Tag Archives: vacation

Our Trip to Michigan 2017

2 Aug

Back in June, Travis, Emma, Annabelle, and I vacationed in Holland, Michigan, with almost my whole family—my dad, 2 of 3 brothers, 2 of 3 sisters-in-law, and the 2 nephews on my side (to be joined by 2 nieces by the end of the year!). We were the first to arrive on Saturday. We flew from Brainerd to Grand Rapids (with a layover in MSP), rented a car, and drove an hour to Holland.IMG_4540IMG_0297 (Large)IMG_0298 (Large)IMG_4541The beach house we rented through Airbnb was in a small community of private owners, right next to the mouth of Lake Macatawa, and had its own private beach, which was super nice. Would definitely recommend this area!IMG_0435 (Large)IMG_0431 (Large)IMG_0317 (Large)We didn’t know it at the time, but the day we arrived was one of the nicest days we had there. The girls were so excited to be at the beach that we dropped our stuff in the house, got suits on, and headed out. It wasn’t extremely warm, especially for being at the beach, but it was warm enough to enjoy being out there, even in water that was only 68 degrees.

Later that day, my dad, and the 4 Js (Jeremy, Jen, Jensen and Jackson) arrived. Brian and Jill arrived the following night. Chris and Meg were unfortunately unable to come because of last-minute complications with selling their condo and building a new house.

Most days were a combination of hanging out in the house doing puzzles or watching movies, kids playing on the beach or in the water, chilling, drinking, playing Kubb (which Brian introduced us to), and going on some kind of outing.IMG_0319 (Large)IMG_0335 (Large)IMG_4615IMG_4631IMG_4592IMG_4562IMG_0373 (Large)IMG_0375 (Large)IMG_0437 (Large)Sunday, we had planning to go on a hike in a state forest but turned out it was only a random trail through the woods. So instead we went to the Lake Macatawa State Park, which was where the public beach was located. We ate ice cream, watched kite flying, walked out on the break water, and played on the playground. The funny thing was, it was literally just on the opposite side of the red lighthouse and mouth of Lake Macatawa as our beach house–but it took us about 30 minutes to drive there. After seeing all the people on the public beach, we were grateful for our private one. IMG_4586IMG_4573IMG_4576Monday, Jen and I went to a used book sale at the local library while Brian and my dad bought groceries. Then we visited the Windmill Island Gardens, and learned a little about Dutch culture. We took a tour of the working windmill and learned how they grind flour and cornmeal, which was really interesting. The kids rode the carousel a couple of times, we listened to an antique Amsterdam street organ, and bought some yummy Dutch treats in the gift shop.IMG_4603IMG_4642IMG_4609IMG_4602Tuesday, Annabelle got sick. 😦 Poor little girl didn’t have much of a fever, but she got a ton of mucus buildup, so she had a hard time sleeping and just wanted to cuddle all day. That evening, the four of us did a little shopping downtown while others went grocery shopping and then we all went out to eat at New Holland Brewing, where the food was delicious (and I heard the beer was too, but I am not a beer drinker).IMG_4620Wednesday, we finally had a day that wasn’t super windy so we spent most of it on the beach. Annabelle still wasn’t feeling well, but she enjoyed snuggling on the beach and listening to the white noise of the waves.IMG_4630Thursday, Annabelle was starting to feel better, but still wanted to be carried most of the time. We debated about whether we should have her out and about, but after much hemming and hawing, we decided to go for it. We went on a Saugatuck Dune Ride and a hike at Sand Dunes State Park. The dune ride was awesome. Our girls loved it, putting their arms up in the air and squealing whenever we went around a fast turn or down a steep hill. Jensen and Jackson were a little apprehensive about the ride at times though. I don’t like rollercoasters whatsoever, but this ride was tame enough for me (while still being fun for others with stronger stomachs). Our guide, Joey, was very friendly and told us some of the history of the sand dunes.IMG_0405 (Large)IMG_0409 (Large)IMG_0390 (Large)IMG_0387 (Large)IMG_0383 (Large) Afterward, we ate ice cream, then went on a short, easy hike in the state park, which ended at the beach, where Emma and Jensen proceeded to go swimming fully clothed.IMG_0411 (Large)IMG_0415 (Large)Friday, we went to the Outdoor Discovery Center, which was a great find. There was a nature center with some impressive taxidermied animals, a kid-size zipline, a bunch of walking trails, and a birds of prey center, where we saw bald eagles, hawks, owls, and more who had all been rehabilitated from an injury and could no longer survive in the wild. Oh, and we also lost Emma on the never-ending maze of trails for a good 10 minutes.IMG_4664IMG_4647 We also stopped by the fishing pond, where Jensen and Travis both caught a few fish.IMG_0426 (Large)Saturday, it was time to pack up, tidy the beach house, and head south to South Haven to see Jeremy race in the National Auto Sport Association (the J’s had driven there the night before). We got there right as Jeremy was on the track for the Qualifier, and got to see him drive by a couple of times. Then there was a break for his class/division (whatever you call it), so we got to chat with him, see their car trailer/RV rig, and eat lunch. Right after lunch, Jeremy had his big race of the day so we all made our way up to the big spectator hill. Unfortunately, Jeremy only made it around the track a couple times before his car had a major malfunction and he was forced to exit the race, and also be done for the weekend. Such is the life of a race car driver.IMG_4666We left soon afterward for the airport in Grand Rapids. Because Travis has often flown Delta for work, and we made two separate itineraries for this trip in order to use mileage points, he and Emma were TSA Pre-check and got upgraded to first class seats on the way back, while Annabelle and I were all the way back in Row 24. Honestly, it wasn’t bad at all. I just love giving him crap about it. 😉

And that was our trip! We would definitely love to go back!

