a blustery Michigan weekend

Brett and I now have a tradition where we go to Union Pier, Michigan in the dead of winter 🙂  You can see photos from our first trip here and a post about our second trip here.  This time around we were pros…we even had a packing list 🙂  We usually eat a cozy meal in one night and go out to dinner another night.  We like to spice it up a little though and try something different each time.  Last year we went to the casino and spent most of that time in the kid’s arcade area 🙂  This time we enjoyed a trip to a really cool distillery in the area.  Here is more about our weekend…

Brett and I really like this small, 2 room cottage that we have rented for the past 3 years.  It has everything that we need for a cozy and relaxing, Michigan weekend



Usually we unpack the car, make a quick run to the local grocery store, and get back to our 2 room cottage to rearrange the necessary furniture to set up a Brett worth media area 🙂


the pups run around and start getting comfortable in their new, weekend space


and we start using the small kitchen 🙂


finally some relaxation begins!


For breakfast this year we used a new pancake mix that we bought over the holiday break with our families.  They were sooo good!  I think I’ll have to go ahead and figure out how to make sweet potato pancakes from scratch now 🙂





One of my favorite parts of the weekend are our walks in the snow 🙂  Champaign has had a lot of snow this year too but there is something really delightful about walking through the small community in MI in the snow!



Since the weather has been so dreadfully cold, the waves on Lake Michigan were frozen for at least 100 feet off of the beach!  We spent some time each day exploring the frozen water until someone started shivering and we needed to go back to warm up 🙂







Once back to the cottage, Brett made sure that everyone was roasty-toasty warm!  🙂


Lunch was usually fun snack/healthy items.


While in Michigan, we try and buy at least part of our groceries locally



We usually eat one dinner in, another dinner out, and then decide on that third dinner when the time comes




That tiny kitchen has most of what we need for cooking for the weekend.  There isn’t an oven though, and this year I decided to experiment with cinnamon rolls in a skillet (more to come on that soon…eep!  Teasers!)


This year our new activity was to visit a local distillery.  The Journeyman Distillery was really fun, the atmosphere was great, the tour was awesome, and we got to taste all of the yummy liquors that they distill 🙂















Back to the cottage for more snuggles







and more snow walks!




we even found a lost pair of boots in the snow!


Brett and I like playing board games too during our relaxing weekend.  This year we played Agricola 🙂  This is my favorite board game at the moment…it takes a bit of time to set up until you have memorized all of the rules but Brett and I figured it out and played a few games over the weekend.  Such fun!



…and you just can’t have a cozy, snow filled Michigan weekend without a few cozy fires 🙂


On the drive back we experienced really cold temperatures (the car thermometer later showed -1 but I don’t have proof of that haha), lots of wind…


…and evidence of the winter storm that has been occurring over the past weeks


We all made it home safe and sound though.  I absolutely love this tradition of ours…I hope we make it up north next year too!


snow snow everywhere!

We had quite a bit of snow in Champaign-Urbana last week (as did much of the midwest)  🙂

After snuggling in bed for a few hours that morning…




…we all decided to brave the elements for a snow walk outside.  Snow walks are my favorite 🙂  There is fewer traffic on the road and the pups love the snow



When we got back home, Brett and I decided to shovel.  We admit that it was still definitely a snow storm outside…but that which one shovels now, one doesn’t have to shovel later.  That is a real saying right?  😉

Right after shoveling, the driveway and sidewalk looked like this…


One hour later they looked like this…


And a few hours later they looked like this 🙂


Needless to say some hot cocoa was required to warm back up!


Brett and I putzed around the house doing random things and working throughout the day.  By the next day the snowing had stopped but it was soooo cold outside 🙂  Brett and I worked from home while the city slowly plowed all of the streets.  Lots more snuggling was had by all too 🙂  I think that is my favorite part 🙂  (and the hot cocoa of course…who can’t resist chocolate?)  🙂



Brett and I hope that you all have been able to stay warm!

snow in Chambana

It snowed here in Chambana last week!  It hasn’t been even a full week since we had a 70 degree day and now there is about an inch of snow covering the ground.  🙂  Anyone else have any snow yet?


