Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jonathan's First Haircut

In the chair...getting ready for his first cut.
Although I had once trimmed Jonathan's hair to keep it from going in his eyes (and made him look as though I put a bowl on his head in the meantime), today was Jonathan's first official, professional haircut.  I have been putting this off for quite a while because I knew that a good haircut would make Jonathan look more like a little boy, rather than my little baby.  Today I had to face the fact that my little guy is getting big (and his hair was getting long) and so I finally decided to take Jonathan for a much needed haircut.

Cape on, big-eyed and ready to go
Here we go!!!
The pictures and the video do not actually capture the moment.  I believe that the pictures/video capture a little boy, who is being brave about a situation of which he is unsure. The pictures/video capture a little boy slightly out of his comfort zone who decided he needs to let out a little cry.  What the pictures/video DO NOT show is that this little boy decided he had had quite enough of this adventure and he longer wanted any part of it.  Why did the pictures stop???  Well....I could no longer hold the camera.  It took me and two hairdressers to hold Jonathan down so that they could finish his cut.  Not exactly a very fun afternoon for Baby J.  However, Jonathan got through it, with Mama by his side (hopefully he'll forget that I was one of the women holding him down) and now my little guy is looking like a handsome little boy.  Jonathan, stop growing up so quickly!!

Here come the tears....but Mama is holding his hand




















Yeah! He did it!

My handsome little dude :-)
































Here is a video.....before all hell broke loose and three people needed to hold down Jonathan.
video

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cousins, Goombahs And An Uncle

Beautiful handmade gifts from my cousins
 Busy, busy, busy.....but all good.  On Friday, my cousin Maryann (who lives in Colorado) came in to town to go on a quilting weekend with her sister (also my cousin....who lives here in MN), Judy.  After picking up Maryann from the airport and prior to their departure to their quilting retreat, my cousins came over to my house for lunch.  Prior to my move to Minnesota, geographical circumstances had us not see each other in about 35 years.  I am so glad that I am now able to reconnect with this side of the family.  We had a great chit chat, caught up on each other, and shared lunch.  Unfortunately, because we were so busy chatting, I forgot to take a picture of us to share.  I have, however, posted a picture of the beautiful gifts Judy and Maryann had made for me.  LOOK at their amazing handiwork!.....and they are trying to convince me to join them on one of their quilting trips.  Although the idea behind that sounds wonderful.....LOOK at their work!!  I can't even sew a straight line!!  Are you sure you girls would want an extreme novice in tow?? Hmmmm.....maybe instead I can talk Maryann back to MN for a trip that would coincide with my own sisters' visits.  Our activities typically revolve around Christmas shopping, eating, wine, and girl talk.... and novices can quickly be brought to speed ;-)  In all seriousness, I really did enjoy our afternoon together and hope that the two of you had a wonderful sister's weekend.

Walking along the Mississippi
Holding up that leaning tower!
David's silly girls
David and his "chick magnet"
Our Italian Fest Dinner
Friday evening, David, the kids and I continued our quest to experience the local scene.  We decided to head into Harriett Island in St. Paul for the Festa Italiana.  It was a cool, but beautiful evening and so our walk along the Mississippi River was a welcomed family moment.  The Italian Fest here is a bit smaller in scale than Buffalo's Italian Fest, however, I actually enjoyed this one here much more.  The experience seemed more cultural in its offerings.  It was also less carnival-like in its feel and more intimate.  Although the kids were satisfied with a dose of spaghetti for dinner, David and I enjoyed a sampling of Italian cuisine from various local Italian restaurants.  The jumbo cheese tortellini from a restaurant in St. Paul called DiGidio's was to die for!  I will definitely need to make a stop there.....maybe on a future date night???  While at the fest, Madeline and I also had a good time posing for pictures in the various cut-out stand ups.  Madeline and Jonathan had a great time "dancing" (more like running around in circles).  Madeline also got a 10 minute pass for a line-up of various bounce house type activities......I decided to join Madeline (sorry, no pictures).  Who knew that bouncing was such a workout!!!! .Whew!!!  I have to admit, the more I am experiencing in the Twin Cities, the more I am enjoying the area.  Our Friday's activities were a great kick off to our weekend!

