The weekend escape

We left Saturday morning and meandered our way east. Our first stop - the outlet mall in Williamsburg. It was disappointing. Shocking, right? It could have had something to do with the fact that I just wasn't excited about shopping. Combined with the fact that I didn't really find any good deals. It was my first experience though, so I'm willing to give it another try.

As we reached Iowa City, Ryan mentioned the Iowa Firefighters Memorial. I didn't know such a thing existed. So of course we had to stop. There was a small welcome center with patches from departments all over the state. Our two home towns happened to be right to the first fire department Ryan joined.

There was a large wall devoted to those that served on a fire department. A smaller one was entitled "For those who gave the ultimate sacrifice".

If you haven't visited, you should. But I'd recommend waiting until the spring.

We started our visit to Muscatine with lunch at the Mississippi Brew Company. Who needs Applebees when you have a hole in the wall, small town bar and grill that makes great BBQ pork?

We visited the
History and Industry Museum and learned a lot about buttons. Muscatine was once known as the pearl button capital of the world. Back in the day the town produced 37 percent of the world's buttons.

They were made from mussels pulled from the mighty (and muddy) Mississippi. Workers would "troll" the bottom of the river with little hooks from john boats. The open mussels would snap shut on the hooks as they brushed by.

Ryan's not in a boat, and he had the help of a little velcro - but you get the idea.

Once the mussels were picked off the river bottom, they were soaked and steamed to remove the meat. Pearls were often found inside and they were separated. I don't remember what they did with them, but one would hope they did something useful with them.

Then circular disks were cut from the shells to make the buttons. Looks kinda odd doesn't it?

The button holes were punched and the buttons were counted. You can't really see what Ryan's doing in the picture, but they used a flat piece of metal with small holes to count the buttons. One button fit perfectly in the hole so they shook buttons around the holey plate until it was filled. At that point, they knew they had 144 buttons.

House wives were hired to sew the buttons onto cards for sale in local general and department stores.

The button industry fizzled out in the 1950s or 1960s with the invention of hard plastics that could be made cheaper. But one of the biggest button factory building still stands. I recommend the chicken pot pie. The Button Factory restuarant has a reall cool atmosphere (buttons etched in the glass and buttons set into the tables) and great food. We met our friends Andy and Chanda there for dinner.

After dinner we drove a few miles north to see where Andy and Chanda live. A fellow fire fighter, Andy showed us around the fire department. While the boys 'ooh'ed and 'ahh'ed over hose reels and water tanker capacity, I snapped away.

It was great to catch up with Andy and Chanda. Hopefully they make it our way sometime soon. (hint, hint!)

We made a quick stop in Cedar Rapids on our way home to visit my family. Went out to brunch with the whole crew before we meandered south west. It was a great weekend, but like always I was glad to sleep in my own bed.



Just got back from a great little adventure with Ryan. We didn’t go far, just a couple hours east to Muscatine. But it was so much fun. Just getting out of town for awhile to see somewhere new was exciting. My camera came along of course. I’ll be posting photos soon!


It's my party

Yesterday I turned 27. It was a great day. I left work a little early to get a massage - thanks to the gift certificate my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas. It. was. phenominal. I was a little nervous going into it. Only because the woman I talked to made a big deal about whether or not I was comfortable with a male massage therapist. But after a few minutes, it coulda been a monkey and I wouldn't have cared. I can definitely see why some people get massages regularly.
After Rod at Blades Massage turned me into jello, I had a terrific dinner with Ryan's sister and her family. There was even cake and ice cream...

Key word: WAS cake and ice cream. :-) This is what's left over. And you can't prove I had a huge piece after I took this picture...

I love getting mail, and when someone remembers me on my birthday it makes me feel like the most special person in the world. And I got even more ecards, Facebook messages and email birthday wishes. (The green card on the left says "Oh, poop! Another birthday..." Cracks me up!)

Ryan did GOOD this year! I may or may not have hinted at it last weekend. Monday he started planning a little weekend getaway for us. Reserved a hotel room. Researched places to eat and things to do. I'm so very excited. We aren't going far, but we haven't gotten out of town just the two of us in... a long time.

And it continued. He came home the night before my birthday with a present wrapped in a blue shop towel and tied with a shoe string. Had Ryan written all over it. He bought me a thumb drive so I'd quit stealing his drive. The day of my birthday he gave me a new Willow Tree angel - "The sign of love".

My sister-in-law knows I have a slight obsession with old fashioned printing presses and type set from my newspaper days. She scrounged antique stores on her day off to find me three printer blocks with old newspaper ad plates. This one is for "Concentrated Super Suds."

It was a great way to kick off my 27th year. I certainly don't feel old, but the big 3-0 is looming even closer. Guess that means I've got a lot to do in the next three years!


