Sunday, September 29, 2013

‘Member that time we went to Mackinac/Michigan?


At the beginning of August, we were able to spend almost two weeks in Michigan with Dan’s family. It. was. glorious. We were able to spend 1 day with my Gramma Faye in northwest Ohio (she’s 92!). We had a great dinner with Dan’s best friends from high school, their wives, kids, and parents. Right before that, we were able to have coffee with my best friend, Andrea – a new transplant to southeast Michigan.

…and then came the Fair. Once again, we were able to spend the week at the great Shiawassee County Fair. It’s better than Christmas. (Not like actual Christmas, but travelling home for Christmas.) We get to really spend quality time with Dan’s family – sister, brothers, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, hopefully-one-day-sister-in-law, niece, nephews – and Dan’s cousins, their kids, and aunts & uncles. On top of all that, we had people visit us at the fair: Jim & Attie Brix and their kids; Ben & Jessy Tirrell and their kids. Dan and Attie were state FFA officers together, Attie made our wedding cake, and they are just wonderful people. Ben and Dan worked together at the sheep barn at MSU; Dan was in Ben and Jessy’s wedding; they are also wonderful people. We wished that we lived closer to both of these families; they are such good friends. Spending time with so many beloved people was so refreshing.

Speaking of refreshing, we spent 1 day on Mackinac Island. Yes, even just one day on the Island can be considered refreshing. It is awesome & I highly recommend that every one of you visit! When we were planning our trip back, we knew we wanted to take a little ‘mini’ vacation up north, but weren’t sure whether to go to Mackinac or Traverse City. After doing a little reading about the Island, I was sold on Mackinac. It sounded like the perfect place to truly get away.

The first rule of Mackinac? No cars. No motorized vehicles. It immediately causes you to just slow down. To get around the 8-mile island, rent a bike, ride a horse, or drive a horse & buggy. It sounded perfect.

It was. Here are some pictures.

DSCN2211Mackinaw Bridge

A word about the bike ride: when I did renting bikes, I got REALLY excited when I saw that tandem bikes are available. Immediately, I thought that riding a tandem bike would be awesome – mainly because of the cute picture. In my head, it would be the cutest thing.

We could have rented bikes from our hotel…but, that morning, they were out of tandems. [The woman working at the front desk looked at Dan and said, “You’re a good husband,” when I said that our vacation would be ruined – jokingly – if we didn’t ride a tandem.] So, we went to one of the (many) bike rental companies and rented the tandem. Then, we were fitted for the bike. Then came time to push off and pedal.

I couldn’t do it.

I am, by nature, a fearful person. I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was 9. Two days after finally being brave enough to ride, I hit rough gravel, went down, and sprained my ankle. So I’m a little gun-shy with bikes. I ALSO haven’t ridden a bike in ten years. So, I’m also way out of practice. When it came time to lift my foot that had been firmly planted on the ground, I couldn’t. It was cemented.

I had to go back into the office and ask for two single bikes. When I made the request, the woman taking reservations said, “Oh, you don’t want to do the divorcycle? Probably a good idea.” 

It was. I felt really uncomfortable with the idea that I could cause BOTH of us to go falling if I didn’t do things the right way. I still had a white-knuckle grip on my bike with the fear of crashing…but, about halfway around the island, I started to relax. By the time we got back to the “city,” the day-trippers were arriving in full-force. I said a quick prayer to be able to make it through without problems – and I did! Dan was impressed that I made it through town without a problem. I also think he was shocked that riding a bike was so scary for me….

Views from our 8-mile bike ride on a beautiful morning.


After the bike ride, we visited Fort Mackinac. The first photo is one of the many beautiful homes. (I think this one was for sale for a mere $1.5 million!)


A statue of Father Marquette stands in front of the fort. This seagull thought it was the best spot to relax. The fort is located at the top of the hill (which was steep hike).


These are views of the town and harbor from the Fort. Don’t you just want to live there??


A glimpse of the horse-pulled taxis you could hop, if you grew tired of walking.


Now that I’ve convinced you to visit Mackinac Island, some advice. Staying on the island is AWESOME. We were very blessed that one of the hotels offered a Groupon Getaway that allowed us to get a room at a discounted rate. The hotel was the Harbor View Inn and was amazing. They have 3 different houses on the property, which have been renovated as individual hotel rooms. Our ‘house’ was beautiful. Our room was lovely. They serve breakfast; they have coffee and infused water available all day. Each of the houses has a wide porch with patio furniture. It was a great stay.

