Wednesday, December 29, 2010

on theme parks and being home for the holidays

theme parks are a wonderful place. my cousin heather's au pair, laura, said about las vegas, "i love that place because it is like all the world in one city." i believe you can say the same about theme parks. as i stood in lines and walked around the magic kingdom and universal's island of adventures, i loved listening to people speak in many different languages and accents everywhere i went. although these parks cost three times as much as cedar point (plus the cost to travel there), they are a hundred times better to visit! these parks are entire cities of fun. these parks don't only create fun with their rides--they give you an entire experience with their sidewalks lined with comic book cities, cartoon characters, castles, and color! universal and disney world make standing in long lines FUN.

i went to florida over break to spend some time with my cousin heather, her kids, and my aunt bonnie. we hung out at heather's beautiful home and visited theme parks. i loved getting to spend time with my cousins! heather is great to talk with, and her kids are extremely cute and funny. i wish i had videos of them from the entire week. ella woke me up every morning shouting, "amanda! amanda! wake up!" then she would hug me, hand me my glasses, laugh, and tell me, "you look funny with your glasses and pajamas. and your hair is crazy!"

a second highlight of my week was visiting the wizarding world of harry potter. laura and i walked through hogwarts, rode rollercoasters, saw the actor who played draco malfoy, went to honeydukes and zonkos, and we drank butterbeer in hogsmeade. it was a dream come true.

i then spent the rest of my time at home enjoying some quality time with my family.

here are some pics from the trip!

my mom and i went to holiday nights at greenfield village, too!
here she is with a snowman we found.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

a manifesto

Poetry for me has taken many forms over the course of the past few months.

Poetry for me has been a source of stress, enjoyment, self-help, and release.

At first, I was focused on form. I had no idea where lines should break or how to choose the right words to fit a certain number of required syllables to make my poems interesting. As an education major that has to strictly follow formatting rules when writing lesson plans, having to fit my poems into a certain format stressed me out greatly at first.

I then realized that if I first wrote out what I wanted to say, I could then insert that into a particular form. This is when I began to have a lot more fun! My own voice began to come through in my poetry once I realized that I could write about the people and places that I knew. I didn’t have to make up something that I didn’t actually know or care about. I inserted dialogue and made my characters talk! I brought scenes from my memory to life by describing them in detail! This was all very exciting to me.

As the semester went on, I wrote many poems about my childhood. While these poems contained many beautiful images, they had no turn and no meaning. Once again, I was frustrated because I could not create a turn in my poems. What I realized was that these poems did not matter to me. All they were to me were good memories of times I spent with my family growing up. I wrote these poems as a way to remember good memories while trying to cover up bad memories of the past year.

This was my moment of insight: I couldn’t create meaning for my readers in my poems because they didn’t hold any meaning for me. I wasn’t writing about what truly mattered to me at this point in my life.

So…I began to write about everything I have been forcing myself to not write about. My past year has consisted of hard family relationships, broken friendships, and break-ups. Who wants to dwell on these types of events? I didn’t at first, but once I let myself go to that place of hurt within myself, poetry came more naturally to me. The more I wrote, the better I felt about everything that happened. Writing poems about the hurt of shattered relationships has helped me release that pain that I have been holding on to for over twelve months.

My advice to every aspiring writer: don’t be afraid to write about what you are scared to write about. Let it out! You will feel much better once you do, and you will have significantly better writing to show for it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

late july and harry potter

and no i'm not talking about the release of the next hp movie
(which is due to come out next july)

although i did see harry potter twice this weekend(!), both times with wonderful friends, the highlight of my weekend (and probably of the semester so far) was my good friend jacob bullard's cd release concert on friday night. jacob recorded a 4-song ep this summer (entitled 'late july'), and chris took photos and designed the album art and cd.

the show was opened by ordinary neighbors and the soil and the sun. then came jacob. he was incredible! jacob, i am very proud of you!! i am happy to call you my friend! (and not just because you are a celebrity who signs autographs now)

here he is (with band):

Sunday, October 24, 2010

you don't look like anyone i know

this is me with my good friend amanda, our professor heather sellers, and her friend amelia.
on saturday night, amanda, maria, and i went to an art gallery in holland to attend the book launch of heather's memoir, you don't look like anyone i know. ((this is a link to her website)) she was also recently featured on good morning america! her memoir is about her life as it relates to her rare neurological disease that causes her to not be able to remember the human face. this is very interesting, and she is SUPERB! check her out!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

fall so far

the fall 2010 award for the worst blogger goes to me.

