Good morning from Love You More Than You Know. Thank you to Lyn for having me as a guest blogger for the Ohio Blogging Association‘s All State Blog Swap.  Thanks to Alicia for organizing today’s swap.

Lyn’s blog celebrates the joy of being a mom and taking care of herself and her family.

My experience with taking care of our children and spouses always seems to revolve around food. With my husband, five children, their spouses, and 10 grandchildren so far, someone’s always hungry!

Joe 3 yrs

It seems like not to long ago, my children were as young as Lyn’s are now. Here is a picture of my son, Joe as a three year old. When he was little, I would bundle him up to face the world safe and snug. Looking into his bright eyes, I would say, “Make sure you wear your boots and jacket and hat! I never imagined thinking, “Make sure you wear your boots and flak jacket and Kevlar helmet!”

Joe Iraq

Here is a picture of Sgt.Joe Reinart, at 23 years of age, in the Ohio National Guard, when he was active duty and deployed for 15 months during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Guess what Joe always asked me to send in his care packages? Joe asked for food because anytime they left their barracks, the soldiers had to be in full body armor and gear. For lunch everyday the soldiers had MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). Sometimes it was just easier to eat what you had in your room and not go out in the heat after working a 12-14 hour day.


So every week, I would shop for groceries in Ohio to send halfway around the world—always buying enough so that my soldier could share with those who didn’t receive any packages. Joe made so many chocolate chip muffins from a mix that just needed water and a toaster oven that he became know as the Muffin Man.


For Joe’s birthday I sent a “Party in a Box”, including streamers, party plates, napkins, cups, candles, candy, party favors (squirt guns) and a banner that read HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I researched on the Internet what kind of cake had the best chance of surviving the extreme heat (temperatures 100-130 degrees) for the two weeks to twenty-one days it might take the package to arrive. The answer was an un-iced angel food cake. To solve the problem of frosting, I added a jar of Nutella, the chocolate hazelnut spread, so that Joe could frost the cake when the package arrived at his barracks.

Sending care packages was a way for my soldier to be connected to home. We made it through Joe’s deployment and celebrated when he came home. We continue to have many meals together as a family. The celebration continues as Joe is getting married in July!


I will continue bringing you true stories of our heroes in uniform, sharing with you the bravery and sacrifices that our troops and their families make everyday for all of us. You are invited to share your story about your soldier at Love You More Than You Know as a guest blogger. Send stories to




About Janie Reinart
Love You More Than You Know: Mothers’ Stories About Sending Their Sons and Daughters to War (Gray & Company, 2009 at

A storyteller, educator, and freelance writer, Janie seeks ways to give people a voice to tell their own stories through prose and poetry. She and her husband, Ed, are grateful for their five children and grandchildren. Most weekends, you will find Janie praying and singing with the choir at Holy Angels Catholic Church.

Janie’s chapter, “Boots to Ground “ in Love You More Than You Know, won second place in the National Federation of Press Women’s 2010 Communications Contest in the category of a chapter/essay in a nonfiction book. Her chapter won first place in the Ohio Professional Writer’s Communications Contest.

Janie’s blog Love You More Than You Know is a finalist for the 2012 Milbloggies (6th Annual) Best U.S. Military Parent Blog Award.


Thanks to Janie for sharing her post today.  Her passion for our soldiers is amazing!  I’m definitely going to look into sending a care package to a soldier this year.


Yesterday, the kids and I visited Horsefest at Lake Farmpark.  We had never been to this event before, but from the looks of the schedule, they were expecting a big turnout.  The weather was perfect.  We were sure to pack our hats, sunscreen, and water.


Nick and Sally were excited to see the horses hitched up to the wagon.


The wagon ride is usually one of the highlights of a visit to Lake Farmpark, but usually it’s powered by a tractor instead of horses.  We rode over to the arena area.


We were greeted by this church group who were stamping names into horseshoes as souvenirs.  The kids liked watching them work.


We watched the horses inside the arena for a bit.  There was a color guard (on horses)  and the national anthem for Canada was played.  After that, a girl sung the US anthem.  Nick heard it on a commercial today and remember the Star Spangled Banner from yesterday.  Now he wants to learn it pronto.  I see some patriotic music in my future when we drive to Maryland next month.

