Camping Adventures, 2017 {Personal}

Every year, well, mostly every year, our family gets together for a camping adventure, that winds up being cold, rainy and some of the MOST fun we have together! We're kinda' silly. Maybe a little crazy. But we really enjoy our time, and there are always MANY laughs! And they're the good ones. The real deep belly laughs that drown out all the outside woes, at least for a few days. :)

We typically camp at Pokagon State Park, in Angola, Indiana, on Halloween weekend. The campground hosts many fun events for kids - and adults, including trick-or-treating through the campsites! The kiddos - and our sister's husband - dressed up for the festivities, and we enjoyed meeting new folks along the way! (make sure you check out those costumes below! ;) They're good ones!!) Not to mention, the fall colors were absolutely perfect this year!

We are always so grateful for these days, as they don't happen as often as we'd like. But despite the weather, and the distance that sometimes separates us, the adventure always keeps calling us back together, and these new moments sustain us, when we must part ways, until we all are able to meet again.

Macie Jane {Gillette Children's Hospital | St. Paul, Minnesota}

My sister, baby boy Eli and I ventured to Minnesota a couple weeks ago, to visit my sweet goddaughter Macie Jane. She is only 7, but is one of the strongest people I know ... A true warrior at the core of her. And truth be told, she was a fighter when she was born, overcoming obstacle after obstacle, always staring them down and crushing them. Now, she faces another one, maintaining her mantra, "I Got This". She had major surgery just a few weeks ago, but her smile, that lights up any room, was still there, shining bright. Not only that, but she shows kindness to everyone around her, including other little ones also facing similar challenges, sharing her gifts and using her smile to light up any room. Any time I think of Macie, I think of the word Tenacity. Her determination and willpower are something deep down within her. And while the next 6 weeks will be filled with physical therapy, which will strengthen her and teach her how to use her legs again, I know she will keep pressing on, proving that any obstacle she faces, she can certainly overcome. It's a true testament to the power of belief in oneself, but also the people that stand alongside of her, to help when the fear and uncertainty creep in. There are many in this little lady's life, but her momma April is pretty darn amazing and has been by her side through all of it. And knowing her character, you would most certainly see where Macie gets her strength and perseverance from! From the day Macie was born, she too, has been a fighter. Someone who fights for what is right and believes in the power of kindness and never giving up. Macie is certainly following in her footsteps. I read this quote by Og Mandino and he said, "I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking." Macie Jane IS persisting through this journey, and is now sitting up, and moving around! It's amazing her progress and amazing how far she has come in such a short time. There are still some hurdles to go, but she definitely has 'got this', one step at a time. :)

2016 Adventures {Pittsburgh, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Washington D.C.}

After I saw Rocky for the first time, so many years ago, I told myself that I would visit those stairs and run them, just as Sylvester Stallone did in the film. While it's taken 20+ years to get there, I finally did it back in May, and it was every bit of awesome as I thought it would be! Not to mention, being able to run them with my little boy and husband, made it that much awesome-er. ;) It's funny how in our younger years, we have these dreams; these little things that we want to do, but never actually get out and do them. There are a variety of reasons we hold ourselves back, but truthfully, if we could all be a kid again, we'd chase after those silly things with true grit. Because those are the things that truly ignite the passions deep within - and help us become the people we were meant to be. So go on. Go ahead and go do those things you've always wanted to do. The best time is NOW.

{In addition to running those amazing Rocky stairs, my hubby, baby boy and I first ventured to Pittsburgh, then onto Gettysburg, hit Philadelphia and our final destination was Washington D.C. It was a whirlwind trip, but oh so amazing - and filled with so much rich history. Grateful for this time. Grateful for these moments.} :)

And just because I love facts - and history - figured I’d share a little bit of what we learned adventuring to all of these amazing places!

First on the list: Pittsburgh!

- The very loved and very kind Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” called Pittsburgh home. 
- There were quite a few movies filmed in Pittsburgh; some you might know are “The Silence of the Lambs”, “The Dark Knight Rises” and "Jack Reacher". 
- There actually is a language that is specific to Pittsburgh natives; it's called Pittsburghese! I think maybe I heard a little of it?! ;)
- A Primanti Bros. sandwich is a not so typical sandwich. No matter which one you order from the menu, they top em' with french fries and coleslaw. And surprisingly, it's actually quite tasty!
- Rosie the Riveter was born in Pittsburgh in 1942. Yea Rosie!!
- Did you know there are 446 bridges in Pittsburgh alone? The city gets the nickname: "The City of Bridges".

