Monthly Archives: July 2011

and finally time for our farewell…

following such an eventful evening meant the kids needed a low-key day, even though it would be our final day in ohio. i had an opportunity to “escape” with aunt marcia, aunt ibby and my mother (in law) for some boutique shopping, lunch and antique shopping.


lunch was enjoyed at this cute restaurant called the Tree Top:

mom and i each had a spinach & swiss quiche (mmmm!) with a salad. ibby had the peach salad which was DELISH (i tasted it) and marcia had the BBQ chicken (pork?) pita which also looked yummy (and huge!). my lunch also included this YUMMY sangria:


and then we were off to some antique stores (which are in old barns and old…. OLD and not air conditioned) houses:


two pieces we found that i loved but could not fit into my vehicle to come home (nor could i afford them!) were this old post office desk:


and this old jeweler’s bench:


i found this cute picture about teething:

which was VERY appropriate, since alex cut her FIRST tooth right BEFORE our trip and cut her SECOND tooth DURING our trip!


here’s a close up at the words:


following some fun finds (i purchased 3 blocks, a tape measure, 2 numbers and a small printers tray/drawer – because the 3 i bought at the auction several days earlier weren’t quite enough!) but far too much heat & humidity, we found our way to an air conditioned Caribou Coffee:

do you think it was wrong of me to ask “do you have anything that tastes like a mocha frappacino from starbucks?” when i placed my order?! (in case you’re wondering, this is called a chocolate something-or-other…. far less “dramatic” or “enticing” than ordering a mocha frappacino…. but it did taste just like a mocha frap, so i was happy.)


when we got back into aunt marcia’s car (we drove two cars to the first location and then all piled into one car after that), her dash showed a ridiculous temperature:

and yes, i do believe it was really that hot.


for our final day in ohio, we had dinner at great grandpa&grandma’s house. and the whole gang was together one more time. it’s hard to explain how ENJOYABLE it is to SIMPLY BE TOGETHER. we don’t have to do anything. we don’t have to go anywhere. dinner doesn’t have to be fancy. it’s just about being together. talking. laughing. playing with the kids.

and even though great-grandma had far more cuddle time with alex, great grandpa did get some opportunities to love on the youngest great-grandchild. and he was pretty elated with her!



alex continues to be obsessed with hair. i don’t think it has ANYTHING to do with her mommy or daddy’s full heads of dark, curly hair!  ;)   we’ve watched her sit almost motionless for at least 20 minutes while examining a single strand of hair. she seems to be mesmerized by studying it:



and then, “just like that,” it was time to leave. time for a final trip to SUPER walmart. time to return to ibby & arnie’s house to pack up our stuff. time to say “good bye.” i’ll admit it, i almost cried. and i’m pretty sure i refused to say “good bye” to any of them.


and then, after a short night’s sleep, it was time to finish loading the car (please do NOT ask dave about the WINDOW i bought that had to be PACKED in our car!) and wave good-bye to arnie & ibby.


and with that farewell, our adventure in ohio was over and our vacation was coming to a close. super big sigh.

ohio: the [almost] completed story

please pardon my memory and my sharing as i backtrack here to finish up our wild and crazy 23 day adventure!


on monday morning (july 18), after a fun and full sunday, we had to say good bye to cousin jonathan, who had to return to work (late):


we enjoyed playing and eating lunch at great grandpa & great grandma’s house. did you know that great grandma (dave’s grandma) is VERY stylish? just check out her cool kicks:

does YOUR grandma wear cool shoes like this? nope? i didn’t think so. grandma is one of a kind…. i LOVE you grandma! (‘cuz she’s also cool enough to read my blog regularly)!


dinner was at aunt marcia and uncle jon’s house. they own the dune buggy we drove around elyria in THIS post. and the one the kids’ played in as shown in THIS post. along with pulling out some of cousin jonathan’s old toys from the attic, uncle jon bought the kids their own (mini) dune buggies:

it’s hard to see in the photo, but he bought them their own matchbox dune buggies. their cars are purple: it was the closest he could find to his dune buggy’s color. despite that, they still wanted his other mini dune buggy (which is the KEYCHAIN that holds the KEYS to his REAL dune buggy)!


that piano was pretty cool and it occupied the kids (and a few adults) for quite awhile (AND it kept the kids off the REAL piano) but when this LEGO bucket full of old McDonald’s happy meal toys arrived:

all three kids were playing and playing and playing and playing and playing for well over an hour. who knew that “free” toys, over 15 years old, from mc donalds could provide so many hours of entertainment?


i was attempting to get a wide angle/group shot here. samantha has a new favorite “face” to make for the camera:

i think aunt marcia and i are the only two NOT in the above photo. sorry, aunt marcia!


