Tag Archives: Minnesota

Midwest Tour

Our last big trip of the summer is now behind us. We just returned home from a whirlwind 12-day trip to the Midwest {and Mexico for Alex!}. We covered a lot of ground, including my hometown and family cabin, Alex’s family’s lake home, his parents home and Chicago. It was really nice to spend time with our families and for Ben to get to hang out with his grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousin, as well as quite a few of our friends.

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The trip started on a Thursday – Alex flew to San Diego as a staging area to head to Mexico the following day while Ben and I headed to Minnesota just 15 minutes ahead of Alex. Alex spent a long weekend down in Ensenada, Mexico, which is in Baja, to attend the wedding of our friends Justin and Tania. He said it was absolutely gorgeous!

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Our flight was a piece of cake, with the exception of a very rude Delta flight attendant {this was a good reminder of why we fly Alaska!}, and Ben was a rock star. He slept for about half of the flight and the other half he was completely content with snacking and doing some activities.

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For most of our time in Minnesota we stayed with my mom. Ben loved her “kitty cat” and the pool in her backyard, naturally. We spent a lot of time checking out different playgrounds, experiencing the farmers market and going to the beach. Ben and I enjoyed a nice dinner on the deck of my brother’s new house – it was really nice to get to see his new place and spend time with John and his girlfriend, Becky.

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I had some of my friends from high school and their families come over for an afternoon in the pool one day. It’s so fun to see all the kids together – between six of us we have 9 kids altogether with another on the way!

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Another highlight of our time in Minnesota was our trip up to my dad’s family cabin. The cabin has been in his family since the 1930s and holds a lot of memories! It was so fun taking Ben up there and watching him cruise around, explore and play with my brother’s old Tonka trucks. He even got to go for a dip in the lake and take a couple of paddle boat rides with me.

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After a really fun time in Mexico, Alex came and met us in Minnesota late Monday night, five days into our trip. We spent our last day in Minnesota together with my family before hitting the road for the 5-hour drive to Alex’s parents lake home in southern Wisconsin.

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It was so relaxing being at the lake – Ben loved some fun new toys that Grammy and Grandpa had for him to play with, and he loved seeing his cousin Nico, who is 6 months younger than he is. We went for boat rides, Ben played in the kiddie pool and we all enjoyed our time together. To top it off, it was absolutely perfect summer lake weather.

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Throughout the trip Ben continued to impress me with his ability to adapt to new situations and new people. While he didn’t sleep very well the whole trip {who can blame him!?}, he continued to remain his normal sweet, friendly self during the day and loved spending more time with his extended family. While we were on the trip his first molar started to poke through and he got a cold. Despite the recipe for disaster he managed to hold it together and was such a happy camper the whole trip.

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On Friday afternoon Alex and I headed to Chicago, leaving Ben in Wisconsin with Alex’s parents. We had a wedding in the city to attend, where Alex was a groomsman. We stayed right downtown in the Loop in a great location and a beautiful hotel and had a really nice time catching up with many of Alex’s friends from high school.

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Alex was occupied on Saturday with wedding stuff, so I met up with Alina and Nico for a leisurely stroll through Restoration Hardware, followed by a wonderful lunch in their courtyard restaurant. We took a nice walk through part of the city before I headed to the wedding.

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On Sunday morning Alex and I had a little time together to take a walk to Millennium Park and be tourists for a few minutes. Then we headed to his parents home to spend the afternoon with Alex’s family before we had to leave to get back to Seattle the next day. We got to see Nana, Alex’s grandma {and our only surviving grandparent}, and spend more time with his parents, Alina, Alberto and Nico, as well as Alex’s uncle Mike.

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All in all, our trip was really, really nice. We loved seeing our families and getting to spend so much time with them. It’s so fun watching Ben in new spaces and getting to know his grandparents and other family members. It’s such a fun time right now and it was so special sharing that with our family and friends.

Ben + Mama Trip to Minnesota

Ben and I embarked on a trip to Minnesota just the two of us to visit friends and family. It’s hard living so far away and managing to make time for everyone back in my homeland, but I knew it was time to make the trek.

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I knew the trip would be hard but I didn’t really comprehend in what ways it would be challenging. I take care of Ben solo quite a bit – every Monday and Friday I’m his sole caretaker, but five consecutive days and overnights is a little bit different. I was pleasantly surprised that the trip ended up being easier than I had expected.

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Ben had already taken four plane rides by the time we set out for Minnesota. That worked in our favor because we had learned a thing or two about how to be efficient, what to pack and what to expect. I was approaching our plane trips calmly and with the realization that they were an insignificant, but necessary, part of our trip.

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Again, much to my surprise, Ben was a rock star traveler on our way to Minnesota. He took two 30-minute naps, he was engaged in one toy for many, many minutes and was completely chill. Typical Ben is a big wiggler – his little legs are in constant motion and he likes to move from one toy to another. I couldn’t believe it when he was focused on my teething necklace for almost the entire plane ride. As it turned out, I did not need to bring a bag full of 20 different toys!

