Monday, September 29, 2014

Race for the Cure and a birthday celebration

This past weekend was a busy one! 

Future Spartans?


It was Bryce’s birthday weekend, and for his present, he wanted to go to the Michigan State football game.  Our friends have season tickets, so in exchange for them transporting him to the game, we bought a ticket for their daughter to go to the game with Bryce.

It was a beautiful day and they all had a great time . . . and MSU won, so that was icing on the cake!



While Bryce was at the game, Tom and Nick helped Grandpa with some yardwork, and I went to my Mom’s house to make spaghetti sauce and meatballs for Sunday’s dinner.

Sunday morning came bright and early as we drove through the fog to downtown Toledo for the Race for the Cure.

Walking for Tina


My sister, Tina, is a 1-year survivor, having just completed her treatment last month.

It was a rough year, but she got through it, so our family and her husband’s family all gathered to celebrate with her by walking in the race.





Tina's Ta Ta Team

It was a beautiful morning, and everyone was in great spirits as we waited for the festivities to begin.

Sue, Jeff and Caitlin

Silly Tom

Tom was determined to photo-bomb Diane & Danny’s picture!

I finally got a good one of them, though!

Dee and Dan

Most of us were walking the 5K route, but the boys were running the race, along with Larry’s sister and a couple of his & Tina’s nieces.

Ready for the Race

While the survivors gathered for the survivor ribbon photo,

Survivor Photo

we took some more photos of our own.

Donnie, Dan, Dee, Bryce & Nick

Donnie didn’t want to stand between Nick and Bryce because he didn’t want to look short!

Tina's other family











We watched the Survivor Parade,

Survivor Parade

and I just barely caught my sister in one of my pictures, completely by accident!!  I wasn’t expecting her to be in front of the person with the sign!!

Following the parade, we moved outside to the starting line,

Over 15,000 of our closest friends!

along with the 15,000 other people gathered for the race,

and waited through another 1/2 hour of announcements!


The runners moved up to the first starting line (if I were to do this again, I would sign up for the timed race just to be in the first batch of people to set out.), and they were off!

Soon it was the walkers’ turn to get started, and although we initially moved at a snail’s pace, our group made our way around to a spot where we could keep up a decent pace.  Jeff was our “pace car” -- as an experienced marathon and ironman participant, he was good at weaving his way through the crowd!

There were lots of bands and groups cheering along the route.

Bands playing along the route

For the most part, the route was pretty good . . . but there were a few spots where we had to avoid holes, uneven pavement, and broken sidewalks.

The boys were at the finish line in about 25 minutes, where they waited for us.  Before long, we could see it up ahead!

Almost to the finish line

We crossed the finish line at 1:14 . . . not too bad, considering the crowd and the slow start!

Not a bad time!

Tina and Alex


Yeah!  Our whole team made it across the finish line within a few minutes of each other!









We picked up pink bagels and bottles of water on the way back to the cars, and headed back to my Mom’s house for our next celebration – Bryce’s birthday.

Happy Birthday Bryce!

In addition to my sisters and brother, my cousin, Sue, and my mom’s twin sister joined us for dinner.

Enjoying a beautiful day

The boys played cards with their uncles while I got dinner ready,

Card Sharks

Learning Euchre











and Bryce opened his presents.  For the last couple of weeks, Bryce has been asking Grandma for a ham dinner on Sunday . . . and he hasn’t gotten one yet!  But, he did get some ham for his birthday!

Ham for a ham!

After dinner, we enjoyed the cake that Bryce picked out . . .

Bryce with his cake


strawberry swirl cake with strawberry mousse filling . . . YUM . . . it was really good!









It was a nice day, and we enjoyed spending it with our family and extended family!

Here’s a collage celebrating Bryce’s first 16 years!

Happy Birthday Bryce!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

He finally bought a car . . . and yes, it’s a practical one!

Nicolas and his first car

2011 Ford Fusion

He’s been searching for several weeks, and he finally found one that met most of his criteria.  He had a budget he was working with, and in order to get a newer car with lower miles, he started looking at rebuilt salvage cars.


Buying a salvaged vehicle is a good way to save money, on both the initial purchase price and also on insurance costs (you can only get liability coverage), but it requires the buyer to be especially diligent.

Nicolas carefully researched each vehicle he looked at, finding out what the extent of the damage was, and then he and Tom looked over each car very carefully, inspecting the repair work and checking for short cuts or missing parts.  They looked at over a dozen cars in the last couple of weeks, and although a few were “OK” and slightly cheaper, this one was in better shape, had a few more upgrades, and lower miles.

Overall, he decided it was the best deal.


We brought it home yesterday, and he spent most of today cleaning it up,     Nicolas washing his car










with a little help from his brother,

Getting some help from his brother

and Dad’s supervision!