i have neglected to document the fun events of my life via blogger in the midst of the mounds of lesson plan writing, poetry writing, and book-reading i have had to do lately.

but now i have some time!

here is a quick update on how my senior year has looked so far:

this year, i have a few friends living on the beach on lake michigan. they call it: dee's place (after their landlord). we broke it in at the beginning of the year by going for a swim! (corinne was there too!)

one day, the waves on lake michigan were the biggest i've ever seen them!
this is the view from the boys' deck.

one night, we had a bonfire at dee's place. quinn and i gathered lamps from around the house and lit up the deck. it looked like a treehouse.

my good friend johnrob turned 22! so we celebrated.
lindsey made him this awesome chocolate candy cake!

and then my good friend and housemate corinne turned 22!
so we went to cityvu to celebrate over dinner.

and then my good friends, lindsey and johnrob, got engaged!!

chris and i went apple picking at crane's orchards (after a delicious lunch at crane's in the city).
we had a fun afternoon walking around tasting apples and picking a few of our favorites.
we were told the honeycrisp section was cleared out for the season, but of course we had to investigate because honeycrisps are the best! there were hundreds on the ground, so we searched and searched and found a good one and ate it! without a doubt, it was the best apple of the day.

i went home for a weekend and spent time with my family.
here is my mom and dad at the plymouth orchards and cider mill!

emma and i went to a rugby game!
who knew hope college had a rugby team? not me.
i imagined i was back in england the entire time.
while i was there, a mom standing next to me explained everything about the game. questions about rugby? i can answer them for you! (maybe)

for my curriculum and methods education class, we had to write direct lesson plans.
lauren and i got to be partners! this is a picture of us with our lesson just after we finished it.
we were excited to be done! (and still alive)

kendall, lauren, and i went out to happy hour at cityvu to celebrate finishing our first lesson plans of the semester!

i like chris, and i like that he lives on the beach.
we have been soaking in each others' company and all of this beautiful fall weather we have been having here in west michigan!

i climbed a tree for the first time in years with one keri maxon!

kendall, lauren, and i had a dinner party!
quinn joined us, and allison stopped by to say hi!
it was a wonderful evening.

here is the feast that we cooked up: shrimp alfredo, strawberry/spinach salad, pumpkin/apple bread with vanilla caramel ice cream for dessert, and white wine and red "witches' brew" wine. oh my was it delicious! the best meal i've had in a while.

in between all of this, i have attended bbqs and bonfires, artprize in grand rapids, coffee shops, and i have been spending a lot of time with good friends.

that's my semester so far. more updates to come soon!

Monday, August 30, 2010

meijer gardens

after waiting all summer, i finally got to experience the beauty of the frederick meijer gardens with chris. he took me last saturday, and i loved them! they have a special exhibit right now created by chihuly. he created glass pieces that seem to grow out of the landscape--out of the beautiful gardens.
this exhibit is there until october 30...check it out!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"after all, it is up to us to make the world a better place." --zana briski

did you know that slavery still exists today? even here, in america, in your own neighborhood? and did you know that slavery exists in higher numbers today than ever before--even higher than during pre-civil war times? in fact, roughly 27 million people are enslaved today.

check out this map to see some of the reported cases of human trafficking in the usa: slavery map (remember, these are only a small percentage of all incidents of trafficking--most go unnoticed or are just not reported on this map.)


according to the polaris project, "human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. victims experience a loss of freedom and exploitation at the hands of their traffickers who buy and sell them in pursuit of profit. as a result, human trafficking is commonly known as modern-day slavery."
check out their website to learn more: polaris project

((human trafficking can come in the form of forced/unpaid labor, sexual exploitation, etc., and it is not always obvious.))


here is a link to another website you should check out: not for sale
this organization, not for sale, also has a moving documentary that you should watch. this is one of the first few documentaries i viewed on this issue, and my heart ached after watching it. a portion of this documentary showed under cover footage of a brothel in cambodia where 5- and 6-year-old girls were offering "yum yum" and "boom boom" to older men. 5 and 6 year olds! young innocent girls--the age group i want to someday teach. i couldn't believe this.


here is a link to a page about one of my favorite documentaries: born into brothels

zana briski, a ny photographer, went into the brothels of calcutta india, where she taught the children of prostitutes about photography. this gave the children an opportunity to find a skill that could get them out of the brothels. zana also worked as hard as she could to get most of these children into school. while most were able to attend school, some were forced back into the brothels to become prostitutes by their aunts, mothers, and/or grandmothers; some chose to return to the brothels because that was all they knew. two of the children, though, ended up at universities here in america doing photography and film work. out of zana's work came an organization called 'kids with cameras.' there are plans to break ground for the hope house, a place where children from the brothels will be able to live and attend school.

