The Days of Summer are Limited…

Our summer is very quickly coming to an end…not a fact we really like to own up to, but it’s true. To make the most of the precious moments we have left, we have inadvertantly made ourselves busy with a whole lot of fun! This weekend kicked it off. Friday night we met our good friends, the Visel Family, for dinner and fun at the marina. We had a tasty dinner up at the yacht club and then wandered down to the lawn area to check out the wine tasting that was going on. While we were down there, Cortney taught Jake the fine art of power walking. I think he was getting the hang of it! Trisha took Jake to the edge and peeked at some ducks that were swimming by.
We didn’t participate in the wine tasting…but we hung out and chatted with those who did. Check out the Barefoot Wine foot! It’s bigger than Trisha!
Jake had a great time running around the lawn finding people who would play with him.
He even took a minute to sit with his mom and check out some of the boats in the marina.
Trisha is usually behind the camera, so I thought I better get some pics of her with Jake. Here she is with Jake and her mom…three generations!

On Saturday, Cortney and I went to an open house for Grandpa and Grandma Potter’s 60th wedding anniversary. Later, we had dinner with our “Chicago friends,” Tonya and Jeremy Harbottle and Mat and Owen. After dinner we went to our house to hang out. Owen showed us his Olympic running skills in our backyard.
The rest of us just chilled on the patio. Jeremy and Mat shared a laugh or two.
When the bugs came out, we went in…and watched the Olympics!
We did take a break from the Olympics to play a little Guitar Hero…the best video game EVER! Tonya and Jeremy had never played, so they REALLY got into it!
Mat opted to play farm with Owen.

Here I am showing Tonya how it’s done! Yeah, making that face TOTALLY helps!
Cortney schooled Jer too…Sluiters RULE!
Even Owen rocked out…even if he wasn’t plugged in…:)
We had a fun weekend of lots of our favorite people! The next time we see our Chicago friends, school will have started! Where did our summer go!?!?!

Vacation Part 1: The Busschers in NY

For our 2008 summer vacation, Cortney and I decided it was high time that we travel out to the great state of New York to visit our friends, Phil and Liz Busscher. The last time we were there was four years ago–the summer before we were married–when Phil and Liz still lived in an apartment in Fairport, near Rochester. Since then, they moved to a house (not really that far from their apartment), got married, and got a dog. And just before we our visit, Phil called to tell us that Liz just got a new job in South Carolina, so they were moving before the end of the summer. Good thing we decided to visit!

We made the trip from Zeeland to Fairport in nine and a half hours on Friday. We were pretty pooped by the time we got there! We remembered that Phil and Liz were excellent hosts the last time we were there, and they actually outdid themselves this time! They made us dinner Friday night…homemade pizza. I know, I know…you’re thinking…gross! Pizza out of a box! Yeah, that is what I thought too…but nope. Their grocery store (which is a Wegmans) is the best grocery store I have ever been to! They sell dough and sauce that is pretty much just as good as what you would get if you ordered out. I’m just saying it was a damn good pizza is all. Liz stretched the dough and took care of the toppings. Phil was in charge of cutting them up when they were done.
I kept busy by mixing myself a drink. Hey, it was a long drive!
Saturday morning Phil and Liz made us french toast and bacon before packing a lunch and heading to the Finger Lakes for a wine tour. Cortney kept out of Liz’s way by playing with Farley. No, he is not so amused with Cort’s antics.

We could also NOT get over the fact that their cat, Elvis was SO much like our cat, Louis. Cortney thought it was funny that he was sleeping, but he appeared to be standing. It’s like a lazy version of spider cat!
After playing with the animals and getting ready, we were off to the Finger Lakes. Phil drove us and he warned us that the way there was sort of windy and turny, and some people get a bit of motion sickness. He was SO not kidding! I was sure they were trying to make me puke before even getting a drop of wine in me! But I made it! Our first stop was Dr. Frank’s. We thought we better snap a picture while everyone still had their wits about them.
Outside I thought I better get some pictures of the view. It was out of control. We only went to one of the lakes–which is about forty miles long according to Phil. This is Lake Keuka. It has about eleven wineries around it. One of the other lakes had about 50 wineries. Good for our livers that we chose one of the lakes with fewer stops!
Here is another shot of the view. We stopped at six of the wineries around the lake. Liz did a good job of choosing a really nice variety of stops. They varied from sort of fancy-pants to super laid back.
A quick shot of us having fun on vacation! Cortney and I were both looking forward to seeing Phil and Liz and getting away for awhile, but I think we were surprised at how much fun the wine touring was!