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Our first full day in Minnesota was forecast to be gorgeous – low 70s and sunny — a perfect day for a stroll around Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis with my friend Sarah and her daughter Madeline.

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Madeline and Ben were due within a day of each other and ended up being born 5 weeks apart. It has been an incredible experience going through my pregnancy and motherhood with my best friend. We exchange probably between 50-100 text messages a day! I was dying to meet Madeline and it was one of the main reasons for my trip.

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I knew before Madeline was born that Sarah was going to be an excellent mama. It was wonderful finally having the opportunity to see her in action. Sweet Madeline is lucky to have Sarah as her mama!

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In addition to our walk around the lake we planned a gathering with our group of girl friends from high school back at Sarah’s house. Another one of our friends had a baby a week after Ben was born – it has been so fun to share the journey with Sarah and Cammy and hear what their girls’ are up to.

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I really enjoyed my time with the girls. The three other girls are mamas to older kids and they were quick to jump in and offer to hold the babies so we could eat or relax. I loved catching up with these girls and so appreciated the time together.

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The rest of my trip was mainly spent with family. Sunday I joined my mom and aunt Sarah at the Como Zoo for the afternoon.

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I think Ben really enjoyed the zoo. He was interested in the giraffes and waved both of his arms and feet with excitement whenever they moved. He didn’t seem to totally get the concept of the zoo, unsurprisingly, though the bigger animals that were awake and moving around were the ones to grab his attention.

 

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Later that day I stopped over to visit my brother and his girlfriend, Becky, at their place and have dinner together. My brother went above and beyond and put together a terrific meal with Ben in mind. In advance, he asked me if Ben had had some specific cuisines because he wanted to prepare something new that Ben hadn’t tried before.

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John prepared vegetable samosas, lentil soup, risotto and roasted vegetables. Everything was delish! I especially liked the risotto and Ben loved the lentil soup. Ben loved crawling around their big, open, carpeted living room too!

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My dad got to spend a lot of time in the mornings with Ben while I was pumping and getting ready. It was so sweet to see the two of them together. Ben almost never falls asleep on anyone during the day but he did three times with my dad! I guess he’s got the magic calming touch.

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One of the activities we did with my dad was go back to the YMCA that I grew up working at. I hadn’t seen it since the facility underwent a massive renovation. I spent 8 years working as a lifeguard, swim instructor and childcare staff at that YMCA and it was really neat to go back and see it thriving. We took Ben for a quick swim in the pool before heading over to my mom’s for dinner.

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My mom and my friend Kelsey have become rather close over the last several years. It’s really nice that they have such a great relationship and my mom can see her “other daughter” more often than her biological one. Kelsey joined us for dinner one night and it was such a treat to see her. Ben was really out of sorts that night so we didn’t get a good chance to catch up or relax much, but I enjoyed the visit, nonetheless.

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I was able to make up for the visit the following morning with some Ben and Mamie cuddles and time together before Ben and I headed to the airport.

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It was really nice to see my family and friends and to see everyone get the opportunity to spend time with Ben. Until he was born I didn’t really consider the grandparent relationship or what it would look like. Alex and I are still honing in on that and working to find a balance that works for all of Ben’s grandparents. Each grandparent is so different and it is hard to meet everyone’s expectations and make sure the grandparents are feeling included and like they get to see Ben enough.

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When it came time to head back to Seattle my dad dropped us off at the airport. I approached this flight the same way as I did our flight out to Minneapolis – with a calm demeanor and whatever happens, happens.

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I also decided to consolidate and put my handbag inside my suitcase so I only had to carry the diaper bag onto the plane. In doing that, I went against advice I normally followed – I took out my extra outfit and the second extra outfit for Ben. Of course that quickly bit me in the bum – when I went in to change Ben’s diaper before we got on the plane I realized that his diaper leaked all over him, me and the baby carrier! We were all soaked! I did what I could to clean us all up and I got Ben into his one and only change of clothes and then we boarded the plane.

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About half of the plane ride heading home was great – Ben was really happy and then fell asleep and was taking a really nice nap. It seemed like something woke him up and he got scared and woke up suddenly and I could tell wasn’t ready to be awake. He was really out of sorts for the rest of the flight and we spent most of it in the galley hanging out with the flight attendants.

{Mid 70s, thunderstorms and snow all in 3 days... only in the Midwest!}

{Mid 70s, thunderstorms and snow all in 3 days… only in the Midwest!}

All in all, I’m really glad I made the trip back. It was empowering to do it by myself and heartwarming see my family and friends with Ben. I’m not in a hurry to solo-parent an infant again for a while, but I’m very pleased with how well the trip went.

Minnesota Trip

Realizing this would probably be my last shot to go to Minnesota and see friends and family before baby Allen arrives, I decided to take a little trip back to my hometown this past weekend. My visits back to Minnesota lately have been jam packed full of weddings and/or events, but this one was on my terms and I set my own schedule, which made it feel more relaxing and more like it was my own trip.