Tom supervising











I think he’s pretty happy with his purchase!


We’ve been enjoying some beautiful weather here in Michigan this past week . . . so has the wildlife!

Ducks on the water

Turtles on a log











White Egret












Casey, too!


The trees around the pond haven’t started to change color yet,


but it won’t be long now!











We finished off our evening with a little reminder of Glacier National Park

. . . Montana huckleberry pie filling     Pie Filling

in homemade huckleberry pie bars!  YUM!

Huckleberry Pie Bars

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another college visit for Bryce . . . Spartan Country!

Bryce at MSU

Go figure . . . every other day of the year, he’s in a Michigan State T-shirt, and today he doesn’t wear one!  He said he didn’t want to appear too anxious!

Winking smile

Bryce has been a diehard Sparty fan for quite a few years, and yesterday was his opportunity to visit the campus to see if he’d be comfortable making it his home for 4 years.

In my undergraduate years at the University of Detroit, my friends and I were always a little resentful of all the attention given to the “Big 2” colleges – Michigan State and the University of Michigan.  Our little private University, without a football team, barely existed in comparison!

So, I’ve never been much of a fan of either of them . . .

Spartan Stadium

Living just outside Ann Arbor for 15 years, we became familiar with U of M and grew to appreciate the University Hospital, but I still wasn’t crazy about how the campus was intermingled with the city.  It just seemed too big and chaotic for me – I prefer a small, personal campus, and the boys do, too.

Spartan Stadium

Never having been to MSU, I was expecting it to be similar to U of M, and was pleasantly surprised on arrival to find out just how wrong I was!

Walking through the center of campus

Our Admissions Presentation and Tour wasn’t until 1pm, be we also had appointments with a Career Counselor in Criminal Justice, and an Academic Advisor in Kinesiology/Athletic Training.  We parked by the football stadium and made our way across campus for our first appointment.

It’s definitely a big place, and it’s easy to get turned around when you’re not familiar, but with a little help from a kind stranger we found our way to our appointment.  It certainly is a beautiful campus, and I was shocked to see a river running through the center of campus, too.  Our tour guide later told us that the students go tubing and kayaking on the river in the spring and summer, and ice skating in the winter!

Red Cedar River

Both of our meetings were interesting and informative, and we all learned a great deal about the academic and professional options in the fields Bryce is considering – a very beneficial morning!

Beaumont Tower


After our meetings, we grabbed a quick pizza in the food court (just $5.99 for a 14” pepperoni pizza, and it was really good – definitely better than Little Caesars or Dominos!), and made our way to the Student Union for the Admissions Presentation and Tour.







The presentation covered all of the basic information – test scores, transcripts, deadlines . . . and when that was over, the participants were split into 2 groups for our campus tours with student ambassadors.

Learning some MSU history

The girls were very friendly and personable, and enjoyed sharing their own MSU experiences with future students, and well as the history of the University.

Land Grant University

MSU was founded in 1855 as a Federal Land Grant University (where federal lands are granted to a state with the intent of establishing a college, making higher education available to the masses).  It started out as an Agricultural College, and today still remains a leader in Agriculture and Animal Science, along with a full menu of undergraduate degree programs.

Our tourguides

Benefactor Row


It was a beautiful day for a walking tour, and we saw museums, dorms, dining halls, classrooms, lecture halls, the library, and the athletic complex as we criss-crossed our way around campus.

We toured one of the older dorms, but I understand that there are several newer ones, and more under construction.  They’ve all been updated with new furniture, though, and are hardwired for internet access.



The dining halls are pretty impressive – somebody referred to them as an upscale Golden Corral . . . and that was pretty accurate!  Definitely an important feature for the parents of a boy!!

Beautiful landscaping

Vehicle of choice


Bryce is going to have to put his “Baja Bug” dream on hold for a few years, though . . . no cars for freshman!  Very few students have cars, actually, with the vehicle of choice being the bicycle.

In addition to all of the walking paths (miles and miles of them . . . I can’t remember how many miles they said, but it was a big number!), there are also designated bike paths . . . and you had better be careful when crossing them . . . the bike riders move FAST!



We finished our tour with a walk along the Red Cedar River,

Walking along the Red Cedar River

Enjoying an ice cream cone after our tour


and then went back to the Student Union to try some of the ice cream made on-site at the Dairy Store.

We each tried a different “Big 10” football-themed flavor, and they were all good!  YUM!

It was a great day, and I know my previous prejudices were overcome.  Michigan State has a beautiful campus, and the university offers many great resources for students, and I can definitely picture Bryce in this environment . . . I think he’d be really happy here!


Now he just needs to get accepted!!