After we walked around the arena, we headed back outside where Nick got to try his hand at leading a horse.  This is the type of set up that you’d see for plowing a field.  I can’t remember the breed of house, but he was a beauty.


Nick had help, they didn’t let him lead the horse on his own.  But, they showed him how to get Fred to move by making a kissing noise.  It was so cute.


Sally’s turn was up next.  I was surprised that she wasn’t afraid.  She just went right up to the horse.


By the time she circled around, her hat had fallen down and she couldn’t see a thing.  I was sure to readjust the hat as soon as she was done.


As we wondered around, we saw all kinds of horses and carts.


In addition to the arena activities, there were food trailers, vendors, and displays, including a children’s activity tent.


On our way out, Nick and Sally were happy to see that the courtyard train was running.


We left before music in the courtyard and some of the other activities started.  As we exited, there were quite a few people in the lobby coming in.  The admissions staff was well prepared and staffed for a busy day.


We barely touched the surface of things to see at the Horsefest.  But, the kids and I have a short attention span and our visit was just right.  We had arrived about 9:30am and left around 11am to head to our next stop.


Today, the kids and I planned a super ambitious day.  Stephen is still out of town and it’s so much easier with Nick and Sally if we are busy and out of the house.

We decided to start our day at the Willoughby Farmers’ Market.  The market is in downtown Willoughby.  It was not hard to find at all.  We parked in a nearby school parking lot.  It was easy to access.  Nick and Sally both enjoyed the fountain located near the gazebo on the way to the market.


At first glance, this is like any other market.  An open area with booths of vendors set up.


Many people were buying flowers and plants.  Since it’s the middle of May, it’s time to plant tomatoes and other things in the ground.  We were happy to see Rainbow Farms at the market.  We’ve done some U-Pick at their farm.  We bought some lettuce and Nick purchased a cucumber.  Sadly, this was the only local farm that I was able to find at the market.


The booth that amazed me the most was the semi truck parked behind this huge row of tables of “fresh” produce.  I don’t think any of it was from any farm in Ohio.  It was obvious that they had just picked up skids of food at the Cleveland Food Terminal or a place like it.  They had pineapples and lemons and bananas!  ARGH.  I really hope that people realize that this is not supporting our local farmers.  Many of the workers at this booth were Amish, so in respect, I didn’t photograph much of it.


I will admit that we bought a watermelon.  When Nick and Sally get excited about vegetables and fruit, I don’t want to squash that enthusiasm.  We ate some tonight.  It was ok, but nothing like the fresh, local, organic melons that will be in season late summer.

The rest of the market was mostly crafts and some home produced baked goods.  There was also some local cheese and honey.

The market was right next to a church and they had a sign that the restrooms were open.  I thought that was nice to know.  Having two little kids, restrooms are always on our mind.

If you’re looking for a quaint walk through Historic Willoughby on a Saturday morning, it’s worth walking through the market.  But, if you want a true Farmers’ Market, we have some great ones in the area – just not in Willoughby.


Wednesday, I dropped Sally off at a friend’s house and took Nick to his preschool mini visit.  We signed him up for preschool a couple of months back.  This visit was to meet the teachers, other kids, and play.

He loved the “How Does a Butterfly Grow” poster since we currently have chrysalises in a habitat ready to hatch.  Actually, one became a butterfly today.  He also loves trains.  So, he didn’t waste any time in getting some track put together.


He also enjoyed a couple of puzzles before it was time to clean up.


He’s one happy kid!


I purposely didn’t take photos of the other kids, but rest assured that he met a few new friends and had a blast!  I was surprised to find out that the director had recently left and they are currently searching for one.  Luckily, the teachers have been around for years and seem to have it all under control.

I’m hoping that maybe with a change in management, we can have healthier snacks.  Currently, the snacks are cookies, crackers, Goldfish and the like.  I’d love to see blueberries, grapes and orange slices.  I don’t mind Nick having other things once in a while, but I don’t want preschool to be exciting because there is a yummy snack.  They probably don’t even need a snack since they are only there for 3 hours.

We opted to keep Nick home this year, so when he starts preschool in September, he’ll be one year away from kindergarten.  With his playroom time at the gym, visits to museums and other activities, I think he’ll do just fine with one year of preschool.

Now, I just hope he’s 100% potty trained by September!

