Niagara Falls

After a busy summer, Dustin and I needed a short get-a-way to connect, and catch up on some things we’ve been wanting to work on. We decided to head to Niagara Falls. Thankfully Grandma and Grandpa Hartzler were up for babysitting!

We headed out on a Thursday morning leaving from Orrville. Our first stop was for a late lunch in Buffalo before we headed to the falls area. We ate at a burger place called Allen Burger Venture, which was pretty amazing! The atmosphere was very much like the Oregon District in Dayton or Yellow Springs, Ohio. Neither of those places have a really good burger place like this though. Maybe we should start one 🙂 Dustin’s burger even had peanut butter in the sauce! The tater tots were homemade and came with a sour cream and bacon dipping sauce, and an apple cider dipping sauce (are you drooling yet?).

Then we headed to our hotel. This was sort of funny because we thought we got a hotel on the Canada side, turns out we didn’t! We put the address in the GPS and realized we were on the New York side. It turned out to be fine, hotel was a very new Fairfield Inn and Suites within walking distance to the falls on the US side. Since we had a big lunch sort of late on Thursday, we just went to the outlets and got frozen yogurt and did a little bit of shopping in the evening.

Friday we headed to the falls. First we didn’t realize how close we were, and got in the car, once we got there we realized we forgot our DSLR camera, so we headed back to get that (luckily we were able to get out of the $10 parking area for free because we just arrived!) and then we actually walked back to the falls.

We did the Maid of the Mist because why not?! We got a little bit wet, but not too bad, it was really cool to be up that close! Afterwards we walked back to the hotel, dried off a bit and researched a good place to go for lunch. We had heard about Niagara on the Lake a town a bit north and found a really good restaurant there called Zees. This was just as good as our meal the day before! The parmesan truffle fries were amazing, Dustin says he’ll never eat a fry another way ha! (I doubt it!). He had a BBQ pork wrap and I had a salmon burger on gluten free toast. We walked around the Niagara on the Lake downtown area for a bit before our parking meter was up. The town had lots of fun shops and restaurants. The flowers in the streets were still very pretty despite the fact it got colder this week.

As we headed back to the good ole USA, we drove by the viewing points for the falls on the Canada side, I jumped out to take some pictures, then Dustin did a U-turn and came back for me. The parking price there was $18 CAD! We hung out the rest of the evening at our hotel and had some sausages we purchased at a local Canadian grocery store. Getting across the border and back was pretty easy. The US border patrol did enjoy that Dustin said his citizenship was Ohio, instead of the USA ha!

Saturday was pretty laid back, as I had a headache most of the day. We checked out Sunshine Cafe nearby for breakfast and later had great Indian Food for lunch at Zaika which was within walking distance of our hotel. It was really good but spicy! Wish we could have ordered off the menu but they only had the buffet. It was good but I accidentally ate goat, whoops! The chicken curry was right next to it ha! Later we headed out to explore the town of Lewiston and checked out a juice bistro and cafe for a new atmosphere to work a little while. I finally didn’t have a headache and wanted some protein so we ended up finishing off the trip at Center Cut Village Steakhouse. This was really good! Dustin loved the Seafood Chowder and we both enjoyed a filet and some more truffle fries. 🙂 Sunday we headed back to Ohio and picked K up and made the trek home! Back to reality, excited fall is finally here!

Birthday Pictures!

Because these pictures are just amazing.. they deserve a post all their own! Thank you Nikki James Photography!

 

Just few excerpts from my letter to Kenley I wrote for her birthday. I plan to write one every year so when she is 18 she will have them all. I’ll have to apologize I didn’t write one for year 1, but I wrote a lot of stuff down!

…”You love to play house and with your dolls. You put them to bed, rub their backs, rock them, feed them, and take them on walks with your stroller. Sometimes we have quite the crew eating dinner with us. Tonight it was a giant Monkey and a cuddly bear at the table. For your birthday we got you a kitchen set with lots of play food, your favorite part are the ice cubes that come out of the fridge!”….

 

…”You absolutely adore your grandparents, aunts, cousins, friends, and your babysitter. We all love your contagious laugh, smile, and cute grin. You look a lot like your mommy and daddy! You have daddy’s eyes but you have a lot of mom’s features too despite what everyone thinks! Actually with your blonde hair you look at lot like Aunt Jaci at this age.”

 

“Some of my favorite memories of this time right now are when I rock you before bed, we cuddle and I sing songs. Ever since you were born I have sung Amazing Grace every time I’ve rubbed your back or rocked you. Daddy thinks someday you will fall asleep in church as soon as it starts playing! Now you often try to sing along, and sometimes interrupt requesting I sing you the “Muffin Man song”…I pray each night the scripture we have on your wall… that the Lord will bless you and Keep you, make his face shine upon you and give you… and you finish it by saying, “Peace.” I pray that is true and as the years go by you will memorize that verse and many more. My prayer is that the Lord will protect you as you grow up in this crazy mixed up world and that people will see Christ through you.”