Love day

I unofficially met Ryan numerous times before we were finally introduced. Ironically the first time didn't even involve me, but one of my good friends.

I was still in high school - working at the local grocery store and bowling or going to movies on the weekend. My friend Emmaly was a freshman at Iowa State. She emailed me once and said this guy Slater, who she worked with at food service, asked her out. She wasn't sure if she should go. I'm not sure what I told her, but it doesn't matter... she didn't go.

A year later, I was at Iowa State. Besides Emmaly, two of my other good friends from high school were there - Amy and Andy. We met on campus to hang out between class. As I got to the library, Andy was talking to some guy. This guy wore khaki shorts, a t-shirt and a worn yellow ISU ball cap. Completely random - I also remember he had a camoflauge bag. I made sure to ask who he was when Andy returned. Some guy named Slater he worked with. Slater was cute. The whole tall, dark and handsome, farmer boy thing.

The following year I got an apartment with three other girls. And Ryan called one night asking for my roommate. So I scrawled "Kari - Slater called" on our dry erase message board.

Months passed. The next time I ran across this guy Slater was at The Corner Pocket. I was out with my roommate Bobbier, Andy and Amy. He walked in the front door and yelled across the bar at one of his friends. He was loud and obnoxious... one of "those" guys.

We finally met - for real - at my apartment that year. My roommate and I invited one of our co-workers over to hang out. He showed up with this guy Slater in tow. I will never forget seeing him standing on our landing. Khaki pants, navy polo and baby blue eyes peeking out from underneath his yellow ISU ball cap.

Eventually Ryan asked me out at a party. We were sitting on a red fouton. And that was almost seven years ago.
Happy Valentine's day everyone... but more importantly - Happy Valentine's day hon.


Family history

Heart disease has plagued me for seven years. In less than two weeks, I will turn 27-years-old.

2002: My first experience seemed like it was ripped from a movie. It started with a phone call. My dad was on the other end. The doctors saw something they didn’t like during his routine physical. It “wasn’t a big deal” but the doctors were sending him to Cedar Rapids just to be sure. A few hours later I was numb.

Dad was going into surgery to have stents put in. What the heck is a stent anyway? An artery was almost blocked in two places. The stents would re-open them. It all happened so fast. I was a college sophomore two hours away facing finals in the morning. Mom said it was an outpatient thing. No big deal. Right. Yeah. Sure. Two hours later, Mom called to tell me everything had gone well.

2004: I sat in the surgical waiting room at St. Luke’s. An hour before, I kissed my mom’s forehead and watched her roll away into the fluorescent light. The doctors were trying to by-pass two blocked arteries. This was a big deal. I learned I hate ICUs.

I didn’t end up working in Okoboji that summer. I monitored her medicine, got up in the middle of the night to give her more pain meds, made sure her heart pillow was close, took her to appointments, and tended to her incision. I followed the ambulance when she went back to the hospital for pulmonary inflammation. I wasn’t there when she passed out, but I was shocked at the questions I knew to ask when we got to the hospital. When I went back to college in August, she was better than ever.

2006: I was standing in line at Burger King and almost dropped my cell phone. My brother was going in for triple by-pass surgery the next day. My 26-year-old, full of life, strong, healthy big brother. I ordered a salad.

The next day I found myself in the same surgical waiting room at St. Luke’s. After surgery, doctors said a chemical was present that indicated my brother had a heart attack. Except he had not only one, but three. He went to the Emergency room every time. And every time he was sent home with “acid reflux.” He was the youngest person his cardiologist had ever operated on. The doctors said it wouldn’t have mattered if he’d eaten greasy cheeseburgers every day of his 26 years. When I catch a glimpse of the scars on his forearms, I can see him in ICU. I hate ICU.

I have never had a heart attack. I’ve never had stents or by-pass surgery. But heart disease walks beside me every day. I can’t remember the last time I had a hamburger. Every time I feel even the slightest tension, the thought flashes through my head. I started running. I’m sick of chicken. I refuse to be number four.

In case you didn’t know, February is national Heart Month. Has been since 1963. The American Heart Association took it one step further by starting Go Red for Women. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. But not this woman.



This is Canon. You may remember him. He made an appearance on my old blog shortly after he was born. We hung out with him and his parents last Saturday. After going out for dinner we came back to our house to hang out. Canon stole the show and provided the entertainment for the night.

Just to warn you, his almond eyes might just melt your heart.

Yep, officially a puddle on the floor.

I just love his hair!

A little lovin from Mom...

It was so much fun hanging out with Canon and his parents. We'll need to do a lot more of it in the coming weeks before they move.

thought for the day

“For nothing worthy of proving can be proven,

Nor yet disproven: wherefore thou be wise,

Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt.”

- Alfred Lord Tennyson

(courtesy of Franklin Covey)