{I unintentionally started a "Minnesota book" theme for the kiddo while I was back...}

{I unintentionally started a “Minnesota book” theme for the kiddo while I was back…}

I arrived on Wednesday evening after an uneventful travel day. The weather in Minnesota was wonderful and slated to be better as each day passed. Spring was just arriving there so it was not quite as green and lush as the town I left. For my first evening I enjoyed hors d’oeuvres on my mom’s deck with my brother and my friend Kelsey. Eventually we made our way inside for dinner once the sun went down. As has been the case for many, many years, Kelsey is an extension of my family and my mom fondly refers to her as her “other” daughter. Kelsey and I were on the diving team together in high school and our friendship goes way back to middle school. She fits in quite well with my family, too. She’s hilarious and extremely genuine and I wish I could spend more time with her, and I wish I would have thought to get a photo together!

Thursday came early and I was able to sneak in a quick breakfast with my brother before he set off on his busy day and before I headed over to my dad’s house for our day together. It’s quite convenient – my parents live 2 blocks from each other so I can easily bounce between their houses when I come to town. My dad and I had a nice leisurely afternoon together – we had lunch in White Bear Lake, then took a long walk along the lake. I accompanied him on an errand and then we eventually went out to dinner. He is undergoing a whole house renovation and it was fun to see the progress he had made since my last visit. I only wish I could have spent more time with him during my stay!

My Friday was a bit busy – I had lunch in downtown Stillwater with my aunt Sarah and we did a little bit of shopping as well. From there I had time to squeeze in a quick walk with my mom before getting picked up by a friend. I met up with my girlfriends from high school to go out to dinner, but a couple of us stopped by Sarah’s parent’s house for a quick visit with her mom, and of course to enjoy some of her famous blue ribbon cookies.

{The three preggos!}

{The three preggos!}

We went out to dinner in Stillwater, which is the town next to where I grew up, and had a great time catching up. Three of the seven of us girls are pregnant right now and we’re due within five weeks of each other, so it’s a lot of fun to go through that together. As always, it was really fun to catch up with the girls.

{Friends since middle school - or longer in some cases!}

{Friends since middle school – or longer in some cases!}

Saturday was my day with my mom. We headed into White Bear mid-morning to go get my nails done and have some lunch. From there we did some shopping in St. Paul and took a nice walk together. My mom got me the “original” princess torte cake that I grew up having on my birthday, so it was fun to have some birthday cake and compare the cake that Alex just found out here. There are some subtle differences but both cakes are delicious! We had a great evening chatting back at her place and before I knew it, my trip was coming to an end.

{The "original" princess torte cake from Wuollett's bakery in Minnesota.}

{The “original” princess torte cake from Wuollet Bakery in Minnesota.}

I flew out early Sunday morning and made it back to Seattle with plenty of time to enjoy the absolutely gorgeous day, as well as pick up Jackson and get settled in for the week ahead. My trip went by so fast, as it always does, but I know I’ll look back on the time I was able to spend with my family and friends and remember this “last trip before baby” quite fondly. Oh, and I apologize, family, for my lack of photos with you! 🙁

Midwest Summer Trip

Alex and I just returned from a ten day jaunt around the Midwest. We bounced around from place to place in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota and ultimately ended up staying in six cities across the three states. The primary purpose of our trip was to attend a wedding in Illinois one weekend and a wedding in Minnesota the following. We decided to turn it into a ten day trip to squeeze in some time with some family and friends during the week between the weddings.

{picturesque view in Minnesota}

{picturesque view in Minnesota}

The trip began in Illinois where we were attending Alex’s high school friend “AK” {Adam}’s wedding very close to the town where Alex’s parents live. We had a fun day with Alex’s parents before heading north to Alex’s hometown of DeKalb where the rehearsal dinner was taking place on Friday evening. It was really nice to get a chance to re-connect with several of Alex’s friends from high school.

{Alex and AK in front of AK's sporty car}

{Alex and AK in front of AK’s sporty car}

The wedding took place on Saturday at Fisherman’s Inn in Elburn, Illinois. It was a beautiful venue and a gorgeous day for a wedding, albeit a bit muggy! The wedding was quite large, I think there were more than 300 people there to celebrate Adam and Katherine, but the venue did a great job accommodating all of the guests. Alex got a chance to spend some quality time with a bunch of friends from high school. I had met his friends before but this trip reminded me just how nice they all are. He really has a great group of friends back in Illinois.

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{the grounds at Fisherman's Inn}

{the grounds at Fisherman’s Inn}

{the wedding goers! Alex sure made a handsome groomsman if I do say so myself! :)}

{the wedding goers! Alex sure made a handsome groomsman if I do say so myself! :)}

 

After stopping at AK and Katherine’s post-wedding brunch and visiting Nana {Alex’s grandma} for tea on Sunday morning we headed up to “the lake” for a few days. Alex’s parents have a lake home in southern Wisconsin and it had our name on it!