here is more information on the school: hope house
you can sign up for email newsletters regarding kids with cameras and hope house.

as a future educator, i was excited to find that zana briski, along with kids with cameras, created a curriculum guide as a companion to the film 'born into brothels'. this guide can be used in classrooms in america, and around the world, as a way to instill a global awareness of world issues in the minds of our children. as zana said, "american children are riveted by the kids from calcutta. they connect with them through the film in a way only kids can. kids want to share, to know more, to get involved."


another insight i had to this issue came from my visit to the international slavery museum in liverpool, england this past june. while this museum tells the horrific story of the slave trade of the past, it also tells visitors of the reality of the slave trade today. if you ever find yourself in liverpool, this museum, located on the albert dock, is definitely worth a visit.


finally, if you want a good book to read, read sold by patricia mccormick. this is a fictional children's novel, but it's definitely a great look into the mind of a young girl who has been tricked into leaving her family in nepal to join a brothel in india.


i am writing about all of this to inform you of what is happening around the world and in your own neighborhoods. i am not asking you to take action, but i do think it is important that you are aware of what is happening in this world--in your world. although, if you do feel moved to do something, all of the organizations i mentioned above have links on their websites with ways to help. one thing you can do is pray for this situation and for all of the people involved in modern-day slavery.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

happy birthday luke

i had a wonderful weekend!

friday i went to the beach after work. i went alone and spent some time floating in the water and reading on the beach. this time of relaxation was wonderful. i then went home, ate dinner, and baked some snickerdoodle's. i used my dad's delicious recipe, but this was our first time using the oven, so i had to learn to gauge the temperature setting's. the bottoms of the cookies got a little burnt, but they were still tasty. at night, i went to see eat, pray, love with my friends sarah and chelsea. the movie was quite long, but i enjoyed it, and i love julia roberts!

on saturday, chris and i headed to grand rapids, where we met up with ryan, amber, and ruby to check out rob bliss' 500-foot waterslide.

the slide was not as large or as fast as we imagined it, and the line was pretty long, so we decided the slide was not worth the wait. it was pretty neat to see this big event in GR though. we then headed to the pita house for gyros for lunch. they were huge and delicious! we then headed to madcap coffee, where amber, ruby, and i sat outside chatting while ryan and chris grabbed some costa rican coffee. a lot of our friends showed up at this point, and ryan and amber left with ruby while chris and i headed to schuler books, where luke grabbed his first beer with a few of the guys. a bookstore: an interesting place to buy a beer right? we then all headed back to luke's where we swam all day, played volleyball (i watched because i am awful), and mrs. t grilled ribs for us. at one point, about 15 of us piled in the mule, and luke drove us around his property. we splashed through many puddles, went up and over hills, and off the beaten path. we then ended up by the pond near luke's, and most people jumped off and jumped in the water. luke, chris, ben, steph, and i took off and left everyone else behind. we returned to the house, and fleck took chris and me back out to check out the tree the guys cut down a couple of winters ago. i was impressed that they cut the tree down with their bare hands, but now i am even more impressed and convinced of their manliness now that i have seen the tree with my own eyes. awesome. i had such a great time seeing a lot of my friends back together again. ps: happy birthday, luke!

this morning, i drove back from gr, went to engedi where i heard a sermon that i actually let settle in my heart (see previous post), and then my momma came to visit! we went to the holland state park and rode the waves on boogy boards. we then grabbed ice cream from captain sundae. so much fun! i love her so. later tonight, i am walking down to kollen park to watch the sunset with maria and lizzy!

on receiving guidance from God

lately, i have been nothing more than a sunday morning christian. i have been attending church on sunday mornings, but i have not been turning to God any other day of the week except for on rare occasions. Proverbs 16 tells us: "To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed" (NIV). we should turn to God for guidance all the time, not just on sunday afternoons when we are contemplating the sermon we heard earlier in the day. this is how i have been lately. the sunday morning sermon sinks (or seems to sink) deep in my heart, but then i brush it away the rest of the week. this is not how i am called to live. i am called to turn to God, who will always guide "the repl[ies] of [my] tongue." God wills all things, but we still have free will. therefore, i should turn to Him when i am unsure, and He will guide me to do or say what He wills me to do, and this will lead to a more fulfilling life in Him. to help with this, God has placed many devoted Christians in my life, and He wants me to turn to them for help in making decisions. Proverbs 11 tells us: "Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory." when we turn to our Bible-reading Christian friends (to our friends who truly and deeply know God), they will help us to make wise decisions for our lives.

