For the second half of our fourth anniversary vacation, we drove to Alexandria, MN, home to goddaughter #2, Hailey Rose, and her awesome parents, Brian and Briana. We were welcome for dinner (delicious brats, awesome watermelon, etc.) and let the two kiddos play with each other for a while. Well, let me rephrase–they’re both about a year old–play next to each other. As Hailey was going to visit her grandparents the next day, Anna was kindly allowed to borrow a few of her toys for her camping trip. We camped at the Shady Rest Resort on Lake Amelia, about 10 miles south of town. Our friends Taryn and Paul let us borrow their huge six person tent, so we were able to set up Anna’s Pack ‘n Play and still have plenty of room left over for us!
The next day, July 6, was hot and sunny, and we spent it going for walks, lounging around, reading, drinking beer, and swimming in the lake. It was a gloriously lazy time, and all three of us enjoyed ourselves. In the evening, Brian & Briana came out to have dinner with us, and we made chicken-pineapple shish kebab and had s’mores for dessert. We got rained on a bit late at night, but our tent-fu learned years ago at Catholic Youth Camp was strong, and we had no problems.
On the day of our anniversary, July 7, the clouds rolled in quickly in the morning, so we packed up and headed home. All in all, it was a wonderful trip: a perfect mix of friends, tourist sites, and hangout time. When we left, I wasn’t sure how things would go at the campsite with Anna, but she loved pretty much every minute of it. The only hiccup was her peeing on top of our sleeping bags and…well, kids happen!
After Goddaughter #3′s baptism on Sunday, July 3, we packed the Toyota absolutely full of camping and baby gear and headed to beautiful North Dakota to visit Ry Guy and Maggie, two friends of ours who also met at Catholic Youth Camp and later married. They live in the small town of LaMoure, pop. 900, on the banks of the James River. As we headed over the border into ND proper, we were amazed at the amount of standing water in the fields due to recent rains and flooding–we even saw two places where the highway had been raised to deal with the water!
After arriving in LaMoure, Ry guided us to a nearby man-made lake, where our families watched fireworks together (Anna was terrified). I had a literal run-in with a barbed wire fence, but did not get tetanus, so that wasn’t so bad in the end. Then we headed to Ry and Maggie’s house, where we sat around the dinner table and talked late into the night. I was excited to taste Ry’s excellent homebrew–a dark cream ale.
July 4 dawned hot and hazy, but that didn’t stop us from getting a walking tour of town. Being a curious geek, I asked every Ry every question I could think of regarding the town’s major industries (farming and farming). Ry was kind enough to give me a driving tour of the area too; there’s a scenic “backway” in the area that stops by 10 Friendly! Interpretive! Signs! and family and friends know how much I love them. In the afternoon we loaded the three kids into the minivan and drove west to the Whitestone Hill state historic site, where in 1863 a large battle took place between U.S. volunteer cavalry and Sioux Indians. Basically the army decided to get revenge for the 1862 Dakota War and the general in command decided that killing any Native Americans he came across would count.
Unfortunately, we had an unpleasant surprise on our way home from the battlefield. Anna was hot, tired, and cranky, and whenever Liam, the other baby in the car, would babble, shriek, or laugh, she would start SCREAM-ING. Maybe she hates boys, but she had a pretty extreme way of showing it! During the kids’ late afternoon nap, Ry and I headed to the Centerfield Bar and Grill, a nice place that was showing the Twins game. We had some brews, and I sampled a red ale from Tallgrass Brewing in Kansas. We read the grill menu to our wives over the phone and basically just ordered takeout. I had my first bleu cheese Juicy Lucy: uh-maz-ing! We again stayed up late into the night catching up with our friends.
July 5 was slightly cooler, and we said our goodbyes and headed out. Around noon we stopped at the Fort Abercrombie state historic site along the Red River. During the 1862 Sioux uprising it was the only fortification that was put under siege. Anna had a good time playing with a buffalo robe inside the museum, and we endured some good natured ribbing from the Friendly! Interpreters! about how ND’s state historic sites are open but our own state’s are closed because of the DangstoopidShutdowndontchaknow. We quickly toured the reconstructed sections of the fort, slapped mosquitos, and headed to Alexandria, MN to visit goddaughter #2. All in all it was a great two days with Ry Guy, Maggie, and their kids, and we thank them for their wonderful hospitality. We hope to repay them in kind soon!
We’re only a few weeks into summer (between Memorial Day and Labor Day) and we’ve already been very busy. We spent some of the Memorial Day weekend camping with Sara’s family outside of Oronoco, MN. It involved the usual: hanging around on camp chairs, eating lots of good food, drinking beer, and playing games. Anna really enjoyed being outside, and played for hours on her blanket in the sunshine. On Memorial Day proper we did some early summer cleaning, installing new curtains in the nursery, planting out first vegetable garden, cleaning out gutters, etc.