Our second stop was Bully Hill. This was the most laid back of all the stops. At each winery we tried about 5 wines. The first 2 here were dry and not my favorite, and I told Liz I thought this guy doing our tasting was a big tool. Then he busted out the sweet wines and guess what…he became my new best friend! Plus he pushed the gift shop by showcasing thong underwear. That is just funny.
YUM!!! One of their wines was so sweet, all the people at the tasting bar made a face. Cortney commented that it tasted like we were drinking purple skittles. Of course I thought it was delicious! I bought a bottle, don’t worry!
Oops! I got a little spot of red wine on my shirt. My new best friend went in the back and created a concoction of something and scrubbed it off for me. He was a little too excited to get that close to my shirt.
And he created a “special” wine mix for my sweet tooth. Yeah, he LOVED me…what can I say…my fans are all over the place!

After Bully Hill, we stopped at Heron Hill. This was quite a bit classier. Not a good place to take me after a winery that mixed me “special” wines. I was a bit giggly. We had lunch here though, so that brought me back to my senses. Liz packed a cooler of crackers, cheese, and summer sausage. mmmmm! We ate it on a picnic table in the sun over-looking the lake and the vineyard. On our way out, we thought we better get a picture with the wine grapes.

Phil found some on the ground…I SWEAR we didn’t pick them! I thought they would make a good souvenier, but Liz made us throw them out of the car.
Stop number four was McGregor Vineyard. This was a bit farther away on the other side of the lake. I had to go potty REALLY bad by that point, but they did not have indoor bathroooms…only port-o-johns. Oh well…it’s better than going by a grapevine! Liz had to go too, but she couldn’t wait for me to get out of the “women’s”, so she used the “men’s”. Who knew there was a diffrence when it came to mobile johns!
Hey! I’m done! Let’s go taste some more wine!
Our fifth stop was Rooster Hill. I liked all five of the wines I tasted here! Plus we still looked good enough for another group shot! I especially liked this place because, like McGregor’s, we could keep our wine glasses!
The last stop was Keuka Sping. It was a good way to end the day…plus they had MONSTER wine casks!

On Sunday, after another GREAT breakfast, we decided to go grocery shopping and to make a stop at the local liquor store. New York is funny because they don’t have party stores where you can get all your booze. Beer is sold at grocery stores and gas stations, but wine and liquor has to have their own store. Phil and Liz took us to this liquor store because we could get some of the wines a little bit cheaper here than at the winery. Phil pushed the cart–which was totally funny to me on so many levels. I think the main source of humor here is how small that cart is compared to Phil. This is a shot from the SHORT view of this store. I’m telling you…we NEED one of these in Holland! It has labeled aisles just like Meijer! Cort and Liz are deciding where to go next.
I found the Finger Lakes Wine aisle. mmmm! This is where I bought my wine from Casa Larga. We didn’t go wine tasting there because I already know I love their Lilac Hill wine. I bought 3 bottles.
When we got back from the grocery store, it was time to start dinner. Since they had a 13-pound frozen turkey that would have to be thrown out due to the move to SC, they decided instead to cook it up for us. Phil was on turkey and stuffing duty.
I was put in charge of the gravy. I don’t even LIKE gravy, but I was the only one who had ever made it before.

Liz worked on the apple crisp. Yeah, that’s right…she even made us dessert. I wasn’t kidding around when I said that they are the best hosts ever!
Cortney just wanted to eat! We put down three bottles of wine between the four of us in the process of making this meal, so we were ready to put some food in our bellies! Liz even busted out the fancy china and table cloth. Yeah, they don’t get guests often 🙂
Doesn’t that meal look yummy? I mean, dang! That picture could be in a magazine!
Sunday night we said our goodbyes since Liz and Phil and to get up to start their last week of work on Monday, and we were going to be leaving Monday morning. It was definitely sad to leave their cute house in NY!

Even though we will miss having a great place to stay in NY, we are looking forward to visiting their new place in SC when they find it! Thanks for a GREAT vacation, Phil and Liz!!!

Friends, Meet The Patio. Patio, Meet the Friends

Today Phil and Liz, Jer and Tonya, and Mat came over to check out the patio and see how it sat before they had to head back to their respective states. Liz and Tonya thought the chairs were comfy enough to sit in. And Cort, Jer, and Mat found the patio quite roomy and a perfect spot for a cold beer on a hot day. Ah, summer! Good times!