TUESDAY: july 19 was a big day for the Munchkins. they got to see great grandpa & grandma along with REGULAR grandpa & grandma!


after a little enjoyment at the greats’ house, we headed back to jon & marcia’s house for lunch (uncle jon was at work, though). after lunch, dad and dave went to visit/tour uncle jon’s office/work site. he even snuck them into the work floor (they were both wearing open toed shoes!) and he made a little souvenir for them on one of the machines. i’ll have to show you that later (once i find it in my computer bag…. it’s currently been swallowed up by all the papers, stubs, information pamphlets and more that i gathered on our journey!)


while the D2 and D3 were gone, Samantha was enjoying making tea (or was it coffee?) for great grandpa…. only he was asleep when she tried to share it with him:

so then she found some other excitement in mommy’s sunglasses and aunt marcia’s shoes:

[we are in SERIOUS trouble with this girl. i have a feeling she will have a very, VERY large shoe collection... she LOVES shoes!]


it was time to head back to aunt ibby & uncle arnie’s house for naps and prep time for the big birthday bash that evening. following a brief time of toy pot banging:

alex took a nice nap and so did the other two Munchkins:

(i love that davey fell asleep on the FLOOR instead of on his MAT!)


when the kids awoke, the party was getting underway, as all the guests had arrived…. including REGULAR GRANDPA:



a yummy dinner was followed with various ice cream treats, including this “birthday party in a cone” that davey enjoyed:

and cards & presents:


and then lots of picture taking and playing outside:

there are four generations of David C Dunkins in this photo. it makes my heart happy:



and here’s the gang… my apologies to anyone who is not a “fan” of how they look in this photo. i might have better luck with one of the photos on dave’s camera, but this is the only one from my camera:

and i couldn’t resist the opportunity for a new Dunkin Family of FIVE photo:


the kids couldn’t get enough of uncle jon SPINNING them in the yard:

too bad Uncle Jon couldn’t do it all night long… he got a little dizzy, too. so dave and i each tried to help out… and i don’t know about dave, but i got REALLY dizzy!


alex’s hair got really curly (due to the humidity, perhaps?)


mom and dad were pretty tired, having traveled ALL DAY the day before and having a SHORT night of sleep, starting around 2 a.m.


i neglected to pay enough attention to my children while they were blowing these bubbles (scented and from the Dollar Tree and they worked AWESOME!):

‘cuz when they were “all done” they simply emptied the remaining bubble liquid onto the grass. sigh. sorry, uncle arnie!


and though this photo is very dark, what would a summer night in Ohio be without firefly hunting?


and then the party started to break up. people headed home. we made our way back inside. the kids found aunt ibby’s massage chair (purchased for only $70 at an auction!):


and then we all CRASHED into bed… quite tired.

the perfect ending

so we’re in boise, idaho. we’re packing up our belongings from jeff & becky’s house and we’re getting ready for the final leg home. this was the perfect place to end our trip…. we have been blessed to see family and friends all along the way, to hit limited construction zones, to be re-routed BEFORE encountering road closures (many thanks to Zach & Sarah for that one!) and many, many other road trip blessings. we have a number of hours to go today, but i feel a bit refreshed. perhaps i’ll be kind and loving mommy in the car today?!   :)


photos and updates from the rest of our journey to come soon.

just another family sunday….

a sunday with the dunkins involves all kinds of fun activities…. all starting after church, of course.


we all met up after church at Wendy’s (on Cleveland Street, not on Abbe Road!) for a tasty, non-spicy lunch. when it came time to eat, we segregated like they do at a junior high dance…. boys at one table and girls at another. alex made herself QUITE comfortable in a high chair. dave spilled the whipped cream off uncle arnie’s milkshake (doh!) and samantha ate all of aunt marcia’s fries (she even dipped a few into marcia’s chili, though we managed to avoid any double dipping sessions!).


following lunch, we returned to our respective homes, changed clothing and met up again at ibby & arnie’s place. the girls (minus sam and alex and PLUS uncle arnie) headed to Medina to the art walk/show and a few quaint shops on the strip.