so, my prayer is that i, and all of you, will grow to know God better so that i and you may become more like Him so that i and you can make wiser decisions that align with His will for us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

depression film

check out this link: Captured: America in Color
these are some of the only color photos taken during the great depression in america.
really interesting!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

family weekend

my family came to holland this past weekend to visit!
we rented a cabin at holland state park. we enjoyed views of the beach and the channel into mac bay, and we spent some quality family time together.

we played ladder ball, rode bikes, swam, hung out at the beach, grilled, and played family games.
i had so much fun visiting with my fam! we even celebrated joey's birthday. i baked him a chocolate meringue cake with homemade whipped frosting and berries. mmm

on saturday night, after we grilled and joey opened presents, our family made a bonfire and roasted the largest marshmallows i've ever seen! natalie brought them, and they were tasty! we could see thousands of stars, and dad had his star laser pointer with him, so he kept pointing out stars and constellations to us. it was fun! we then saw the largest ship i've ever seen leaving lake macatawa for the waters of lake michigan. this same ship entered mac bay the following morning, sitting lower in the water this time, so it must have been carrying something into the lake.

mom, dad, and i sat and watched the boats come in for a while.

these cabins are a perfect place for a family to stay! there are two bedrooms. one room has two bunk beds, and the other has one bunk bed, but the bottom bunk is a full-size bed. there is even a small kitchen area complete with a mini-fridge, microwave, toaster oven, and coffee pot. the cabins are handicap accessible--even the grill, firepit, and picnic table were accessible! so my dad was able to join in all of the fun!

speaking of handicap accessible, and i think i may have mentioned this before, holland state park has a handicap parking space at the end of their boardwalk on the beach! perfect for my dad so that he could join us near the water.

overall, i had a wonderful weekend, and i can't wait to see my family again soon!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Single Man

Chris and I watched this movie last night.
I highly recommend it!

vegan for life

my good friend sarah got tatted today, and i got to watch all of the action!
the tattoo she got is the national vegan symbol. she is vegan and very passionate about it. she teaches me about it all the time. she even makes the best vegan cookies around!

she was having so much fun!

the final product!

she got her tattoo done at pincushn's in holland.
her tattoo artist was chris, and she had many recommendations for him from a number of other people. so, if you want a well-done tattoo, go to pincushn and ask for chris.

for all my twenty-something friends

5 Key Things I learned in my 20’s

October 02, 2009

(via Brad Lomenick,

1. Use your 20’s to build a foundation for your 70’s. Create deep roots that will give you a foundation for when you are older. Finishing well means starting well.

2. Don’t worry about climbing the ladder. There’s no longer a ladder anyway. It’s more like one of those spiral staircases. And sometimes you are going across or down when you think you might be climbing. So don’t worry about it. Spend your 20’s learning and having life experiences. Travel, explore the world, take on projects that seem fun.

3. If your “career” path doesn’t make sense to anyone except for you, it’s okay. My 20’s: college at University of Oklahoma, wrangler on a guest ranch in Colorado, management consultant, business development officer, Magazine and media company, strategic business plan developer. WOW. That is all over the map. But God was orchestrating steps very clearly for what was next in my story. And continues to do so.

4. Be diligent and aggressive in developing your friendships and relationships. Create a core group of close friends who you want to do like with. This group may change a bit over the years, but it is imperative to find a circle of trust that you are committed to and they to you.

5. Figure out who you want to be, not what you want to do. Who you are is more important that what you do or where you live. Spiritually, financially, family, emotionally, relationally. Find two or three older, wise “sages” that you can learn from and count on as help.


northern michigan

i could sum up this past weekend with three things:
good friends, bike rides, boat rides

chris and i began the weekend by driving up north to harbor springs in the pouring rain with no driver's side windshield wiper. no worries, though--we made it safely to corinne's in harbor springs.

on friday morning, luke, corinne, chris, and i woke up, grabbed coffee at wooly bugger's, and drove to mackinac where we caught arnold's ferry to the island. we chose this line because they gave us a coupon for bike rentals with our ferry ticket purchase--these bikes were the best deal on the island!

