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The First Pitch


Well we had a thrilling opportunity this past week. As most of you know, my youngest brother Alex is a Special Olympics athlete and represented the USA in the 2013 World Games in South Korea. He’s also made the Summer Olympics World Team and will be in Los Angeles for the 2015 World Games next month.

As the event gets closer, there have been more and more events and publicity. Toyota is a sponsor of Special Olympics and also of the Milwaukee Brewers and they invited the three Wisconsin athletes that will be competing at The Games to come to Miller Park… and one of them would be able to throw out the first pitch.

They generously supplied us with 6 tickets so we all could go and cheer Alex on. Ben and I went into work early so we could leave and hit Milwaukee traffic right at rush hour. Oops. Luckily the family got there early so they could grab our tickets and get Alex and Matt out onto the field.

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Despite getting tickets, Alex also got to pick one person to be on the field sidelines with him. He chose Matt and what a thrilling experience for them both!

Knowing the family had safely secured our tickets, Ben and I sauntered towards the stadium and stopped to get photos with the sausage mascots. I mean, why not right?


And yes, I ended up borrowing a co-worker’s jersey so I could support the home team during the event. I didn’t think it would be appropriate to be outfitted in my Cardinals red during a sponsored event!

Ben, a big Brewers fan, was very happy to be back at the park.


We had thought we were going to be in the Toyota Territory section of the park, which is quite a distance off in right field and were THRILLED when we got loge infield seats between home and 3rd base. Score!

Alex was announced and he waved to the crowd before winding up for his pitch. He made it to the pitcher too!

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He got a handshake and a signed baseball. He was beaming. It was a really great effort. I was actually surprised he threw it that well. Had it been me I doubt I would have made it reach the pitcher. :-)

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After the excitement we settled in to watch the Crew take an early lead. I’ll admit I think Ben was the only one really watching the game. We were too busy snapping pictures, watching the video we had taken, and giggling about the event.

I think we took a zillion photos – and these were just on MY phone!

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I’m not disloyal, I kept tabs on the Cardinal game while we were there. :)


Since we all had to work the next day and it was a 2+ hour drive home, we ended up leaving after the 5th inning. It was the perfect time to go too because there was no mass crush of people clambering to leave the stadium all at the same time. We sailed right out of the ball park and even got some good pictures as the sun was setting.

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As we were walking away, we saw them launch a bunch of fireworks for a home run. It was perfect timing to see them just as we were leaving.


A great adventure and a fun evening. We were beyond tired when we got home but it was definitely worth the trip! Meanwhile the excitement is brewing before we all head to LA to cheer Alex on at the games. He’s competing in the 4×400 relay, the 5k, and the half marathon events. It’ll be quite the week of events for him and hopefully some Summer medals to go with his Silver and Bronze from S. Korea.


Let the countdown begin…

Supper Clubbing

Well, we survived the rains and winds of yesterday. The weather men had hyped a HUGE storm for the past couple of days but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. There was a deluge around 11am that lasted about 10 minutes sandwiched between maybe an hour of mild rain. Then it cleared right up and we were left with 80 degrees and humidity.

The A/C is officially cranked, folks. This girl can’t sleep in sweaty sheets. Eww

Since the weather last night was fairly decent, we ventured out with friends for some supper club dining. Wisconsin supper clubs are some of Ben and my favorite things. While I could be wrong, it doesn’t seem like the true supper club phenomenon is as alive and well elsewhere in the US. But if you want to be a “true” Ali-qualified SC, then you have to have the following:

  •  a dark building with décor dating back to the 70s
  • waitstaff in the 60s
  • a large bar where you congregate and chat amongst diners before being shown to your table
  • oddly placed self-serve appetizer stations filled with crackers, cheese spread, and celery
  • large plates of food at very reasonable prices
  • 95%+ of the clientele is over the age of 65

Last night it was a return visit to a supper club in Appleton. We got seated in a different section of the restaurant than I’ve been in before and I really liked it. We were at the end of the room and it was nice and quiet.


I tend to always order a tenderloin at supper clubs (probably because I like to compare them from place to place) and this was no exception. My meal started out with a salad:

030Sprouts? Mushrooms? Some non-iceberg lettuce mixed in? A+ for salad effort!

I’m pretty particular about how I like my meat cooked and this was about 2 levels too under-cooked. Eeek! I had to send it back to be cooked a bit more, but when it was finally cooked right, it was delicious. Umm Mmm

031I packed up some of my meat for lunch leftovers and then we decided to get some dessert!