[i won't tell you that i bought a 3-pane window, KNOWING my husband would be quite frustrated with me for doing so]


the boys (minus uncle arnie but PLUS samantha and alex) played games outside and inside and then watched the USA vs JAPAN womens’ soccer final. it was awful that USA lost.



then we enjoyed dinner and dessert and more time together as a family doing a whole lot of nothing:


perhaps i shouldn’t say nothing when uncle jon worked up quite a sweat just trying to walk into the kitchen:


and once the grandparents and the company (ib & arnie’s sunday school teacher – who LOVES Logos! – and wife) headed for home, we (Uncle Jon, Aunt Marcia, Jonathan, Dave and I – Arnie and Ibby watched) got down to business gathering snacks (including very, VERY old chocolate syrup for atop his ice cream.)

(what you can’t see too clearly in that photo is the inside of the yellow plastic lid to that syrup. it’s partly BLACK! i would like to point out that ibby threw it away AFTER dave put it on top of his ice cream!)

and heading downstairs to play Kinect (for the x box):

(believe it or not, those are the FLATTERING photos of me playing these games!)


these guys did some track and field games, including running a race with HURDLES:




and when dave and i went to bed a little after 11, this is what our roommates looked like:

and it wasn’t long before dave and i resembled them!

the auction and Saturday

dave DID get me to the auction on time on friday night. with that delay on the PA Turnpike, we didn’t think we’d make it. but we did. many, MANY thanks to my kids for surviving the drive with very few stops. it was my first auction. i entered, registered and then said “hey!” to aunt ibby and uncle arnie before i wandered around to look at the goods. the room was PACKED with people AND with STUFF. several old printer’s trays. a lot of old cameras. a few other things i had my eye(s) on.


and then it was time to get started. and i think for the first hour i sat with my mouth gaping open. a cardboard box of random sterling silver pieces went for around $800. yes, that decimal point is in the right place. and there was lots of jewelry than went pretty high, too. and furniture. there were also a lot of really NICE things that went for cheap. it was wild. the auctioneer, Kathy, was great. she’s got the fast “auctioneer speak” down and she knows if you’re only scratching your head or if you’re really bidding (because i was TERRIFIED to scratch my head…. or my nose…. i really didn’t want to bid on anything spendy!)! after the first hour, i felt somewhat prepared for my items to pop up. after the second hour, i was losing interest. and it was somewhere in the 3rd hour that Uncle Arnie had a talk with Tom (Kathy’s husband) and got those printers’ trays to the front of the room. by this time, however, i knew how it worked. so i waited. she started at $50 each. then $40. then $30. then $25. then $20. and finally, she said “will anyone give me $10 a tray?” and following a brief pause, she said “this is it, folks. that’s as low as i’m going” (though she said it fast in her auctioneer-speak WITH a strong Ohio-an accent) and i scrambled to find my number and i shot it up in the air. upside down, apparently.


and i WON my choice of tray(s), though i wasn’t quite sure at what price. i bubbled over with joy… adreneline was COURSING through my entire body. i jumped out of my chair to go choose which one(s) i wanted. i felt (and acted) like a contestant on the Price is Right… you know how those contestants act when they get called to Contestants’ Row?! and just as i got to the “aisle” to go up and make my choice(s), i realized that i had won them at ONLY $10 each…. so i took all 3!!  (i could make this story longer by talking about the one i almost bought in lynden for $35 or the other one i almost bought in lynden for $40, but i won’t go into any more detail than that).



and while i was at the auction, dave took the kids to arnie & ibby’s house to unpack our car. the kids were roaming free while he did the grunt work. what we found the next day was a salt & pepper shaker on the front porch. and a planter with quite a bit of salt and pepper inside!

