Wednesday, December 31, 2008

STI Family Party

Kevin's office throws a family party each year. This year, STI rented out the toboggan shoots in Strongsville. Even though it was cold and windy and Isabella was too small to ride, we had a nice visit with the families, yummy donuts and warm hot chocolate. Even Santa made a visit, but Isabella wasn't fooled: "It's Daddy," she said right away. Even after much convincing she continued with: "I'm aggravated! It's Daddy. Those are his glasses." We finally convinced her that Daddy was asked by Santa to fill in since Santa was really busy at the North Pole. Santa gave Daddy special glitter and his suit. That way the kids wouldn't be disappointed and Santa would still get their lists. She was fine then!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our Holiday Season - Part 1

Wow! We've had a lot of Christmas fun this year. Like always, I'm behind in posting pictures of our events and parties. Sorry! But at least I know I have lots of pics to post over the next few days so visit often.

These pics are from the annual NEO Guatemalan Adoptive Families Christmas Party. A group of families with children from Guatemala get together several times a year to talk, play and raise money for families living in Guatemala. We all had a great time!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday pictures

To save some cash, I decided to take our Christmas card picture this year. I had more than 120 wallets printed at Sam's Club for less than $12. Woo hoo! Here are some of the attempts to get the pictures. The winners are below, too!

And the winners are...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Soldier's Silent Night

As Christmas nears, I want us to remember and thank our soldiers for their sacrifice for our country. Isabella prays for our soldiers each night before bed. Good bless our service men and women wherever they may be.

Please take a moment and visit this site to hear the Soldier's Silent Night.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


We put up a large tree in the living room, and Isabella puts up a tree in her room. Isabella's tree features her handmade ornaments along with ornaments from Guatemala and those she receives as gifts. This year Isabella got to put the star of the family tree.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oh, New Christmas Tree...

Kevin found the deal of Black Friday. He was up at 3:30 a.m. and out the door to hit a few places early before heading to Home Depot to buy a new Christmas tree. The Kramers gave us an old tree to use from when they lived in Florida (Kevin was in like fifth grade at the time). We've used it since we got married. It's gotten a lot of use, but it was time to retire the poor droopy tree.

He was ninth in line of about 100 people when the doors opened at 6 a.m. Our neighbor who was also there for a tree was about 50th in line. Home Depot had just 20 trees. Why the frenzy? Home Depot was selling $200 trees for just $49!

Kevin got in and grabbed not one but two trees (the second for our neighbor who was battling the crowd). Some lady nearly knocked Kevin over and then yelled at him for taking two trees. I would have loved to see Kevin's face. But he got ours and Todd got one, too.

Isabella was so excited about the tree. She's really into Santa and the reindeer this year so it's so much more exciting for me!

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Sorry for the delay in posting Thanksgiving pics. But they have been worth the wait. Isabella met cousin Matthew for the first time!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are thankful for so much - each other, our wonderful families, our friends, our health and our jobs! We are extra excited this Thanksgiving to spend it with our new nephew Matthew Sherwood Kramer who was born at 5:36 p.m. Sunday, N0v. 23 weighing 8 lbs. 9 oz. at 20.5 inches long. Mom, dad and baby are doing well. To check out pics of the cutie, visit Grandma and Grandpa Kramer were married 35 years ago on Nov. 23 so they got a special anniversary surprise! And Tim and Melissa celebrated their third anniversary yesterday. Lots happening in family! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Santa is Coming to Town

Isabella sat with Santa for the first time ever! She even told him what she wanted for Christmas - a Mickey Mouse Speed Racer, or in her words, "A Mickey Mouse Car Park." We were so shocked that she sat with him, we weren't even ready for the picture. In fact, I told the picture people not to worry about her. When we saw Isabella sitting with Santa, we scrambled to get a picture. It didn't come out too bad, but Isabella did have her "terrified smile."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Busy at Work

Many of you know that I recently went back to work.

