Monday, March 30, 2015


The big 3-0. It was last Thursday but I'm only just recovering, ya whippersnappers. The thing about being married to Dave is that, well, every birthday is awesome, but this year was one for the books.

In pictures: (I could just tell you about it, but pictures can take the place of a thousand words, and you don't want to read that much!)

I woke up to:
Riley and Joe yelled "Surprise!" and then Riley gave me her "best present." Which was a hug haha
Dave- "It was a struggle." Thanks, Dave, and babies!

Had breakfast at:
I had the femme fatale. I think it means "death of the female" because...sugar overload!
 Went into the city for shopping and exploring
Mill Ruins Park
Stone Bridge across the Mississippi. Cold cold cold, and windy.
Then Dave made us go home. Because, "Joe was tired."
Little did I know there was a hoppin' surprise party happening back at our place. Dave is so sneaky (he's been planning my birthday for six months) and Jennie (who organized/made a lot of food and tracked down friends to invite) and Allison (who flew out from UT)! Really, a lot of sneaky people were there that day.

Lots of help blowing out candles.
After several left, I had the thought to get a picture of the group.
I was shocked to see Allison here! For a second I wondered where I was. Such a surprise!
That evening Dave arranged an awesome date at an escape room. I don't know where he finds out about these things but it was pretty wild. Very James Bond. Our "team" consisted of good friends and two wild cards (a mother and son who probably didn't know they were signing on with all us crazies, but they were good sports about it - real team players.)
First we were briefed on our "mission" and given manilla folders, and I can't tell you too much about it - wouldn't want to spoil it for you, but our mission was pretty intricate and kept us engaged so when our time was up we didn't know where the hour had gone. We were "Team 46 Steps" because there were 47 steps total - we were that close to cracking the case wide open! Super fun night!

Well, Allison was here till Sunday so the birthday revelry continued throughout the weekend. We spend all day Friday at the Mall of America, shopping, eating, riding rides, and going to the movies. (Cinderella! Loved it!) Actually, what we loved most was getting off our feet - we literally shopped till we dropped...into theater seats.

 Saturday we introduced Allison to the "Scratch and Ding" Target in Minneapolis. The underground Target is in the basement of Salvation Army on 900 north and fourth, and it has tons of super-discounted but new stuff, rejected from Target stores because the packaging was dented or last season stock had to go, etc. I love it. And while we were there they announced clothing was half off for the next four hours so everyone went crazy. I got Riley 2 cute swimsuits for $4. In addition to my shirts, a picnic blanket, socks, bags, picture frame, a tutu...I'm a shopaholic no doubt, but that place you can shop with abandon, and still mostly feel ok about it.

A few blocks away is the often-recommended Blacksheep Pizza, so we seized that day. It has a stone-fired pizza oven and premium ingredients. We got the fennel sausage, hot salami, onion and cracked green olive with smoked mozzarella. Delicious! I mean, it was no Little Ceasar's with bacon-wrapped crust, but still.

Have you seen Dave's new glasses yet? Certified to be "raw as hell" by thug fellow bus passenger.

And we topped it off with some frigid, windy kite-flying at Harriet Island:

Afterwards we treated Allison to a tour of campus (in the car, while the kids napped) before heading home to get ready for the women's conference at church, the perfect end to the perfect day.

And that, my friends, about sums it up. Allison left Sunday morning and the balloons have fallen and life carries on as usual. Well, mostly. Riley and Joe still wish me happy birthday a couple times a day. But I roll with it.

Thank you to everyone who visited, babysat, called, messaged, sent cards or gifts, planned or surprised - I really appreciated it, more than you know.

For Grandpa

My grandpa passed away last week. We knew he'd gotten his final marching orders for a while now but it was still hard news to hear. He has been a very strong, positive influence to everyone within his reach and will be terribly, terribly missed. I feel for his children and especially Grandma. They have been through so much life together. But I also feel proud and happy for Grandpa: I hope when I go I finish half as strong as he did - he accomplished so much with his life, had so many he'd helped and who loved and admired him, and was always a good, kind patriarch in our family, a veritable rock for all of us. Grandpa's memorial was Saturday, and was called a "Celebration of Life," which I think was very appropriate.

