Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BIG news!!

Hey there!

I've been working on checking things off my long-term to-do list in the past week, or so, before summer wraps up.  This has included working on/completing various tasks at Arts Inc., finding my own health insurance plan, and...buying a NEW CAR!!!!

No, I hadn't been looking for long.  Yes, I'd been thinking about it for a while.

As much as I love, love, love Paulette the Prelude, I knew I didn't want to go through another winter wondering whether or not I'd be able to get out of the driveway, to/from work, etc. in the snow.  Also, more space would be ideal when helping friends move, carpooling to various events, and hauling trumpets/groceries/music boxes/kiddos with car seats.
Paulette will be going back to her home in Topeka...and will surely be missed in Lincoln.
So, I decided that if I'm going to go bigger, I'm going to go big...SUV-big.  My parents had also been looking to upgrade and had done some worth-while research that was very valuable to me once I decided to start car-shopping.  I did a little looking and researching on my own and found this:
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (Turbo)
It was everything I didn't completely know I was looking for, and was a really sweet deal - a used car, but a 2013 model!  I decided to test drive a couple other makes/models of similarly-sized vehicles before seeing the Santa Fe in person.  I wasn't super impressed with them, and all the Santa Fe's great attributes I'd seen on paper more than confirmed when I saw and drove it for the first time.  It was meant to be.  ☺

The guys at the dealership (Sid Dillon of Lincoln) were not pushy, but instead, were very helpful and so accommodating through my entire first car-buying-experience.

Because they needed to detail the car and I needed to finalize my auto insurance, I didn't drive it off the lot the day I bought it.  So, it didn't really feel real for awhile...even after signing 74,152 forms and writing the largest check I've written to date.

Buuut...when I got to drive it home (to work) the next day (today), I realized, "OH MY GOSH!!!  I JUST BOUGHT A NEW CAR!!!!  AHHHH!!!!!!"
It doesn't hurt that a friend works in the detail shop at the dealership and put some extra hours and elbow grease into making it extra beautiful.  LOVE it!!!
I haven't decided on a name, yet, but I'm pretty sure it's a "he."  Bring on the suggestions!  ☺


Favorites of the day:
wedding-induced reunions
prayerfully-supported life decisions
garden-fresh cherry tomatoes
good grammar

Meanwhile, at the coop...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

PA or bust!

Happy belated 4th of July!

As most of you know, I recently took a trip with my parents to visit my brother who is living in Pennsylvania this summer for an internship.  We had such a wonderful time, and I'd love to tell (and show!) you all about it.  ☺

We departed on Saturday morning and prepared ourselves for the 17+ hour drive.
Super-comfy beds and a pool/hot-tub welcomed us in Colombus, OH.
We were very excited to see this sign after 2 days in the car!
Because we made good time and it was on the way, we made a stop in Hershey.  Mom and dad had been there, before, but it's a pretty neat place, and I didn't want to be as close as we were and not stop to take in all the sights, stories, and smells that town has to offer.

We took a trolley tour of the city, and it was very fun and informative.  A couple "natives" gave the history of Mr. Hershey and his company in a pretty entertaining format, complete with singing, dancing, and free chocolate.
Audience participation was a must.

The Hershey House
The Hershey School (for underprivileged children)
In addition to the chocolate factory, there's an amusement and water park, as well as a large arena/entertainment venue.
Quinton is living in Lititz, PA - about 30 minutes from New Holland, where he's working for CNH (Case New Holland).  The company makes living arrangements for their interns, and Q got in on a pretty sweet set-up.  In true form, he had it set up like a hotel for us upon our arrival...complete with mood music...and donuts.  ☺
Once upon a time, Q made a seal with a "B" on it - please note the sealing wax securing the washcloths.

Since Q had to work the first three days we were there, we had ample time to be tourists.  On the first day, we went on an Amish Farm and Home tour.  This included a tour of an old Amish farm home, a bus tour of the surrounding countryside and farms, and a self-guided tour of an Amish farm property.  This was definitely on of the highlights of the trip for me - I'm fascinated by their lifestyle!
(There was just water in there.)
This little guy strangely resembled Charlie the cat...
The Amish children (and adults) ride scooters, rather than bicycles, so they can't travel too far.
Dad took one for a spin.
Pretty sure the "teacher face" is universal.

It was wash day when we were there, so there were clothes hanging everywhere we went, and on the longest clotheslines ever!

After the tour, we were hoping to eat lunch at an Amish farmer's market, but were disappointed to find out it wasn't open on Mondays.  While we were driving to find a new authentic eatery, however, we passed a farm with a couple large tents set up and lots of cars and buggies parked nearby.
We decided to stop in and found out it was an annual fundraiser for special needs children hosted by the Amish community.  There were families selling all sorts of yummy things to eat and an auction going on.  We enjoyed some delicious food and good conversation with the locals (in addition to some very interesting people-watching).
Ribs and potatoes (not pictured: homemade BBQ sauce, coleslaw, roll and butter)
Fresh (filled) donuts, fry pie, and "whoopie" pies (Did you know these originated in Amish communities?)
That afternoon, we explored the area in hopes of finding some of the covered bridges we saw on a local map.  Apparently, many of the bridges in the area are wooden, so they're covered to protect the materials from nature's elements.