Love Mom

And here are a few excerpts from Dad’s letter:

“You love pretending to go ‘night night’ complete with a hilarious snoring impression. You make sure everyone has a pillow, a blanket and you rub your baby’s back. Within a few minutes, you shout ‘Up!’ and it’s time to get up”

“I’m pretty sure your could eat bananas (mananas) and yogurt with blueberries and raspberries (yo-yo blue-blue razz-razz) for every meal.”

“I love that you will give me a hug when I ask and you are so concerned about my hands when they have booboos from CrossFit. You frown and show me your booboos too.”

“You love singing songs before bed and your favorite’s are Row, Row, Row Your Boat, The Wheels on the Bus, and Do You Know the Muffin Man. And during the muffin man song, you make us sing verses for each of your stuffed animals.”

Love Dad

Birthday Party Fun!

It’s been a little while since we’ve put out a blog post! For one reason I (Melody) have been crazy busy with work, but thankfully my 5 week module course I teach is over! So a little time to catch up on life now!  In March we celebrated birthdays a lot! K turned two and Dustin turned 30+ that! 🙂 We ended up traveling to the Cleveland area for some appointments right before K’s birthday, so we celebrated on her birthday with the Hartzlers. It was warm enough to be outside so we took a walk, and played on the swing-set. We had steak and baked sweet potatoes, K’s favorite meal. She can eat steak like it’s her job. Thank the Lord!.. it took her awhile to finally eat meat for us, I thought I was going to have to puree it until she went to Kindergarten!

Earlier in the day we tried to get some Easter lamb pictures with one of Grandpa Hartzler’s lambs, but K wasn’t so excited about that. These are the best 3 pictures we got..she cried when the lamb and the bunny were out and was a little overwhelmed by new people and the lights in the studio. The studio photoshopped a lamb picture for Grandpa! Thankfully we got some better ones the following week at home! Maybe next year she’ll warm up to Grandpa’s baby “ba-ba’s”

A few weeks later, we were able to celebrate K’s bday with my family, this time with a Minnie Mouse theme! Dustin’s parents did join us as well. I just realized we don’t really have many pictures of her with other people, apparently we need to do better at that. I have 176 photos from that day mostly of her ha! I made the same cupcakes again, I used this recipe except didn’t use near that amount of honey, used gluten free flour, extra oil no almond milk, and goat milk yogurt because that is what we had. Even the adults thought they were good! The icing was this recipe with no honey, just a little maple syrup. I did top them with some enjoy life chocolate chips, that was her birthday splurge!

 

 

 

 

2015 Christmas Letter

We can’t believe it’s December already, it seems like just yesterday we were planning a 1 year old birthday bash! 2015 has been a challenging year but full of so many blessings as well.

I have been navigating some health issues since late January, but recently feeling better and pray that journey will soon just be a piece of my story. It is amazing to see how God has used what I’ve learned along the way to help others friends, co-workers, and my patients. We are always thankful for the journey.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

Baby K is no longer a baby, she is growing into a beautiful smart, active little girl. In April, I got to join Dustin on one of his work trips that happened to be meeting in Belize. Wow, what a beautiful place. Words can’t describe the turquoise blue water that we were able to snorkel in on the “fun day” his team had planned. Since this was the first time away from little K for more than a night I didn’t stay long, but enough to soak in some sun and relax a little. I did catch up on some blogging myself. I absolutely love Hawaii and finally was able to convert our journal from our 2011 trip to blog posts. If you want to check those out for ideas for an upcoming trip, here you go! Someday we’ll make it back! Or move there. 🙂

In preparation for teaching abroad this summer, I also had the opportunity to attend a workshop on intercultural learning in June. This workshop was a week long in Madrid, Spain. If you didn’t see our posts, here they are! We had the opportunity to finish the trip in Valencia visiting the site/city where I will be teaching in May – June of 2016. Next time K will be going us!

After that trip K & I stayed low key the rest of the summer while Dustin traveled to Dallas and Charlotte in July and August for the Podcast Movement and FinCon, where he represented WordPress and spoke at both events.

In September, we spent a week in Orlando soaking up the sun with Dustin’s parents. It was a great time to go, much less crowded, still sunny and warm but not quite as crazy hot. No Disney for us yet, unless you count Downtown Disney! We spent most of the time at the pool, and headed to the beach one day, but K was not a fan. She does look at lot like me, but she really must not be mine if she doesn’t like the beach! We actually just realized we didn’t do a post on vacation this year, so here are some of the photos!

In October Dustin headed to Park City, Utah again to spend a week with his whole company. He enjoyed the time getting to see his colleagues face to face and learning new skills. Automattic now has over 400 employees. Check out their hiring page if you have any background in WordPress or web development. It has been such a blessing to our family for Dustin to have a great job with a lot of flexibility while I also navigate a career and a toddler.

November was super low key, we didn’t travel anywhere except to Harrison (Cincinnati) for Thanksgiving Dinner at my sister’s. And December is off to a good start, I had a great birthday and Dustin and I just got back from New Orleans. I spoke at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting. It  was a great conference for networking and continuing education. Dustin worked with a colleague and caught up with his friend Drew from ONU (whose wife was also attending the meeting) while I was busy with “pharmacy stuff.”

We are excited for Christmas with little K. She is loving just about everything right now and working on her ABCs. Elmo and Minnie  (“Mim-mee”) Mouse are her current favorites! Here are some of our favorite moments from the year.

We wish you and your family a blessed Christmas season filled with love, laughter, smiles, and the peace that only our Savior Jesus Christ can bring.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

First Birthday Fun

 

Hi Everyone!  It’s crazy how fast this year as gone. Last week we celebrated K’s first birthday. We got her first birthday pictures the day before her party which is always fun!

We had both our families and some local friends over for her party.  She had fun opening the presents, she liked the bags the best!  She loves walking around with a small gift bag and putting things in it. She’s running all over the place and learning new things every day.  We are so thankful for the past year and looking forward to what God has in store for the next one!

Dustin & Melody

Christmas Recap

Since I took this week off, I actually have time to share some pictures with you of our Christmas celebrations! We spent the last week with both of our families and of course Baby K got lots of presents! We got to spend a few days in Dustin’s hometown, where we spent an evening with his Dad’s side of the family, an evening with his Great Aunt Linda, and we had our Hartzler Christmas on the 23rd. We also got to see Dustin’s cousin Nick and his family. Grandma Hartzler and Aunt Ashley dressed her up in this cute lamb pjs to open presents! Grandpa Hartzler raises lambs on their farm down the road from their home.

She had a blast and started to figure out the whole present opening thing! We even got a picture of the big kids. 🙂

On Christmas Eve we headed back south, with a quick stop in Columbus for groceries since we were hosting Christmas Day Dinner. Luckily the Dublin Trader Joe’s wasn’t as crazy as I expected on Christmas Eve! I got almost everything on my list, and we made it back to our house to have an hour of playtime before hitting the road again. We spent the evening with a stop at Great Grandma’s house in Harrison and dinner at Jaclyn’s in-laws with my family including my Aunts.

 

K did great after spending 5 hours in the car that day we were able to entertain her with one of her new toys on the way home! Christmas Day was fun, we had my family here most of the day, it was great to have quality time all under one roof.  Of course there was time to open presents here too. 🙂

Before everyone left we got some family photos.I would say this Christmas has been one of the best ones yet, quality family time with a super cute little princess. She’s growing up so fast! Hope you and your family had a Joyous celebration of Christ’s birth!

” Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room”

Christmas Letter 2014

Hello Family and Friends, we can’t believe it’s time to write our annual Christmas letter again. This year has flown by! To start the year Dustin spent a few weeks on the road traveling to Las Vegas and San Francisco for his new job at Automattic. He was able to spend some time at the Automattic Headquarters AKA “Hawthorne” and meet some of his new co-workers. February we spent preparing and anticipating Baby K’s arrival! In March we were blessed to meet our daughter after a few weeks of additional waiting. March 12th to May is pretty much a blur of sleepless nights, although Dustin did manage to take a work trip to Barbados while I was home with a colicky 5 week old. He won’t be able to live that down!

In June, we welcomed a brother into our family, as Jaclyn tied the knot with Sean! Our summer was pretty low key, Melody started back to work late May and it was a nice transition because the semester was over, so she was able to focus on her practice site and preparing for the fall.  Dustin traveled to Wisconsin for work, he probably could have gone somewhere more exotic, but the group decided to join up with the Milwaukee WordCamp Conference. This also helped the wife jealously factor!

In August we had to travel on the same weekend, so thankfully Grandma and Grandpa Hartzler were available to take care of Baby K! Melody made a whirlwind trip to Chicago for a training session, leaving Dayton at 7am Saturday and returning Sunday afternoon. Dustin headed to Dallas, TX to speak at the Podcast Movement.

By September, classes were in full swing at Cedarville, Melody coordinated two courses and kept busy with her clinical practice this fall. Dustin got to attend his first Automattic Annual Grand Meet-up. This year it was held in Park City, Utah. He had a blast getting to meet everyone that he works with online. As soon as he returned we headed to Florida to take Kenley to the beach for the first time! If you missed that post, here it is!

In October we added another brother to the family. Ashley and Brian tied the knot as well. It was fun to get to introduce Kenley to lots of family and friends with two weddings this year! Before we knew it Thanksgiving was upon us and then Dustin headed off the first week in December to Austin, TX for a team meet-up.

As we look back on the year, we can’t believe we have a 9 month old already! She is crawling all over the place, pulling up, saying Da-Da and the occasional sound that seems like Ma-Ma. The Da-Da is when she’s happy and the Ma-Ma is only when she’s upset, ha! We are so thankful for her, it’s amazing to see the world through her curious beautiful blue eyes. As we reflect on our Savior at Christmas, it amazes us that an All Powerful God took the form of a helpless child to come into this world to save us. The gift of God’s Son as a sacrifice for our sins has become even more real as we hold our precious child.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” ~Philippians 2:5-7~

Gerber Baby Contest

Hi Family and Friends!

Hope you are all doing well, we can’t believe the holiday season is about to be upon us! We are excited to share that with K this year! We wanted to ask each of you a small favor, she is in the Gerber Baby Contest, and we would love it if you could vote for her! The contest runs until December 14th and you can vote daily for a child in each milestone category. If you want added to our daily email reminder to vote list please comment below or email us! Here is the link to vote. You do have to put in your birthday and an email address each day to vote, just use your generic junk email!  🙂 The picture below is the picture you will see on the voting link!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Dustin and Melody

 

Hartzler-001

Congrats Brian and Ashley!

Just wanted to post an update about another addition to our family. In October, my sister Ashley got married. Kenley acted like a perfect seven month old and stole the show, kidding of course.

Melody and I were both in the wedding party and we were fortunate to have Melody’s parents around to help with Kenley during the day. It was nice to have an extra set of hands because Kenley is much more active than she was when she was only three months old 🙂

Here are some of the pictures that were taken at the church.

Then we headed down the road to the reception which was held at The Barn at the Meadows. It’s a popular wedding reception spot in Wooster and a really neat location. It’s an old barn that’s converted into the perfect place for a fall wedding reception.

We took some fun fall photos before the festivities began, including some shots of Kenley.

Our family has grown quite a bit in the last year. In the last nine months, we’ve added a daughter, two brothers (in-law) and a niece and a nephew. Whew!

Photo credits to Marty’s Studio.

Vacation 2014

As we wrap up our first vacation as a family of three, we just wanted to share some of our memories from the week. There were a lot of firsts for baby K, including her first plane ride and her first trip to  the beach!

We flew out of Cincinnati because they had a direct flight to Tampa, we always try to avoid stops if possible, especially now when traveling with a baby. We timed the arrival perfectly and were able to walk right on the plane as it was boarding! We didn’t intend this however, but traffic and our ticket not saying “infant in arms” required some delays.  Most people this would make nervous (those that have flown with me in the past can attest!), but most of the time it works out for me, I hate the hurry up and wait process when flying!

We arrived in Tampa on Wednesday afternoon, got our rental car and headed to one of Dustin’s favorite vacation spots Sweet Tomatoes, after a yummy lunch, we made a quick trip to Target for diapers and other essentials. Then conveniently Whole Foods was in the same plaza so we grabbed our groceries for the 3 days in the Tampa area. Our time there we spent enjoying the beach in the mornings and the pool in the afternoon. Baby K did great, even napped in my arms on the beach one day.  It was definitely a different type of trip to the beach with a little one who constantly wanted to eat the sand! It rained a good amount most evenings, but we got one clear night where we were able to watch the sunset over the water. One of my favorite things to do..such a great reminder of the vastness of God’s creation. K is super close to crawling, so a nightly ritual was Dustin trying to teach her! Not sure why he wants her to be more mobile, I’m ok with a few more weeks of the sitting, no crawling stage!

We headed to Orlando on Sunday to enjoy some time at a nice resort my mom was able to give us a few days at with her RCI points.  We’ve already decided we need to come back in about six years when we are ready to bring her to DisneyWorld. The property is great, multiple pools, 2 lazy rivers, mini golf, game rooms, all in the heart of the disney properties.  We went to Downtown Disney this morning to walk around a bit, and of course get K a souvenir. We enjoyed the pools and lazy river and relaxing here. We are headed home tomorrow. Hope you enjoy our cute baby pool and beach photos. Since K turned out to be a good traveler…we are dreaming up the next more adventurous trip for 2015!