{Lake Delavan, Wisconsin}

{Lake Delavan, Wisconsin}

{loving the time out on the boat - we took several boat rides and got to test out the new waverunner!}

{loving the time out on the boat – we took several boat rides and got to test out the new waverunner!}

{me and my beautiful mother in-law!}

{me and my beautiful mother in-law!}

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{we saved our water ski day for the last morning and all four of us took turns water skiing.}

{we saved our water ski day for the last morning and all four of us took turns water skiing.}

Our time in Illinois came to a close quite quickly. We spent our last night in Chicago with Alina and Alberto and got to stay in their new apartment! It was the most relaxing part of our trip because of the time at the lake, and it was also really, really enjoyable to spend such meaningful time with Alex’s high school friends. They are such genuine, considerate people and they’re great friends, too!

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We landed in Minnesota on Wednesday afternoon and headed to the cabinet showroom. Yep. That was our first stop. My brother is remodeling our bathroom this fall and he wanted us to check out some cabinet options so we checked that off the list right away. The rest of the day was spent with my dad.

{we had a really nice walk around Lake Harriett in Minneapolis}

{we had a really nice walk around Lake Harriett in Minneapolis}

{after our walk we headed over to Loring Park where Alex and I got to meet my dad's partner, Fred (yes, they have the same name), and enjoy a really nice dinner at Loring Street Kitchen}

{after our walk we headed over to Loring Park where Alex and I got to meet my dad’s partner and enjoy a really nice dinner at Loring Kitchen & Bar}

Thursday was my mom’s day. It got a bit ridiculous when I started scheduling everything out to make sure I fit in time with my parents, so my mom got one whole day and my dad got two half days. That’s the way it has to be sometimes!

{We headed to Taylor's Falls, about 30-45 minutes outside the Twin Cities, which is on the St Croix River, for a hike}

{We headed to Taylor’s Falls, about 30-45 minutes outside the Twin Cities, which is on the St Croix River, for a hike}

{we were going to kayak down part of the river but one of us got a little too sunburned on the boat in Wisconsin...}

{we were going to kayak down part of the river but one of us got a little too sunburned on the boat in Wisconsin…}

{After our hike we came back to my mom's house for some time in the pool! It was just what we needed - a nice cooldown and relaxation time. My friend Kelsey and her boyfriend Franc joined us later on for dinner.}

{After our hike we came back to my mom’s house for some time in the pool! It was just what we needed – a nice cooldown and relaxation time. My friend Kelsey and her boyfriend Franc joined us later on for dinner.}

{I also got to enjoy my brother's company that night, too!}

{I also got to enjoy my brother’s company that night, too!}

For the second part of my dad’s day we went out to breakfast, stopped by my friend Cammy’s new fixer-upper {I cannot wait to see the finished product!!} and then took a stroll through the White Bear Lake Farmer’s Market. It was a nice leisurely day before we had to head out to Lake Minnetonka for the rehearsal dinner for Sammy and Amy’s wedding.

{the rehearsal dinner took place on a boat called Lady of the Lake, which was chartered for a 3-hour cruise around Lake Minnetonka. Alex had never been on the lake before, and I hadn't been since I was a kid. It was super nostalgic for me, and it was fun to see how much Alex enjoyed it too!}

{the rehearsal dinner took place on a boat called Lady of the Lake, which was chartered for a 3-hour cruise around Lake Minnetonka. Alex had never been on the lake before, and I hadn’t been since I was a kid. It was super nostalgic for me, and it was fun to see how much Alex enjoyed it too!}

{Sammy, whose real name is John, and Alex were nextdoor neighbors our sophomore year of college. Sammy's roommate was a high school classmate of mine. It goes without saying that because of their similar senses of humor, the three guys became great friends very quickly! We are so happy for Sammy and Amy and it was a pleasure to go back and attend their wedding.}

{Sammy, whose name is actually John, and Alex were nextdoor neighbors our sophomore year of college. Sammy’s roommate, Phil, was a high school classmate of mine. It goes without saying that because of their similar senses of humor, the three guys became great friends very quickly! We are so happy for Sammy and Amy and it was a pleasure to go back and attend their wedding.}

Saturday was hands-down the most crazy day of our trip. It was a really fun day filled with seeing old friends, but we bounced around from the northwest corner of the Twin Cities to the northeast corner and then back down to the southwest corner for the wedding before heading to the airport at 5:15 a.m. on Sunday morning. Ay caramba!

