I have a special place in my heart for Ohio. My alma mater, Miami University, is in Oxford. It's where I met my husband. Mike is from northeastern Ohio. Painesville, to be exact. It's also the only place where you can get this stuff:
I've had an on-going love affair with Malley's for just about as long as I've been in love with Mike. The first time he took me home to meet his family included a trip to Malley's. I can't remember a single trip back to Cleveland that hasn't included a visit to Malley's. We sit and have ice cream sundaes with famous fudge sauce. You must order your sundae in a flat dish (more ice cream, we're sure of it), fudge sauce on the side. You must request a side of pretzels (Mike) and a side of almonds (Angie) to dip in the extra fudge sauce. We never leave without a case(!) of Pretzel Crunch Bars. I love that this place hasn't changed one bit since the first time I set foot in there 15 years ago. I love seeing the look on Eli's face when he comes face to face with more chocolate in one place than he's ever seen in his lifetime.
Yes, we took a little trip up to Cleveland for Labor Day. It was a whirlwind trip, but filled with big stuff. Mike's step-dad remarried last winter, and we hadn't met his new bride. She is from Belarus. She'd heard a rumor that Mike was a picky eater, so she was accommodating and didn't prepare anything crazy. She did make some fabulous eggs for me in the morning, with butter and sour cream. Next time I'm hoping for some borscht.
There was another addition to Grandpa Paul's house on this trip, and that was the kitten, Milashka. That poor, poor kitty. She spent a good deal of energy trying to dodge Elena, but that girl takes persistence to a new level. Once the cat was caught, she would just melt into a lifeless heap of fur, no longer a cat but merely a little girl's accessory.
We also met Mike's half-sister and her family for the first time. I'll bet you didn't know he had a sister. Neither did he until six years ago. It was only last year that he found out her name. It's a complicated history, and not really my story to tell. I can tell you this, though: it was really amazing meeting her and her family. We had a lovely visit together and I hope that they become a bigger part of our life.
We finished off our visit in Akron, visiting Mike's grandmother and aunts. I remember when Mike and I first started dating, there were piles of his cousins underfoot. Now they're all grown up, going to Miami (the cool ones, anyways), getting married, buying houses and expecting babies. Elena and Eli adore their "big" cousins, and have to be physically removed from them at various points in time during our visits. Who doesn't love cousins that let you help them was their car?
That would be Mr. Brian Egan, cousin, fellow Miami grad, and kid entertainer extraordinaire.
We'll be back in Ohio in December to see one of the cousins get married. Hopefully our case of pretzel crunch bars will last us until then.