I'm back at Kent State, this time full-time. I've been consulting for Kent State for more than a year. I began talking with them back in March to come to work full-time. Well, it finally came to pass. I'm the new Manager of Public Relations and Marketing for the College of Communication and Information. I will oversee PR and marketing for four schools and one program: Communication Studies, Journalism and Mass Communication, Library and Information Science, Visual Communication Design and IAKM (Information Architecture and Knowledge Management).

Isabella started preschool this week. She goes twice each week for 2.5 hours each day. The rest of the time, she's with Grandma Mary. Thank goodness, she's with Grandma!

My boss is really flexible. Once I get set up in this new position (it's a new position for the university, too.), I will be able to work for home some, too, so I can be with Isabella. And university benefits are a lot better than what we had.

I'm so LUCKY! I'm so thankful that I was able to get in to the university, especially during this tough time. And thanks to all of you who have sent me "congrats" messages.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Called to Duty

Isabella and I had the honor, along with Aunt Julie, Grandma Mary, Papa Steve and friends from Chris's work, to celebrate with Chris and his unit yesterday as they said farewell to northeast Ohio for yet another duty tour in Iraq.

One hundred seventy soldiers of the 135th Military Police unit based in Chagrin Falls, OH left this morning for their final state-side training exercise before re-deployment to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

We will get to see Chris briefly at Christmas before he ships off for 12 months. I can't imagine how Julie feels each time Chris leaves for training or another mission. It has to be heart-breaking! I just know how helpless I felt when she and Chris were there together a few years ago. I'm thankful that Isabella was not around then to see the worry in all our faces. Now we are trying to explain to a three year old that Uncle Chris is going to war, but Aunt Julie is here to help.

Isabella doesn't know what any of this means. She just knows that her uncle is not a few blocks away, not on the phone when she calls for him and not with Aunt Julie when we visit.
We'll send letters and photos often and Isabella says she'll draw and paint him plenty of pictures in preschool. She even gave him her "Gentle Puppy" stuffed animal to take overseas with him. Uncle Chris and Gentle Puppy are going to play in the sand for awhile. That she understands.

Blessings and prayers to SSG Christopher Madera and the troops of the 135th MP Unit!

For more on yesterday's moving ceremony, visit:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

More than one person has requested seeing the pics from my Las Vegas birthday trip. It was hard to decide which of the 510 pics to post so I created a video for you to watch. I'll warn you; it's long but the breath-taking pics of the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam are worth the time.

Kevin took me to Vegas to celebrate my 30th birthday. It was our first trip away from Bella so it was hard when she cried and asked when we were coming home. But she did great with much thanks to Grandma Sue, Papa Al and Grandma Mary and Papa Steve.

We stayed in a suite at the Treasure Island Resort. Beautiful! The weather was cold (low to mid 50s) so it was warmer here than in Vegas. Go figure. Locals said it was a fluke cold spell. The day we returned home, the temp was back up in the 80s.

We had a really nice dinner with cousins Sarah and Ben. They live in Vegas and were nice enough to take us to a fabulous restaurant called Cafe Lux. Kevin made special plans to take me to a really nice restaurant called Hugo's Cellar. The waiter gives roses to all the ladies and they had a special birthday surprise for me. Watch the video to find out!

Overall - great trip! Great way to spend a birthday!
View this montage created at One True Media
Viva Las Vegas!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Halloween Pics

We had a lot of fun trick-or-treating experiences. After a rainy night at Boo at the Zoo, we headed to Stow's special Halloween event for a warmer outdoor treat. Isabella played games, painted, went on a hayride and trick-or-treated at the campground at Silver Springs park. The next day we joined Tracy, Paige and Morgan for a sunny afternoon stroll around Brimfield to find treats. Finally, on Halloween, we enjoyed a pizza party with Grandma Sue, Papa Al, Aunt TT, Uncle Keith, Aunt Melissa, Kelsey and Kylie before heading out for our treating. The girls had a great time saying "Trick-or-Treat" and "Thank You" at each and every house.