{Steph and Molly came over to Sarah's house for brunch with their kids on Saturday morning. Sarah and Mike live near where we were on Lake Minnetonka the night before, so they graciously drove us to and from the rehearsal and we spent the night at their beautiful home. I hadn't met Steph's seven month-old son yet, so this was a perfect chance to do so!}

{Steph and Molly came over to Sarah’s house for brunch with their kids on Saturday morning. Sarah and Mike live near where we were on Lake Minnetonka the night before, so they graciously drove us to and from the rehearsal and we spent the night at their beautiful home. I hadn’t met Steph’s seven month-old son yet, so this was a perfect chance to do so!}

{After brunch we trekked across town back to Mahtomedi, where I grew up, for my friend Kailey's son's first birthday party. I am really glad we squeezed this in. It was a perfect lake setting and I loved catching up with my girlfriends!}

{After brunch we trekked across town back to Mahtomedi, where I grew up, for my friend Kailey’s son’s first birthday party. I am really glad we squeezed this in. It was a perfect lake setting and I loved catching up with my girlfriends!}

{this was the most relaxing first birthday party I've ever been to!}

{this was the most relaxing first birthday party I’ve ever been to!}

{we ended our evening at Sammy and Amy's wedding in Chaska. We got to catch up with Phil and Anja, two of my high school classmates, and Phil was Sammy's roommate when they lived next door to Alex. It was really great to get a chance to spend time with them.  Yes, we had a little fun in the photo booth!}

{we ended our evening at Sammy and Amy’s wedding in Chaska. We got to catch up with Phil and Anja, two of my high school classmates, and Phil was Sammy’s roommate when they lived next door to Alex. It was really great to get a chance to spend time with them. Yes, we had a little fun in the photo booth!}

The trip overall was fantastic and crazy. It’s never very relaxing when we go back to the Midwest, but I feel like we did manage to squeeze in a few days where we didn’t have a ton going on. I am so unbelievably grateful for the friends we got to see while we were back. It’s truly incredible and makes my eyes water a bit just thinking about how many wonderful life-long friends we both have and how easy it is for us to go a year {or several!} without seeing each other and pick things up like we saw them yesterday. I especially enjoyed spending time with Alex’s high school friends – it’s really rare and I so, so, so enjoyed them. I only wish we could have seen all of our friends and family members, but it’s next to impossible to make it work when we’re back for such a short time.

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Thanks to our friends and family for a wonderful time! We hope to see you all soon {come visit us!} 🙂

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Minnesota Trip: Family, Friends, Reunion!

Another Minnesota trip has come and gone. Alex and I recently returned from spending several days in Minnesota to visit my family and attend my 10-year high school reunion. The weather really couldn’t have been much better. It was in the mid/upper 70s for the most part and gorgeously sunny. The mornings and evenings sure felt like fall, especially with the color changes the Midwest is experiencing.

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I arrived on Tuesday and was whisked away to my family’s cabin with my dad where we spent a couple days just hanging out. The weather up north was quite cloudy and cool, but we enjoyed getting out and taking a walk through the property, as well as driving around the lake to see the fall colors and the lake level and how it was affecting the other residents.

The last time I was in Minnesota was in mid-July. The water at the lake was exceptionally high – so high that the lake had taken over the side/back yard and had started coming under the cabin. The water has receded a bit since then, but the cabin is still in jeopardy, especially with winter on its way.

{This is the yard between the cabin and the lake - you can see sandbags, the pump that is pumping water from under the cabin back into the lake. The hatch that is partially lifted is the access point to the crawl space under the cabin.}

{This is the yard between the cabin and the lake – you can see sandbags, the pump that is pumping water from under the cabin back into the lake. The hatch that is partially lifted is the access point to the crawl space under the cabin.}

 

My dad and brother are about to embark on a pretty major project up there that includes replacing the foundation, more than doubling the boulder wall and re-grading the yard. These projects will help ensure that the cabin survives the winter. If the water underneath the cabin freezes it could be a game changer. They are doing everything they can to prevent that from happening.

Since I won’t be much {read: any} help with the foundation project I asked my dad to put me to work when I was up there. He didn’t do a very good job of assigning me tasks, but he did ask if I could help get my late grandmother’s room back in order. Since my grandma died over a year and a half ago, her bedroom up at the cabin had become a black hole for random stuff. My dad had been doing some de-cluttering and all of the clutter was shifted to my grandma’s room. I really wish I would have taken before and after pictures, but I got a ton of stuff cleaned up and re-organized. I was able to use some of the “clutter” {aka knick knacks} to “re-decorate” the space. I think my grandma would have really liked it!

Other than that, we drank a lot of coffee and sat around catching up. It’s always so nice to have uninterrupted chat time with my family. It seems to happen so seldomly.

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On Thursday I met my mom at the mall and we walked around in search of a new rain coat and jeans for me. Not surprisingly, we left empty handed. From there we headed to White Bear to have lunch at Rudi’s Rooftop and do a little browsing in the cute shops in downtown White Bear Lake. We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting, catching up and eating. We were joined for dinner by my brother and my high school friend Kelsey.

That night Alex arrived very, very late from Seattle. His trip started bright and early on Friday morning with pumpkin pancakes at my dad’s, then I left to meet my friend Sarah for an afternoon together. Alex dropped me off at Sarah’s parent’s new house, which I had not yet seen, so it was really fun to see her mom and get a tour of their beautiful new home. From there we drove into White Bear and had lunch out on the patio at Washington Square, then made our way to the spa for our pedicures.