On Saturday afternoon, our good friend, Jon (or "Uncle Jon" to our kids), came up from New Orleans for a visit.  Jon is not exactly a big shopper so we decided to simply go to the Mall of America for dinner after we picked him up from the airport.  Jon can now cross the Mall of America off of his bucket list......okay, I guess he needs to first add it to his bucket list and then cross it off.  Regardless, Jon can now say that he has been there.  Since we had the kids with us, and Jon really had zero interest in shopping, we decided to make a quick run of the mall's aquarium (Jonathan loves fishies!) and of course, going to the Mall of America with Madeline means an obligatory ride at the mall's Nickelodeon Universe.  Jon, being the awesome uncle that he is, agreed to ride a ride with Madeline.  How wild of a ride could a 6 year old actually like??  Unfortunately I was a camera slacker at the mall.  As we stood in line for the ride, a coaster filled with screaming kids whizzed by on a track above us.  The look on Jon's face when he realized *that* was the ride we were waiting for was priceless.  Despite the fact that it has probably been almost 20 years since he rode an amusement park ride, Jon was a good sport.



Our football lunch - trying to get a picture of all 4 of them was near impossible
Sundays being Sundays in fall, afternoons are filled with football.  With David and Jon together, Sunday football was a given.  Madeline and I did a little bit of shopping earlier in the day and we ended up meeting the guys out for lunch.  Awesome tip for dinning with kids: go to a restaurant that is loud enough that no one will notice if the children will act up. And so, a sport restaurant with a gazillion TVs showing football Sunday was a great choice.  We all enjoyed lunch and the guys were able to simultaneously catch a few games.  Even better, the restaurant was holding a few raffles during the game and I won a gift card to the restaurant.  As a result, lunch for all of us was free - WooHoo!!  After eating, I took the kids home and let the guys have a some football, testosterone, male-bonding time.

Oktoberfest  dinner
Not exactly Munich....maybe next year I'll buy a Dirndl Dress (ha!)
For those of you that know me, you know that our family enjoys cultural food evenings at home.  In the evening, we planned our first official Oktoberfest.  Earlier in the day, I had attempted to find some Oktoberfest decorations at Party City and was disappointed to find out that the store did not carry them.  Later in the day, I asked David to run to the store to pick up a grocery item that I had forgotten. Props to David....in addition to the requested grocery item, he also surprising me with red, black & yellow crepe paper. With this we now had decorations and were able to hang some steamers that shared the colors of the German flag.  Although I have already decided that next year I will do things a little differently for Oktoberfest,  this year we enjoyed two types of sausages, spaetzle, sweet & sour red cabbage and German beer. 

Jon will be here until Thursday and so I am sure more tales of his visit will follow.  Stay tuned.....

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Another Minnesota Kind Of Day

Showing off my finds
As I previously mentioned, my intent is to really begin to dive right into life here in Minnesota.  And so I've continued with another Saturday of activities.

First off.....blog friends, meet my friend, Beth.  Beth and I have become friends through our husbands as David and Beth's husband work together.   Beth had emailed me with the thought of going on a little excursion to shop at the "Junk Bonanza".  WHAT is that????  Well....for those familiar with WNY, you might somewhat compare it to an ultra Clarence, NY Antique World.  Yet the Junk Bonanza is only held 2 weekends a year.  The bonanza goes on & on with one treasure after another.  After meeting for a Panera's for some energy to start our day, Beth and I spent a good part of the day visiting each of the vendors at the bonanza.  I was happy to leave there with my finds - an old school ice tray and an old school black rotary phone that is in working order (calling out on it from my house was the first hing I did when I got home).

Just a spur of the moment trivia game inspired by the junk bonanza....one of the vendors had a couple bins with miscellaneous game pieces.  Do you know the name of the games to which these cards belong? (Check comments for the answer)
Picture A - Name the game

Picture B - Name the game


























Outside the Fitzgerald Theater
Date Night
Mmmmm....meatloaf!
In the evening, David and I had our babysitter come over.  David and I have been long time fans of Garrison Keillor.  We have listened to his Prairie Home Companion shows for years and have previously saw live broadcasts of his show in Buffalo, NY (Shea's...in which we ended up, by chance, sharing some drinks at a neighboring bar with Fred Neuman, the sound effects guy, after the show) , Kettering OH and Lewiston, NY (Artpark).  Since Garrison's "home turf" is the Fitzgerald Theater here in St. Paul, we vowed to see Garrison here before his retirement.  Each year, Keillor kicks off his season with an annual "Meatloaf Supper and Street Dance".  You could buy tickets to see the show inside the theater however for the annual street dance it is set up that you can head downtown, listen to the live broadcast from outside, grab a meatloaf dinner (geez...how Minnesota is that??) and enjoy a beautiful late summer's evening.  After the live broadcast, Garrison and the band take to a street stage for music and other entertainment.  David and I recall listening, in the past, to the broadcasts that were held on the evenings of the street dance and thinking what a neat idea that is.  Who would've thought that we would actually not only attend but attend as *residents* of the St. Paul area.