Did you know …

Gettysburg was a 3-day battle in 1863; it was considered the most important engagement of the American Civil War. General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in late June 1863 – and on July 1, the advancing Confederates clashed with the Union’s Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George G. Meade. As the three day battle ensued, the Confederates attacked Union soldiers on both left and right. On the final day, General Lee ordered an attack by fewer than 15,000 troops on the enemy’s center at Cemetery Ridge. The assault, known as “Pickett’s Charge,” managed to pierce the Union lines, but eventually failed, at the cost of thousands of rebel casualties. Union casualties in the battle numbered 23,000, while the Confederates had lost some 28,000 men: more than a third of Lee’s army. The Battle of Gettysburg irrevocably turned the tide of the Civil War in the Union’s favor – but it was by far the costliest battle of the Civil War.

In Philadelphia sits the beautiful, amazing Liberty Bell, and you might not know that on July 8, 1776, it was the ring of this bell that changed the world. The Liberty Bell rung out from the tower of Independence Hall summoning the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon. But, after the divisive Civil War, Americans sought a symbol of unity. The American flag became one such symbol, and the Liberty Bell another. The Liberty Bell also gained iconic importance when abolitionists, in their efforts to put an end to slavery throughout America, adopted it as a symbol. “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof.”

Our final destination, before heading home was Arlington National Cemetery. I was incredibly reverent seeing the fields of tombstones right in front of me. You stand humbled by the sacrifice vividly displayed here. You cannot help but stand still for a moment and say a thousand times, THANK YOU. I'm grateful to the men and women who laid down their life so that we might have freedom - and incredibly thankful for the men and women who continue to put their lives on the line, day in, and day out. This sacrifice - it is not taken for granted - we say THANK YOU a million times over, knowing that is not enough, but stand respectfully and remember today, and every day that freedom is not free.

“Arlington, this place of so many memories, is a fitting place for some remembering. So many wonderful men and women rest here, men and women who led colorful, vivid, and passionate lives. All of these men and women were different, but they shared this in common: They loved America very much. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for 'her'. And they loved with the sureness of the young. It’s hard not to think of the young in a place like this, for it’s the young who do the fighting and dying when a peace fails and a war begins. Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of 'her' children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.” ~President Ronald Reagan

Home of the 'Hickory Huskers' {Hoosiers} | Knightstown, Indiana

I've always, always, always wanted to see where the film Hoosiers was filmed, and I figured, turning 36 on March 4th, it was about freaking time I actually went to go see it ... considering it is the 30th anniversary of the film this year! (dang, I feel really old!) ;)

Anyway, I took the day off of work, from my 'day job', and ventured there with my mom. I can't tell you how AWESOME it was to actually see it and get to shoot a few hoops in the process! It was as cool as I thought it would be! The kind fella who showed us around was so gracious to tell us some awesome little facts and take a few photos for us too!

So here are a few for you!

- The Hoosier Gym is in Knightstown, Indiana, where in the film, is where the 'home court' was for the 'Huskers'. But the film was shot in a collection of towns in southern Indiana. However, the film is based on the true life story of the team that won the 1954 state championship out of Milan, Indiana.

- There actually is no 'Hickory, Indiana'.

- The film's producers chose New Richmond to serve as the fictional town of Hickory and recorded most of the film's location shots in and around the community.

- The young men who played the 'Hickory Huskers' in the film were actually basketball players in real life. The director made a casting call for Indiana basketball players and the young guys you see in the film were all ball players, NOT actors ... with the exception of one!

- Norman Dale, otherwise known as Gene Hackman smile emoticon would venture into town when he wasn't filming and would visit with the townspeople. He would buy coffee and pie for people and would just sit and get to know folks in the area.

- Jerseys from men and women who have played in the gym and want to remain a part of it hang in the locker room! They have games every year and people can come and watch them too!

- Every June they have an Annual Hoosiers’ Reunion All-Star Classic doubleheader, which showcases some amazing Indiana high school athletes!

- It's the 30th anniversary of the film this year, and there will be a big celebration in September! They will show the film right inside the gym! Check out more about this cool place here: http://thehoosiergym.com/