This weekend Anna spent Friday with John’s parents, and then spent Saturday and Sunday up in Alexandria with Sara’s parents, who were visiting some of our mutual friends, the Kramers. By all accounts she had a great time, and she even showed Grandpa Rogers what she hasn’t shown anybody else so far–her ability to go from laying down on her stomach to sitting. Apparently even she was a little surprised she could do this! I’m thinking she’ll be crawling in no time.
The final installment of our time in sunny southern Florida begins with the Twins’ slugger, Jim Thome. We love you, Jimmers! Such a nice guy. Even though he wouldn’t sign our stuff, he did sign for a bunch of kids.
On Thursday we got to the beach on Sanibel Island nice and early, with good parking spots and plenty of sandy square footage for our large group of 13 adults and two babies. Most of us went swimming in the gulf and enjoyed the cool water and waves.
Anna was actually awake most of the day, but unfortunately her cold was getting a little worse and she wasn’t too happy. Here are a few pictures of her “playing” in the sand. She was happy for a few minutes, but of course we didn’t have the camera on her at that point. After she got sand in her mouth she had had it with beach time.
We just had to post this happy picture of Tim, who scraped his nose up on the bottom of our pool earlier in the week. He and Laurie were the snorkeling and shelling king and queen of the week.
We ate lunch that day at the Island Cow, which was delicious. We had a pitcher or two of green beer for St. Patty’s Day, and as you can see, also enjoyed fried pickles and (my family’s favorite) hushpuppies. Yuuuuummmy. (John had a very large pot of steamed clams, oysters, mussels, and shrimp swimming in broth. I will pretend to forget about that!)
Anna in the Island Cow.
The next morning a few people went back to the stadium for a few more shots at autographs and to try to get in another game. Unfortunately the scalpers bumped prices up quite a bit: one guy was asking $80 a ticket! The group said no thanks and went back to the house for some more swimming and eating and drinking, but not before getting a few more items signed. Anna now has a onesie with Scott Baker and Jason Kubel’s autographs on it!
A rare picture: all Minnesota players, major and minor leaguers.
My sister is marrying a kleptomaniac. Yep, that banner is going up in his house. Awesome!
Mauer and (sigh) Nishioka. It may be awhile before we see him again, unfortunately. His translator is on the far right of the picture.
The last morning, my family decided to play some mini golf before heading to the airport. We had a good time, and Anna slept through the whole thing. Why break the habit?
There are many things that happened that are not documented here, whether on purpose or not. One thing I’d like to mention to give you an idea of how much these two families can drink: we went through 89 beers, 2 liters of vodka, 1 liter of Kahlua, 1.75 liters of margaritas, 750ml of whiskey and… 6.5 liters of rum! Not to mention that this is just what was purchased for drinking at home… who knows how much we really had if you add in the Twins game and eating out. We had a good time!
The mid-March get-away was money very well spent. Thank you to our whole family, including those we’re not related to by blood; we had such a fantastic time spending the week with you! Thank you to everyone who helped out with Anna and made the trip much more relaxing than it could have been. Most especially, a BIG thank you to my parents, because we wouldn’t have been able to go if it weren’t for them. We love you all and wish we could go to Fort Myers every year!
Yes, I am finally getting around to blogging about the rest of our wonderful trip!
We went to Anna’s first outside-the-womb Twins’ game that Monday. Thanks to Dan, who works with sports teams, we were able to get a tour of the stadium, so we arrived pretty early. Anna was sleepy and not liking the sun, which had become the norm for her.
Beautiful Hammond Stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins’ Spring Training and their AAA team, the Miracle. Yes, we have outdoor baseball in Minnesota now, but there’s nothing like seeing the grass and the palm trees in the middle of March!
Here’s our group enjoying adult beverages. We had a few rounds of beer first. After that, people bought “rum buckets” for $10, each supposedly with 6 shots of rum in it (very cheap for a ball park, considering a beer isn’t much less than that). It was more like 12 shots – very little of anything else. The nice part was they had all the recipes for the different drink options printed on the side of them for future use. That became useful later.
Auntie Beth trying to help Anna wake up once our seats were finally in the shade.
The Rogers family picture. We were pretty happy; the Twins won 9 – 0.
Anna and her BFF Hailey playing together in the pool.
Grandma Sherry bought some bubbles to see if the babies took any interest, and they did! They loved watching the bubbles fly around.
