Thursday, June 23, 2011

35 years later....

...actually 41 years later. We met my freshman year in high school (via Donny's girlfriend who was trying to fix me up with another guy...who I wasn't interested in. At the time, I was thinking "no thanks, I'll take your boyfriend though...)and the rest is history.
We went to dinner tonight (even though our anniversary is Sunday - because I won't be home)and did some reminiscing. I mean I DID SOME REMINISCING...I could NEVER have imagined the course our lives would take over the next 30 some years. I would describe it as a ROLLER any other marriage. Good times and bad times, lots of UPS and DOWNS, but SOLID. And I can honestly say that I don't know how I could have handled the last several years WITHOUT Donny. He has been my rock. Marriage is NOT easy. In fact, it's pretty EASY to "escape", actually. It's a work in progress.

Melissa had a project in her creative writing class in high school, and one of the poems she wrote was "My mom likes to make me feel good"....
I won't share the entire poem here, just the appropriate parts for this occasion...

"My dad's totally in love with her too. sometimes it grosses me out
they know it and try to gross me out
"Let's french kiss" my dad would say, right in front of me
I usually scream cause it's not a pleasant thought
but sorta it is
My dad and I were talking once about all our family friends who were getting
and he looked at me and he said
"man, you really gotta love someone to death to marry them"
sometimes my dad annoys me and I totally ignore him
but, God, that really stuck.

...that's all I'll share right now, some day I'll share the ENTIRE poem. I have it framed with a picture of of those many things I saved.

Your kids DO listen and observe EVERYTHING you do. Everything you say. And sometimes it makes an impact. It did with Melissa AND Nick. She was blessed to find someone just like her dad. And Nick was blessed to find someone...well NOT just like his mom (which is a good thing!), but someone he loves more than shows.'s to 35 years...and counting. May YOU share many happy years too!

self portrait (taught by none other than FORT!)...@ Cheesecake Factory (thanks Julie & Kevin!)

This picture was taken June 26, 2004 @ Karyn & Keith's wedding, our 28th anniversary. The yaya girls were bridesmaids (Jennifers girls Jess & Jodi & Melissa). A friend of mine from high school is obsessed with boobs (literally) - and as we were having our picture taken, he yelled "show us your t*ts"...and Melissa reached in and pulled out her prosthesis!!!!!! HILARIOUS. I love this picture.
Happy Anniversary Karyn & Keith!

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...and of course the reason anyone who reads this blog READS this blog is for the adorable pictures of Drew & Max (as Fort would say - at that time - DREW) we were having some fun with sidewalk chalk - HOPSCOTCH. You'd think I invented this game - Drew & Max LOVED it. Of course we had to trace each other too...that was fun...THEN lunch THEN a nap. Which really didn't happen. We were laying in Pamma's bed, Drew wanted a story and was closing his eyes while Max was jumping on the bed - finally told Max to lay down, so he did...I started singing "Rock a bye baby" and Drew started drifting off...Max kept looking at me (in the eyes) and KISSING me...on the he was FASCINATED singing? or maybe he wanted me to STOP singing...I don't know - it made me chuckle-so he kept doing it - then Mere called and said she'd be there in five minutes....NO NAP. Hopefully they took naps for her when she got them home!
(OH - and speaking of sidewalk chalk - there is a new picture book out - it's INCREDIBLE...the kids at school LOVED it. The title is CHALK. It is a wordless picture book - WOW. Get it for your kids AND grandkids. I LOVE it!) they look ornery or what?????

Enjoy the summer...and ALWAYS take lots of pictures...I'm SO glad I did!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I had NO idea you'd be such a GREAT dad...BLINDED as I was by your studliness...
(my Father's Day card to Donny).
This is SO true.
Never really thought about what it would be like to have kids. Didn't take long to find out - we were only married a year when I got pregnant with Melissa.
He was smitten from the VERY beginning.
There is NOTHING that grabs your heart like holding that little miracle that you created...and the love only grows stronger EVERY matter HOW old they are.

Being a good dad is not an easy job. Donny took it very seriously. I think my kids know how blessed they were to have a dad that would do ANYTHING for them...he coached them (soccer, t-ball, baseball, basektball)he tutored them, read to them, gave them (what turned out to be) good advice, he fixed their cars, celebrated with them but most of all he loved (LOVES) them.

And he's a pretty awesome PopPop to boot. (just ask Drew & Max!)