and later on saturday, ibby and i learned that the kids were “feeding” arnie’s outdoor plants (with more salt and pepper). if you know uncle arnie at all, you’ll know that this is a BIG deal. they have a GORGEOUS back (and front!) yard and he has spent hundreds of hours working in their yard (he’s now a retired school teacher – junior high science). on top of “feeding the plants,” i also found salt and pepper inside one of the toy picnic baskets…. with LEMONADE. davey oh-so-logically explained that they were using their lemonade to clean out the salt and pepper. [duh, mom!]


following the “cooking” incident on the front porch, dave loaded the kids back into the pathfinder and drove over to eat, play and visit with uncle jon, aunt marcia and cousin jonathan. from what i hear, there was a LOT of crazy fun happening!


and then on saturday, dave took an opportunity to get away and kayak with uncle jon and cousin jonathan on black river. the only photos i have are from uncle jon’s camera phone.


while dave was off working and playing, the kids, ibby and i hung out around the house. davey wanted to play the piano like aunt ibby (“wiff all fingers”)


and we played outside with some toys mommy packed for the trip:


and we played inside with blocks:


and alex practiced carpet swimming:



and then we all had a very nice NAP before heading to grandpa&grandma’s house for dinner. and following dinner, there was lots and lots of family fellowship time.


and great grandpa tried to eat samantha’s lollipop MANY times:


and a very special moment occurred when samantha found great grandpa’s Bible and carried it “very carefully” to the couch so she could read a story to her daddy:

unfortunately for samantha, the story of Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Mr. MacGregor is NOT included in great-grandpa’s Bible.

being thankful

saying goodbye isn’t easy… especially when you’re saying good bye to nana for the next few months:


but i guess it gets a little easier when mommy agrees to hold you upside down:


and then you get in the car, drive to the grocery store to buy Tastykakes for Dave’s coworkers and gas for the car and Dunkin Donuts (and Munchkins) for those of us who can tolerate gluten….


and then you get back on this overpriced road:


and then you get stopped outside a tunnel on said expensive and overpriced road:

because there’s an accident INSIDE the tunnel. and then you breathe and remember to be thankful that it’s not YOU who was in the accident in the tunnel. and you get out of the car and grab your lunches that you ARE VERY THANKFUL you packed back at nana’s house. and you also take your baby out of the carseat to change her wet diaper. and you pray for the safety and health of those who were in the accident, especially when you see the ambulance drive into the tunnel.


and after 45 minutes later, you’re driving through the tunnel with everyone strapped into their seats and you’re thankful the delay wasn’t longer.


and later, when you’re pulling out of a rest area, you’re reminded that it’s someone sweet’s 4th birthday. you’re reminded of this buy a really cool uncle and aunt (Jeff & Taryn) who call to wish their favorite (ahem! only) nephew a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

and then you get the biggest kick out of listening to one side of a conversation. your son’s first REAL telephone conversation. and jeff, i promise you, davey was saying that he was excited to play with the lincoln logs at ibby & arnie’s house b/c he had some at home but mommy took them away because he was using them as swords and drumsticks…. (and i’ll tell you that uncle arnie took them away for the same reason!)!




and then you say farewell to the state where you lived a large portion of your life (at least 14 years):


and then you get ready to get on this toll road that’s not nearly as expensive as the previous one (but any fee is too much):


and then you realize that your destination isn’t too far away and you start to get excited that your husband might actually get you to the auction on time!   :)

never enough time….

this post contains some final not-yet-shared photos from our time in pennsylvania. we had a WONDERFUL time relaxing and visiting with family and friends by the pool. nana made sure we ate and were entertained. every day the kids were SPOILED ROTTEN (as they should be by their nana!). they received  a SURPRISE every day. it was usually MULTIPLE items each day and these “daily surprises” were on TOP of some clothing items nana had purchased, special foods and drinks, already existing toys that she said they could take home, books and more.



one day, alex received a duck that flaps it’s wings and LAUGHS if/when you TICKLE it. she thinks it’s pretty cool. 


sam enjoyed wearing nana’s glasses (she does this with her grandma’s glasses, too):


after a day at the beach, the twins christened nana’s bathtub with the FIRST bath… this is the same tub they watched nana grout on our first night here.