We took the opportunity to go for a brisk morning walk with the pups.  Caya kept eating snow along the way.  What fun! 🙂


Update:  Brett and I (along with our pups and our house) are just fine after all of the storms yesterday.  Several tornadoes touched down in Champaign County but the Champaign-Urbana area was missed.  A few nearby communities were hit very hard and we send our blessings and thoughts (and volunteer hours) to all of them.


#WeRunChicago – Chicago Marathon 2013!

Brett and I completed another Chicago Marathon!  The race went really well!  🙂  Our first half was great…we were super trained and ready for that first 15 miles.  From there the race was a little more interesting but we had a great time, we ran it together, we finished, and I took off another few minutes from my time 🙂  5 hours….I will run faster than you next time! (maybe I should learn to train for an entire 18 weeks…for an entire 26.2 miles? hehe)  🙂  Until then, Brett and I will continue to love training together and work on making enough room for all of that training in our busy lives 🙂

We dutifully started our carbo loading on Friday…ok not really…I just love Mac n Cheese 🙂 (and caffeine)  hehe!


The marathon weekend is a bit crazy and quite stressful for a number of reasons.  For starters, the logistics of racing for an entire day in another city requires some food and clothing preparation ahead of time.  The biggest thing though, is that over 40,000 other runners are needing to get into the city, pick up their race packets the day before, and then get to the starting line the day of, all at the same time 🙂  It results in some traffic jams and just a general feeling of chaos 🙂  The day before the race we drove up to Chicago, dropped the pups off, and then headed into the city to pick up our race packets


along with a whole bunch of other people!






After finally escaping the Expo Center we headed to a nearby coffee shop to meet a friend of mine, Sara, and her soon-to-be husband for some coffee/tea/smoothies/hot chocolate.


Then we grabbed some take out, and while we were waiting for it to be ready we walked around the city just a bit.  We were near Grant Park where the start and finish line for the race were so we walked past the 26 mile marker…can you see it?  🙂


We also took some impromptu photos…and Brett spun us around a little for an action shot 🙂



Then we headed back to the pups for our last minute race preparations.  While the pups relaxed…



…we pinned our bibs on our shirts, I wrote on the back of mine (last year my shirt said Chemo Warrior Princess on it hehe, and I always include the phrase, Running 4 Mom), and we prepared our Go area.  That spot includes food for during the race and after (can you spot the doughnuts that we stashed in the car for the ride home? hehe), some water and Gatorade ready to go, and all the clothes that we’ll need.  The Chicago Marathon teams up with a homeless shelter and all of the clothes dropped before the start line are donated!  We buy new sweat shirts and sweat pants just for the occasion.  With a race that takes this long to complete, it is important to know what the temperature will be both before and during the race.  It was about 45 degrees on race day morning and about 60 by the time we finished 🙂




Did you also spot the giant bottle of Ibuprofen?  🙂

The next morning we woke up just a little after 4 am and got ready.  We headed into the city and to the Spertus Center where the American Brain Tumor Association was stationed for the day.  Usually all of the charity teams are in the same area in outdoor tents.  This year though, for whatever reason, the ABTA teamed up with another organization and had a spot in a building across the street from Grant Park and the start/finish.  This meant real bathrooms for before and after the race…this was fabulous 🙂  (Porta-potties can get pretty gross when you throw a bunch of slightly out of it runners into them!)



After the ABTA took a group picture, Brett and I headed to the start line.  It was a little bit chilly so I was equipped with my favorite pair of cold-ish weather running gloves (aka Gardening gloves)!  🙂  I have another pair of gloves for when it is sub freezing outside..bbrrrrr!!!


It is amazing to think about all of the people who are present at the Chicago Marathon each year.  With over 40,000 runners and all of the spectators, there are sooo many people around at all times!




We didn’t take many during the race photos this year…let’s just say that we were fully focused on the race 🙂  Brett and I will post a pretty funny video though in the next few weeks so stay tuned!  We were also pretty focused on all of the awesome posters that spectators had…they are more and more clever each year and have some great one liners on them.  (Maybe we’ll post about this more specifically in the future?….Eeep!  Teasers!!!)  After 5 hours and about 11 minutes we finished the race!  Brett got his post race beer and we both received the awesome metals! (you would have had to pay me to drink that beer haha!)