Life lately…

24 Apr

This poor little blog has been dominated too long by other urgent matters. I have so much to write about! So here’s what we’ve been up to (and what I hope to elaborate on in coming weeks):

  • I got a job! At the beginning of January, I started working at our church as the Children Ministry’s Assistant two days a week. Emma and Annabelle both go to the same daycare those days, and I think it has been a good change for all of us. I really enjoy my job, and getting out of the house to do adult things. Most of my days as a parent are spent feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m not very good at this parenting thing, so having time to do something that I am good at, is very rewarding! I’ve also been doing some freelance graphic design for the company Travis works for.
  • We went to Europe! Travis and I spent a week in Paris, Florence, and Rome in the middle of February just the two of us (an early celebration of our 10-year wedding anniversary in May) while all three grandparents wrangled the girls at our house. It was an amazing trip, but not without its stressful moments. I want to write detailed posts about each day of our trip (because this blog is also my online scrapbook 😉 ) so for now, I’ll just list a few of the things we got to see: the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Catacombs in Paris; the Duomo in Florence and nearby Tuscany; and the St. Peter’s Basilica, Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon in Rome. IMG_3010IMG_3311
  • We are soon to be licensed for foster care! We finished up all of the paperwork and training last week, and we should be licensed by the end of this week. After we’re licensed, we just wait to get a call about a child needing a home. It’s both exciting and daunting at the same time! To start out with, we’re only going to accept one child, under 24 months old. We are praying and trusting God to provide us with emotional strength, physical ability, and wisdom/discernment.
  • On a related note, we bought a minivan. With two medium-sized dogs, our SUV was already too small for our family–when we went on road trips, we had to pack our bags in totes and strap them onto a hitch carrier! We muscled through, but now that we are anticipating needing to transport three children, we finally took the plunge and traded the SUV in for a minivan. So far, I LOVE it.IMG_3953
  • I stumbled across a book at the library called “Better than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits” by Gretchen Rubin. I grabbed it because building better habits has been a desire of mine for a while, and the book delivered! One lasting habit I’ve created since reading that book is our morning routine: we eat breakfast right when we get up, then the girls get dressed, and while they watch iPad or mommy’s phone, I do the breakfast dishes and clean for 5 minutes. It is a great start to our day, and has enabled me to keep our house cleaner, in an easier way, without getting overwhelmed. It has changed my cleaning life!! I’ll do a whole post about this soon.
  • The girls turned 2 and 4! We had a joint party on April 8, the day after Emma’s birthday. It was a mermaid theme, and we had a day with nice weather so could spend some time playing outside after cake and presents. So fun to celebrate with friends!
  • Emma is going to preschool next year at the public school in our district on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and every other Friday. We still don’t know what our plan is for kindergarten, but for now, we have peace about this decision. The preschool is in the same school as their daycare right now, so I think the transition will go really easily.
  • I signed up for the Northwoods Triathlon in Nevis, Minnesota, on August 12. I did this race two years ago, and since it’s in Travis’ hometown, it’s a fun one to do. I need to start training for that in about a month! Travis was training for a half-marathon on May 20, but a couple weeks ago (about halfway through the plan), he injured his Achilles, and has only run once since. He’s pretty bummed. 😦
  • We threw my mother-in-law a surprise party for her 60th birthday this past Saturday. She was totally surprised! All of her kids and grandkids, and some family and friends came to celebrate. It was a great time.
  • Our big summer vacation is going to be a trip to South Haven, Michigan, with my whole family. We are renting an Airbnb right on the beach for a week at the end of June. I can’t wait! I think the girls are going to have a blast. We are also going to go up to Travis’ parents’ cabin in Voyageurs National Park for the 4th of July.

And that’s life lately!

Memorial Day 2016: Ohio Trip

23 Jun

This year, one of my cousins got married the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in Zanesville, Ohio. Zanesville happens to be only 1.5 hours from my aunt and uncle who live in Green, Ohio (outskirts of Akron). Even though I have seen them fairly often in the past 2-3 years, I hadn’t been to visit them in something like 20 years, so we decided to make a week-long trip out of it!

Since the uncle we were visiting is my dad’s only brother and we’d be flying out of the same airport, we asked my dad if he wanted to join us. He did, so we met up at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport (Travis, the girls, and I flew in from Brainerd) and rented a minivan together once we got to Cleveland.20160525_112648 (Large)The Wednesday we flew in, we stopped by the Cleveland Aquarium right after leaving the airport, mostly to minimize the amount of driving we’d be doing (it was about an hour drive between Cleveland and Green). Annabelle was mostly interested in climbing on things, but did enjoy seeing the big fish and sharks. Emma enjoyed running around on her own (too much), trying to touch the sting rays in the interactive area, drawing on the chalkboard areas, and using lots of hand sanitizer–looking at fish is not quite exciting enough for her, though I do think she liked the glass tunnel (that’s always my favorite part).