Friday night was my high school reunion. We really had no idea what to expect! The reunion took place on a boat on the St Croix River which separates Minnesota and Wisconsin. The weather was exceptional. We met up with several friends at The Green Room restaurant and enjoyed dinner up on their rooftop before heading to the reunion.

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I’m not sure why, but of our class of 275 people, there were only 50 people at the reunion, and that includes guests! It was a very small turnout, but it was nice to catch up with a few people I hadn’t spoken with since we graduated in 2004.

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After the reunion was my favorite part. Most of my closer group of friends who I still stay in touch with congregated at Whitey’s bar and had an awesome time. The husbands of my girl friends all get along well and are generally just hilarious. A few in particular just keep the laughs rolling…

Saturday morning came very early. I met my good friend Kara, who wasn’t able to attend the reunion, for coffee that morning. I hadn’t seen her one-on-one for years, probably. She has had a big year and just started law school, – it was so, so good to catch up with her!

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From there I hustled to pick Alex up and head over to my aunt Sarah’s for coffee and conversation. We had a great time seeing my aunt’s new home and catching up with her as well. I only wish we had more time in our trips to spend with our friends and family and truly get a chance to have more lengthy conversations.

As though we needed more activity to fill our day, we ran some errands for my mom, stopped back over to my dad’s to have lunch, then made our way to my mom’s for the rest of the day. My mom was hosting her cousin and her husband, along with my friend Kelsey and her boyfriend, for a turkey dinner that night. Between helping prep the food and getting the house ready we had a few minutes to sit and chat before the company arrived. It ended up being another gorgeous evening and we had an awesome time with friends and family. Most of us are pretty outspoken in one way or another, so it was a pretty amusing and entertaining evening.

We crashed the second we hit the bed that night, only to be rudely awaken the next morning by our alarm clock informing us that it was time to head back to Seattle. Another jam-packed Minnesota trip is on the record books…

Cam + Adam’s Wedding

Alex and I were recently in Minnesota attending my good friend from high school, Cammy, and her now husband’s wedding. Their wedding took place in White Bear Lake on July 12th. My apologies in advance… I hardly took any photos!

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High school girl friends with the bride! Kailey was such a good sport. She was 38ish weeks pregnant and served as one of Cammy’s beautiful bridesmaids. She has since delivered a healthy baby boy named Samuel. {Photo credit goes to Barb!}

The original plan was for an outdoor ceremony at Matoska Park right on White Bear Lake. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate so they had to move the ceremony indoors to the same location as the reception. Luckily for them it was a great backup venue and it ended up working out just fine.

{this is what happens when your husband and bff steal your phone!}

{this is what happens when your husband and bff steal your phone!}

Having been friends with Cammy since sixth grade I know her style quite well. She has always had a very classic style with a bit of a trendy twist in there. If you took a picture of all of us girls and cut off our heads it would be pretty funny to see how different our styles are. Cammy’s, though, would be the most defined, in my opinion.

On her wedding day her true self really shined through. She always looks great but she looked like her most genuine self. Her hair was total 20s style and her dress… oh her dress… She bought a {vintage?} wedding dress, a bunch of lacy fabric and completely re-created the dress to be totally custom to her fabulous style. See for yourself… I stole this picture from her:

Cammy

{did I mention her mother is a master gardener?}

Their wedding had a lot of creative, un-traditional elements that incorporated their personalities and style. These two are pretty unique and special and their wedding highlighted a lot of their awesome quirks. Adams love of trees and their adoration of nature was apparent in their wedding invitation, table numbers, flowers and ceremony. Cammy’s vintage style was highlighted in the details and decor.

{The wedding was at the Kellerman Event Center. This photo is horrible, but the venue was beautiful with exposed beams and dark wood ceilings and floors. I loved the long tables.}

{The wedding was at the Kellerman Event Center. This photo is horrible, but the venue was beautiful with exposed beams and dark wood ceilings and floors. I loved the long tables.}

Cammy searched high and low for vintage plates. She hit the jackpot and they looked awesome with the gold flatware!

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{Each plate was different!}

{Each plate was different!}

Aside from the wedding itself, it was wonderful to have a chance to catch up with my high school girl friends and their husbands.

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A Weekend in Minnesota

On our way back from our recent trip to Europe, Alex and I made a pit stop in Minnesota to spend some time with my family, celebrate my dad’s big birthday and to attend my good friend’s wedding.

Beautiful Lake Shaimeau

Beautiful Lake Shaimeau

As we always do when we go back to our respective hometowns, we had a jam-packed schedule. My mom picked us up from the airport when we arrived and whisked us away to her backyard oasis. She knew just what we’d be in the mood for after being away from American food for a month! She cooked us kabobs, lots of fruit and veggies, and of course, wine.

It was a quick visit with my mom, but I was thankful to have an excuse to spend an evening with her. We were pretty beat after a very looooong day of travel so we didn’t stay up too late chatting with my dad when we got over to his house to stay later that evening.