Fun with Friends from Afar!

On the Fifth of July, we had our biannual get together with all our friends who’ve moved all over the place! Phil and Liz come from Rochester, NY; Mat, Tonya, and Jeremy all come from Chicago, IL, and Erin and Brad come from Ashley, ND. This Fourth of July weekend was super special because we were also celebrating a bunch of people’s birthdays! On the fourth, Liz Busscher had her 30th birthday. Linda (whose house we partied at on Saturday) celebrated her 60th today, along with Liz Perez and my mom who also have birthdays today. And Jeremy turns 33 tomorrow! That is a LOT of people sharing a birthday with America!

Anyway, we gathered at Linda’s house on Lake Michigan for some good food and good friends. Phil, Cort, and Mat relax before dinner below. Mat and I hung out inside and discussed paintings and T-shirts.
Tonya and I spent some quality time together…much needed time together!
The weather was so beautiful! Not hardly a cloud in the sky and the lake was gorgeous! Ken goes down to check out the beach this year…which was more beach grass than sand, I’m afraid!
Mat disappeared for awhile…but then we found him lounging on the beach toys enjoying the lake.

Jeremy was just glad to be in Michigan where he could enjoy some Bells Oberon…there is a LONG story behind this, but basically it is not available in Chicago anymore. Yeah, we bribe our friends to see us with beer. Don’t judge us!
We even saw someone flying one of those motorized glider things…he buzzed right by us and almost landed in the lake before pulling up. Not my cup of tea, but it was fun to watch!
There were also dogs everywhere! Phil and Liz brought Farely. He loves Linda’s house! Erin and Brad brought Morgan, and their new puppy…I mean cow dog…Daisy.
There is nothing like a Lake Michigan sunset to make the day complete!
Tonya and Jer enjoyed the sunset and all the fun on the beach deck.

Friends since middle school: Erin, me, and Tonya!
Once the sun went down, it got pretty chilly, so we all headed inside. Brad cuddles up to his dad-in-law, Paul.
Brad was in rare form, that’s for sure! He even sang the Ton Ton song to Tonya. He claims it’s a real song, but I have a sneaking suspision he made it up. Good times with good friends! Me, Brad, Linda, and Tonya We won’t see the whole group together again until Thanksgiving, so hopefully everyone has a safe and happy summer and fall!

Chicago Trip

This weekend Cort and I made the trip to Chicago. We had the BEST time!
We took off from our house Friday after lunch and headed to Mat’s house in the North Center neighborhood (near Irving Park) in Chicago. We had tickets to see REM (see picture above) that night at the United Center. My friend, Catye Palomino has friends in Naperville who also LOVE REM (apparently Amy and I are a LOT alike…I wish we could have hung out more this weekend…it just means I’ll have to travel over there again!), and they had tickets too. So after dinner in the Wicker Park neighborhood, Mat, Cort, and I headed over to the United Center to meet Catye, Amy, and Mike for the show.

This is my third REM show and it was AWESOME! Cort, Mat, and I had seats in the seventh row, so we were able to see everything up close! As usual, Mike Stipe (the lead singer) was a dancing machine, and totally made my year! Since I know not all of you are huge REM fans like me, I will spare all the details. But for those of you who are jealous of our weekend, you can read a review of the concert (with opening bands, The National and Modest Mouse) in the Chicago Tribune at I agree for the most part with the review. I did not love The National, though I had heard good things. Modest Mouse didn’t impress me too much either, but I like the band, so I would like to see them again in a smaller venue as a headliner to make a real opinion.

On Saturday, I had a girlfriend date! Tonya and I haven’t seen each other since March, so we left the boys behind and went for lunch at Potbelly’s Sandwichs and then to see Sex and the City in the movie theater! Clearly, we had tons of fun! We LOVED the movie! We love the TV series, and own all the DVDs between the two of us, so this movie was a MUST! We even sprung for the mega tub of popcorn! mmmm!!!! I am not sure if cameras in the movie theater is legal, but I needed a picture of us with that giant tub of corn…we also both had large diet cokes, and Tonya even had a box of milk duds. Yeah, that’s right…it was girl’s day…what do you want from us? 🙂
After the movie, we went to O’Donnovans, the bar where Mat used to work, to meet the boys for drinks and dinner. While we were gone, the boys had vague plans of going to a clock shop to pick up a clock Mat had that was being repaired and then to go to Rib Fest (Irvinig Park’s Festival). Well, they never made it to the clock shop, and really only hit Rib Fest for about 5 minutes. They basically sat and watched the Cubs game all day at the bar. It was a really humid day, so I can’t say I blame them.
So after an embarrasingly long parking spot search (we found five open spots right in the O’Donnovan parking lot), and seeing a small girl in a tu-tu and yellow crocs riding a razor scooter, Tonya and I joined the boys. We were sitting in the outside area, so we even got to watch the storm go through. And when it was time to walk back to Mat’s we figured it was done raining. not so much…we totally got caught in a down pour!