After the aquarium, we hit the road and spent the rest of the evening hanging out with Noel and Pat at their house, and grilling burgers for dinner. We stayed at Noel and Pat’s house the whole time we were up in the Cleveland/Akron area. Travis, the girls, and I slept in their really nice fifth wheel camper (which gave us a bunch of room to spread out), and my dad slept in their guest room. I usually dread nighttime on vacation because the girls have a track record of sleeping horribly, but they actually did REALLY well. Almost better than they do at home!

Thursday, my dad helped Noel work on one of the camper’s slide-outs that was broken, and Travis, the girls, and I headed to the Akron Zoo. It was a really fun time! Annabelle is old enough to enjoy looking at animals, and Emma had a blast running around.IMG_20160526_180420 Emma asked to ride the carousel, so we all went on it. Annabelle did not like how the animal she was riding moved up and down. She started crying the minute the carousel started moving, but was fine if I just held her. Emma loved it though.

Emma also asked to ride a little train they had in the kids’ area. It was $2 a person, and looked completely lame for an adult, so we convinced Emma to ride on it by herself if she really wanted to go. And she did! Another mom befriended her in line and offered that Emma could sit with them, but when they opened the gate to let them get on the train, Emma wandered down to the caboose at the end and sat all by herself! Her expression was priceless.

When she got off, I told her that I was proud of her for being so brave and riding the train all by herself, and she told me, “I was scared.” Cutie.

At the river otter habitat, the zoo had a clear plastic slide that went through the river otter tank. There were a bunch of kids there going down the slide over and over. Emma went down the slide a bunch of times too, but the last couple of times she went down, she stopped herself halfway done and tried to climb back up. The last time, I had to reach/climb up into the slide from the bottom and pull Emma out because she refused to move. And that was that.

Friday morning, Travis and Noel headed to the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton while my dad, Pat, the girls, and I headed to an outdoor pool in nearby Hartsville. The one thing I had forgotten to pack (there’s always something!) was a swimsuit for myself. I thought I could get by without one, but once we got to the pool, it became apparent that it would really be nice if I had a suit. So my dad and I went to Target as quickly as we could (still took us about 45 minutes roundtrip with traffic, even though the store was only 6 miles away) and I bought a suit. Once we got back, we stayed at the pool for about another hour. There was a big (lazy) waterslide that I tried to convince Emma to go on with me, but she refused. She wouldn’t even go down the kiddie one after sliding off the end into the water a little too fast. Annabelle had a blast climbing on the kiddie waterslide. I took both girls through the water falling from the mushroom/tree thing, but neither of them liked it.

After the pool, we packed up our stuff and headed down to Columbus to see my oldest brother Jeremy, his wife Jen, and their two boys, Jensen and Jackson. We went out for pizza at a place called Bexley Pizza Plus. It was delicious! We sat out on the patio, and Emma and Jensen had a great time running around chasing each other. After we got back to the hotel, Travis took Emma to the pool for a bit while I put Annabelle down for bed.

20160530_162109 (Large)Saturday was the day of my cousin’s wedding. We ate the hotel’s continental breakfast, and then swam in the pool for a bit before getting ready for the wedding and driving the hour from Columbus to Zanesville. Once we got to Zanesville, we quickly ate soup and salad at Olive Garden before heading to the church.

Tim and Mary’s wedding was held at a beautiful Catholic church and I’m sure the 1.5-hour service was wonderful–we just didn’t hear almost a single word between the low volume on the priest’s microphone, the echo of the wooden pews and stone walls, and the screeching/crying/whispering/banging/general chaos of the 40 kids in back. Seriously, there were a lot of kids at the wedding. One of the only things I did hear the priest say at the end of his homily was, “It sounds like a rainforest in here.”

Even though Emma colored on her own and Annabelle’s face in washable marker and threw one of the hymnals at Annabelle during the service (causing me to remove and discipline her), I think our kids actually did pretty well, all things considered. (But as we continually discovered during this vacation, there is a huge difference between things “going well” in terms of no major meltdowns and things “going well” in terms of getting to actually pay attention to and enjoy what you’re there for. By that latter definition, things definitely did not go well. But let’s be honest, they never do when you’re at a wedding with young kids.)

After the service, we checked into our hotel and got situated, and then headed to the reception, which was about 40 minutes away on Mary’s family’s farm. It was such a lovely evening–the weather was perfect, the reception was such a great mix of rustic farm charm and wedding formal, they had rented a bouncy house for the kids. Emma had a blast playing in the bouncy house, with various other toys, and running around the farm. Annabelle, on the other hand, had a hard time. She’s just at a hard age where she isn’t content to just sit or be held, but is also very limited in what she can do, especially outside on a farm where there is either cement or hay fields to crawl on. We made do, enjoyed as much of the reception as we could, and headed home a little before 10 pm.

IMG_20160529_114622Sunday morning, we snuck in a quick swim before meeting my whole family in the hotel lobby for the continental breakfast. We chatted for a little over an hour before we all needed to pack up and go our respective ways. Travis, the girls, my dad, my aunt and uncle, and I all headed back up to Cleveland to go to an Indians game at 1:10 pm.

Emma was very hesitant about going into the ballpark at first (she’s never been anywhere like that before) but once we got in, she relaxed. I, however, was extremely frustrated for the first few innings because the girls were thirsty but we had read online that you couldn’t bring sippy cups or water bottles into the ballpark, and there were no cups or straws to be found (neither Emma nor Annabelle can drink out of a water bottle without a straw). I did, however, see many people who had brought their own sippy cups in! Grrrr….  Luckily, as I was complaining, a lady in front of me overheard and offered me one of her straws that she had brought along for her toddler. I was so grateful! That helped settle me down.