 Posted by at 6:37 PM

On Wednesday, I met up with a friend in the pool for a swim.  Lyle updated the workout for me.  I made a couple of minor changes and swam 1/2 mile!  I haven’t swam that far in one session since college.  I am very happy.

Here’s the workout:


  • 4 lengths flutter kick with kickboard


  • 4 lengths timed front crawl  (It took me 3 minutes and 30 seconds)
  • 4 lengths front crawl
    • 2 without paddles, 2 with
  • 4 lengths breast stroke (It’s still a weak stroke, but it’s getting better)
  • 4 lengths lengths front crawl with buoy
  • 4 lengths front crawl
    • 2 with pool buoys
    • 2 with pool buoys and paddles
  • 4 lengths timed front crawl (It was also 3 minutes and 30 seconds.  I would have expected it to be slower than the first set.)


  • 4 lengths flutter kick
    • 2 front
    • 2 back
  • then I threw in an extra lap of flutter kick to round out the yards to 850

I’m going to keep my swim at 850 yards for a few weeks.  I am going to spend time on technique and speed.  I didn’t time this workout, but it was about 45 minutes.  I’d like to do this in 30 minutes.  I have no idea if that is even doable, but it’s a goal.

It’s been so nice to get back into the pool for more than water aerobics.  I didn’t realize how much I missed swimming laps.


Our Saturday night ended with dinner with friends.  Our visitors from Italy were in the states for 5 weeks.  They left to go back to Rome on Monday, but not before we got together one last time.

We ended up with 5 couples/families getting together.  The fun part is that I went to high school and in some cases junior high with them.  It really awesome to have friends that I’ve known for 25 + years.

We’ve traveled the world, went to college, married, divorced, moved a way, moved back, had kids, etc. and we are all still friends.  I am blessed with many wonderful people in my life.

I didn’t take many photos, but here are a few to share.

It was a beautiful day for the deck.  Nick and Sally loved running around the yard.


We enjoyed grilled chicken.  A checked out the corn hole game.  Sally blew bubbles.


Aaron had never heard of corn hole.  I guess it became popular after he left for Africa.  We didn’t stay for the game, but I heard that they didn’t let him win his inaugural game.


Thanks to our wonderful hosts.  Let’s not wait so long to get together again.


Cheers to friends!

 Posted by at 10:12 PM

After our trip to the Farmers’ Market and hiking on Saturday, we picked up lunch and visited with my parents.  Once lunch was over, we headed over to my grandma’s house.  Nick and Sally were very excited to see Angel (the dog).  Grandma spent a few weeks in Florida and this was our first visit since her return.

It was a beautiful day, so we played outside.


The balls needed air, Stephen was happy to help.  It’s so fun that Nick and Sally really know their Great-Grandma.


It’s also fun that she’s willing and able to toss a ball with them and play.


There were smiles all around.



Uncle Frank stopped by too.  Here’s a great photo of Nick and Sally with him.


I also snapped this shot of my brother with Grandma.


It was such a great visit!

 Posted by at 9:36 PM

9 years ago, the Metro Parks Serving Summit County started a program called the Spree For All.  It was somewhat modeled after the Fall Hiking Spree.  But, this program is on level trails and is intended for everyone.  So, it’s perfect for strollers, wheelchairs and everything in between.  This year, we thought we would do it with the kids.

On Saturday, we headed to the Everett Covered Bridge after we left the Farmers’ Market.  This bridge is near where Stephen and I were married.  We even had a few wedding photos taken here.  So, our visit brought back great memories.


Nick and Sally really enjoyed checking it out.


It was such a beautiful day for a walk.


The Spree for All hikes are all 1 mile or less.  There are turn around symbols at 1/8, 1/4 and 1/2.  This enables everyone to pick their distance.  It also makes it easy to do with the kids.  Many of the trails are close together so we can do a short walk, take a break and drive to another park and do another hike.

After the covered bridge.  We stopped at the Ira Trailhead of the Towpath Trail.

Nick was super excited to tell me all about the pit toilets and how they work.  He’s pointing out where they get pumped out.  Soon, we were on our way to the trail.


Nick and Sally weren’t thrilled with the number of dogs on the trail, but they were very happy when we arrived at the turn around.