The next day we went on a 3 hour tour (thankfully, no shipwrecks) off the end of Fort Myers Beach. We saw many dolphins and baby and mommy osprey on the way out to an island. When I say “we,” I mean everyone but Anna, as she was – you guessed it – sleeping. She slept through the entire loud boat ride over.
At the island we had about an hour to swim, snorkel, and shell.
Our ubiquitous Lewis & Clark picture; I don’t think we’ve taken one in years!
Anna, actually AWAKE in Grandpa’s arms on the boat ride back to shore.
We are (finally) in sunny Florida, and it is WONDERFUL!
Anna’s first flights were uneventful. In fact, she slept through the entire first flight, from gate to gate.
After arriving in Fort Myers and peeling off a few layers of clothing, we had lunch, dropped our things off at the house we’re renting, went to Mass, and shopped for food and beverages – yes, the adult kind, and plenty of it. Then we headed to the other house (close friends of Sara’s family who are down here with us: Tim and Laurie, Dan and Claire, and Brian, Briana, and our goddaughter, Hailey) for pizza and, of course, beverages. Anna and Hailey were intrigued by a Indian mobile that Claire had bought for Hailey.
Yesterday was a POOL day! The entire morning and early afternoon were spent lounging and swimming. Here’s a picture of Jeff trying to jump in the pool while catching a ball Dan is throwing him; can you spot the ball?
Anna, in true Minnesota Girl fashion, could barely open her eyes with all the sunshine. But she was still so cute in her hat and swimsuit!
She “swam” for the first time and seemed to… well, not so much enjoy it as be fairly ambiguous toward it. We’re just happy she didn’t cry! Unfortunately, even with the sunglasses, hat, and shade, she still didn’t want to open her eyes.
Later in the day we decided to go to Fort Myers Beach. At what time, you ask? Well, apparently we didn’t know. We were trying to make it by 3 p.m., so we left at what we thought was 2:40. On the way, I went to change my watch ahead one hour for daylight savings’ time, but after I changed it, I realized it still only said 1:45. I asked if we were sure it was 2:45. This was followed by about 5 minutes of intense and confused discussion, including texts and calls to the other car of family and friends. My dad finally asked the woman in the car next to us, and sure enough, it was only 1:45. Somehow everyone else had changed their watches twice, based on the time that the oven clock said; unfortunately the oven clock had also been changed twice by two different people. The whole discussion was quite entertaining for all of us!
We went to the beach to see a “blessing of the fleet,” where there were 4 different religious men present, including a (Anglican) bishop. We then checked out a crafts market, and John ate some blue crab, which he had never tried before.
Back at the house, I spent some time playing around with camera settings. Here are a few pictures I liked.
Anna had a much more enjoyable time in the pool now that the sun had gone down a bit. She enjoyed kicking and splashing!
Grandma Sherry even painted her nails so they match Mommy’s. Aren’t they pretty?!?
Last night we went to Pincher’s Crab Shack for some great food and then came “home” to celebrated Laurie’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Laurie! We are so happy to be in Florida with you and your fabulous family!
For those of you reading this before we return, don’t expect an update every two days. We had some cute pictures we wanted to share and some downtime, so that’s why this is appearing so soon. We hope you’re all enjoying the weather wherever you are!
We are visiting Sara’s family this weekend. Anna had some fun with Grandma and Grandpa’s puppy, Copper.
I LOVE Christmastime. The lights, the smells, the sounds, all of it! The whopping 33.4 inches of snow we had received by December 24 this year (well… last year… this post is a bit delayed in making its appearance) definitely didn’t hurt either, although I don’t think everyone would agree with me on that.
I’ve also decided that adding a baby to the mix only makes things more enjoyable. Anna isn’t old enough to thoroughly appreciate the beauty of the season, but she had a good time nonetheless.
The three days leading up to Christmas day were spent with my family in Eyota, which meant lots of dog barking, beer drinking, and soda cracker cookie eating. We enjoyed a delicious dinner with some friends from high school (thanks, Bankers!) and games and drinks with my “second family,” the Kramers (always so fun!). Anna looked beautiful in her Christmas dress borrowed from the Shurts family, and the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass was movie-worthy: how often do you get to see a donkey dragging another donkey by the tail down the church aisle? Hysterical!
Anna slept through her daddy reading The First Christmas to her, but we are sure she loved it. Christmas morning she also slept through most of the gift opening, including the new pair of glasses she received from Auntie Traci.
She had received the Jumperoo from Grandpa Jim and Grandma Sherry on Wednesday night and LOVED it!