I seriously didn’t watch really any of the game, but Travis said that he saw enough of it to feel like it had been worth it. And it was really for him that we went, so that’s good enough for me. Besides sitting in our seats for about 20 minutes total, we raced a ghost runner to first base (one of the kid activities they had), ate $6 hot dogs (Emma and Annabelle both almost ate an entire one by themselves!), and checked out the Kids Club area, which had a bunch of Step2 toys and its own private viewing deck (where Travis caught almost an entire 2 innings while “watching” Emma!).IMG_20160530_090701There was a big tunnel slide in the Kids Area, and just like at the zoo, Emma stopped herself halfway down and wouldn’t come out. So Travis had to go in after her, but by the time he had gotten to where she had been in the slide, she had decided to go down and was already out. So he popped out the bottom looking like he had just gone down the slide by himself, ha.

Sunday evening, we were feeling burned out and wishing that we had gone home that day instead of staying until Tuesday. But Monday (Memorial Day) ended up being really fun and redeemed our longer stay. We stopped by a car show on a whim and ended up staying a couple of hours. While my dad and Noel looked at cars (they were loving it!), Travis and I played at the playground with the girls. Then we ate a free picnic lunch, complete with ice cream bars. We also stopped to look at the two pink cars we saw (Emma’s favorite color) and take pictures. IMG_20160530_160012After naptime, we drove to the Erie Canal and checked that out. Beautiful, but hot.

For dinner, we ate ribs and corn on the cob at Noel and Pat’s, and then went out for ice cream at Pav’s Creamery.

Tuesday morning, we were up bright and early to catch our flight from the Cleveland airport back to Minneapolis/St. Paul. We had a 3-hour layover there before our flight back up to Brainerd, so my dad ate lunch with us at Rock Bottom before taking off. The rest of the layover we spent walking on the moving sidewalks, playing at the airport playground, getting coffee, eating snacks, changing diapers, and checking out the nursing moms room (very nice, I might add!). It actually was a very enjoyable time. The girls were having a blast. The thing about kids is, they don’t care that they’re playing on a playground at the airport. A playground is fun anywhere! The play area also had coin-operated rides, and the girls rode those probably a half a dozen times.

We made a lot of great memories during our week in Ohio, and it’s always great spending time with family (seriously, it’s one of my favorite things in life), but we were SO GLAD to get home. Traveling with young kids is no joke. I may have been a homebody before having kids, but I really am one now. Like they say, with young kids, you don’t go on vacations… you go on family trips. Now I need a real vacation!

Christmas & New Years 2013

5 Jan

This year for Christmas, we road-tripped to Minnesota. It is 13 hours to my parents’ house and 16 to Travis’, but we ended up encountering snowy roads on both the way there and back, so it took us about 15.5 to get to my parents’ and 17 to get back from Travis’ parents. Brutal!

1511162_676430672387258_369919521_nSomewhere in Iowa, 5 am

20131222_075017Emma did pretty well though. We drove overnight, leaving around 6 pm on our way out and 1:30 pm on the way back. The way there, Emma fell asleep right away and slept the whole time, only waking up when we stopped for gas. I nursed her a couple of times but she was really easy until the morning. We were supposed to get to Rochester by 8 am CT, but we didn’t end up arriving until 9:30. Once Emma woke up around 7 am, she wanted out of her carseat. I did a few smiles out of her though…

20131222_093044The same thing happened on the way back, except her fussy period was on the front end. We left at her nap time, she slept for 1.5 hours, then was awake for about 3 hours, and fell back asleep around 8 pm. During her awake time, she was somewhat fussy. We stopped to eat dinner and took her out of her carseat, partly to feed her dinner and partly to give the distinction between her nap and bedtime. After she fell asleep for the night, she slept almost straight through until 5 am. She was a little fussy then too until we got home around 7 am. But I was fussy after being in the car that long, so I can’t blame her! We were very relieved to get home. I said what I always say after that trip: “I never want to do that again.”

Other than the drive, our trip to Minnesota was very enjoyable. We spent the week of Christmas with my family, since that’s when my siblings would be in town. Because of my mom’s health, our time in Rochester was very lowkey – we mostly just hung out at home, eating, playing games (Yahtzee and Rummikub), playing with Emma and my nephew Jensen, watching movies and talking.

1531680_10101193921359232_124572735_nJensen saw us putting stuff on Emma’s head as a game, and he decided it looked like fun!

1468708_10101193921194562_1566288813_nEmma did a lot better with sleep than I was expecting, considering she was teething and congested. We did have to bounce her to sleep for the majority of her naps and bedtime, but at least she wasn’t screaming like she did the last time we were in Rochester. She also slept pretty well at night, waking up only a few times and going right back to sleep after I nursed her. Even so, I’m sure that God gave me LOTS of patience. Travis and I also switched off getting up early with Emma, so that one of us could get a little more sleep.

We celebrated Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve morning, since that was the only time we’d all be together. We opened gifts first – Emma didn’t quite get the whole unwrapping thing but she liked all the toys she received! She got a cute outfit from her aunt and uncle and this alligator push toy from grandma and grandpa. I got a couple of new scarves and nail polish.

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IMG_5182 (Large)After opening gifts, we ate brunch. Then my brother, his fiancee and my sister-in-law left and the rest of us hung out until it was time to go to the Christmas Eve service at 4:30. After church, we ate chili for dinner and played some Yahtzee.