Thank you for everyone who donated to our race on behalf of the American Brain Tumor Association and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  If you would still like to donate it’s not too late!  Click here to donate to Mallory’s race and here to donate to Brett’s race!  🙂

P.S.  You can hear about last year’s race here, about some of our training here and here, and about our fundraising efforts here 🙂


The McDonald-Jones Mother-Son duo see Seattle!

Brett and his lovely mamacita, Patti, spent a weekend in Seattle recently!  (We all seem to love traveling to Seattle haha)  🙂  They visited downtown Seattle, Pike’s Market, the world-renowned Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition, and the EMP Museum.  The next day they explored Microsoft Research and some of the great areas along the lake 🙂  I’ll let Patti tell the story though so here goes…a guest appearance 🙂 …

I had such a wonderful time – thanks to the awesome hospitality and tour guide talents of my son Brett.  He really went absolutely over the top to give me a sample of the Seattle experience – having never been there before.  His room-mate and co-conspirator in making “Cool-things” also provided a warm welcome and generous gift of time (they both definitely did not have) to give me the opportunity to sample local culinary delights, breath-taking sights and all around conversation and fun!  The place is beautiful and it was such a pleasure to spend a moment with these two absolutely amazing and grounded people.

It was a whirlwind week-end.  In on Friday eve and out on Monday Morning.  Brett picked me up around 5:00 in Raj’s car, then went to house to find Raj, and all went out for sushi – think it was called Oto Sushi – they ordered for us – way to much – gorgeous presentation – we ate all of it.  Then went for walk to Juanita Bay as the sun set over the water.  Back to house tried to watch TV picked Covert Affairs (I like it and so does Mallory) – Brett style – meaning projected on the entire wall – but alas too too tired – just went to sleep.

Slept forever the next am.  Finally out the door at noon headed to Pikes Market, (first he showed me the park filled with majestic pines just steps from the house) had famous Piroshky (pronunciation I am not sure of) after waiting in the famous line.  Then a walk through the very busy Pike’s Market.  Saw such fun things, fish being thrown, flowers more grand and cheaper than I have ever seen in my life (Kristin should get married there just for the flowers).  Bought some fun souveniers – Pikes Market Sign and jewelry.  We stopped to enjoy the little band – Tallboys, Brett bought their CD, despite the fact that they had not showered in sometime.  (we listened to the CD all weekend).  Then headed to have my first sample of coffee made with fresh roasted beans, that was so GOOD! Have picture of the coffee top.  Then walked , stopped at Patagonia, bought nothing, headed to a combo of Chihuly exhibit, Sci-Fi & Music Museum.   Bought a magnet from Chihuly – as I love love love stain glass and his art.  Also got some great pictures of Brett in the Chihuly Garden with the Space Needle in the background.  I kept with Brett’s help trying to figure out where Frasiers apartment and view would have to have been – even if it was imaginary – but alas after much observation and speculation and several Google searches came to the forgone conclusion – that it the view was made up – just like the show – as they only filmed there once.  Oh well, I immediately  returned to believing in my imagination that Frasier was real and happened in Seattle.

Then went back to water front, had a drink and great conversation about life and jobs and futures and such.  Headed to get Raj and had dinner together at a terrific water front restaurant.  Raj insisted on picking up the tab – so kind of him. Then back to house.

Sunday was off to a great and totally cool start.  Headed for a special “take your mom to work day” at Microsoft – he rented out the whole place for me, only a few stragglers were there.  He made me a Microsoft Latte – good – then to a personal presentation of IllumiRoom at a mom’s level of sophistication and pace – i.e., SLOW – I got an amazing demo and backdrop explanation.  Saw where everyone worked.  So much fun for me to be there and so meaningful!

Then out on a long hike – close by. It was so good for me!  Got great  pictures.  Then we were too late to hit the St. Michelle Winery – will have to go back – so went to festival in Kirkland (actually I am confused about where everything was- cause I never looked at a map).  Headed back to house, tried to figure out where to go to dinner, Raj could tell that Brett was super tired – and me too – so suggested we order pizza, get some wine and stay home.  So he ordered, we ran the grocery store to pick up the wine, got some great chocolate too – then had a leisurely dinner on the patio under the pines, in the still air – quiet music and conversation.  It was a truly memorable evening and wonderful way to celebrate my visit and life!

Then Monday, up at 5:00 off to airport and work – for everyone

~ Brett’s Mamacita

























blog_MJSeattle_27Pictures by Brett and Patti