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The next morning we were up bright and early, ready to head up to my family’s lake home to relax and celebrate my dad’s birthday.

I had heard from my dad that there had been an unusual amount of rain and because of that the lake was up very high; he had already had to raise the dock up twice that summer. I was glad, though, that I had some forewarning of what was to come when we arrived.

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The water was even higher than it was the previous weekend when my dad was up at the cabin. The driveway was now one with the lake in its low spots. The four feet of grass between the cabin and the lake was no more. There was at least six inches of water in the basement {about 12 years ago we had to fill in the basement with sand because the lake level had come up so high – the basement hadn’t been used in years prior, already}. The lake level was almost even with the top of our dock, which now needed to be raised a third time.

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Seeing the lake like that and realizing that the cabin is in grave danger of potentially not withstanding the winter really put a damper on my usual upbeat self.

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I was able to snap out of it and remember that we had a birthday to celebrate! My dad’s 60th birthday was the next day, but we would only get to spend a few hours with him that day. To celebrate his birthday a day early we enjoyed a wonderful meal of steaks on the grill and big slices of cherry pie a la mode.

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I found a custom sign company on Etsy and ordered a sign for the cabin as a gift to my dad, which is now proudly displayed alongside the bayonet when you walk in the door.

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Aside from the sight of the lake and not knowing the fate of the cabin over the next 9 months we had such a nice time relaxing and catching up with my dad. My family shares the property with my great aunt and her children so we were also able to catch up with them, most of whom I hadn’t seen in a few years.

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Our time at the cabin was very brief. The next day we needed to leave by noon to make it back to White Bear Lake for Cammy and Adam’s wedding. We had an awesome time catching up with my friends from high school and watching the union of such a wonderful couple. More to come on the wedding…

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That pretty much sums up our quick weekend in Minnesota! We flew back to Seattle Sunday morning and began getting settled into our normal life again…

If you’re wondering the fate of our cabin, my dad has three rows of sandbags to protect the structure from waves and an increasing lake level. He plans to replace or support the foundation before winter comes, as well as re-grade the yard around the cabin again. Last weekend he got a new sump pump to drain the water from the basement. His effort was successful, but now they need to bring in more sand under the house. Hopefully with a dry basement there will be no/reduced risk of this winter’s freeze cracking the foundation.

{photo credit goes to my dad}

{photo credit goes to my dad}

North Shore Road Trip

While in Minnesota, Alex and I decided to break away and take a few days to ourselves. Alex had never been to the North Shore so we took a gamble in hopes that the leaves would be at their peak color while we were visiting and made a road trip out of seeing the leaves and sights around Lake Superior.

View of Lake Superior

View of Lake Superior

Our first stop was at the famous Betty’s Pies. Alex’s pumpkin pie was fantastic, and my apple pie was good, but not great.

World Famous Betty's Pies

World Famous Betty’s Pies

Not much further up the road was Gooseberry Falls, where we spent the most time. We walked around the falls and then hiked out to the lake shore. We were surprised that the colors weren’t more vivid in the leaves. We were probably a week or two too early.

Gooseberry Falls - our first stop on the North Shore.

Gooseberry Falls – our first stop on the North Shore.

At the falls.

At the falls.

Out by the lake shore.

Out by the lake shore.

Checking out the scenery.

Checking out the scenery.

Cheese!

Cheese!

After Gooseberry we went to Split Rock Lighthouse and made it just in time to catch a tour.

Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse

Our final tourist stop was at Palisade Head, a huge cliff over Lake Superior. I’m sure there’s history behind this place but all I know is that it was a favorite stop of mine and my dad’s when we made this pilgrimage when I was a kid.

View off the cliff

View off the cliff

We stayed overnight in Beaver Bay, Minnesota at a little hotel called Cove Point Lodge. It was pretty cute – the rooms were very quaint and right on the water. We had a nice meal at the hotel and enjoyed a bottle of wine outside in an Adirondack chair overlooking Lake Superior.

Lake Superior.

Lake Superior.

The weather was gorgeous for our entire trip which only added to the fun.

Lake Shamineau

What a wonderful half day we spent at my family’s cabin in northern Minnesota two weekends ago! It was the most only relaxing part of our whole trip. We really did nothing other than sit on the deck, take a walk through the property, grill chicken and make s’mores. I enjoyed the chance to just kick back, relax and catch up with my dad and enjoy our wonderful cabin.

The shores of Lake Shamineau.

The shores of Lake Shamineau.

Say cheese!

Say cheese!

 

On our walk through the property.

On our walk through the property.

Me and my dad.

Me and my dad.

Alex and me.

Alex and me.

The cabin.

The cabin.

Midwest Tour

Oofta! Alex and I just returned from a whirl wind trip back to the Midwest. The purpose of our trip was to attend two weddings, one in Minnesota on September 28th and the other in Illinois on October 5th. Because the weddings were so close in time and proximity we just decided to make a long trip and stay the week in between instead of coming back to Seattle in the middle. I’ll break our trip down into smaller posts, but here’s a good compilation of our trip. Boy did we make the most of our 11 days!