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On Thursday, it warmed up enough that we braved the outdoors. It was Emma’s first experience in the snow. She seemed to enjoy it overall, but was not a fan of her hand in the snow!

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IMG_5222 (Large)IMG_5227 (Large)Travis also went sledding down the steps of the deck.

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IMG_5218 (Large)On Friday morning, Travis and I packed up our stuff and hit the road. We had planned to leave for Emma’s first nap, but she hadn’t slept well the night before, I wanted to shower and we had a crapton of stuff to pack up. So we ended up leaving for her second nap of the day instead. It worked out well. She slept most of the 4.5 hour drive to Nevis. 

Our time there was a lot more lowkey than it normally is, because it was so cold outside. It was hardly above zero the whole time we were there. The day after we arrived, though, it was 30 degrees so we took advantage of the ‘warm’ weather and took Emma sledding down the driveway.

IMG_5252 (Large) IMG_5250 (Large)Another night, Travis, Emma and I ‘went to town’ to have dinner with some friends. But other than that, Emma and I didn’t go outside at all. (Well, I did walk from one side of the house to the other when it was 20 below just to remember what it was like.)  

We opened Christmas presents on Saturday night, so that Emma could play with all of her fun new toys. I’m pretty sure her toy collection doubled on this trip. She got Stack n Roll cups, a xylophone, Rock a Stack rings, a musical book, and several cute new outfits, among other small things.

IMG_5267 (Large) IMG_5266 (Large)The rest of our time we spent eating (of course), playing games (Pictionary and MarioKart on the Wii, Pub Trivia, Catch Phrase and Bananagrams), playing with all of Emma’s new toys, and doing a lot of crossword puzzles and Sudoku. We also watched some movies, though I didn’t stay up for most of the them because Emma was sleeping pretty poorly. I think she went through a growth spurt in addition to teething and the congestion. It was a doozy! Fortunately, grandma was willing to watch Emma in the mornings so that both Travis and I could sleep in until 8 or 9. 

1508513_10201283314429703_1340272208_nOn Wednesday, Travis’ aunt and uncle, aunt, cousin and his girlfriend came up for New Years Day. We ate a late lunch, played some Pub Trivia, opened gifts and then they drove the 3 hours back to the Cities. We got more cute outfits and books for Emma, a calendar, office supplies and I got nice running gloves. 

Emma learned how to use a walker on this trip at both houses. Can I just ask, why can’t they make a walker the right size for a 9 month old? Both walkers had to be adjusted down so that Emma could touch the ground. But we made it work and she really enjoyed standing up and moving around. She could mostly only go backward, but toward the end of our trip, she could go forward slightly too.

IMG_5296 (Large) IMG_5298 (Large)Emma also got to use a Johnny Jumpup for the first time in Nevis. She really enjoyed that too – I think, as much as a normal jumperoo. Definitely a good thing to have on vacation (or at grandma’s house). 

IMG_5260 (Large)She’s also starting talking a lot more, and rolling over a ton, but I will talk more about those things in her 9-month update on Tuesday!

Memorial Day in Minnesota

16 Jun

For Memorial Day, Travis, Emma and I flew into Minneapolis and met my parents, brother and sister-in-law for lunch – it was my brother and SIL’s first time meeting Emma. She wasn’t in the greatest mood because she had had a long day of travel and naps being interrupted. We got takeout from Cossetta’s for lunch – I was still doing the non-dairy thing, so I didn’t have much of a selection (but that’s typical for most restaurants). I ended up getting minestrone soup and artichoke salad. It was tasty, but it didn’t fill me up. I think I ate about 5 Larabars that day.

After lunch, Travis, Emma and I headed up to Grand Rapids, where Travis’ parents live. Everyone except Travis’ mom had already gone up to their cabin on Lake Namakan in Voyageurs National Park on the US/Canadian border, but she stayed to go up with us. We stopped about an hour from Grand Rapids to feed Emma, sitting behind a gas station in the minivan we borrowed from my brother – such is the reality of parenthood. We got to Grand Rapids and unloaded our stuff, I fed Emma again and then we all went to bed.

At Travis’ parents’ house, there are 2 bedrooms downstairs. When it was just us down there, we put Emma in one room while we stayed in the other, so that we didn’t hear every little sound she made. But for part of our time there, someone was using the other bedroom so we had Emma in the room with us. Probably the worst part about having her in the same room was that the door on that bedroom is the squeakiest one ever. After putting Emma down a couple of times and her waking up shortly afterward, I asked Travis and his dad to please fix it – which apparently required them to take the door off its hinges and make all kinds of noise while I waited in the dark bathroom with a sleeping Emma.

On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, Travis, my mother-in-law Beth, Emma and I made the 2 hour drive north to Crane Lake, to Handberg’s Marine where they launch their boats, and pick up/drop off people going to the cabin – the only way to get to their cabin is a 30-minute boat ride. We put all our stuff in the boat, and put Emma in her infant life vest. It was a little big.

IMG_4580 (Large)Don’t worry – we took it off after taking that picture. She wasn’t a fan of having her cheeks squeezed together.

The boat ride there was very uneventful, thanks to Travis’ brother Matthew’s good driving. \

For the next 3 days, we spent a lot of time outside, holding Emma.

IMG_4598 (Large) IMG_4591 (Large) IMG_4596 (Large)The weather on Sunday was really nice, but it was cooler and windy the rest of our time there. I wore pants and a sweatshirt pretty much the whole time, but I also spent most of my time in the shade.