She also got The Night Before Christmas in Hawaiian from Auntie Beth and (soon-to-be) Uncle Jeff, which we are sure will inspire her to someday move to Hawaii and bring her wonderful parents along.
Christmas Part II was celebrated with John’s family in Golden Valley. We had a great time and I am happy to say that I am now down to only 2 books remaining until I own the entire Harry Potter series (John and I were on a HP kick for awhile… more on that in another post). Anna got lots of cute clothes and toys, including an awesome “play Bible” from her Godparents , and John got (surprise!) another board game. We also enjoyed lots of yummy food, such as Kay’s scotch eggs, zelnicky, and chicken wild rice soup.
We had a beautiful time celebrating Christ’s birth, and we hope you all did, too. May we always be thankful for the gifts God has given!
Last winter when we believed we were in the midst of a miscarriage, a group of our friends did a very sweet thing: they got us a one night stay at the Deutsche Strasse Bed and Breakfast in New Ulm, MN and some spending money so we could have a night away. Well, as we all know, the pregnancy continued so it ended up being more of a celebration gift than a consolation gift. We planned our big weekend in New Ulm in early July of this year, but the day we were scheduled to leave, Sara was ordered on bedrest, so we canceled. We were finally able to get away the weekend before Thanksgiving, leaving Anna at Grandpa and Grandma Rogers’ place. Two things stood in the way of having a good time, but we overcame them both: a really terrible sinus infection affecting yours truly, and a nice ice storm that blanketed the southern MN roads in a thin, clear glaze for our return trip.
We arrived in New Ulm on a clear, blustery Saturday afternoon and immediately scrounged up some grub at a local restaurant. One bite into my liver and onions I knew I was in the right place. Amazingly enough, we were also able to attend a really fun tour of the nearby Schell’s Brewery (yup, they do tours in late November). It ended with required sampling in the tasting room, and although neither of us are huge fans of Schell’s in general, it was still a good time. The New Ulm Cathedral was a wonderful place to ring in the end of the liturgical year, and we celebrated our weekend away that evening at the Rathskeller at Turner Hall. The restaurant features murals drawn over a century ago depicting castles along the Rhine River. Unfortunately, from 1916 until 1996 they were covered up (something about a war or two we fought against “dos Jarmans”). The restaurant also has a huge poster of the Schnitzelbank song. I considered “borrowing” it so it could be used at the next family reunion, but it was a bit too big for our car.
Oh, and perhaps the best discovery of the weekend: reuben balls. Imagine a bit of rye dough, onions, sauerkraut and corned beef dipped in batter, deep fried, and then eaten with Thousand Island Dressing. Uh-maze-ing.
We spent the rest of the evening in our suite, checking out the hot tub, and lounging. This was our first experience at a bed and breakfast, and while it took a little getting used to at first, it was very relaxing. Oh, and our breakfast was great. Three courses of pure joy: homemade peanut butter granola with milk, German candied apple pancakes and sausage, and cranberry cream cake. We also got to know our fellow bed-and-breakfasters. The experience of eating a meal with complete strangers reminds me of stories I’ve read about boarding houses in the 1800s, with everyone gathered around a communal table.
We saw a few more tourist sites on our trip, including the huge statue of Herman the German, the town Glockenspiel, etc. Sara was also quick to remind me that, being we were on vacation, we needed to pick up a children’s book to commemorate our journey. I agreed and we finally decided on a beautifully illustrated picture book of the Nativity for Christmas. After that, I turned our car north and we headed home. All in all, it was a relaxing weekend, and a nice way to clear our minds of all the hustle and bustle in the Twin Cities.
Since I was in 3rd grade my family has taken a yearly trip up to Lake Superior’s North Shore, where we rent a cabin for the long MEA weekend every October. (Yes, I still call it “MEA”, although I’m pretty sure it’s called something different, and John is now the only member of the family who actually gets the extra two days off!) I look forward to this weekend all year long, as it is always fun, refreshing and relaxing!
This year was Anna’s first trip; our friends’ younger son’s first trip (he was born 6 days after Anna); and Traci’s first trip in three years – finally, the whole family was together again! Our friends Angela and Luke and we were a little apprehensive about sharing the cabin we have this year, as there would be three kids under the age of 2, and we didn’t know how it would go, but it ended up working out really well – only a few screams during the night! Anna did have some screaming fits (2 1/2 hours of inconsolable crying) due to her new acid reflux medicine (which we have now stopped), but she tired herself out so much that she ended up sleeping really well at night.
