Visit to Erie, PA

09/12/2013

We took Ali up to Erie to visit the place we grew up, met, fell in love, got married and started our lives as a couple. We had the special opportunity to introduce her to her great-grandmother who she is named after. We were also blessed to spend time with other family and friends that we rarely get to see. My mom traveled up and back with us but stayed with her sister’s family for the weekend.

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The 9 hour drive was 11 hrs one way and 12 hrs the other way with a potty training toddler sick with a cold, road construction and traffic jams. But, all-in-all, she’s a great traveler. We got bored a few times.

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Jason’s and my first apartment was the second story of this house. It was so drafty the first winter (our last winter in PA!) that we almost froze to death.

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I love that we could see Lake Erie from so many places as we were driving around.

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The house I grew up in from age 9 (when we moved to Erie) until I got married at 18. Too many memories to list them all here but lots of pictures before school dances, Jason picking me up for dates, our first kiss, him asking my dad for permission to marry me, the garage sale before we moved where we sold off all our snow shovels, boots and salt bags.

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Asbury Woods Nature Center

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I used to volunteer at this nature center on Saturday mornings taking care of the animals. It’s changed so much it was hardly recognizable–in a good way.

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I have so many wonderful memories in these woods, exploring and biking with my best friend Michele when we were kids. It was special to walk through the trails with my family this time. These woods are one of my top two places I miss in Erie. I wish we could have hiked all the way to Buttermilk Falls but it didn’t work out this time.

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The Grandfather Tree. Red Oak est. 150 years old.

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Honey stick! My elementary school was right across the street so we took field trips to this nature center often and always bought a $0.25 honey stick on the way out.

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Ali with her cousin Aiden at Cheddars.

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Connie’s Ice Cream – we all got their turtle ice cream – best turtle ice cream in the world, I say.

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One of my best friends from high school, Chrissy, prepared an amazing picnic lunch for us to eat at the beach (with Wegmans food and Art’s cookies!) This is Ali with Kaitlyn.

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Another one of my best friends from high school, Sarah

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This beach is the number one place I miss in Erie. So many memories here with family, friends, Jason…playing in the sand, sun tanning, picnics and birthday parties, gorgeous sunsets.

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The water was too cold for our little Nashville girl’s feet

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Approximately where Jason asked me to marry him and I said yes…11 years ago!

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I’m so thankful that I got to see these women and watch our daughters play together on the same beach we spent so much time at when we were kids. Sarah and Jessica, me and Ali, Chrissy and Kaitlyn.

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Froyo with these two, who refused to pose for my photo… Dave and Emily!

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We drove past the house were Jason lived as a little boy on Poplar Street.

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Look a dirt road! We also drove past the house were Jason lived in middle school and high school our in Wattsburg but couldn’t get a good look at it through the brush.

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Namesake

09/11/2013

When we finalized Ali’s adoption we changed her name. It was a slight change to her first name because we really liked her name. Well before we had even considered foster care we planned on naming our first daughter Anna Mae. Jason and I both have/had grandmothers named Anna. Mine was Anna Maria. His is Anna Mae. We realized while debating about what/if to change her name that we could modify it just a tad and incorporate our planned name into her existing name. Alianna Mae Ahlbrandt.

Jason’s grandmother Anna Mae Ahlbrandt lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, where we’re from. We don’t get back up there often and it occurred to us that our opportunities to introduce Alianna to her great-grandma could be running out. Last Friday these two finally had a chance to meet. They probably won’t remember this meeting but it was important to me that we captured it in photographs so we can show Ali in the future. Great-Grandma has dementia and her short term memory lasts only about 5 minutes. She asked us over and over again who we were. She really seemed to enjoy Ali and Ali did very well braving this unfamiliar and awkward situation. When we talked about it afterward, Ali’s impression was that great-grandma was sick and she was crying. She was not crying—in fact, we was smiling, joking and singing most of the time we were there—but perhaps Ali was picking up on a deeper emotion. I’m thankful we could do this and capture the moment forever.

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I’ll share about the rest of our trip—Ali’s first time to the place we grew up—in my next post.


Radio Silence

03/03/2011

I am still here. Or back, rather. It’s been a whirlwind week and family emergencies have taken priority over blogging, work, paying bills, doing laundry, etc.—as they should. The dust is settling now but it’ll take me a few days to get back to normal. Thanks for checking in here everyday. I will be back next week!