After hanging out for the day, it was time to leave our BFFs behind in the windy city. Cort and I left Chicago around 9:00 pm Michigan time thinking that the storms were past. We made it all the way to Van Buren county before we realized that we were about to drive into something ugly. A voicemail from my cousin, Kelli, told us that things were not good at home: there was a car stalled up to its headlights in water in the entrance of our subdivision. Hmmm….maybe we should have stayed one more night. However after I white-knuckled it through the torrents of rain, and as we approached our subdivision, we noticed all the standing water was gone, so we were able to get home just in time for more rain to start pouring down.
It was such a fun weekend and we are so happy to have had the time with our good friends and then to arrive home safely…just in time to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Grandma Sluiter 🙂

Giving Thanks

Look at that FEAST! We sure do have a lot to be thankful for this year! For one, we got to spend time with family on Thanksgiving. We had a Turkey dinner/lunch at my mother-in-law’s house; Kim put out a DELICIOUS spread for all of us. Then for supper, we went to my Grandpa and Grandma Riemersma’s where all the aunts and adult cousins brought the feast. Check out that scrumptious-looking orange jello. Dang!

My dad was ready to dig right in!

Mike, Chris, and Cort were more ready to eat than have their picture taken:

After dinner we played Bingo – of course – with Chris calling the numbers. He tried to train Mike as a Bingo caller this year, and I think he did pretty good. Chris let me call one number, but mass chaos broke out, and I was fired.

We also were able to spend quality time with all our very best friends. Per tradition, we all gathered for drinks and silliness at The Busschers the night before Thanksgiving. Tonya and Jeremy came from Chicago on their way to Jackson; Mat came from Chicago; Phil and Liz came from Rochester, NY; Erin and Brad came from Ashley, ND. We were able to drink, talk, and just have good times together.

Brad and Cort have clearly been apart too long.

Friday I went on my annual Day After Thanksgiving shopping trip with my mom. We are not those crazy people who get up at 4:00 am to shop – we arrived at the Holland mall a little after 10:00 am – but we still found a ton of good deals!

That evening we went out with the friends again. This time we all met at Vitales in Zeeland. We wanted to partake in the fun of being able to get served alcohol in Zeeland now – plus they have the best cheese breadsticks I have ever had! Mmmm!

We are thankful for a whole lot this year, but most of all we are thankful for our friends and family. Until spring, Busschers!

Sluiter Nation Goes Urban

This past weekend Cort and I headed south for a weekend with our BFF’s, Tonya and Mat. Cort’s best bud, Mat has been living in Chicago for quite a few years now, while my best pal, Tonya and her husband, Jeremy just moved there this school year because Tonya got a teacher’s aid job working for CPS. Since Tonya and Jer are finally settled, we decided that we needed to get the heck out of town!

We arrived Friday night and since Mat has room for visitors, we crashed at his pad. He was an extremely good host – he even let us sleep in his bed while he took the little bed in the “guest room”; plus he makes a mean breakfast!
After a late breakfast on Saturday, we headed out to see some of the city. We thought we were going to see some excitement when we saw a bunch of fire trucks down the road from Mat’s place, but we didn’t even see a trail of smoke.

From there we headed to the train to ride into downtown. Cortney had never been on a train before, so he was excited! Here he is waiting for the train with Mat:
We got off the train downtown and took off on foot from there. We were originally going to go to the Stars Wars exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, but it was sold out – so we decided to go to the Field Museum since none of us had ever been there. We paid a little extra to see special exhibit they had on Maps. It was quite neat. We didn’t have time to see everything they had, but we did see a few of the exhibits. Here I am with a scary gorilla!