...taking his little girl on her first date - to his sister's wedding...

...he LOVED reading to his little girl...

...he was a GREAT coach (she LOVED having her dad coach her - believe it or not!)

Donny was ALWAYS there for his kids....HAIR......

...or NO hair!

OH those Fortener boys...SUCH posers....Don (Dad/grandpa), Donny, Nick

...he took Nick camping (while I was on a trip to Florida with Melissa!)

...he made sure Nick signed all the paperwork necessary for his Scholarship to Akron...(Donny actually sent highlight tapes to all of the MAC schools, saw to it that Nick went to several football camps, one at which the Akron coaches saw him, hence his scholarship...)

...he made sure they got to Disney World...(and later, on a 3 week vacation out west-we drove all the way to California - with stops at Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Las Vegas, SanFrancisco, Salt Lake City, Field of Dreams, St. Louis, Mt. Rushmore, Zion Canyon - ALL of those, not necessarily in that order...he planned the entire trip. By himself. He had an itinerary that was logged to THE MINUTE. By the end of the trip, we were calling him Clark Griswold (Vacation).
Which reminds me - at the Grand Canyon, we had lunch at Bright Angel Lodge, where the Griswolds had lunch in the movie. He put our name in as "the Griswolds". Melissa and I were in the Gift Shop when they called us. I pretty much had to drag her into the restaurant...she was SO embarrassed...her dad loved to do THAT too.

...he always made sure they had a nice Christmas; anything that had to be put together was put together - even if it was Christmas Eve after they went to bed...
and of course made sure he had his picture with them while they still looked good!

...he made SURE his kids would see a SUNRISE on the beach (although at the time, I'm pretty sure they didn't appreciate being pulled out of bed at 5:30 a.m.)

...and of course they got PLENTY of beach time....

I did good, didn't I?
And all the things I said about Donny? I could say about my OWN dad. He taught me how to LOVE the outdoors, sports, to love UNCONDITIONALLY. My dad did not preach, he taught us by his actions. He LOVED my mom, he took care of her and although I didn't know it at the time, they taught me how to get through the loss of a child...(I lost my brother Steve when he was 17)...Thank you DAD (AND mom)...for teaching me so many important things in my life...I love you! HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

Happy Fathers Day Nick! and Happy Father's Day to all Dad's - "new" dads - Pauly & Biggest Mike too! (not sure if the babys will be here by Father's Day...but enjoy the day anyway!!!)

ok...remember in the last post I said "Nick & Mere are going to have LOTS of fun with Max"...he's an accident waiting to happen...WELL. The next day, he took a spill at our house - not pretty. Had a "nice" gash in his forehead - took 3 of us to hold him down to get a butterfly on it...but a popcicle took care of getting his attention away from us working on him...he'll have a nice "rememberance" of his first accident at Pamma's and Poppops!

I had the pleasure of joining Jen, Big Dog & Diane in Las Vegas the week after school was out - lots of sun, lots of slots (tables for Jen & Big Dog) and just a good time to get away. Casinos are a good place to go for mindless activity (which I need occasionally) least at the slot machines. Came home only $100 down!
Everyone else was UP. Good trip! Thanks Big Dog and Diane!!!!!!
Enjoying a tall one at Toby Keith's (I think it's at Harrah's)...

Recently Fort's friend Josh posted a picture of himself wearing his orange FORT the bottom of the Grand Canyon...FORT made it to VEGAS too-via Jen! (I know this is hard to believe, but Melissa DID NOT like the casinos...imagine that? One of the few things that we differed on...

The breakfast of champions...(note the coffee on the counter - that was MINE...until I looked at my watch and saw that it was NOON (Dayton time, but it WAS noon somewhere!) I joined them!

...last morning, 2 hours to go, headin' to the Tropicana for some fun...(which Jen and Big Dog had....)

Thanks Big Dog for getting my summer off to a good start!

Friday, June 3, 2011

ANOTHER Fortener...

Congratulations Danny & Lauren ... married May 28, 2011 ... that brings the Fortener family total to....probably over 100 now!

The Mother/Son Dance...

Caleb (Jacob's son) with Blair White (Blair was a teammate of Danny's @ Michigan State, now an Indianapolis Colt!)

what a handsome family...Jacob, Jodi, Danny...last time I saw them all together - they were probably 6-7-8!