If you’re staying, go have a drink at the Mustang Lounge. It’s a great place to relax and meet some locals. If you’re just there for the day, go have lunch/supper there. While you’re there, get the Whitefish Dip. Trust me. You will not regret it. It’s incredible (from a non-fish enthusiast).

Mackinac’s all about the fudge. We didn’t try fudge at every place that made it. We decided to buy our fudge to share with the family at JoAnn’s. The fudge and service were terrific. We were able to try ANY fudge we wanted. Recommendation: TRY THE PENUCHE. AH-MAZ-ING. It’s a brown-butter fudge and sooo delicious. We brought home 5 kinds of fudge – and the penuche (which no one had tried before) went first. The Kieslings have discerning palates when it comes to fudge – so this is a ringing endorsement.

Visiting Fort Mackinac was fun. If you visit the fort, you will be able to visit other historic places around town, like the blacksmith.

This sign was hanging in his shop. I thought that my dad and Aunt Nancy would appreciate this. They don’t call me “5-bucks Rohrig” for nothing!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thanks, Mom

In honor of my mother's birthday today, I thought that I would share some of the lessons I learned from my mom.  This is written a bit more in the spirit of a 'roast' instead of the tear-jerker memoir. But, if I know my mom, she'll get teary even while laughing.

Thanks, Mom, for being well-dressed. Your hand-me-downs keep me looking good.

Thanks, Mom, for loving to shop. This ensures that I get those aforementioned hand-me-downs while they are still in style.

Thanks, Mom, for showing me just how long 15 minutes can last. I am positive that I learned "15-minutes" can be anywhere from 20-35 minutes from you. I thank you for the lesson; I'm not sure Dan does. :)

Thanks, Mom, for teaching me the value of a Cabbage Patch Doll. When in first grade, I really wanted a "real" Cabbage Patch Doll - not the "fake" CPDs that my mom made for me. The fake ones had weird noses and looked like they were always leaking snot. So, around Easter time, while shopping with my mom (at Sernette's!), I spotted one I wanted. She allowed me to get it, on the condition that I 'bought' it. So, for several weeks, I would do chores; my mom would hand me a dollar, and I would hand it right back to her. I learned that one CPD was enough for me. :) ...and I treasured that 'real' CPD much more than if I didn't have to work for it.

Thanks, Mom, for not reading too many parenting books. That one time that you read the book by John Rosemond was a pretty rough week for me. I didn't enjoy paying 25-cents every time I called Matt a "Butthead."

Thanks, Mom, for not realizing that I called Matt a "butthead" because the older brother on the Wonder Years called Kevin that all the time.

Also, thanks for not looking too hard when you couldn't find that parenting book anymore. I hid it in the guest room at Grandma Faye's. ...and I think it stayed there until she moved. ...and I'm not sorry.

[Also, can we just take a moment and appreciate the perfection of the insult that 'Butthead' is? It combines 'poophead' and 'fartface' into one, all-encompassing, put-down: 'butthead.']

Thanks, Mom, for teaching me power of suggestion. I can still remember your entry in my autograph book in 2nd grade:
"I chose yellow [the color of the page you wrote on] because it is one of the school colors of Iowa State. That is where I went to school and would be honored if you went there, too."  
So, from 2nd grade, I knew that in order to make my mom happy, I would have to go to Iowa State. [not that I would have ever chosen another school...but I might have at least taken a look] :)

Thank, Mom, for being such a cool Mom. Part of the reason that I always wanted my friends to come over was because I wanted to spend time with my awesome Mom. I still want my friends to hang out with you and see how great you are.

Thanks, Mom, for teaching me how to make awesome faces for photos.

Thanks, Mom, for showing me how to laugh at yourself. ...and to not take yourself too seriously. You know what best exemplifies this? ...the bumper boats at Okoboji....

Thanks, Mom, for letting me be me.

Thanks, Mom, for knowing when to tell me to just knock it off when I'm being too much of me.

Thanks, Mom, for making our house a home through your decorating. It's always welcoming, inviting and warm.

Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to work to deadlines. Company coming over in 2 hours? Plenty of time to clean the house! [To be fair, if you had cleaned the house any sooner than the day that company was coming it just would have been needed to be cleaned again...the day of.]