Enjoying the great outdoors in Wisconsin on our tour of the Midwest.

Enjoying the great outdoors in Wisconsin on our tour of the Midwest.

Our trip started on Thursday the 26th when we flew out of Seattle to arrive in Minnesota just in time to have dinner at my mom’s with John and my good friend from high school, Kelsey, and her boyfriend, Franc. We had ribs and Kelsey’s homegrown tomatoes for dinner, along with Kelsey’s first apple pie, which was a great success. After dinner we headed two blocks away to stay at my dad’s house for the evening.

Local fun at Zorbaz

Local fun at Zorbaz

Bright and early on Friday morning we made the 2 1/2 hour drive up to Brainerd, Minnesota to Grandview Lodge, the location of Sarah and Mike’s wedding. We arrived with just enough time to grab a quick lunch before I had a spa appointment with the bridal party and Alex was left to fend for himself until we met up again for the rehearsal dinner.

Getting our nails did :)

Getting our nails did :)

Saturday was Sarah’s wedding day! I got to spend the whole day with the beautiful bride. The weather in the morning and early afternoon was terrible – it was absolutely pouring until about 2 hours from the wedding time, then the sun started to peak out. Thankfully the rain held off for the wedding so we could hold the ceremony outside.

Sarah and me with our hairdos... all ready for the ceremony.

Sarah and me with our hairdos… all ready for the ceremony.

The wedding was beautiful, as was the reception! Sarah had a classy rustic theme for the decor and the bridesmaids all looked beautiful in navy and magenta. Everything went off without a hitch and the DJ kept a lot of us dancing until 1 a.m.!

Here comes the bride!

Here comes the bride!

Sunday Alex and I headed to my dad’s family’s cabin for the afternoon just to have some R & R and have a chance to spend some time with my dad. It was so relaxing and we loved taking a walk through the property. We ended the night with a wonderful bon fire and made s’mores.

The cabin.

The cabin.

Knowing we didn’t have much time to ourselves during the trip, Alex and I snuck away on Monday and Tuesday and went on a little road trip adventure. We headed east to Minnesota’s North Shore, along Lake Superior, and drove up just a bit past Two Harbors to admire the scenery, {barely} changing colors and stop to take in some sights.

Gooseberry Falls - our first stop on the North Shore.

Gooseberry Falls – our first stop on the North Shore.

Once we returned from our drive we squeezed in a meet-up with my longtime friend Esther. We met her and her two {and a half} kiddos for a little play date and got a chance to catch up. It had been over two years since I had last seen her – her youngest was just a few weeks old and now she’s a walking, talking two year old, soon-to-be big sister!

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After our shopping extravaganza we breezed through my grandma’s house and got a quick chance to catch up before meeting my mom and John at Rudy’s Rooftop for a nice dinner. We ended our evening and Minnesota stay back at my dad’s before taking off for Illinois on Wednesday morning.

The Allens in Wisconsin.

The Allens in Wisconsin.

Our first day in Illinois was the best weather of our whole trip there – it was sunny and warm. Once we got to Alex’s parents house we had brunch and then headed up to his family’s lake home in southern Wisconsin. Alex and I wanted to go up to the lake to have a few days in one place since we had been bouncing all over and living out of a suitcase. It was so nice to have a home base for three days!

Weather gorgeous enough to take the boat out one evening.

Weather gorgeous enough to take the boat out one evening.

Finally on Saturday it was time for our last big event, the main reason we were in Illinois in the first place. Kari and Mike’s wedding was at Morton Arboretum, which is about 20 minutes away from Alex’s parents home. The day of the wedding was kind of funky weather, and unfortunately, it did not hold out for their event. The wedding had to be held inside, but thankfully there was a beautiful backdrop overlooking the arboretum. Alex’s good friend Nick, who grew up next door to Kari, was the officiant of the wedding. Nick is quite the charmer and did a fantastic job of making the ceremony just perfect for Kari and Mike.

Alex sure cleans up well!

Alex sure cleans up well!

Mid-way through dinner at the wedding I ended up getting sick and went back to our hotel room. After a bit I started feeling a little better so I sent Alex back to the wedding. It was great that Alex got a chance to catch up with so many old friends, but I was disappointed not to have gotten a chance to chat with them on the rare occasion. Needless to say, I hardly have any photos from the wedding.

My wedding get up.

My wedding get up.

The last day of our trip was spent in Illinois at Alex’s parents house. Alex’s mom put on a little brunch for some family members so that we had a chance to see Alex’s grandma, aunt and two uncles, along with some family friends of the Allens.

Time with Nana.

Time with Nana.

We arrived back to Seattle safe and sound, and due to our crazy cab driver, we made it back home from the airport in record time. Henry and Jackson were very excited to see us, as we were them, and we’re working into a new routine this week.