Diving in the deep end!
We arrived outside the Fitzgerald Theatre to see several tables set up in the street along with a few snacks stands and a beer/wine stand.  On the other side of the street, up on a small hill was a  tent where they were selling a meatloaf dinner.  Typically I am not the type to partake in this kind of meal, yet since the organization of the meatloaf dinner was a planned Minnesota culinary cliche that was meant to be part of the experience, I felt that I could make an exception.  For $5 you got a slab of meatloaf, mashed potatoes gravy & a biscuit.  I must say, dinner was actually pretty darn good!  David and I enjoyed the beautiful evening as we hung out enjoying a Summit Beer (local beer) and listened to the "News From Lake Wobegon". 

View of Garrison Keillor as I waited my turn (You can't tell here but he is a close talker!)
Prior to Garrison Keillor coming outside, event organizers wanted to get outside audience members to participate in various contests that would occur throughout the evening's outdoor portion.  Contests such as Loon Calling, 30 Second Acting, Minnesota Accent, and Dancing were planned.  And so this is where I jumped in the deep end.....

This was my audience....am I NUTS?!?!
You can't really tell but that is me with Garrison Keillor on stage (center, in crook of tree)
For those who know me, you might think that I would participate in the dance contest.  Yes, that would be my desire yet the reality of the situation is that I have no real technique when it comes to dance.  I am more of a free styling freak on the dance floor.  Think Elaine on Seinfeld.  No...I opted to do the Loon Calling contest.  The problem, however, is that I had no idea what a loon's call sounded like.  And so, I made the daring decision to take a non-traditional approach to this contest.....in front of Garrison Keillor and oh, about 1000+ people watching.  Yep, talk about jumping into the deep end.

Inside Fitzgerald Theater
Knowing that my approach would either be a hit or could potentially get us thrown out of Minnesota, my heart was thumping out of my chest and my hands were shaking.  As the 9th contestant out of 10 I watched one loon caller after another.  I waited, wondering what Garrison Keillor would say to me and worried about the crowd reaction.  Do or die, Amy....do or die.  I have a few pictures of the stage.....unfortunately, the only picture of me ON stage with Garrison Keillor was taken by David and due to David's location in the audience and the lighting on the stage you could not make out anything other than a lit silhouette of me.  Finally it was my turn.  Garrison asked me where I was from.  I told him originally Buffalo, NY (and got a lot of cheers for that) but that I moved here last year.  Garrison's advice to me on adjusting to Minnesota was, "There is no way you are going to get them (Minnesotans) to talk.  It is just not going to happen.  So fiction.  I recommend fiction if you want to understand Minnesotans.  Make up stories."  And after the brief on stage banter, I was ready for my call......oh, yeah and my debut as a political satirist. 

Lobby of Fitzgerald Theater
Guts, yes....and despite your own political views, at least appreciate the fact that political humor has to take a stand one way or another.  Appreciate that I did this, on stage in front of over 1,000 people.  Appreciate the risk and the fact that I could've been a huge hit or escorted to the Minnesota border with a big boot to my ass.  And then appreciate the fact that I am now ready for a Saturday Night Live debut (okay....not really, but given the opportunity...)  In preparation of my loon calling turn, Garrison asked me where my loon is from.  I responded by saying that he can be seen all over.  And so it was my turn.  Before my loon calling I said, "I am not really familiar with the whole Common Loon thing so this is actually a Political Loon Call." (cheers from the crowd)  Dramatically I closed my eyes, wet my lips as though I was getting ready to make a bird noise, deeply inhaled...and then put my cell phone to my ear and said, "Hello, is Mitt there?"   (Ba dum tss!!)  As like any political jokes, I got mixed reviews.....yes, some groans but definitely enough "Woo Hoos" to stir things up in Minnesota. 

Afterward I calmed my nerves and adrenaline with another Summit Beer with David as we meandered inside the opened doors of the Fitzgerald Theater to take a peek.  For anyone that listens to Prairie Home Companion on the radio, I was actually surprised as to how small and intimate is the interior of the Fitzgerald Theater.  Since our sitter needed to be home early that night, David and I had an early night too......and with one ear on the door listening for rioters/autograph seekers I wondered what kind of trouble can I get into next weekend???

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jonathan 9 Mos. Pictures (Catch Up Post - May 9th)

May 9th I took Jonathan for his 9 mos pictures.  What can I say......well, aside from these pictures being sideways (not sure why my blog program isn't letting me rotate them)....all I can say is that he's my little dude!