we rode the ferry over to the island while rain was misting us, and i was upset that i chose to wore shorts. once we reached the island, though, the sun came out and we enjoyed a beauitful day!

we walked up and down the main road for a little while checking out some shops. after a little while we stopped at mary's bistro for lunch. we ran into alayna g. from hope (she was the hostess)! she ended up buying our table a delicious dessert---thanks alayna!

after lunch we rented two tandem bicycles and rode around the perimeter of the island. the landscape was beautiful! and we all had so much fun riding together.

shortly before dinner, we decided that we had seen all of the island we possibly could without spending too much money, so we headed back to harbor springs for dinner. we took corinne's family's boat out on the bay, and her and luke were great captains and gave chris and me a tour of the area from the water. we then drove the boat towards the docks downtown and went to turkey's for dinner. corinne and i had delicious salads (i had one of the best strawberry-spinach-pecan salads i've ever tasted), and the boys ordered a cutom-made pizza with jalapenos. delicious dinner. we then headed back to corinne's where i fell asleep early while everyone was talking, and chris woke me up and tucked me into bed.

saturday morning, corinne and i delivered breakfast-in-bed to the boys while they were watching the tour de france. we lied around for awhile then went out on corinne's jet ski. i wish i had a picture of the four of us crammed onto the one jet ski to show you. it was fun!

we then headed for glen arbor. chris and i made a pitstop in traverse city to visit with josh. we had dinner at taco house, and i finally ate a cherry burrito after hearing about them for the past two years from all of the boys. we then met up with matthew and johnpaul, and the five of us went to moomer's for delicious ice cream!

chris and i then headed towards glen arbor, where i was finally able to feast my eyes upon the glory of the most beautiful location in all of michigan. glen lake is gorgeous. chris and i also saw one of the most beautiful sunsets of our lives while en route from tc to glen. sadly, i did not get a good picture of the sunset, nor did i take any pictures while at luke's.

once we arrived at luke's, chris sat outside with the tubergen men while corinne and i watched 'dear john' inside with the ladies. afterwards, corinne, luke, chris, and i went out on the boat for a midnight swim. the moon lit up the entire surface of the lake, and the lights under the boat shone light down into the depths of the crystal clear water of glen lake.

we began the day on sunday by biking into glen arbor for breakfast at art's, and then we went to cherry republic (another place i have been hearing about for a while now). we spent most of the day hanging out at luke's house with his family and riding around on the boat.

luke took some airme pics on his iphone on sunday. here are a couple:

chris and me biking around glen.

the artist that hung out all day painting glen lake.

i can easily say this was one of the best weekends of my summer!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


last night, i drove to grand rapids where i met up with chris, ryan, and amber, and we drove to the imax theater to see INCEPTION. we snuck in our jimmy john's sandwiches and enjoyed the movie. the imax was pretty cool because it almost felt 3D, even though it is not. inception was mind-blowing and left me with some questions, but i still enjoyed it, and i loved spending time with chris, ryan, and amber.

afterwards, chris and i grabbed some ice cream from jersey junction and talked for a while. great night.

while i have seen the trailer for HP7 multiple times before, i saw it again last night in the imax, and i am EXCITED.

holland hundred

this past weekend i had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with chris and his family. i joined the cox family for dinner on friday night at chris, his dad, and his two brothers prepared for the holland hundred bike ride the next day.

saturday came, and i periodically received text updates from chris telling me how far along they were, along with commentary about how he was feeling. i shared this news with sarah, chris' sister-in-law, whom i had the chance to spend all day with and get to know a little better. we shopped at the farmer's market, has lunch at the good earth cafe, and enjoyed the refreshing waters of lake michigan at riley street beach.

we finally got a text saying the boys were 15 miles from the finish, so sarah and i met up with amber, ruby, and chris' mom, and we drove to the herman miller factory, where the boys were supposed to finish. we expected to find a big banner reading "finish" and a huge crowd of people waiting for their loved ones to finish their rides. instead, we found a small tent filled with water and bananas in a near-empty parking lot. so, us women created our own cheering section for our men. they finished! and i am so proud of them for riding 100 miles together.