That evening, Quinton prepared a lovely (and delicious) meal for us and took me on a scenic motorcycle ride.

The next day began with a mission to find my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather's grave site.  Guided by my grandma's careful instructions, we found his headstone.  We were also able to look inside the church and talk with a long-time member of the congregation.  (These pictures are mostly for the sake of those family members reading who might not be able to see it in person.)

From the Muddy Creek Church, we drove to Gettysburg.  It was the 150th anniversary of the battle, and we happened to be there on one of the days the battle actually took place.  Consequently, the place was packed!  Tours were sold out, traffic was crazy, and there were enthusiasts and reenactors everywhere.  We took in as much as we could, though - ate at an "authentic" restaurant in a house that still had bullet holes in the bricks, looked around the visitor's center, took a self-guided driving/hiking tour of the battle grounds, and visited the cemetery and site of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
The movie "Gettysburg" was shot here, and they had some of the costumes and props on display.

The next morning started with Swedish pancakes for the birthday boy before he headed to work!  ☺

Then, we spent the morning and early afternoon walking around downtown Lititz.  There was a chocolate factory to tour, a cute park to explore, and some fun shops to peruse.

After Dad went on a motorcycle adventure (per Quinton's prompting), we went to New Holland to get a tour of the plant and building where Q is working.  We couldn't take pictures of most things, but I don't know that I'd be able to re-explain all the processes and duties Q shared with us, anyway!  He absolutely loves what he's doing there, and it was so cool to hear him tell about it all.  Though they do lots more than production at this location, the plant there produces balers...and there were sooo many parked, ready to be shipped and sold!
After our tour, we went to a buffet Q had heard about.  The place was enormous, the food was soooo good (authentic PA Dutch cooking...and lots of it!), and Q got an unexpected free meal for his b-day!
The next day was July 4th, so Quinton was off work, and we headed to Philidelphia for the day.  Because it was a holiday, and a pretty special one for that particular city, we ran into some unexpected closures, but also some perks of being there on such a monumental day.  After finding and listening to the Wanamaker Organ (amazing - check it out!), we walked around the city all morning and afternoon and saw all the historic sites we hoped to.
We started at the art museum in hopes of seeing it up close before they started setting up the fireworks, but they already had it blocked off, so this was as close as we got to the Rocky steps...oh well!
Don't worry - we ate a philly in Philly.

Betsy Ross' house
Benjamin Franklin's grave
Looking pensive in the Quaker meeting house.
Quaker meeting house

First Bank of the U.S.
Second Bank of the U.S.

The Liberty Bell

Independence Hall 

They rang the bells the day we were there...just like they did on July 4, 1776.
This is where George Washington and his family sat!  They got a double-wide pew.
That evening was spent partaking in the city's July 4th celebration.  There was a street festival with lots of vendors, music, and people and America's largest free concert later that evening.  The host band at the concert was "The Roots" - the band from the Jimmy Fallon show - and they were joined by special guests including Ne-yo, Hunter Hayes, and John Mayer!  There were hundreds of thousands of people there, and it was pretty cool to be a part of it all.  After a long day of walking, we claimed our spot for the fireworks fairly early in the evening, so we got in some quality people-watching and music-listening time.  The fireworks were spectacular, and we made it out of the city traffic in decent time afterward.

We all slept in a bit the next morning, packed up, and headed back west.  We stayed in Indiana on our way back and partook in some White Castle cuisine, then picked up some St. Louis-style pizza for lunch the next day on our way though STL.

I found an app for the "license plate game" on my phone, and we saw all but three states!  (I just saw a Vermont plate while driving through downtown Lincoln yesterday - go figure!)
Documentation of the states we traveled through on this trip.
On every family vacation we've taken the past couple of years, we've commented that it could be our last with just the 4 of us.  Somehow, though, we keep finding reason and opportunity to continue seeing the country and making memories together.  I'm so thankful for my selfless dad who drove almost the entire trip, my expert co-pilot mom, and on this trip, my ultra-hospitable brother.

Not a lot to share where life at the coop is concerned.  We don't teach regular lessons in July, so I only have 3-5 a week, and all during the day, rather than evening hours.  I'm making up for not being at the studio in extra hours at Arts Inc., though - llooottttsss to do there!

Sure hope this finds you well and staying as cool as possible.

(This one took it out of me - I'm fresh out of witty salutations...),

P.S. Holy moly - pretty sure this is my longest post ever.  Thanks to those of you who read it in its entirety!  Let me know if there's any part of the trip you'd like to hear more about.

Favorites of the day:
10-cent prints deal at Walgreens this week - just in time to print all of these!
pool time
quality time with so many great people, lately