Anyhow, there hasn't really been any excuse for my lack of blogging since returning on Sunday other than I just was not sure how to put everything into words. Now that I am totally detoxified from the mass quantities of bacon I consumed, I think it is time to recap.
Last summer was the summer of culinary adventures. I thought I would keep this going until I was enjoying my lovely walk yesterday and it occurred to me- I AM SO INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL! After struggling for the last few years with a very quiet bout of depression, yes I am ready to admit it despite my cheery disposition a majority of the time. I get down in the dumps. The last few years, I've felt down in the dumps a lot. You see, my husband and I have persevered through A LOT. I've managed to "get over it" by savoring my time with my husband, family, and all of my dear sweet friends, as well as my journey in sharing my joy for healthy, gluten free cooking on this blog. So many wonderful things have happened in the last year- we got answers to our fertility issues and are on the pursuit to making things happen. We still have a little ways to go, but the ball is rolling considering where we were a year ago when I couldn't even get the Bear to go into the doctor to do his thing. Further, after some very trying years in teaching, I won not only building teacher of the year, but also district elementary teacher of the year. Just when I thought maybe I was not respected or maybe needed to find another career, I kept going like a little engine. I never in a million years thought this would happen at this point in my life! Thank you to all of the teachers who have helped me along the way, my students, and teaching teams. I am truly grateful for these little victories. While I still get a little down in the dumps, I pray, I count all of my blessings no matter how big or small, I take care of my body, and I manifest every ounce of positive energy in this great world to get over it. Long story short, I am now calling this "The Grateful Summer." Just look at what can happen when you are patient and keep your eyes open...
Why yes, that is a four leaf clover I found while waiting out on the teacups at Adventureland. I can handle roller coasters, but rides that spin in multiple, circular directions tend to make me puke. This little clover got left in my sister's car, but I got the picture for the proof in the pudding:) Just another reason to be grateful.
Now that I've had my little brain dump on why I am celebrating my gratefulness, here is a recap of last week's adventures. It all started bright and early on Thursday morning with my annual Iowegian trip to the World Pork Expo!
Why yes, that is a selfy of Erin, myself, and my bro-in-law Toddy the gentle giant as we entered the fairgrounds for our bacon experience. Side note on my sun glasses,this will be the last time you will see those aviators on my face. My youngest sister Amy gave them to me from one of her sample sales. Apparently they were all the rage and one of the pit masters bought them off my face for $10. Ten up for me! Ha ha! First up was a brief discussion with the Cookies BBQ man. Then, our first bacon sampling.
Bacon trumped all other cuts of meat this year. A lot of things I could not enjoy such as bacon pancakes or bacon-bourbon party mix, but I did get lots of ideas for future recipes and got my share of bacon through bacon infused vodka, chocolate covered bacon, and bacon cheddar brats. Being mindful of my gluten-free lifestyle, everyone was very accommodating and let me know the ingredients before I stuffed my face. Then it was off to the varied industries building for our habitual tour where we visit different vendors' booths, get little trinkets such as pencils, pens, and paper. This year there was one particular vendor who jerked on my heart strings. Here is my little shout out to my friends at Alltech. Alltech is a global animal feed company who also has been gracious enough to help farm producers in Haiti. After the earthquake in 2010, Alltech not only provided disaster relief, but also supported their economy through buying their coffee. Their Sustainable Haiti Project helps by supporting coffee growers, schools, and economic development programs. When I heard this story, I got goosebumps and a free sample of coffee! So much good in the world! It was a great day to celebrate!
Later that night, my sister and I spent some well needed time with my mom and rested up for the next day. Friday, my step sister-in-law Saddie, received a very prestigious nursing award from Mercy Hospital. Saddie is so deserving of this award! A mother of 3 beautiful kiddos and a full time nurse. I don't know how she does it. While she and my step brother Brett were at the ceremony, we took the kiddos for a day of fun and later celebrated at Ohana's Steakhouse. The kids enjoyed the show and our chef reciprocated his joy right back to pose for a picture:)
From left to right- Veda, the oldest, Gavin, the youngest, and Sylvie the chef in training:) To wrap up a weekend of fun, Saturday we headed to Adventureland. That place has not changed since I was a kid!
We saw the best view of Des Moines on the Giant Sky Wheel. Veda was so excited she could see the state capitol.
And no trip to any amusement park is complete without several rides on the assortment of roller coasters. Above is my second pair of aviators. I bought these after my previous pair was purchased from the pit master. Then, I lost them while riding the Tornado for the third time with Sylvie. That girl is fearless! She couldn't help but mention that her stomach felt "magical" while riding the Gallion with her hands up the entire time between bouts of giggles.
Sunday I finally came home to my Bear, who could not wait to see me. So much love and so much fun. Do you see why I have so much to be grateful for? I hereby declare this summer "The Grateful Summer!" How do you plan to celebrate your gratefulness?