Our friends each devoured delicious looking Crème Brule:


While Ben and I decided to just split one dessert. We chose the strawberry rhubarb bread pudding. Amazing!

033As delicious as it was I think splitting was the right choice. I left very, very full. On our way back we made a quick stop for some wine tasting and picked up (ironically) a bottle of rhubarb wine. During our sampling a bachelorette party walked in to do wine tasting and take a painting class. Let me tell you, these girls were DRESSED! Call me overly cautious, but I wouldn’t have chosen a white dress for a painting party… especially where alcohol was concerned…022But hey, to each her (or her) own!

I’m scooting off to work. Looks like a much less humid day in store. Hopefully my day won’t be too hectic and I can get in a quick walk after work.

Happy Summer

I’m here! I’m here!

Honestly, I barely feel like I remember my name anymore! These past few weeks have been total chaos and the blog has suffered as a result. I miss all of you!

A few weeks ago one of the Sr Directors at work was swamped and needed some peon to pick up writing status reports and updating project work. Piece of cake. I got tapped for the effort (nothing like doing all the grunt work!) and quickly realized that in order to write a coherent status update each week AND get all the project work updated, I also needed to be in every single one of the darn meetings. That’s meant back-to-back meetings all day and catch up on nights and weekends.

I’m exhausted and I’ve missed blogging. Thanks for hanging in there with me peeps!

This past Friday I only had to work 3 hours longer than usual and was starving by the time I got home. Ben took a day off (we were supposed to get some new furniture AND go out for lunch) but the furniture delivery was cancelled that morning (doh!) and Ben was sitting at home with a rumbly tummy waiting for me to get home. I arrived home tired, cranky, and tense so Ben drove me to Appleton so he could give me a taste of the BBQ truck that he loves to go to. Evidently they show up most Fridays over the Summer and he stops there every chance he gets.

He was *really* excited to go.


You could tell it was popular because there was quite the line up of people waiting for their brisket and cornbread.


I ended up with the BBQ pork (no bun) along with a side of cream mac & cheese and a slice of buttery cornbread. We brought water along with us and drove to a quiet little park to sit and eat. It was wonderful. I don’t get many Friday afternoons with Ben and it was just what I needed to have some downtime. We had no errands planned. There was nothing we had to do, so we just sat and enjoyed.

017Yesterday was a bit hot and muggy so we took advantage of the early morning cool breeze and overcast skies to get some laundry and lawn mowing accomplished. That meant a lightning fast trip to the grocery store and… a trip to Dunkin Donuts for some morning edibles…

034HEY! Where did the chocolate donut go?

Oh… there it is.

035Not too big of a fan of my donut choices this time. That place is a little hit or miss for me.

Last week we had a decent storm and had some trivial flooding. Everyone is bracing because there is supposed to be a BIG storm with severe, heavy winds and rain this afternoon. I was going to take Ben out for dinner but we’ll have to see how things look. I’m worried there might be hail and we do NOT need that!

So we’ll buckle up and see how things go. Glad to be back posting. Oh and Happy official start of Summer!!


Loving the Lilacs

I’m just a little bit crazy… crazy about flowers that is!


It’s great timing that the lilacs are in bloom because I was feeling blue with no more crab apple blossoms. It’s funny how you can live in the same house for years and still not really get to witness the full value of everything that has been planted. For example, I think my main flower garden is so congested (and the bleeding hearts have taken over everything) that a lot of what was planted never grew (or bloomed). Of course, some of that is due to the rabbits.

They gnawed down my pretty pink lilies so I am hoping my bit of chicken wire will protect the innermost blooms. Fingers crossed at least one will flower this year!


But back to the lilacs. We have two plants that line the side of our deck and for whatever reason this year they finally, really began to bloom. The absolute BEST thing in the world (chocolate aside) is leaving the patio door open and letting the strong, floral smell seep into the kitchen and family room. It smells like springtime Heaven. I also love snipping a few stems to keep on the kitchen table. The smell is out of this world.


I’m not sure what variety this is but I think I also want to purchase some of the dark purple lilacs. My parents have some of those in their yard and that’s the variety I remember most from our house growing up. (here’s a look at Mom’s)


What is that hiding behind my beautiful shrubbery!?


Ha ha – I love it.

The lilacs have really grown since last year and part of that may be because we wrapped them over the winter to protect them from the rabbits. As a result, they are super tall and also partially covering the walkway. Ben wants to cut them back but I’m waiting until after they are finished blooming. No way am I getting rid of these mid-bloom!!!