Thanks, Mom, for teaching me that even though the company we are cleaning for has seen a dirty house before, we should still clean the house for them, anyway.

Thanks, Mom, for instilling me with the DIY-spirit. Why spend money for something when we can have the pride and joy of doing it ourselves?

Thanks, Mom, for teaching me the power of dreaming. As in, the power of visualizing what DIY-awesomeness could be ours when Pinterest wasn't even a twinkle in their creator's eyes. The 4-H Building at the Iowa State Fair was Pinterest for generations of Iowans...and still is for my mom and me.

Thanks, Mom, for teaching me how to leave your home/family to make a new one in a new land among new people.

Thanks, Mom, for being better than a sister and a best friend. You are my teacher, my confidant, my corrector, my fashion-consultant, and my friend. I love you!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where Were You?

Today marks twelve years since the day we will never forget. Many Facebook posts today center around noting 'where we were' and the commitment to 'never forget.' I find it interesting how the details of when I heard are still so vivid. After reading my friend Andrea's post, I think we need a follow up to the 'where were you?' and ask, 'how did it effect you?'

This was Andrea's Facebook post that got me thinking:
I do remember this day, 12 years ago. Heather was my very groovy roommate. She had just stepped out of my car to go to class at ISU after we enjoyed a morning drive. I flipped on the radio as I turned the corner to head toward work. The words sank in as all other sounds and sights melted away. At work, every available TV was tuned to see the news of unfolding events. After a while, I decided that I was going to keep at the stuff of life, and for the day, that meant working, and most definitely praying, so I walked the quiet hallway to the lab. Ho-Ming strode in not long after to tell us the second tower had fallen, and I think we all looked at our work and wondered what it was worth. I decided it was worth doing. We would keep learning, creating, and living. I prayed for the victims, and for the perpetrators. For every family. For justice, for mercy, and for resolve. The lines for gas were long on the drive home, and I shook my head. I thought, if things turned bad, as long as the company stayed open, I would be working. I would also be contacting my brothers and my parents as soon as possible.

I find it interesting how the details of when I heard are still so vivid. I remember what the "early" morning September light was like, as I drove down Beach Ave. to park at the stadium. I remember tuning into 102.5 on that stretch of road. I remember pulling up to the 4-way stop of Beach & 4th St. and hearing the commanding sergeant of Camp Dodge say, "Oh my God," in a breathless, horrified whisper...and then, silence.

...and then, I pulled into the parking lot, so that I could board Cy-Ride to my Tuesday-Thursday classes, and thought, bewildered, "What is going on?" The radio dee-jays hadn't explained in the brief 2 minutes I'd been listening that the North & South Towers had been hit by planes that had been commandeered by terrorists. I knew that the South Tower had fallen, which caused the commander to utter that horrified whisper - a whisper I can still hear.

I rode Cy-Ride in a bewildered state. I walked into my classroom in Curtiss Hall desperate to know something. Only a few of my classmates mentioned it; my professor said nothing. We just had class like any normal Tuesday.

Immediately following that class was Ballroom Dancing. More was known by now - and I was filled in on some details. I don't really remember how I felt. I remember that we still danced.

Then, I went to the Memorial Union, where news coverage was being played in the Great Ballroom. I watched for a while; I took it in, in a sort of daze - what did all of this mean? ...and then, I realized that my mom was in Washington, D.C. So, I took the bus, and called home. My dad assured me that my mom was safe.

When I think back to this day, I feel like there is a swirling mist that surrounds the day. This fog of mystery and chaos enveloped us - despite the clear, bright, September day. I don't remember what I felt, but I remember feeling the need to be near God. So, I sat down at my desk and for 2-3 hours worked on a Bible study, entitled 'Becoming a Woman of Purpose.' ...and I remember in the midst of the chaos, confusion, and mystery, a sense of profound peace.

Reading Andrea's post and her response to hearing the news gives one the perfect glimpse of her. She embodies Paul's admonition to the Thessalonians to lead quiet, busy lives. She goes about her work as it were a calling.

The events of 9-11 cemented me to Christ. I was growing in my knowledge and understanding of, and relationship with Jesus in the year leading up to 9-11-01. That day, I realized that there was One to whom I could turn for purpose, for comfort, and for peace that would transcend all events and circumstances of the world. ...and this has made all the difference.