IMG_4604 (Large) IMG_4608 (Large)Even though having a baby meant I spent a lot of time in our room feeding her, I got to go on a boat ride, walk to “Whiskey Point” near their cabin where a bunch of empty booze bottles have collected over the years, play bocce ball, sit around the campfire, and shoot a .22 rifle at pop cans (I missed though). Things are always pretty low-key up at the cabin.

On Wednesday, we made the trip back down to Grand Rapids for the ‘weekend of Matthew’ – his birthday was Thursday, graduation on Friday and open house on Saturday.

We went out to eat for Matthew’s birthday with his girlfriend and girlfriend’s family. Emma fussed a bit at the beginning but Travis got her to sleep and everything went smoothly then. At this point, I was still doing the no-dairy thing and man, it is hard to find stuff in restaurants that don’t have dairy and still sound appetizing. But I made it work. I got a grilled chicken sandwich and fries (At that point, I wasn’t worried about any trace dairy ingredients.)

IMG_4653 (Large)On Friday, I went on a 2 mile run near their house (more on that in a separate post) and then went to Matthew’s graduation that evening.

IMG_4667 (Large) IMG_4702 (Large)Emma got all dressed up, though we quickly discovered how impractical dresses are for little babies.

IMG_4684 (Large)Travis and I were able to stay for the entire ceremony but I did have to put Emma in the Baby Bjorn and stand in the back of the arena. The things we do for babies.

Saturday was the open house. It ended up being cold, rainy and windy, which was a bummer, but it was fun to see some of Travis’ relatives again and have them meet Emma. I had her in the Baby Bjorn again for the first part of the party because she was being fussy and everyone was busy getting stuff ready, but later she got a bottle and others got to hold her.

Sunday morning, Travis, Emma and I drove back down to the Twin Cities because Travis was flying back to Denver and I was meeting up with my parents to go down to Rochester for a week. Emma had a very rough start to the car ride but she finally fell asleep.

IMG_4775 (Large)My time in Rochester was pretty low-key too. My mom and I sat around and talked a lot, played with Emma, watched Scandal (I’m now officially hooked!), organized their basement a bit, and went shopping at the grocery store, Trader Joe’s, and the mall. I also got out on a couple of more runs, which was really nice. AND for Mother’s Day, my awesome mom treated me to a haircut, highlights and some new clothes.

20130608_102409 20130608_102331I finally have mint green jeans! I’ve been wanting some for over a year.

We also tried some new stuff from Trader Joe’s:

20130608_060738It was all delicious. I had forgotten how amazing the Crunchy Cookie Butter is.

So how did Emma do with being away from home for so long? Really well overall. She LOVES being held and there were lots of people willing to do that – so she lived it up but might have gotten a little bit too used to it. She’ll only sleep about 45 minutes in her bassinet for a nap right now. But she still consistently sleeps between 5 and 7 hours for a stretch at night in her bassinet, which is awesome and has helped me feel more human.

And that was our trip to Minnesota!

Minnesota!

25 May

We made it to Minnesota. Emma did great on her first-ever airplane ride. I’ll post details later because we’re heading up to Travis’ family’s cabin near the Canadian border. I have Emma’s 7 week update for tomorrow but after that, I’ll be MIA for a few days. 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend! Thanks to all those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

Florida 2013

27 Feb

Every 2 years, my immediate family goes on vacation together. This year, my aunt and uncle were also able to join us. Usually, we go to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, which is wonderful. But since I was pregnant this year and my nephew is only a year old, we decided to stick to the States. We were a little worried that maybe the weather wouldn’t be as nice, or we wouldn’t like having to cook our own food, or renting a private property wouldn’t turn out well, but I’m happy to say that the whole vacation went great!

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Except for the first day that we were there, it was sunny and high 70s every day (which was plenty warm when you were sitting in the sun!). The house we rented (through the VRBO website) had a great pool and hot tub (once we figured out how to heat it) and it was a lot of fun having a common area to hang out as just our family, instead of staking out lounge chairs and deciding where to meet up every morning. It also allowed my sister-in-law to hang out with everyone while my nephew napped – something that would have been tricky, if not impossible, at a big resort. Who knows what we’ll do in future years, but for this year, Florida was perfect.

IMG_4205 (Large)The pool and hot tub

IMG_4241 (Large)The canal that ran behind our house

Just like our Mexico vacations, we spent almost every day just relaxing, mostly around the pool. Every morning started off with coffee as strong as we could make it and a delicious breakfast, usually prepared by my mom. A treat my brother and his girlfriend shared: egg, sausage and sharp white cheddar on an English Muffin with blueberry jam. Delicious.

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IMG_4234 (Large)My nephew loved that little blue truck.

We also went to the beach a few times, but it was usually pretty windy so we preferred the pool.

IMG_4209 (Large) IMG_4224 (Large) IMG_4283 (Large) IMG_4286 (Large) IMG_4301 (Large)It was fun to see how much my nephew improved in his walking ability just in the week that we were there. Kids learn so quickly!

IMG_4302 (Large)856686_10100734809113852_1519118560_oOn Wednesday, we went mini-golfing, a favorite pastime of ours.

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It was definitely a little hard to bend over for the ball with this belly!