Buffalo Gals (Catch Up Post - Weekend of May 5th)

Outlet mall shopping with Tammy
I vowed to catch up on my blog......so here I am, documenting events from 4 months ago.  It seems silly now but when I look back at my blog a few years from now (yes, I really do look back), I will be grateful that I took the time to catch up.  The only issue in doing this, however, is that my memories and details of all the events aren't as clear as if I had blogged the way I should - in a timely manner.  But at the time, Jonathan could still be considered an infant and we just moved into our house two months beforehand so.....I think I could be excused.

Mmmmm!! Royal sub!  How can they not know how to make a sub in MN?
A view of Lake Erie from my room
Jen, Tammy, Kym & Eileen...walking to the restaurant
Mary, Tammy, Christina, Kelly, Andrea, me, Jen, Eileen & Kym at Toro's
Kym, Eileen, me, Jen and Tammy at the scene of the crime
As my blog followers know, moving from Buffalo to Minnesota was probably the hardest thing I ever did.  The opportunity for David and our family was a no-brainer and we just had to go.  I spent much time crying over this, much like mourning the loss of a loved one.  And although these little meltdowns occurred on more than one occasion I specifically remember sitting in the hot tub shortly before our move, crying and asking David (poor David) to promise me that we/I would come back to visit as often as possible.  True to his word, David surprised me with a Mama getaway.  You must understand that although David has NO problem caring for the kids when I have to go somewhere, leaving him alone for an entire long weekend while Jonathan was only 9 months old was a huge deal.  David had no idea what to do for long periods of time with Jonathan nor did he have any idea Jonathan's feeding schedules, etc.  But...David did it so that I could be with my friends.  I tried to help as best I could to plan easy meals and prepare everything that I could in advance.  I wrote out schedules as a guide and created a "Papa Survival Guide" folder with a meal menu, schedule info, multi-tasking tricks that I usually have up my sleeve, our membership cards for the zoo, children's museum and point passes for the rides at the Mall of America.  Despite David being a little anxious about the weekend, he DID IT...and did an AWESOME job!!

Mary, me, Kym & Jen....aka lingere models??
Getting crabs in Buffalo might be hard to explain
Again, for those of you that know me well, you know that I am a social person.  Currently I am starting to meet more people here but in May, I really didn't know anyone.  Going cold turkey without friends was quite difficult and David recognized that I could use a little fix.  Of course going to Buffalo also involves satisfying other cravings as well....trips to Wegmans to shop for Buffalo items and indulging in Buffalo food cravings, yet the majority of my trip revolved around my girl friends.

Tammy, Kym, me, Jen, Eileen, & Mary back at the hotel
Tammy & Amy getting silly
Boob shot.....and believe it or not, we were sober
My neighbors had to love us!
Totally posed silly picture....no we didn't sleep like this!
Saturday morning, after an obligatory trip to Tim Horton's, my friend Tammy and I started out the day with a trip to the Niagara Falls Outlet Mall.  Not a bad way to start the day!!!  Later in the afternoon a few of the girls met at my hotel room while a few more joined us at the restaurant for a girls night out. (Super thanks to my friend, Mary, for being the ultra paparazzi for the evening and capturing the events.) We enjoyed a nice dinner out at Toro Tapas Bar.  I specifically LOVE how I can have a group of girlfriends whom I have met in different phases of my life and I know through different circles that can get together, not necessarily knowing each other, yet have a great evening together.   Although my hotel was in the entertainment district of Buffalo, the girls decided that instead of heading out to the bars after dinner we would go to Target for some snacks and then head back to my hotel room for girl talk and a good old fashioned slumber party.  Yes, that was our plan and that is what we did.....of course, we did end up shaking things up at Target a bit while we were there.  After Target we headed back to the hotel for an evening of silliness and girl talk.  By 2pm, the girls that were going home, left the hotel and that left Tammy, Kym and Eileen for the overnight.  In the morning, Tammy had to head home but Kym, Eileen and I headed out for breakfast at Spot Coffee and then we were back to the hotel for a trip to the hot tub.  Later that day, I also had the opportunity to see a good ole chick flick (The Lucky One).