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Took a short trip to Put in Bay Memorial Weekend...specifically to see the band
Wally and the Beaves - GREAT oldies. They were followed by the MENUS (from Cincinnati)...the MOST entertaining band I've ever seen. The lead singer changes into several "costumes" during the performance (he's wearing a TARGET bag!) - an incredible singer! We had great seats and really got our moneys worth. They are at Fraze Pavillion every summer - will definitely go to see them this summer...

Started the evening at Put in Bay with a Strawberry (filled with Strawberry vodka)-not bad...

The BIRTHDAY BOYS...Donny & Dad BOTH celebrate their birthdays May 31. Celebrated with a cookout on Memorial Day - Donny 57, Dad 81...they both look pretty good, eh?

Max...getting ready to do a somersault. Funny Max story - I watched the boys the other night for a couple hours after school Decided to take them for a walk to the park - but couldn't cross Patterson Road - TOO busy. So I talked them into going home for a popcicle. When we got back to their house - I sat down on the couch and started telling Drew a story. I heard Max in the kitchen, next thing I know, he comes out and hands me an ICE CUBE. I said "WHERE did you get that?" He just smiles and goes back out to the kitchen. THEN he comes out with a POPCICLE! I decided I needed to investigate - sure enough, a chair was pushed up to the refrigerator and the freezer door was WIDE open. He got HIMSELF a popcicle. He is not even TWO yet...they are going to have SOME FUN with this one.... up AFTER playing in the pool...(isn't playing in the pool LIKE taking a bath????)

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My dad found this picture...Melissa @ 3 1/2 months...she was SO cute...

One of my co-workers found this picture with Melissa - Fort is top middle - her daughter is bottom right - it was at COSI in Columbus - a Girl Scout trip. I LOVE it when people share old photos of her....I remember this trip too!

Well...I did it...made it through ANOTHER year. My FIRST year at my "new" school.
Last year about this time I posted on the blog about the closing of my "old" school.
It wasn't pretty. I was DEVASTATED. Pretty much determined to finish out my career in one year - and retire with 28 years.
WELL. Yesterday was the students last day, today was last day for teachers.
Our Principal had breakfast for the staff in the library - honored Linda, our ONE retiring teacher - and then announced the KOTA award (Kettering Outstanding Teacher Award, given at each elementary, voted on by the staff in each school) the principal was describing the person to whom it would be awarded, I was SURE it was going to Linda, our Title One Reading Teacher. She definitely deserved it...and then the principal turned and looked at me....I was SHOCKED. I was HONORED and humbled ... I was not a very sociable person this year - but I LOVE the kids, and LOVE what I do...and am actually looking forward to next year. There were so many people on this staff that really made me feel welcome, even though I pretty much stayed to myself - and the kids were incredible. THANK YOU GREENMONT for accepting me and making my first year a good one - with BUTTERFLIES to boot!

I called Donny, emailed Nick & Angie and wanted SO MUCH to call Melissa (AND my mom)...they would be so's a day of mixed emotions for me...happy and sad at the same time. I wish she were here to celebrate with me....LOVE YOU and MISS YOU EVERY SINGLE DAY Pretty girl...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Congratulations Kyra & Dane!!!

SHE CAUGHT HIM! (No surprise there...she's REALLY fast!)
...and we were SO happy to be there to witness this happy union!!! ALWAYS good to see all of Melissa's friends! Keeps her close to us. She would have LOVED this, and I know she was (and will continue!) watching over them...along with the GROWING rugby family...LOTS of babies on their way (or recently arriving) as you can see below!

The Bride and Groom....BEAUTIFUL!

Pam, Elizabeth (of Pauly and Elizabeth...Breast Cancer Fundraiser promoters/organizers...DUE SOON!!!), and Donny

Donny, Kyra, Pam (one of our MANY daughters....thanks girls!)

Jen (Fort & Kyra's rugby coach AFTER college), Kyra and Pam

Eva (with 8 day old baby boy!...CONGRATS!), Kat, Casey (due SOON) and KJ - Fort's rugby teammates...

Pretty much the Men's and Women's Cincy Rugby teams.....

Seems to be a tradition at Rugby gatherings...INCLUDING weddings! Of COURSE Kyra climbs to the TOP!!!!

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Thank you Cincinnati Kelts (Women's AND Men's teams) for continuing to include us in your celebrations....we really feel like part of YOUR family and love you all so much...