We spent many a holiday with them in Iowa, they made frequent trips to see us in VA, or at weddings and reunions, and Grandma and Grandpa had us grand kids for a week or two every summer growing up, so I have many memories to treasure with Grandpa. His infectious chuckle over a game of cards, his jokes that started out straight faced and didn't break till the punch line and you were already laughing, taking the dog out for an evening walk and not talking much but feeling proud to be in Grandpa's company...and then, later, when they made the trip to UT when I got married, they were there waiting when we got out of the temple just to be present on one of the biggest days of my life. They included us in their big days too. Not long ago they brought us all together to celebrate 60 years of marriage.
 Other golden memories: Grandpa was taking my own children, toddlers at the time, by the hand to show them the birds congregating around the feeder, or entertaining Joe by returning his toy again and again after the rest of us have lost interest. He was a patient man. A good man. The strong, silent type, at least till he said the blessing on the food and got choked up just thanking God for his family. Grandpa is the still water that runs deep, the kind of person whose presence filled up a room, even if he just was quietly sitting in his armchair reading a paper.
Grandpa was not the kind to preach; he didn't need to when his example said it all. He worked hard, delt kindly and honestly with people, protected and supported his loved ones, adored his wife, was charitable in word and deed, found humor in difficulty, and didn't complain. It's a priceless legacy he left which every one of his posterity will keep close to their hearts, and do their best to live up to. I will look forward to seeing his kind eyes again when it's my turn to go, until then...I'll just be thankful for the memories. In the off-chance that you'll read this (which, I don't know, maybe messages from the heart make it up there too) : I love you, Grandpa. Thank you for everything.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Break

Dave has worked really hard this semester and after midterms it was a relief to start spring break last week! We stuck pretty close to home but as spring breaks go, this one was altogether lovely. Here's a faithful narrative of all my dealings with...spring break. ha.

Snuffy's Malt Shop. Finally!
Peanut. Butter. Bacon. Burger. Whaaaa???
Burlington's grand opening. Good thing we have been watching for it obsessively for months - face painting is Riley's favorite! And we are 90% sure this is the same artist who did Riley's princess face in Denver last summer. Hmm...

zoo trip: cold and windy outside, but visiting polar bears is always a good idea

Free ice cream cone day at DQ. Answer me this: you never really crave one, but on "free day," would you still seek one out, saving a total of about 3 bucks, never mind the mess or the fact that it's only 40 degrees outside? I'll forever be a sucker for free stuff. And Riley and Joe aren't complaining either.

Taylor Falls: only an hour from Minneapolis, Taylor falls is the sight of a bunch of glacial potholes, waterfalls, the St. Croix river, and scenic hiking trails and cliffs rigged for rock-climbing. The day we went was cold and rainy but I kind of like a little rain. When Dave first told me about glacial potholes I was a tad confused. "Aren't those just called lakes?"
"The meltwater of a vast icefield 5,000 feet thick and the size of the state of Minnesota began to flow south past this point. That incredible current was the source of Interstate Park’s famous potholes and rock formations. Giant eddies swirled silt and rocks into the rock in a scouring motion that drilled holes as large as twenty feet in diameter and sixty feet in depth. Riverside cliffs, known as the Dalles of the St. Croix, also owe their shape to the glacial torrent." Source here.

 10 foot glacial pothole and 10 inch glacial pothole. There was a deep one with a stairwell in it but we don't know how deep it goes as it is currently filled with slushy ice.
Quaint little church overlooking the frozen lake. Wish I'd had my camera for a quality picture!
 I have really missed hiking. When there are no mountains around, one has to do a bit more research on where to go for hikes (you can't just point and say 'let's scale that one'). And who wants to hike in the winter anyway. But there are some very pretty places in Minnesota/Wisconsin to get into nature. This was an awesome one.

We also went to the Great River Water Park - always a good time, did some shopping, visited the library, caught up on our Red Box-watching, went to a primary activity for Riley about family history, rode bikes, played at the park...And then yesterday Spring officially started and this happened:
Happy spring, ya filthy animals.