm, arriving in Minneapolis at 1:30pm.

So much fun!! The other aggravating aspect was that the rental car agency closed at 11:00pm so we couldn’t even get our rental car. We ended up taking an Uber to Kelly’s apartment, where we stayed and then she drove us back to the airport the next morning to get our car. Good times! Traveling is so much fun!!

After a tour of the new MN Vikings training facility (which I’ll blog about tomorrow), we picked up Kelly to celebrate National Donut Day, by getting donuts for lunch at her favorite place.

Yes, Carl and I ate donuts! We deserved them after all of our traveling hassles the night before.

We returned to Kelly’s place to greet Avram after work and enjoy some cocktails and cards on the deck of their duplex.

Then we walked five blocks to a local restaurant for dinner with a Avram’s parents, whom I have never met (Carl met them last year). Avram’s dad walked in with a few treasures he found at a local garage sale and proceeded to put his puppet in a baby seat at the table! Now we see where Avram gets his quirkiness.

We had a great dinner with lots of conversation and laughs. So we invited them back to the duplex for some cards.

We really enjoyed our day in Minneapolis and our time with Kelly, Avram and his parents. As we told Kelly and Avram, we give them our blessing and look forward to their engagement announcement and wedding next!