Thursday, August 22, 2013

Trip to Indiana

Finally asleep! - Madison, Wisconsin
Madeline loves to play with Grandma during our visits.
This summer has been non-stop. David was back in Michigan City (IN) in June, however, the circumstances under that particular trip did not allow for the kids and me to go with him.  While looking at our calendar we felt that it was necessary to make a trip to Indiana to visit David's parents, otherwise we would not be able to get back there until October. Despite departing on a vacation the very next weekend, we felt that it was important to squeeze in a mid-summer trip.  It was a whirlwind trip, but very enjoyable for us.  Jonathan's last swim lesson was Thursday (7/18) and so we planned to depart right after swim class.  Due to our late departure, we also planned to drive only half-way on our first night.  Since we always bring our dog, Sobaka, with us on our trips to Indiana, this meant finding a pet-friendly hotel.  We called Madison, Wisconsin our home for one night and had a super big family slumber party.  Thankfully Sobaka is a good traveler.  The trip was our first attempt to travel without our port-a-crib for Jonathan and so bedtime was a nightmare.  Without the constraints of his own room and familiar surroundings, it took forever for Jonathan to settle down (Luckily the familiarity of David's parents' house made the Indiana bedtimes run smoothly)  But eventually, Jonathan and Madeline shared one of our room's double beds.  (That is if you can actually call it "sharing" as Jonathan turned out to be a bed hog.)
Walking a dune, on the way to the beach.

Although David's dad enjoys the break from routine and usual quiet, our 3-ring circus arrives and basically turns his house inside out and upside down.  My father-in-law is a good sport, however, I truly believe that although he is happy to see us and have the company, I would have to assume that he is probably ready to see us leave too :-)  We do, however, enjoy
A lunchtime beach picnic
our visits.  Despite this being a short visit, we enjoyed our time together. 

I am pleased that this particular
A summertime luau with Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Carolyn
time in Indiana was more than just sitting in David's mom's room for our visits.  Prior to leaving for Indiana, I had coordinated with David's sister, Carolyn, and had her reserve a private dining room in the nursing home for one of the nights that we would be in town.  Together, we opted to have a mini-luau for dinner one of the evening we were in town.  Carolyn could probably open and stock
Jonathan loves his tote of make-believe items from Aunt Carolyn
her own Party City store and so she had supplied Hawaiian decorations for the room.  I cooked a bunch of tropical themed food and transported it all over to the nursing home so that we could enjoy dinner together as a family.  I was pleased that we chose to do something out of the ordinary for our visit.

Big thank you kisses
Jonathan was also super excited because our visit was just before his 2nd birthday.  Aunt Carolyn gave
A lunchtime visit with Grandma
Jonathan a huge tote of things for playing make-believe.  Due to the fact that Jonathan has an older sister, his world is still overloaded with Barbies, My Little Pony and the color pink.  Jonathan was thrilled with his tote of goodies and he & Madeline have since had much fun playing with these items together.

Why not?? We were in Wisconsin.
We also had a little time to head to the beach in Michigan City.  So many times our visits occur in spring, fall & winter.  Many times our summer visits do not allow for us to head to the beach - either because of prior commitments or poor weather.  This time, the weather was perfect and we made a point of visiting the beach that David grew up visiting.  David's childhood consisted of riding his bike to the beach.  And for me, another child of a Great Lakes city, I also enjoyed our visit to the lake.  Despite Minnesota having >10,000 lakes, there is nothing better than an afternoon on one of the Great Lakes.

Our ride home came way too quickly (although once it arrived it lasted wayyyyy too long).   And then, of course, stopping along the way is a necessity when traveling with kids - adding to our travel time.  Back in David's Marquette University days his pizza of choice was a Rocky Rococo (chain) and so we decided to stop there for lunch.  Certainly we couldn't pass up the Mars Cheese Castle that was nearby too.....Wisconsin. Cheese. Why not? Right??  We returned home on Sunday (7/21) ....just in time for us to unpack, do laundry and pack again for our next trip departure - 4 days later. Hectic? Yes. Worth it? Yes.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Two Birthdays and an Anniversary

June 20, 1998 - Delaware Park Rose Garden
June and July are always busy for us.  With our wedding anniversary on June 20th, my birthday on June 23rd and David's birthday on July 9th, the early part of summer has its share of celebrations.