035I’ve now also decided my next job should be as a florist… or seasonal help in a greenhouse. Can you think of anything better? If I could find a job that paid enough, I’d be there tomorrow. :) I’m just a wee bit obsessed. If Ben would let me AND I could install a rabbit-preventing electric fence, I would plant our entire front and back yard with flowers. It would be a big, colorful MESS of awesomeness.

Ok… and now back to your regularly scheduled blogging. </flowerobsession>


I’m steeling myself against the start of some much warmer weather. We had our first taste yesterday. It had been absolutely amazing weather Friday and Saturday but then rained Sunday morning. The temps took a big hike in the afternoon (80!) and the combo of warm weather and early rain made for some humid and sticky conditions.

What a great weekend. I love it when Monday rolls around and I feel like I had an “adequate” weekend – meaning the time didn’t just fly by and felt like a true rest.

I went for a long walk Saturday morning. The weather looked good and a bit overcast (maybe even a little cool) so I held off starting until 10am. Why I was intimidated about temps in the 50s I don’t know. Wimp! Lesson learned though because about 20 minutes into my walk the sun was out full and heavy and I was melting into a puddle along the side of the road. Luckily for me, my wonderful man dropped in a couple times to check on me and bring me water!

Who is that little spec on the road?


It’s me!!! Trekking along on the final stretch for the day… Hot and tired!


I made a tactical error by wearing a tank top and slathering my face in sunscreen but FORGETTING my arms. One side of my body was facing the sun the entire time and I now have a crispy shoulder and arm. Ouch! I *know* better. I just can’t figure out what was going through my mind. It’s still sore two days later but I’m not having to apply the aloe and burn spray, so I’m hanging in there.

So I have a funny(?) story. Although most of my career has been in Information Technology, I’m not much for needing to have the latest and greatest technology. Ben likes the fancy stuff but I am content to use something until it withers and dies. Enter, my beautiful phone circa 2009:


I never needed data (data? on a phone? I have a computer for that!!) and had the basic, basic plan with just 300min a month and 200 text messages. Oh, and I loved, loved, loved the actual keyboard for texting. After Ben and I got married we started looking into combining various things – like phone plans – but since Ben had the “everything, everything” mega plan and I had no data, they couldn’t be combined. Enter Black Friday where Ben convinced me to pick up an iPhone6 (I think Ben just wanted a new phone too!). We snagged them for $75 each, which I guess is a great deal for a phone that you own outright and aren’t paying off for 2 years.

So now I have data but miss my flip out keypad. I also didn’t really understand how the phone auto-corrects certain works. For example, I sent a friend “en route” when I was leaving to come to her house, but she received “entourage”. So now it’s a running joke and we always text entourage before we arrive. I think my favorite thing about my phone is the ability to ask it for the score of the Cardinals game without having to get up off the couch. lol

About a month ago some of our friends were talking about a GPS game that they were all playing together called Ingress. It’s an app for your phone and you go to various locations worldwide and attempt to take certain “portals” for your team. In short – it’s a worldwide version of capture the flag.


We are the green team (because green is awesome) and decided to join and play with our friends. That means that over the past month we’ve spent random times dashing across town trying to take over locations and block people from taking ours. I’ve determined it’s a fun time waster but would be really good for someone new to a city because it gets you out exploring and learning where things are. We’ve been EVERYWHERE.

All of these locations are “portals” that we have to drive to in order to capture the location:

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What is that! (That’s what happens when Ben drives and I’m operating two phones at once, lol)
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I really, REALLY miss those crab apple trees!!

So, I’d love to know, do any of you play Ingress? Has anyone even heard of it? I never had but now I’m discovering way more people play than I had thought. We’re really having fun with it.

My crispy arm is yelling at me, so maybe I should slather some more cream on before I head to work. TTYL folks!

It’s JUNE!

Happy June!!!

Did you hear that noise? It’s the sound of Spring whizzing out the door.

We had a chilly weekend here in Green Bay. It was cold and drizzly on Saturday morning but Alex had signed up for a 5K and so we were huddled in the car snapping pictures from the windows. I probably wouldn’t have normally went but this event was called “Chocolate Fest” and I was lured by the hopes of spectator goodies…

Alex with some of his friends after the race:

chocolate run

There were definitely an abundance of old shoes worn for the race. Probably good it was only a 5K. Alex did really, really well and was only 11 seconds off his PR time. Who knows, maybe the cold and rain helped?

I went through a complete upheaval this past week at work. You won’t believe this, but over the past 6 weeks I’ve had almost no work to do. None. Zilch. My days felt so long and tiring because I was sitting in front of my computer with no meetings, no work, and nothing to accomplish. Being swamped definitely stinks but being bored out of your mind is equally horrible. I’d get home from work feeling like it had been 3 days instead of 1 and felt exhausted.