(photo courtesy of amber's blog)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

summer cuts

the smell of freshly cut grass is delightful.

holland, summer 2010

back in holland for the summer.
i love this place. i love holland for its location on lake michigan, for its beautiful but quaint downtown, for hope college, for the friendly faces that greet me almost everywhere i go, for the farmer's market, for the friends that are here, for the weekly summer events that this city offers, and for so much more!

since i've been back to holland, i have been working full time at the van wylen library. van wylen is a wonderful place to work because my co-workers are awesome, the bosses are great, and we have weekly patron count contests in which the losers have to bake cookies for everyone else. i have not lost yet, but i have been close. this week, my good friend sarah russo was one of the few with the lowest number of points in the contest, so she baked cookies--delicious vegan/choco chip/cranberry/walnut/oatmeal cookies. WOW! they were GOOD.

this past weekend, i got to spend time with a lot of wonderful people!
thursday: kelly, maria, lyndi, and her friend lori
friday: hillary, emma, parth, david
saturday: mom & dad, emma
sunday: emma, sarah, eric, david, maria
monday: christopher

while i love being in holland and being close to the people i love here, i do miss home. i miss megan, alyssa, and lauren; i miss mom, dad, and natalie; i miss my grandmas, aunts, cousins, and uncle; and i even miss my cat, even though my allergies flare up around her. i love holland, but i really miss the comforts of home, such as: watching sports on tv on summer nights with my parents while the sunset shines in through the family room windows, bonfires in the backyard with mom or with good friends, alyssa and megan, lauren and her dog sonny, talking with natalie, bike rides with mom, dad's breakfasts and other good meals, etc. etc. etc. it's hard to be away from home when you don't know when you will be home next. i don't want to complain, though, because like i said, i love holland, and i love my job here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

fourth of july

holiday weekend, and a good weekend it was!

every time a holiday comes around, i think it's fun to soak it in for all it's worth. i enjoy having many people to spend holidays with in many different places. i have my immediate family, my mom's side of the family, my dad's side of the family, friends at home, friends back in holland, and chris and his family. not only do i love seeing all of the people i love the most, but i also love celebrating important events!

this fourth of july holds more weight in my heart than past independence days. why? when i visited scotland, i saw the prisons of war in edinburgh castle. american soldiers were held in these prisons during the war for independence (revolutionary war) against britain, and some american soldiers carved their initials into the wooden prison doors. one solider even carved an american flag into the door, and it is still there to this day! seeing the pride of americans of the past (the first americans) was powerful. they fought hard for the freedoms that we have today, and i am thankful for that.

i am extra thankful to be home this independence day. while i was in england, i thought about the fourth of july, and i realized that the british don't celebrate it--it's just another day to them. ( i mean, they shouldn't celebrate it. this was just a "wow" realization for me). once i thought about this, i was excited to return home; to return to the comforts of home; to return to the comforts of america.

i am grateful to say that i got to spend this holiday weekend with the most amazing people in my life:
i started the weekend off on thursday by spending the afternoon with two of my greatest friends, alyssa and megan. ice cream, laughs, chit-chat, and panera.
on friday, my family had family day and we went to sterling state park and enjoyed a day at the beach- complete with bocce ball, reading, and napping. i finished the day off by watching dexter with my parents.
on saturday, i drove to devil's lake to the cox family cottage, where i enjoyed a lot of delicious grilling (thanks to the grillmaster ryan), giggles from the beautiful baby ruby, good conversations with amber and sarah, an extremely festive party at the sandbar (we didn't exactly enjoy this--we just viewed it from a distance), and boat rides and sunshine galore.

amber took a lot of great photos, so i stole some from her facebook:

stadium seating around the grill

playing beaver box (aka cornhole)

chris and ruby. aren't they the cutest?

on sunday, i awoke to a yummy french toast breakfast compliments of mama cox, swimming with all of the cox children, and more grilled foods. over the course of the weekend, chris and i were able to sneak away for a few minutes at a time and sit together on the boat and talk. these were some of my favorite moments. overall, i had a wonderful time, and i didn't want to leave.
i left, though, to drive home and enjoy some time with my own family. as soon as i returned home, i jumped back in the car with my parents, and we drove over to my grandma's house. most of my mom's family was over there, and we had a bbq (yes, more grilling), numerous types of salads, and delicious desserts. i had a beer with my dad and uncle ray for the first time. that was fun, although i did not enjoy the beer itself (miller genuine draft). when my uncle ray saw me open the beer, he hit his beer on the table and exclaimed, "this is awesome!" after dinner, i sat around with my mom and aunt bonnie for a long time, and we all talked. my cousins zack and kyle then began lighting off small fireworks: firecrackers, smoke bombs, fountains, etc. i had a lot of fun, as i always do, sitting with my family "oo"-ing and "ah"-ing at the fireworks.

i had a wonderful weekend, and i hope you all did too!
celebrate the freedoms and comforts that we have here in this country!