A brief synopsis of the past 7 days if you’re interested:

Found out niece would be born by emergency C-section. Hurried to the hospital to wait. Delighted in amazing new addition to our family! Crazy storm. Tired. Irritable. Home late after swerving around many downed trees. Dog had accident while we were gone. Grocery store run. Grocery store closed due to power outage. Sneak into my parents house to steal their laundry detergent. Wake up after a few hours of sleep to a phone call that Jason’s grandmother passed away. Go to work like a zombie. Visit new parents and baby with dinner. (Yay!) Sleep hard. Scramble around to get errands and obligations done on Saturday so we could head out of town. Drive 10 hours up to Erie, PA (our former hometown) with Jason’s parents. Visit family. Attend funeral. Eat funeral food (including homemade ranch dressing … I call it “funeral ranch”. It’s good.) Visit family. Sort through grandma’s house. Scan lots of old family pictures. Buy sponge candy and prenzels at Wegmans. Visit our dear friends for yummy dinner. Wish they would move to Nashville. More family visiting, including a stop to visit Jason’s other grandma, our last remaining grandparent. Let her know that we intend to name our daughter after her one day. She laughs and says she never liked her name. (Also my grandmother’s name. She never liked it either!) Drive 10+ hours back to Nashville. It’s so good to be home. It’s sunny and 70º outside today. I have a lot of work to catch up on and much to be thankful for today.


Erie Trip – Part 2

10/22/2009

Day 3 – Visited my aunt, uncle and cousins in the morning (didn’t get any pics), had lunch at Imperial China Buffet, went shopping (tax free clothes baby!), Ginger and I played with a pug puppy at the mall, went to dinner at the home of Jason’s bro Steve and wife Char, and finally met their almost-1-year-old little dude Aiden, then we all fell in love with him and his goofy laugh

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Day 4 – I had the smile breakfast at Eat’n Park were Jason used worked as a cook and my friends hung out every Friday night for a year in high school; took advantage of the sunshine and when down to the peninsula for a walk—my favorite location in Erie; reminisced about one of our first dates when we watched the sunset and talked about the wonders of God; walked toward the place Jason proposed to me 7.5 years ago; went to Aiden’s 1st birthday party; watched him get overwhelmed with gifts and confused by the singing followed by giant cake; had dinner at O’Charley’s (yes, a Nashville-based chain) with Dave and Emily; played Mexican Train for a couple of house and then fell asleep watching The Office

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Day 5 – Breakfast at Tim Horton’s (a first for all of us Nashvillians) and then napped on-and-off thru a 10 hour drive home (including 4 stops)


Erie/Cincinnati Trip – Part 1

10/21/2009

Since I have a lot of pictures to share from our vacation to visit family and friends last weekend, I thought I’d divide it up into a couple of posts.

Day 1 – drove to Cincinnati, OH to visit friends (not quite half-way to Erie, PA), saw some joker on a motorcycle, drank a grapefruit IZZE (yum!), ooohed over the beautiful fall trees in KY and OH, and awed over cute little 2-month-old Ben.

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Day 2 – hung out with Ben and his mama in the morning (Jason was great with him!), saw more gorgeous trees on the drive, drove the rest of the way to Erie, saw snow as soon as we arrived, visited Jason’s Grandma and Aunt Linda’s cute boston terrier named Shakes, had dinner at Quaker Steak and Lube with our good friends Dave and Emily, and later hung out at their home watching funny videos.

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What Erie Gave to Me

10/20/2009

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Leading up to our trip last weekend to Erie, PA—the city where I did most of my growing up, from age 8 to 20—I was reflecting on some of the things I got through my time in the Flagship City, the town from That Thing You Do:

• a great foundation in Christ through a church that produced a super fun children’s church by Captain Bill and a vibrant youth group lead by Pastor Derek

• my now husband Jason, who I met at said youth group when I was 14 and married at that church 4 years later (yep, I was that young. nope, no fundamentalist arranged marraige. haha!)

• a great appreciation for warm weather and sunny days (due to Erie’s lack…)

• many breath-taking sunsets over Lake Erie

• snow driving skills that I may or may not ever need to use again

• lots of sweet friends through the years, a few who have managed to keep in touch

• a quality public school education

• a tolerance for swimming in 76º water on an 80º day

• summers and holidays spent with my mom’s parents and extended family

• summer walks on the beach of Presque Isle (hands down my favorite place in Erie) and the spot at beach 7 where Jason proposed

• a lasting love for Connie’s turtle ice cream, Smith’s hot dogs, Heinz ketsup, Troyer Farms chips, Wegmans grocery store, and Romolo sponge candy

Tomorrow I’ll share my pictures and a recount of our trip.