Dinner at home on our actual anniversary (Thursday night)
This year David and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.  I would've loved to have been able to have gotten a mini-getaway for just David and me, however those plans did not work out.  Although my sister, Margaret, was willing to come to Minnesota to watch the kids, David and I decided to have a
Ropes course (56 feet high). We walked out into plank near rafters on right.
more low key celebration.  Our anniversary fell on a Thursday night.  I ended up making a nice dinner at home on Thursday and we opted for a sitter on Saturday night for a date night.  Since David and I are lucky enough to be able to dine in some nice restaurants on a fairly regular basis, I suggested doing something completely different.

In harness - almost ready to climb
David and I regularly watch the seasons of television's Amazing Race.  For the various challenges, we announce, "I could do that challenge." or "You would have to do that one."  With a fair amount of travel under our belts, David and I often wonder how we would fare on the Amazing Race.  As a result, I suggest that we complete the rope climbing course at the Mall of America (Amazing Race regularly has challenges that tests one's fears of heights).  After splitting an appetizer and before dinner drink (liquid courage), David and I strapped on the safety harnesses and climbed the 56 feet toward the roof of the mall.  Balancing on small planks or, at times, nothing more than a tight rope, the rope course certainly did its part in giving me sweaty palms.  Not only that, but I was also so sore in the arms the next day from my clutching onto the ropes of my safety harness.  BUT....we did it!!  After completing the rope course, I took the kid-free opportunity to ride, Avatar, my favorite thrill ride at the park (No....I couldn't get David to ride).  Once we both got our adrenaline rush fix, we headed closer to home and enjoyed a quiet dinner on the patio of a restaurant near our house.  It was a low-key, yet very enjoyable anniversary celebration.

The kids created this banner as I was treated to sleeping in.
My birthday fell on the  weekend.  One of the best gifts anyone can give me is the gift of sleeping in....and that I did!  Since we've entered the world of kids, birthday celebrations have been
Movie - Monsters University. Jonathan lasted only as long as the snacks did.
kid-friendly family celebrations.  The weather the night before my birthday consisted of torrential down pours which made for soggy grass.  Between that and an overcast day, we figured that it was best to stay clear from any outdoor activities.  Since David and I were at the MOA just the day before, we really didn't feel like entertaining the kids there on the rainy day.  Instead we decided to go to a movie.  We figured that Jonathan would be old enough to try out this activity. 
My birthday cupcake and ice cream
Just in case, we opted to go to the theatre in two separate cars so that if Jonathan became a wiggle worm, we would have an "escape route" with him.  If the previews weren't so bloody long Jonathan would've done much better, however the movie previews seemed to last forever.  As a result, once the feature presentation, Monsters University, came on Jonathan only got about 30 minutes into the movie before David took Jonathan out and Madeline and I stayed for the remainder of the movie.  So much for a family activity.  After the movie, David grilled out steaks for us and we shared birthday cupcakes.

David's birthday at Big Marine Lake
16 days later we celebrated David's birthday.  Since his birthday was on a weekday, David had to work.  The kids and I traveled
David's birthday picnic
into St. Paul and barged into his work with party hats, party blowers and balloons so that we could give Papa some daytime
David's birthday cupcakes
birthday cheer.  Oh...yeah...we also found his car in the parking garage and wrote "Honk, it's my birthday" on his car windows (with window markers) - makings of an exciting ride home.  In the afternoon, I packed us a picnic so that we were ready to go later that afternoon.  David got home a little early that day and so he was able to join us for Jonathan's swimming lesson - allowing David to be Jonathan's partner in the pool.  Right after swim, we headed to a nearby park for our celebration.  I do miss the Great Lakes very much, however, to live in the "Land of 10,000 (plus!) Lakes", it is nice to have a waterfront view easily available at every turn.  Dinner picnic, birthday cupcakes and playground time made for one more great summer celebration.