Here is Cort with a big, female lion who wants to eat him:

They had a great big dinosaur in the lobby – Jer looked all over for it, but couldn’t find it:
After the museum, we headed out to walk around the city a bit before jumping on the train back to Mat’s neighborhood.

We walked to Millenium Park and saw the big “Bean”.

There were lots of photo opps there – check it out – we’ve BEAN friends with our BFF’s forever 🙂

We had SO much fun in Chicago! It was just what we needed in our stress-filled life – a weekend of fun and relaxation with our most favorite people in the world. Our best friends may live 3 hours away, but at least they live within a mile of each other in a super fun city! This was probably our BEST trip to Chicago yet! Thanks Mat, Tonya, and Jer!

The Official End to Summer: Labor Day Weekend

This weekend we were fortunate enough to be able to spend some more time with Phil and Liz before they head back to New York. We usually only get to see them about twice a year, but because of all the Busscher weddings and events surrounding those weddings, we have been able to hang out with them much more. Saturday we had a beach day at Aunt Linda’s house. Beach days are the BEST days because they are so low-key and fun! We sat in the sun, played with the dogs, had some beers, swam in the chilly lake, and ate LOTS of food!
Cortney and I enjoyed our beers while cooling off in the lake! 🙂

The day was perfect: about 80 degrees with no humidity, a slight breeze, and no waves to speak of on the lake. The only thing that would have made it better was if the water were about 5-10 degrees warmer. Our legs and other parts got a bit numb when we took our dips.

After frying ourselves on the beach, we headed back up to the house and fired up the grill. Paul and Ken made some DELICIOUS steaks for us!

After dinner we enjoyed the sunset from Linda’s beach deck. It was such a great day. Cortney even made the comment today: “I like our friends. I really miss days like yesterday.”

Thanksgiving will be here soon though, and all the Busschers will be back!

End of the Summer Blow Out – Busscher Style!

We had our last big summer fun this weekend. Our good friends, Phil Busscher and Liz Chitren got married. They have been together for almost 10 years, so it was about time! The wedding ceremony was held at Phil’s aunt Linda’s house. Cortney and I have been coming out to aunt Linda’s with the rest of our highschool (and later college) friends with Phil and his siblings (Erin and Michael) for parties, bonfires, and beach days since the Busscher clan moved to Zeeland when we were in middle school. It was such a fitting place for Phil and Liz to finally tie the knot!

It was a BEAUTIFUL day for a wedding. I was up at 8:00 am to get ready to bring my cousin, Rachel out to Linda’s to be the stylist for the day. Liz dubbed me her “solver” for the day and I hope I lived up to my title! Everything seemed to go very well!

Everyone gathered on Linda’s backyard lawn over-looking Lake Michigan to watch the couple get married! It was a very casual affair with many of the guests sipping on beers while moving around to take pictures.

Erin was so happy to see her little brother get married. She giggled through the whole day. I could tell she was very happy for the couple!

Standing up for Liz was her sister, Ann (the maid of honor) and her friend from college, Maude. Phil had his friend, Robb as his best man. The ceremony was quick and intimate – just how Phil and Liz wanted it.

After the ceremony, we all went to Linda’s deck that overlooks the beach for some pictures and to have a couple beers before heading to the reception. Cortney took advantage of being dressed up with a nice background for a picture…

We also made sure to take pictures with our BFFs: Mat and Tonya

After soaking up some of the beautiful day, everyone headed to the Holland Fish & Game Club for the reception. They did such a great job setting up and making it look just like Liz wanted!

The reception was SO fun! Of course we did some drinking – which led to some misbehaving! Erin and Phil’s cousin, Lindsey and I are new friends (ever since Erin’s wedding in June), and were so excited to hang out again. Things just got sillier and more inappropriate as the night went on! I am sure I will get more pictures in the next few weeks from other friends’ cameras. If they are not too out of control, I will add them to this post!

It was such a good time to be able to hang out with our very best friends! It is so rare that we are all together anymore since everyone lives all over the country – Michael and Marina live in New Orleans, Lousiana; Erin and Brad live in Ashley, North Dakota; and Phil and Liz live in Fairport, New York – but when all the Busschers are in town – there is certainly going to be a good party!

Today we were able to head over and see how everyone was fairing after all the fun that was had last night at the reception. We had lunch (Jimmy Johns – Liz’s favorite), watch Phil and Liz open presents, and looked at the pictures we had available. I can’t wait until the next time we are all together again! I miss everyone already!

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