another one of the daily surprises included marshmallow guns for the twins:

nana had to buy more marshmallows (sam ate all the others) so while sam was at the hardware store with daddy, davey and nana got busy shooting marshmallows into each other’s mouths….


nana had saved a large cardboard box (from her bathroom remodel) and she PAINTED IT with indoor wall paint so the kids could have a little house (she let them draw/paint on it, too, to decorate it)


and just a few “portraits” of my favorite people:


we had a wonderful time in pennsylvania and we were sad to leave but we know that all good things must come to an end.

a visit with the Benners

for our final day in PA, we relaxed and enjoyed our morning. i worked on some of the previous blog posts you’ve enjoyed. the kids played. dave was a handyman (new sliding screen door, downstairs phone installed on the wall and picnic bench repaired). and then in the afternoon, we had some special visitors.


this chica:

has been a blessing to me for a long, long time.


her name is Michelle (Rineer) Benner. and she calculated that we were 18 when we met (freshman year of college) so we have now known each other for HALF of our lives (or come this fall we will have). that slightly depressed me when i realized that…. ‘cuz it means i’m growing older. but Shell has been one of my closest and dearest friends for the past 18 years. we met through some mutual friends our freshman year. we started running together (oh that low grade incline!!) and then when i transferred to another school our Sophomore year, she was the ONLY ONE who kept in touch (and this was BEFORE e-mail was commonplace). were in not for michelle, i probably never would have gone to school in Jerusalem, Israel (and my life would be VASTLY different right now!). at this point, i think it’s been 5 or 6 or 7 years since we last saw each other and yet, we can pick up as though time has stood still. i LOVE and VALUE those friendships b/c i know they are rare gems.


so on this day, our last day in PA (thursday, july 14), phil & shelly drove 3 (?) hours south to spend the afternoon with us and our kiddos. between us, we now have FIVE children. Davey is 4 (almost!), Ari is 3, Sam is 2-1/2, Nate is 2 and Alex is 1. Ari and Nate are adopted and they are biologically brother and sister (and they’re only 11 months apart). so it was a crazy day. but so much fun! we enjoyed swimming, swimming, swimming, laughing, talking, Papa Johns pizza for dinner, otter pops & ice cream sandwiches for dessert, bikes (davey and sam’s), playing inside, playing outside, hugs, laughs and more.


davey was being a bit shy here and samantha and alex were asleep:


at some point, pretty early on in the visit, ari became dave’s little buddy. i think it’s the hair. ari has GORGEOUS hair. but it was a special bond that they shared. it was cool.



nate fell in love with alex. just wait a few more years, okay buddy, before you ask her to marry you?!


and i’d really like to commend ari and nate for being GREAT huggers. EVERYONE got hugs from BOTH of them… and usually more than one!



we couldn’t let the visit pass without a fun group shot activity. i would like to point out that we took a grand total of TWO group photos. one “nice” photo and one “crazy” photo. pretty impressive with our assortment of characters, i’d say!

so many, MANY thanks to phil, shelly, ari and nate for journeying south to see us! we had a grand time with you and we hope it’s not nearly so long until we meet again!


the jersey shore

have you ever seen that reality tv show about Jersey Girls? or is it the Jersey Shore? whatever the case, it’s part of the east coast experience. and how could we possibly drive across the country from our little neck of the woods to the east coast and not “finish” the journey so we could say we traveled “coast to coast?!”


on wednesday, july 13, alex woke up congested. not as badly as when we started our trip, but still enough for the morning to not go very smoothly. so even though it was her birthday (poor thing was sick on her FIRST birthday!), we left her behind. she and nana had a wonderful day and we KNEW she would be well loved. that decided, dave and i took davey and samantha to the atlantic ocean. we journeyed to Island Beach State Park and enjoyed our adventure despite the crowded beach, the sand flies, the overcast skies, a few rain drops and the COLD atlantic (it’s usually SO WARM – can anyone tell me why it was COLD?!).



the boardwalk from the changing rooms and rest rooms to the beach:

the colorful umbrellas and the sand dotted with sheets, towels, blankets, etc:


thinking about getting wet:


with our children, samantha is normally the BRAVE one. the VERY brave one. and davey is usually more reserved. so we were pretty SHOCKED to have this be the “norm” for our day at the beach:

sam was busy running out of/away from the water while davey enjoyed jumping and splashing in it!




after awhile, dave was even able to convince davey to join him in the deeper water (though davey insisted on being held the entire time). sam finally decided she wanted to be out there with davey, too, so i put my camera down and EXPERIENCED LIFE with my family. it was FUN. but then sam was afraid of the bigger waves and she was pretty much finished with the ocean….