Another notable happening was a trip to Trader Joe’s – my first time ever! I discovered the amazingness that is Crunchy Cookie Butter. Seriously, if you love peanut butter, try this. On the whole, I can see why people like shopping at Trader Joe’s but I found that it’s very similar to the Sprouts stores we have in Colorado. So I feel less like I’m missing out on things. Although, once a TJ’s opens here, I will be going to buy more of that Cookie Butter.

We also went out to eat a few times – my brother had an insatiable craving for fish and chips so we walked to the Old Salty Dog for dinner one night. They were apparently pretty tasty. I had some tasty shrimp since fried food gives me really bad acid reflux (and it did even before I got pregnant). After mini-golfing, we had lunch at the other Old Salty Dog location, which was right on the water. My fish tacos were a little disappointing but other people got the Grouper catch of the day and liked it.

856547_10100734804053992_1784737307_oAs I mentioned in my pregnancy update yesterday, I’m pretty sure I ate ice cream every day we were there. One day, I ate it twice. How I only gained a pound in 2 weeks is really beyond me. (And for the record, Crunchy Cookie Butter is delicious on ice cream too.) A couple of times, we got ice cream from a shop called Big Olaf. If you’re ever in Siesta Key Village, check them out.

Friday evening, my brother Chris, Travis and I headed to the beach about 45 minutes before sunset to take my maternity pictures. Right before sunset, everyone else joined us down there for a family picture. I’ll post those pictures once the photographers post them (aka my oldest and youngest brothers, and uncle).

And that’s about it for our Florida trip!

Labor Day Weekend

7 Sep

I guess since I said I’d post again this week, I’d better do it, huh?

Our Labor Day weekend was great. The time for my flight into Minneapolis Thursday night got changed about 15 times but I finally landed only about 45 minutes later than planned. Travis flew in to the other terminal from Fargo (where he was for a work trip since the previous Sunday) and my dad picked us up from the airport. We made our way over to my older brother’s house, who is moving to San Francisco this fall and renting his house out. My mom met us there and we went out to dinner at a local burger joint call Flameburger. It was delicious. Travis and I split an order of fries and a chocolate malt, and I still managed to eat my entire cheeseburger. Then we made our way to my parents’ cabin, which is about an hour north of the Cities, and crashed.

The next day, we drove back down to my brother’s house to help him out with cleaning and packing. The renters were moving in on Saturday, giving him just one day to get everything done.  Needless to say, he needed help. We worked until 4:45 when we got pizza delivered. In the meantime, my oldest brother, sister-in-law, and nephew (!!) arrived and after we ate our pizza lupper (lunch/supper), we headed back up to the cabin, making a stop for groceries and beers on the way.

On Saturday, the brother that was moving and my youngest brother and sister-in-law arrived. They brought tons of fresh vegetables from their local Farmers Market – sweet corn, green beans, potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes. Saturday was my oldest brother’s 35th birthday and we celebrated with 24 candles (that was all we had) on an buster bar ice cream cake. It was actually really easy to make and it was delicious – you just mash up a box of Oreos and combine with 1/2 cup melted butter. Press into a 9 x 13 pan and top with sliced vanilla ice cream (I bought the kind that comes in a box). Top that with 1 1/2 cups peanuts and a jar of fudge sauce. Freeze and voila! Deliciousness.

On Sunday, we celebrated my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. I spent hours upon hours the previous several weeks making them a scrapbook of family memories and gave it to them at breakfast. My oldest brother smoked some BBQ ribs for dinner – they were delicious, even if the texture still grossed me out a bit. For dessert, we had an angel food trifle with strawberries and bananas.

Besides eating, we spent a lot of time enjoying the lake on the pontoon and floaties, playing cornhole, bocce ball and ladderball, skiiing (just the guys), and watching my absolutely adorable nephew do all sorts of stuff – crawl, pull himself up, play with his toys and torment the dogs.

 

 

 

Travis and I flew back to Denver Tuesday night, on another delayed flight. Get your act together Southwest! Travis was a sweetheart and dropped me off at our house before going to get the dogs from our friends so that I could go to bed. I was ridiculously tired!

It was a great trip – even though it seemed like we would be there for many days, the time flew by. Hopefully we’ll get back to Minnesota sooner than a year from now!

Still here!

28 Aug

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Hey friends. Sorry I’ve been so MIA lately. I promise that my posting will pick back up soon.

This week, I’m trying to get lots done before I fly to Minnesota on Thursday for Labor Day weekend. And my work computer for some reason refuses to load any and all WordPress blogs so even though I haven’t been commenting on your blogs, I have been reading what I can! It has been more than a little frustrating to not be able to read Mel’s race report or congratulate my friend B on her first home. Hopefully it’ll get back to normal soon!

As far as running and other workouts are going, I’ve been lazier than I like to admit. I went for my first run in weeks on Sunday morning and it was awesome. Definitely the motivation I needed to be more diligent about getting out there (which I did again last night)! Relaxation is good but I definitely feel better when I’m active.

Anyway, I’m so pumped to be going to Minnesota. Of course to see my family and celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, but also to get out on the lake. We haven’t been on the lake ONCE this year. That better not happen ever again!

Have a great holiday weekend friends and I will be back next week! Promise.

Alaska: Ketchikan (Days 3-4) and Home

25 Jul

The third day that we were in Ketchikan happened to be the Fourth of July so while Al and Matthew got up early to go fishing, the rest of us slept in and then we made our way downtown for the parade which started at noon.

The stair streets continued to amaze me.