Other than that, it was the usual relaxing fun. We took a trip to Gooseberry Falls, where Beth and Jeff took some beautiful engagement pictures, thanks to Mom and Angela. John and Luke walked around with the babies in their front carriers, since Anna was finally over the “minimum 8 lbs.” weight limit. We also all enjoyed walking down to the shore from our cabins (it’s about 20 feet away), looking out at the sun and moon shining on the lake, and viewing the passing ships through Dad’s scope.
There were a lot of cribbage games played, as well as two games of Bowls. Everyone there will dread being my partner next year: I got last place both times! Late Saturday night brought a competitive and cutting game of Spoons (in which I also placed last!), leaving Luke the champion, although there has been some talk that Jeff was also worthy of that title, and Angela also came close.
And last but oh-so-definitely not least, there was the food and drink. The dinners were all delicious as usual, and the Halloween sugar cookies were the typical hit, but the snacks are always the highlight. We all had (quite a bit more than) our share of caramel corn and puppy chow (mmmmmm…… puppy chow…), and to top it off, Saturday afternoon was spent on a new tradition: beer tasting! We each had brought 3 bottles of a brew, and although An and I couldn’t drink as much as we’d like (we’re both breastfeeding and/or pumping), we all had a great time trying and rating 9 different beers. (The “winner” of the beers was Magic Hat #9, in case you’re curious.) We also had some pretty sleepy – and tipsy – people at Mass that evening!
We had a fantastic time up on the shore again this year, and already are looking forward to next year!
We made our first trip to Eyota this past weekend (Sept. 17-19) to visit Mommy’s family and friends. Grandpa and Grandma got some good cuddle time in Friday night, and Anna got to meet their puppy, Copper, for the first time. He’s only 6 lbs, but he looked big after being used to Anna!
Unfortunately, Friday night didn’t go so well; Mommy and Daddy forgot the sleep sack and didn’t bring Anna’s bouncer (aka her bed) either, so she was a little out of her element. AK proceeded to cry from about midnight to 5 am, when Daddy finally figured out that she was constipated, and managed to help her by reading up on these things online. She slept peacefully after that, but Mommy and Daddy needed to sleep most of the day to make up for it. Thankfully, Grandma Sherry and both aunts jumped in to help, so Anna still got the bath she needed before her big party that night.
Saturday night was an “open-house” for people to come meet Anna Kateri and to see great-aunt Kel-lee and cousin Xander while they are visiting. Lots of family and friends showed up. Thank you all for coming! We had a great time and it was so good to see everyone!
Saturday night was a huge improvement in the sleep department; we were back to our normal 3-hour intervals for feeding, and Anna managed to sleep well in between, thankfully for Mommy and Daddy. We left to come home right after church that morning, and had an uneventful car ride.
Check out all of the pictures from the weekend here! Some highlights are below.
In only 11 short days, Anna has managed to travel quite a few places! There have been two trips to the hospital (one for a lab test and the other to see a lactation consultant) and two trips to see her doctor in White Bear Lake. Those aren’t as exciting to talk about, though.
Everywhere we go, people (mainly women and children) seem to adore her (as most newborns everywhere are adored), always asking how old she is and commenting on how tiny she looks. Our first “big” trip was to Target last week when Anna was only 4 days old. Mommy and Daddy enjoyed taking her out in public and managed to fit the car seat in the shopping cart on the first try. Mommy especially enjoyed the trip, as she hasn’t been to Target (or any store) for over 2 months!
Saturday was Anna’s first camping “trip”. Mommy’s family goes to Lake Elmo every Labor Day weekend, and our little family was able to join Mommy’s family for a good part of the day. Anna was held by everybody and enjoyed the little bit of sunshine she got. We were even able to spend some time with Great Uncle Joe & Great Aunt Kari and their three girls, who drove up from Eyota to meet their new tiny relation. It was so good to see everyone! Thank you so much for the cute clothes Anna got!
Sunday morning we made our way to church, where everyone around us asked us questions and made comments about our little Anna Kateri. She even had an adoring crowd of three young girls afterward who wanted to see her. Anna also got to meet Fr. Creagan, who has followed our “miscarriage” story and been praying for us throughout the pregnancy.
The most recent fun outing was last night (Wednesday), when Mommy took Anna to her book club, which was meeting for drinks at Dixie’s in St. Paul. There were quite a few people there, so hopefully everyone got a chance to hold her if they wanted to; it was baby mania! (For those of you who don’t know, in Mommy’s book club there have been 6 babies born this year!) Anna got to meet Torin Cahill, born just 6 days after her, and tried to impress him with her cute pink sleeper. Of course, both babies were sleeping pretty much the entire time.
Mommy, Daddy, and Anna also went for a short walk last night to try out the stroller. It was a beautiful evening and we are hoping to get some good use out of the stroller before the winter comes!