Anyway, my boss finally took my pleas to heart and found me a couple tiny things to work on. Turns out, they aren’t really tiny and now I’m going from zero to 120% trying to get caught up. Where’s the sweet middle ground?? I ended up working LATE on Friday just trying to catch up – and that never happens.

Our Friday night we went out to Olive Garden for dinner. Neither of us felt like cooking. They have a couple two dish combos going on right now. I like a bit of variety!


And of course we spent time being cute and silly…


Last night was (supposedly) the last really cold night so I’m hoping that I can finally, finally, finally get the green light to plant the garden. I planted a few peppers and a cherry tomato… and was out 4 times putting tarps and bed sheets over the plants to protect them. Sadly, my plants don’t look so good despite the extra work and effort.

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And whoa baby, how did I get 500 zillion raspberry bushes??!! I’ve been putting off thinning them out but I really need to get in there and start yanking away or it will be way too thick for any kind of picking. If this is what’s going to happen every year, I might need to re-think the raspberries a little bit… All this from 10 small plants!

So lots to do around the yard. The rabbits are back in full force and haven’t been jumping into our cages. Grrr. We haven’t caught a single one! They must be getting smarter… or just really enjoying nibbling on the fresh flowers in my front yard rather than the mountain of apples we’re laying in the traps.

Warmer weather on the way too, so hopefully some good afternoons for lounging out and working on a tan. We’ve got lilac trees just on the verge of blooming and since my tulips and crab apples are long gone, I am excited for more color and pretty floral smell in the air.

Here’s hoping this June is amazing!!!

Celebrating in the Rain

You know what the best thing is about getting into the office on a Monday morning?

When that Monday is really a Tuesday. But you still need coffee!!


What a fabulous long weekend. Aren’t Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends just fantastic? I never take a Monday off unless it’s a holiday… but now I’m re-thinking that because no work on Monday is plain awesomeness!

Our fun weekend shenanigans began on Thursday though with a dinner out with my family. We checked out a restaurant my brothers had never been to and got there early enough to snag a great table by the window (too sunny for pictures but great for viewing). I was dying for broasted chicken which came with a delicious salad. nom nom

009 010On the way home it began to rain. This is quite common around Memorial Day weekend. One of the suburbs of Green Bay has all kinds of concerts and festivities throughout the weekend and the joke is that it always rains and turns the festival grounds into a muddy pit.

014 015Saturday morning I got going fairly early because I wanted to get in a 4mile walk before it got too hot out. Last week I walked 3 miles and thought I was going to fall over, so I got up earlier and it worked out pretty well. I’m breaking in my new shoes but I’m still battling really wet feet. I usually put baby powder in my socks before a long walk, which helps, but doesn’t completely solve the issue with hot points on the balls of my feet, so still working on that issue. There was more rain Saturday evening so we stuck inside.

On Sunday our day was jam-packed. We were celebrating my dad’s birthday and I volunteered to tackle the cake baking. A couple years ago Dad requested a lemon cake – which turned into a dismal failure – so I decided to try making one myself. I ended up combining two different recipes to make a lemon cake with raspberry filling topped with a lemon meringue frosting.

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I’ve always loved how silly my family is. <3 Here’s dad – ice cream scoop in one had and cake cutter in the other!


The cake turned out really, really well. I’m not sure I personally am a big meringue frosting fan (plus, it was a pain to cook) but Ben really loved it because it wasn’t as sweet as other frostings. The raspberry definitely made the cake! Delicious and bursting with intense lemon flavor. Mmm-mmm

We had a delicious dinner of Texas taco bake and followed it up with Cranium. I also inhaled mom’s flowers – lilacs and lily of the valley are soooo beautiful and smell insane. I want both at our house!

032 033 031 030It rained most of Sunday so we skipped the evening fireworks. Monday morning we went down in the drizzle to watch the parade. Alex just put in his notice and is starting a new job soon, so this was his last parade. Too bad because it’s nice having someone on the inside to chuck the good candy towards me. :)

038 039Happy Memorial Day!


And what parade would be complete without a random photo of the ground… and my foot?
042It drizzled through most of the parade but there was never enough rain that it was worrisome. We left the parade to tackle some Memorial Day sales at the furniture store. It’s time we removed Ben’s falling apart furniture from the basement!

It felt like we were constantly on the move all weekend and yet there’s a pile of dirty clothes begging to be washed and a very dirty kitchen that still needs cleaning. I guess that’s my job for tonight!


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