 

 

Travis had to take his turn as the pirate since he wasn’t with us the other day:

Since we had time to kill before the parade, we did some more shopping and posing.

Travis’ mom is awesome.

Al, Matthew, Kurt and Marlene met us in front of the fire station to watch the parade. It started with a helicopter flying with the American flag.

I was amazed at all of the groups in the parade. Since I grew up in a big city (80,000 people), I’m always surprised at any signs of “civilization” small towns have (though Ketchikan probably isn’t considered small at 14,000 people). Travis is helping to rid me of my big-city prejudices.

They raced rubber duckies in the water by Creek Street as a fundraiser, which was a fun idea (and a fun float!).

After the parade, we ate the sandwiches we brought along and then walked around Creek Street (since the guys had been fishing when we went before). We saw a trolley…

…and a fish ladder, which helps salmon run the river without going through the rapids.

Since we were downtown, we decided to check out the Discovery Center, which we had heard was pretty interesting. We found out that since it was a national holiday, admission was free. Can’t beat that!

We saw baby salmon:

Lots of stuff about the natives and the industries that built Alaska into what it is today:

 

Learned about the core samples we had found on our hike to Lower Silvis Lake:

 

 

 

And I think this is interesting – Alaska is so big that it would stretch across the Lower 48.

After all of our discoveries, we walked back to the apartment. For dinner, we went to a BBQ hosted by some of Kurt and Marlene’s friends. We brought burgers and drinks and they provided quite the spread. I filled up on all kinds of jello salad before my burger was even done because I decided I’d rather eat jello salad than a burger (though I did end up eating my entire burger too). Alaska reminds me in many ways of Minnesota – the greenery, the snow (in some parts), the bugs, the nice people, the jello salads. Everything except for the ocean and mountains. Minnesota doesn’t have those. Although the ocean has been mistaken for big lakes by several people (Minnesotans)…

Around 9, we headed back to the apartment to watch the fireworks, which wouldn’t be shot off until 11 pm. We had planned to walk down to the main street again but the fireworks started just as we were leaving and we discovered that we could see them fine about 200 feet from our front door. So we just stood in the street to watch them. It was a very good show for a small town. 😉 The loud ones would create an echo that bounced off all the mountains around us. Very cool. I love fireworks. And I love being able to walk only 200 feet before I’m home and can go to bed. No traffic fighting for us!

The next day was our last day in Ketchikan. And it was absolutely gorgeous. The sun was shining, the clouds were sparse and Deer Mountain was asking to be climbed. So climb it we did.

Since it’s a fairly strenuous hike (3,000 feet elevation gain in 2.5 miles), Al and Beth opted to do a different hike. So it was just the four of us younguns. For the first 2 miles, it felt like we were in a jungle.

 

So many stairs.

An idea of how fast it climbed:

This is called Devils Club. Why?

Because of these guys:

The first overlook had awesome views of the ocean.

 

As we continued on, we came across a place where a mudslide or avalanche must have happened.

 

 

Right before the second scenic overlook, we started encountering snow.

 

And more beautiful views. Now we were really getting up there.

 

 

Even though the rest of the way to the top was all snow, we decided to continue on (although if we had known what we know now, we probably would’ve turned around.)

 

 

It was so steep and slippery that we pretty much scrambled up on all fours.

With extremely short walking sticks.

The views were breathtaking.

I was trying my best to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, instead of freaking out about how high we were and how steep it was.

We got to a point, though, where it was so steep that we weren’t sure how we’d get back down. So Matthew, Drew and I stopped about 400 feet from the top, while Travis continued on and disappeared over the top of the ridge.

I distracted myself from the fear of Travis dying by taking pictures.

Yes, I know I look ridiculous but the bugs up there were HORRIBLE. It has been almost 3 weeks since this hike and I still have a bug bite on my arm. And I hate bugs. Hate. Hate. Hate.

Finally, Travis’ head poked back over the top.

Thank God he’s alive!

Then the fun part began – shoe skiing! When you get a running start on snow like this, you can just slide down on your shoes. It’s a little tricky and I fell more than once but it was a lot of fun. And a lot of cold.

When we got past the snow, Travis was able to actually wring water out of his socks, they were so wet. But we lived to tell our tale! (Later that night, we found out that people die on Deer Mountain every year because of unpredictable avalanches. Ha… glad I didn’t find that out the hard way.)

So the sun does still exist.

After our hike, the guys showered up while Al, Beth and I ran a few errands. Then we ate dinner (tortellini, garlic bread and salad) before heading over to Kurt and Marlene’s for a bonfire and s’mores. Around 10, we said our goodbyes, drove back to the apartment, finished packing as much as we could and went to bed.

Our flights back home on Friday went without incident. Travis and I got back to our house in Denver by 6 pm, just in time to pick our dogs up from doggie daycare. Home sweet home for all of us!

So was Alaska everything I thought it would be?

Yes!! It was an awesome vacation and I loved that we got to do a lot of hiking and sightseeing. Renting an RV was a great idea – it was so nice to not have to deal with lugging our stuff into hotels, not worrying about where to stay or having to sleep in less-than-ideal hotel rooms. Obviously, it was also a huge blessing to have awesome friends in Ketchikan who were willing to show us around, cook us amazing food and spoil us. But it would be a fun place to visit even if you didn’t have those connections. And since it hadn’t rained in Colorado for months, the rain every day didn’t bother us. I would definitely recommend visiting Alaska to anyone who likes the outdoors!