On the way back to the car, we stopped to check out one of the old locks.  Stephen took the opportunity to explain the lock system to Nick.


Life is full of teachable moments.  Our Spree for All hikes were no exception.

We need to hike 5 trails to complete the spree.  I’m hoping to finish it up on our next trip to Akron.


Tonight’s dinner was pizza with all of the ingredients courtesy of our Fresh Fork CSA.  Many weeks our CSA bags are themed.  Some weeks I just use all of the ingredients in whatever I am cooking that week and other weeks, I use many of the ingredients in one dish.  This was one of those weeks.

For our pizza, I used the following:

  • pizza dough
  • Pope’s sauce (tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, garlic, olive oil, salt, black pepper)
    • I love that the sauce doesn’t have any SUGAR!
  • Mayfield Creamery Gouda
  • spinach
  • ramps
    • I’m sad that ramp season is over.  I’m going to chop and freeze my last few.
  • green peppers (from the freezer from last summer)
  • Italian sausage

We actually got smoked Gouda in our bag this week, but I didn’t want to overpower the other flavors, so I used regular Gouda from my fridge.  We have quite the stock of local cheeses at the moment.

I also used my pizza stone for the first time.  It was a bit challenging, but I think I just need more practice.

Here was the final result:


Since the pizza stone needed to heat in the oven for 30 minutes, I had that time to prep the other ingredients.

I browned the Italian sausage.  I washed and chopped the spinach and ramps.  I chopped the peppers a bit finer (they were frozen in bigger pieces than I needed for the pizza).  I drained the sausage on a paper towel and used residual grease to sauté the ramps, spinach and peppers.  Everything had a few minutes to cool before I put the pizza together.

Once the pizza was in the oven, I grated the cheese.

In just over 10 minutes, I took the pizza out of the oven and sprinkled on the cheese.

The end result was total deliciousness.  It was really one of the best pizzas that I’ve ever had.

I’m not sure if it was the sauce, the cheese, the dough, the toppings or the combo.  But, it was great.

Now, I’m off to see if I can get more of that yummy sauce!

 Posted by at 8:24 PM

We had plans south of Akron late today and decided to make a day of it.  We left our house around 8:30AM and headed to the Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow.  I love this market!

It wasn’t too hot out today, but we still wore our hats to help with the sun.  Since Nick wears glasses, hats are a good option for us.  I was surprised to see this sign about the ATM.  It’s probably great for business.  I’ve been to the market several times in the past and decided that I wanted meat or some other high dollar item that wiped out our cash.


Nick and Sally have seen display bee hives before, but they never seem to tire of them.  I’ve never had a croissant from Summit Croissants, but they had the biggest line when we were at the market early.  After running into some friends, we found out that if you want a certain flavor, you get there early.  Apparently this is a well known fact among the regulars.  Today, we had a breakfast pie from another booth, but maybe we’ll try a croissant next time.


The market set up a bit south of its original location.  It’s still in Howe Meadow, but this open space gives them room for more vendors and the market is a bit more spread out.  I think I like the new set up, but it will be hotter during the summer markets.


Today’s music was Mr. Bob.  He played guitar, harmonica and sang (not all at the same time).  Nick and Sally love the music at the market.  We found out that one of our friends is playing in a quintet here on August 18th, so we’ll try to come back that day for sure.


We ran into Diane from Humble Pie Bakery.  It was nice to see a familiar face.  We were surprised to see Mayfield Road Creamery at the market.  We love their cheese and get it from our Fresh Fork CSA often.  Today, we picked up a pack of blue cheese and chipotle gouda.  We also bought 2 jugs of our favorite honey from Schmidt Family Farm.  We told her her honey was the best.  She told us that she’d tell the bees.


We perused the grain selection from Mud Run Farm.  Nick wanted some puff cereal.  It’s not hard to get me to buy cereal with one ingredient.  It was only $4 and I thought that was very reasonable.


Before we left, we also purchased a couple of loaves of bread, onion chive cheese, Munster cheese, and some red pepper Ohio City Pasta.  I was prepared with a cooler bag and ice packs since we knew we wouldn’t be home until late in the day.

I’ve only been to a few local markets, but I’ve always really liked this one.  I’m hoping to visit at least 5 different markets this summer.

 Posted by at 10:51 PM