Yep, I am wearing the same clothing....next morning, breakfast with Kym & Eileen at Spot Coffee
Me, Kym & Eileen enjoying the hot tub
The getaway was Mama medicine.  The familiarity of Buffalo was enough to comfort the soul, yet the time spent with great friends healed me.  They say that laughter is the best medicine.....well, I was in need of a dose of "medicine" and I left Buffalo a completely rejuvenated mama.  As much as I loved the getaway and spending time with my friends, I loved coming home to my kids and my guy.  Thank you David for giving me the much needed respite and recognizing the social being that I am.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Trying To Live Like the Locals

Waiting for the firetruck parade
Here they come!
It has been one year since David pulled out of the driveway to head to Minnesota (a little earlier than the rest of us) to start his new job.  A couple of my friends who have been through the relocation process have told me that it takes one year to have your new city feel like home.  Okay...."home" might be a little bit of a stretch, however I can say that we are definitely getting our groove going here.  We are fairly settled in our new house (although I still have a ton of decorating to do), we are meeting people, Madeline is back in school and we are finally in a place in our lives that on the weekends we can go out and explore.  In an effort to try to put the "home stamp" on our life here, I have searched various upcoming things to do and marked them on our calendar.

Climbing a fire truck
Madeline just finished exploring the inside of a paramedic truck
With Papa, Jonathan's first midway ride (Ferris Wheel)

Madeline and Papa enjoying the doggie
Jonathan not enjoying the doggie ride as much as his sister
Both of our kids enjoy watching a kids program called "Fireman Sam". It is a cute 15 minute program that we often watch before bedtime (DVRed from earlier in the morning).  With that thought I figured we could take a drive down to Burnsville (about 30 min south of us) for their Burnsville Fire Muster.  We went primarily for the fire truck parade but knew there was also a little carnival going on too.  The parade exhibited fire trucks from the surrounding cities and also displayed some old time firetrucks.  Jonathan got a kick out of the trucks and their sirens and lights while Madeline had the most fun collecting candy that was being thrown of of the trucks at the tail of the parade.  After the parade, we walked over to the city's community center's grounds and explored the carnival.  There many of the trucks that were in the parade where on display and the kids were able to climb on the trucks and go inside a paramedic truck.  We grabbed our lunch there (turkey legs and corn on the cob) and enjoyed some rides.  We finally figured that Jonathan was old enough to start riding a few rides too and although Madeline was able to use the majority of the midway tickets, Jonathan rode his first ride, a Ferris Wheel, with David.  The last ride (a doggie ride) we all went on as a family. Although Madeline, for the most part, has no fear of rides, I am not sure how much Jonathan enjoyed the experience.  I am hoping this grows on him.  Upon leaving the carnival, a "must have" we all shared was the funnel cake.

Kielbasa Festival Entertainment Schedule
Mmmmm....pierogi!
Disheveled from polka dancing
Does this *really* need a caption??
Next stop we drove up to Minneapolis for Kramarczuk's (a local sausage company) 3rd annual Kielbasa Festival.  Knowing that we would partake in this, I brought a "wardrobe change".  I changed my t-shirt to my "Buffalo Polish" t-shirt.  I donned it proudly.....in fact, I had about 5 people ask me about my t-shirt!  Unlike any Buffalo festival, the polka band played for only one set (there were other forms of cultural entertainment on the agenda) and so we planned our arrival accordingly - for the polka band, of course!  We had enough time for me to get the kids & David situated with food.  Tsk, tsk to David who had a Bratwurst at a kielbasa festival.....but both Madeline and Jonathan enjoyed gołąbki (cabbage rolls....and, by the way, mine are better) and pierogi.  The music started (Gotta love the band's name - "Doctor Kielbasa") and Madeline and I forged through the crowd and danced a couple polkas.  Again, not quite like a Buffalo festival as there weren't that many polka-ers......but, if you know me, you know that I have *no problem* making a fool of myself on a dance floor.  One of the highlights, however, was a little old lady who saw us dancing and came up to us and danced near us.  Madeline and I included her.  We danced in a circle, had
Madeline go under our arms, and when Madeline was "free styling" the old lady and I did a little dance.  You could tell that the lady soooo wanted to dance and was thrilled to have some goofballs to join.  She sort of reminded me of my mom and you could tell that we made her day because she gave Madeline and me a big hug.  We may have made her day, but she also made my day by allowing me to briefly re-experience the days that I would do the polka club dances with my mom and her senior friends (whatever....don't judge).  After the band wrapped up their set, I had a chance to enjoy my dinner....a whopping big kielbasa sandwich with tons of sauerkraut.  And as people asked me about my t-shirt I was proud to tell them of my roots. (someone actually said....."Oh yeah! Buffalo - they have that huge after Easter party!") Speaking of t-shirts.....I *had to* by a band t-shirt for David.

Next weekend we have more Minnesota on tap.....stay tuned.