(and yes, there are a few photos of me at the beach. i believe they are all on dave’s camera.) i attempted to build sand castles with the kids but sam kept destroying them. we started to dig a hole but i (internally) freaked out a bit when i saw some tiny “organisms” in the water that filled the hole.


within 3 minutes of being buckled into her car seat (post shower, changing back into clothing and loading everything into our vehicle), sam was OUT LIKE A LIGHT:


and we had to wake her up for our “special treat” – ice cream at The Sundae Times (a little mom&pop ice cream shop that does NOT accept credit or debit cards).


and within 20 minutes of getting back in the car after that surprise stop, this was what we saw:

davey was out first (within about 5 minutes of getting in the car). sam took a little longer (‘cuz she had that 5 minute snooze BEFORE we got ice cream).

ohio continued

i must back up a moment. on wednesday night, after we arrived at great grandpa & grandma’s house, uncle jon & aunt marcia came by for a little visit. they live just a few miles away and it was a nice, midwest summer evening, so they drove over in uncle jon’s dune buggy.

the kids LOVED playing in it!


they also loved sitting on the front porch with daddy and great grandpa. for some reason, great grandpa is the world’s greatest climbing structure:


this pole is in the basement at great grandma & grandpa’s house. dave remembers trying to climb it when he was a kid. and now our two older kids tried climbing it (and loved every minute of trying to do so).

i love repeating family memories.


on friday morning, we sat down as a family of 4 (alex was napping) with dave’s grandparents and watched the final space shuttle launch:

i’m still in shock and awe every time i watch the movie Apollo 13. the space program is so flippin’ cool. it’s hard to believe we’re finished.


during the afternoon, while samantha napped and the greats did things around the house, i sat outside and enjoyed the warm summer air and the beauty of grandma’s back yard:

alex loved this toy at great grandpa&grandma’s house…. her favorite part was the mirror, followed closely by the music:

(notice davey playing with my iPhone in the background? this was day number 6 of our trip and it was the first time he had asked to play with my phone. that’s pretty darn amazing for him!)


dave did a lot of this over the two days we were at his grandparents’ house:

while i tried to do some of this:

(moving photos from camera and phone to laptop and updating this blog!)


and we enjoyed lots and lots of random moments of LIFE with grandma & grandpa.

we’re trying to treasure these moments. these are dave’s dad’s parents and they are the only living grandparents for either of us.



on friday evening, we headed over to uncle jon & aunt marcia’s house for dinner (with the whole family). the kids enjoyed playing with toys aunt marcia had saved from cousin jonathan’s childhood:

(i think that photo of alex is one of my new favorites of her!)


along with fun kids’ toys, uncle jon has some fun grown up toys. well, not “toys,” per se, but to him, they are. they’re his inventions. he works for Ridge Tools and they create a line call Ridgid that sells nationwide at Home Depot (among other places, I believe). Uncle Jon has quite a few patents on various items. I don’t know the details of any of them, but here’s davey, playing with a gas detector (see… it’s near alex’s diaper…. he’s checking for a gas leak!). i don’t know what part of it uncle jon designed.


for dinner,we (easily) squeezed around the table

after dinner, we moved outside where shoes are optional:

and where this little girl:

found joy in a simple rattle:


uncle jon was the hero of the evening by providing mirrors for the kids’ bikes:

only i don’t think this is how they’re supposed to use them:

uncle jon and dave joined the bike riding melee:


and then it was time for a ride in the dune buggy:



and when we came back, i found this:

sorry grandma, but it was aunt marcia’s turn to have the “magic touch!”




it wasn’t easy to say “good bye” in the morning, but knowing that we’d be back in a week made it easier: