December 30, 2014

the twelve dyer days of christmas

technically speaking i think our christmas festivities stretched over ten days instead of twelve, but i'm rounding up.  we had a house full of friends and family staying with us and stopping by all week leading up to christmas and that's just how we like it.  our sleep schedules took a bit of a hit, but it was definitely worth it.  [plus we're pretty spoiled in the sleep department to begin with, so we can't really complain]  

this was also the first year for me to not be in st. louis on christmas day.  fortunately my family is flexible and we just pushed everything back twenty four hours and had 'pretend christmas'...i hardly even noticed the difference!

so to remember this week of fun and festivities, i've created our own 2014 version of the twelve dyer days of christmas...

the number of times i jumped up and down after we opened gifts with my mom

the number of interesting raytownians we encountered at dyer family bowling night

the number of friends who came over to four more via skype

the number of meinhardt's playing and singing at the annual sing-a-long
[including the brand new baby ava]

the number of succotash games we played

the number of overnight guests that stayed with us

the pounds of potatoes mashed in the church kitchen for the cockrell christmas eve

the number of $5 bills frozen in to a block of ice for carson's christmas gift

the number of songs i sang in the lakeland christmas eve choir

the number of happy hosts [i'm counting dag]

the strings of lights glowing in the living room

magical week of christmas festivities

October 6, 2014

the first year

my dear friend joy got married last weekend. i somewhat randomly joined a bible study she was in over ten years ago and we are still studying together today. since she was the first friend to get married after me, i started thinking about what i wanted to share with her as she begins her marriage.  

i thought back to the cards and advice that were given to us and remembered that the ones that stuck out in my mind the most were the handful that warned us not to be surprised if our first year of marriage was hard. at the time i wasn't sure if that would apply to us or not, but i suppose it was kind of freeing to know that if things started feeling hard, that was okay.  

as we went through that year i remember thinking from time to time, this is really good, but this is hard. i couldn't quite make sense of how it could be both at the same time, and i couldn't figure out how to articulate the ways it was hard. we didn't really have any rough patches that first year [though donald may argue that my back injury was on the rough side], but there were definitely times that it was hard.

it was hard to always be trying to figure out 'our' new way of doing everything. money was different. groceries were different. sleeping schedules were different. every. thing. was. different. one day, probably about six months in, i actually sat down to make a list of the things in my life that were the same and/or different from the same time the previous year. the different list seemed to never end. i had a new marital status, a new home, new furniture, a new neighborhood, a new cell phone company, a new roommate, a new dog, a new grocery store, a new bank, a new budget and a new job. the same list was short. it was my car. i had the same car. it was the only thing that hadn't changed.

now i obviously still had the same friends and family [though i had new additions to the latter] and all these changes weren't bad, they were just numerous. but now we've settled in. everything doesn't feel new and different all the time. we've figured out our new normal.

i'm thankful i was able to celebrate joy's joyous day with her and for the chance to pass a little encouragement onto her as she and steve begin their first year as husband and wife.

shelly . joy . beth

September 11, 2014

the year donald started to travel

prior to our marriage donald hadn't traveled much. a senior trip to colorado, a few vegas trips to visit his brothers and that was it. he had otherwise not been more than five hours from kansas city at any given time in his life.  i, on the other hand, start to feel kind of anxious and unsettled if more than six months have passed since i've been on a plane.  

we honeymooned in california, but after that travel took a backseat while we worked on our budget and settled into married life. for the next year and a half we stuck close to home and the only traveling we did were some weekend trips to st. louis, the lake, branson and bolivar. but that was then, and this is now.

in the span of three months, donald's travel life will be revolutionized. in july we took a big trip to new york city. it was a rather intense five days of exploring and living it up in the big apple. i was in my happy place. donald enjoyed the trip too, even though it was pretty far from his comfort zone [which is the 4'x4' area in our living room surrounding his recliner].

then last weekend we flew east again for a trip that was a little more his speed. jacob, nickie, donald and i went to north carolina to visit jenn and tyler. the pullens and i have made this an almost annual event, but it was donald's inaugural journey. traveling with friends is one of my favorite things, so this trip was bound to be a winner. and jenn is always the hostess with the mostess, planning a food menu [in advance, of course] that had both of us very excited.  

after our customary first stop at the mellow mushroom for pizza, we spent a big chunk of our long weekend at the talton's lake house. we played games, ate lots of delicious things and enjoyed all of the fun lake toys. 

now the big kicker will be in october when donald leaves the country for the very first time. we're going to mexico with my mom and a group from calvary to work with some missionary friends there. i'm excited to literally show him the world!

August 4, 2014

the dyers take manhattan

our fist official post-honeymoon vacation was to one of my dream york city. as a traveler i usually try not to be uber-touristy, but for our first time in nyc i was willing to tourist it up a bit. we made a 'must see' list and attempted to get at least a little off the beaten path.

day one:
the first morning we stepped out of our hotel onto a quaint new york neighborhood street and took a stroll through greenwich village, where we paid a visit to the homes of two of my all time favorite tv 'families'...the huxtables and my friends from friends. this immediately crossed two major items off the new york to-do list. at this point we hopped on the subway, which was actually another of my favorite things of the trip. we wanted to get the lay of the land so we hit up times square, rockefeller center and the new york public library. we had lunch in bryant park and played a game of chess a la bobby fischer.  

next we headed to astoria to visit the museum of the moving image.  we weren't quite sure what to expect, but this place was pretty awesome.  my favorite was the bill cosby sweater, donald pretty much loved it all.  after grabbing some super delicious korean fried chicken for dinner, we capped off the night with a ride to the top of the empire state building.

day two:
another obvious high priority was seeing a show, so first we headed to the nederlander theatre to get tickets for that night. dyer avenue was not too far away to we stopped by for a quick photo op before visiting rexy at the american museum of natural history. then we took a stroll through central park and ended up in sheep meadow where we spent a bit of time doing another of my favorite things...laying in the grass. it was about this time we noticed our feet were starting to hurt, which they essentially did for the remainder of the trip, but we persevered.

that night we followed the bright lights back to broadway and enjoyed a great performance of newsies. since this coincidentally marked the day of our year and a half anniversary, we topped off the night at serendipity 3 with their famous frozen hot chocolate. on another memorable note, we also saw our first rat. it was not down on the subway track as i expected, but was instead calmly descending the stairs to the subway platform right along side us. i somehow managed to hold myself together and not cause a scene, which is on par with a miracle.

day three:
we called this one 'neighborhood day'. we grabbed some bagels from murray's and did a little more exploring in greenwich village before visiting chinatown and little italy. it was a big food day as well. i got some grilled corn from cafe habana, which was also where donald created his genius diy insulated cup, and we had some classic new york pizza at lombardi's. our dinner was at the original shake shack in madison square park, where we managed to get famous on the shack cam and had some delicious burgers. then we spent the evening enjoying live music and a dance lesson at swing 46.

day four:
our first activity of the day ended up being one of donald's favorites. we took a ferry over to governor's island, which is an old army base that is being restored for public use with parks and such. we snagged some free bikes and took a ride around the island, which has some great views of the statue of liberty and lower manhattan. then donald enjoyed seeing fort jay and reading up on some of the history, i enjoyed laying in hammock grove.

a couple hours later we took the ferry back to manhattan where we grabbed lunch and donald got an iconic black and white cookie. unfortunately i chose a rainbow sprinkle cookie which tasted an awful lot like dirt. from there we walked to the 9/11 memorial and spent a few hours in the museum. we're glad we decided to go, but it was heavy. we decompressed a bit with a walk to city hall park where we found the wafels & dinges food truck i had been waiting for. the waffles were delicious, but we ended up eating them on a park bench that is apparently frequented by insane squirrels. it was bizarre. we finished up the afternoon with a stroll across the brooklyn bridge before having dinner at katz's deli. an establishment best known to me for the memorable 'i'll have what she's having' scene in when harry met sally.

on our way back to the hotel we had a fun new york moment. when we had been in central park a couple days before we heard a bluegrass band playing that i really liked. we didn't have time to stop and listen, but i just kept thinking about how much i liked their music. the closest subway station to the deli was a small one with only one line running through, so it wasn't very populated. as we descended the stairs to the platform it sounded like a musician was setting up and i couldn't believe it when i realized it was the same guys from central park! i was so excited we let the first train leave without us so we could listen to them longer. they were also selling some homemade cd's and i really wanted to get one but we only had big bills and they couldn't make change. so a random stranger bought two cd's and gave one to me. i heart nyc.

day five:
on our last morning i had my first celebrity sighting. we were on our way out of 30 rock and as we went through the doorway we passed a root, of the jimmy fallon roots, on his way in. it took me a second too long for it to click, so unfortunately he made it into the building before i could stop him for a picture.  but i saw him.  

my friend amy moved to nyc just a week before our visit, so we dropped by to see her new apartment and i was delighted to discover she was on the top floor, which meant we got to climb up on the roof!  

she joined us for a stroll through harlem, some delicious cookies from a fun bakery and an unexpected stop at the cathedral of st. john the divine, which was pretty amazing. i've seen my fair share of cathedrals over the years, but when i was standing inside i had a hard time remembering i was in new york city and not somewhere in europe. from there we hopped on the subway one last time to grab our luggage and say goodbye to our beloved larchmont hotel before heading to the airport.

it was definitely a bit of a whirlwind trip, but we had fun exploring the city together. and i can now officially say that i heart new york.

July 20, 2014

east 78th street

we had a house and me. last weekend my mom came to town and we had garage sale number three, which i expect to be our last for a good long while. and though the first two sales were definitely helpful and worthwhile, this last one seemed to do the trick.

we've gone through, cleared out, sold and organized for the past year and a half [almost exactly] and i finally feel like i've got a handle on things. sure our house isn't perfect, i expect it never will be. i've loved it all along but sometimes the hardness of moving into my husbands already full house got to me. i was overwhelmed by the stuff. the amount of it. the not knowing what it all was. the not being able to find things. it was not exactly my cup of tea.  but little by little, progress was made.

with this final garage sale, at least in this season of life, i feel like we've turned a corner. i feel settled. there is space in the house and it is a good feeling. i am so, so thankful for the house we have been blessed with. we have a home we love, that we get to live in together [with dag of course] and that's what really matters.

June 20, 2014

once upon a time

once upon a time there was a girl who loved summer, swimming and sunshine.  
she also loved a boy who didn't particularly love those same three things.  
but the boy saw how much the girl loved to be in the water, so the boy...

took the girl...

to one of her favorite places...

and they had the 
best day ever!

June 9, 2014

hanging from the rafters

our most recent family reunion was a special one for me because it was the first time donald came too.  though he had already met almost everyone it was fun to officially have him there as part of the family.

as usual we had fun talking, laughing and just being together.  typically the same stories get told year after year, but this time we put a new spin on one of those old classics.

back in the good old days, when the six original cousins were considerably younger, they spent a lot of time in grandma and grandpa meinhardt's basement.  in that basement there were some exposed beams.  legend [and video evidence] tells us that when they got a little crazy my grandpa harry and great uncle bob liked to hang from those rafters.  so imagine our delight when we discovered that our new reunion destination had an exposed beam as well. naturally our family stepped up and honored our elders in the only appropriate way...

May 28, 2014


donald has been working hard on his prerequisites for nursing school so the end of the semester seemed like the perfect excuse to bring back the d.w.d.w.d., but this time he got a whole "do whatever donald wants week"!

now an ideal week to my husband looks a lot different than an ideal week for me. mine would be full of activities, he likes to take it slow. he loves his recliner and one of his requests was for lots of time to spend there. i lost track of the number of movies he watched, but he was in cinema heaven.

we hit up a few famous raytown landmarks since we knew it was high time we visited the raytown historical society museum and honestly, we were pleasantly surprised. and though we are dedicated patrons of mama china's, we took weatherman brian busby's suggestion and lunched at the blue yuu. sadly, we did not squeeze in a visit to pocket park.

as usual, many of our days involved playing games. lately mexican train has made its way in the rotation quite frequently and the introduction of tripoley to our monday night dyer dinners has been nothing short of hilarious.

food is pretty important to donald too so he picked some special treats for the week. namely a morning donut shop run and ridiculously sized can of the dew.

we also tossed in a free movie premier and an ihop outing with these crazy cats. we like them a lot.

May 9, 2014

eggs and horses

we stayed in kansas city this easter, which marked the first time i haven't been in st. louis for at least part of a major holiday. there were things i missed about easter in st. louis, but i was glad to be able to celebrate the best holiday with our church family in kc. plus my mom came to town and i still got to hunt for eggs, so i really can't complain.

since our siblings had other family events to attend i figured it was time to host my first holiday meal. it wasn't fancy, but it was fun! don and debbie came over and we had a little easter feast. i was pretty proud of myself.  

this past weekend we headed to st. louie because our presence had been requested for the 140th running of the kentucky derby. last year we just so happened to be at edith and edna's house celebrating my mom's birthday on derby day and it became quite the event. edna requested that we make it a tradition and we were happy to oblige.

i have to say that my favorite part of the day was when granny was watching us finish our game of dominoes and suddenly burst into song. it went a little something like this...

oh the big leg-ged women wear the big leg-ged drawers,
but me and my cousin we wear overalls.


March 24, 2014

stl day

ah spring. the time of year missouri can't decide if it should be sunny or snowing.

since donald had time off from school for spring break we decided to head out of town for a week of relaxation at casa de marilyn. usually when we make a trip to st. louis we end up spending the majority of our time making the rounds to see family and friends [which we love to do!], but this time we took a different approach. we wanted our week to be pretty low key and relaxed, so donald and i each picked just a few things we wanted to be sure to do. 

he picked:
  1. a stay at home day
  2. a play with mark day
  3. playing dominoes with my mom and edna
i picked:
  1. puzzles [or 'playing puzzle' as our friend claire says]
  2. skee ball date night
  3. st. louis day
it's no secret...i love st. louis. and i wanted to get out and enjoy it so we packed a bunch of classic tourist attractions into one day and headed out on the town. first up was malcom martin memorial park, where you can catch a really great view of the arch if you're willing to brave east st. louis.

from there we headed back across the river to the arch itself to watch the 'monument to the dream' documentary about the making of the arch and take a ride to the top. [where we randomly ran into a family from our church in kc...literally at the top of the arch]  then we walked over to monty's sandwiches for lunch and ate outside in the shadows of downtown. it was one of those lovely sunny spring days and it was oh-so-nice to sit outside. next up was a stop at the best zoo in the land, followed by the missouri history museum where we checked out the exhibit celebrating the 250th birthday of st. louis. as part of the celebration there are 250 four foot tall cakes installed at different landmarks all over the st. louis area, and i'd say we spotted at least twenty five of them on our tour through town.  

we topped off the night at the loop with dinner at the legendary blueberry hill and root beer floats from fitz's. and it was a good day.

February 27, 2014

sealed with a kiss

i love getting the mail. it's one of life's little pleasures. and we've just had a very exciting week in mail getting. the first to arrive was a big blue box with our wedding album in it and i must was worth the wait. i love it. it was exactly want i wanted.

then a brown box came. and this one has a back story.  

we've already had two garage sales since i've moved to 78th street, resulting in a number of unneeded items leaving the premises. this makes me exceedingly happy, but tends to bring donald a twinge of sadness. he loves all of the treasures. which brings us to the fateful saturday last summer where donald, being the loving husband that he is, was gathering a few last minute things he thought he could part with to add to our sale. one such item was a cookie jar. but not just any cookie jar...a cowboy cookie monster cookie jar.  

long story short...he sold it for $1. 

and then he was sad. so very sad.

i've heard a lot of lamenting about the loss of this beloved family heirloom so i decided i would plan a little surprise. enter...the brown box. it took a couple days for him to open it [i was trying to play it casual so i stuck it in a corner of our room until he noticed] but it definitely made his day. and now all is right with the world because this guy is back on 78th street.

January 31, 2014

goals and progress

at some point soon after our honeymoon i made a list of goals for our first year. it wasn't so much a goal list as a to do list, but i called them goals just the same. there were things for us as a couple, home improvement projects to tackle and budgets to be made. i revisited this list recently and it turns out i was a little over zealous in my assumptions of what we'd accomplish in the house department during our first year. and by 'a little' i actually mean 'a lot'. but i must say we redeemed ourselves in the money management category where we made great strides and met a lot of goals, big and small. i'm not gonna lie...i think dave would be proud.

so for this second year of marriage i made another list, and i think i did a better job of making this year's goals realistically attainable. there are still some us goals [create some of our own traditions, go on two fancy dates, take a trip together], and we made some goals that have to do with others [basically a list of people we want to be sure to encourage and/or spend time with], obviously house projects made the list [have the floors refinished, paint the master bedroom, add closet shelving] and there's a general section as well [order our wedding album, do a 'week in the life' photo project, take walks]...just to name a few.

and the best news is we've already checked two things off the list and it's only the end of january! last week we finally pulled the trigger on a big home improvement project we've been talking about for a year [and by 'we finally pulled the trigger' i mean i was finally ready to hand over the cash] and had our wood floors refinished. i guess technically we can only check one and a half things off the list, because they haven't been back for the downstairs yet, but the upstairs looks great!

now to move all the furniture back upstairs because our living room currently looks like this...

the other item we scratched off the list is our wedding album, which was ordered on our first anniversary because i thought that seemed fun. that and the fact that i needed a good six to nine months of agonizing over it before i actually clicked the order button. but it's on the way and it's going to be fabulous.

January 26, 2014

anniversary number one

it's funny how time can move so fast and so slow all at the same time. i've had lots of friends say they can't believe it's been a year since our wedding. and i hear that. but then at the exact same time my life before marriage seems like a long, long time ago. life is strange like that. but either way you look at it, we're celebrating the big number one!

so far we give marriage a hearty thumbs up. and in observation of this year of wedded bliss we cashed in a wedding gift for a weekend at the lake. we splurged on fancy cheese, played games, had dinner at baxter's, sampled our one year old cupcakes [which were disgusting], faced off in a fierce skee ball competition [which i won], watched the box set of studio sixty [if you know donald, you know how much he loved this] and capped off the weekend with our newest tradition...anniversary fried chicken.

January 11, 2014

ten years

my dad passed away ten years ago today. it was a middle of the night phone call from the funeral home, not the hospital where he had been for the previous few days, nor the skilled care facility he was living in. i wasn't supposed to find out that way. the poor woman on the phone naturally assumed i already knew, she had no idea she was the one breaking the news. it wasn't the way it was supposed to be, but most of the previous year had felt like things weren't the way they were supposed to be. twenty three year olds aren't usually charged with the care of an ailing parent and faced with the decisions that brings. but life doesn't always happen the way we expect it to, in fact, it rarely ever does.

this all happened back in the days before social media, when people communicated through the ancient art of mass e-mail. i sometimes wish i had been blogging back then so i would have some sort of record of what happened during that crazy year. but it's probably just as well that i don't. maybe it's better to not remember every detail, every hard decision, every feeling of uncertainty. besides, i don't think my dad would want to be remembered for that last year of his life anyway. the lifetime of memories before that year were more important.

my dad wasn't perfect, but he was still my dad.  

today we went to the funeral of a close friend of the dyer's. their families grew up together, took vacations together and have more hilarious stories than i can keep track of. it's going to be a hard year for them. they've lost a husband, a dad and a papa bug. life doesn't always turn out the way we expect it to, and sometimes life is just really, really hard. but God is still good. of that we can be sure.

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