Sunday Funday.

This weekend was SO fun. I told Bennett that yesterday was one of my favorites days in the last six months. It was soooo beautiful outside and the four of us spent the whole day together- which was especially nice. We went to church (it's back in season, you know) had breakfast on the patio at one of our favorite places (French Meadow) and then after swimming lessons in the afternoon, we met the Ohmes at the park to play football and THEN we went to this cute little gas station turned brewery and sat and drank beer while the kids played some more. It was so sunny and lovely- it felt like spring. It felt like Texas, honestly. 

I've been missing Texas, and actually living in Texas, quite a bit lately. Over the last couple years- when I've missed Texas, it's been more that I miss a certain individual or I miss the heat, but lately I have been missing living there. Like thinking about what it would be like to just pop over to Carrie and Zach's on Friday night for dinner...or getting together with friends for football games on Saturday...or even picturing myself going out to dinner with Bennett at a new restaurant in town.

I just miss it lately. Or I miss what I picture it to be like now (which I realize is dangerous). But I realize that we are blessed in many ways in living here- and there are certainly things I would miss GREATLY if we moved...so I'm trying to just ignore it. We'll see. Might be a phase. Or might mean a change is a-coming. I mean, ever since we have lived here, and people ask me how long we plan to stay, I feel like nothing is permanent and any day could bring a life changing surprise.

Actually- when I think about it- that is the biggest and greatest change in my life since moving here. The idea that anything is possible, nothing is permanent, and God has a perfect plan for you if you're willing to listen and take risks. It's changed the way I feel about everything. I don't really stress about things like that anymore. Because God moved me somewhere I needed to be when I didn't even realize I needed to go. When I didn't even want to go. 

So I might be here tomorrow. I might be somewhere I've never even thought of before. Isn't that exciting? Life is grand, really.

But back to the point- we had the best time together this weekend- and I came back to work very revived and thankful. Though I have very few pictures from the weekend- guess I was just too busy having fun.

 

My first rainforest

On the last full day of our trip, Bennett, Davis and I rented a car and drove up into the mountains to the Puerto Rican rainforests. I was a bit nervous as I knew it was a long hike, and it was also suuuuuper hot, but it was such a great experience. I'm glad we went. First of all- the hike was about 30 minutes down, and then 30 minutes back up, so it wasn't bad at all, and second of all- once you got into the cover of the trees, it actually felt very cool. 

We had to coax Davis to go with us instead of staying with Honey and Holden, but once he got there, he was really excited to find vines to swing on like Tarzan. 

It was so gorgeous and lush, and the colors are what crayons are made from, but instead of trying to describe it, here are some pictures:

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Before getting on the trail, there is a huge tower, called Yokahu Tower, with a winding staircase all the way up to probably 5 stories up, and this height, paired with how high you already are in the mountains, gives you the best view. 

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You can't really capture the breathtaking expanse in a picture, so just know it was this times 1000.

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This was at the start of the hike...we went down, down, down until we got to a beautiful waterfall at the bottom.

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Of course both the boys got in- but Davis slipped on a rock and smacked his head on another rock and I thought "Oh Lord, we're going to have to be helicoptered out of here" but he has a hard head and we were fine.

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It was an awesome experience. And to be honest- it was Bennett's idea and he really pushed to get us there. Embarrassingly enough- I thought I would rather just sit by the pool another day- but I decided to go- and I'm glad I did. I would have missed this whole experience!?! I'm trying to say "yes" more and push myself more- and so far- it's really proving to be fulfilling. We don't have to be who we were yesterday.

Beach Girl

This was Holden's first trip to the beach- and to say she LOVED it- would be an understatement. There are people who love to look at the beach (me, and now: Davis) and then there are people who like to roll in the sand and dive into the waves (Bennett, and now: Holden). She was squealing with such joy and it was as though the water that was covering her skin and getting in her eyes wasn't salt water at all. I can't even understand it. It burns my skin and eyes so badly. But I'm so happy she loves it and luckily for her, Nikki was right there with her, all the way up to her chest! 

It was a beautiful ocean- and I will say that I spent more time in there than I usually did- and I really enjoyed it.

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This morning Holden asked me if we could go back to Puerto Rico. In her words "Mom- can we go on vacation? I want to travel!" She has the travel bug for sure. She is always telling me how she would like to live in a hotel (you and me both, Holden Eloise). Anyway- I explained to her what happened in PuertoRico and she was SO sad. "Mom is it wrecked and we can never go there again?" I had to explain that we will be able to go again but it will take them a while to re-build. She was super disappointed. Then she said "Well can we at least go to California?" Girlfriend is living the life. 

Puerto Rico, Part III.

So many pics = so many posts! Here are a few more pictures from our trip to PR- though you would never be able to tell we are somewhere different (except by our red faces) because the pictures are all of us!

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I ordered this little top from a place Davis and I found in Amsterdam a couple years ago- just for this trip and just because it was on sale- so between that and the purse (which she borrowed from me) Holden felt pretty special and posed quite a few times. 

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We were waiting on an Uber, killing time in this picture, likely standing in front of a gas station or something very non-glamorous. And this picture, of the two of them, is now one of my favorites. Their faces look so similar, they are clearly loving on each other, and I love how the sun is shining right down on them.

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Our little faces are so red. We look like tomatoes. Holden was a magnet to me that whole trip. So sweet.

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The whole gang! I only wish the backdrop was the beach- ha! 

Date Night Out.

I left for New York Thursday and flew back Friday- quick trip, great meetings, easy flights. Friday night after going out to dinner with the kids, we opened a bottle of wine and cozied up in the basement to watch Narcos. It's so good. We are hooked. 

Saturday morning, Davis went to jiu jitsu and then the kids and I went out to a nearby apple orchard where my friend Kelley (Elsa's mom) was having a party for her new insurance agency. Rachel Murphy works for her- not sure if I ever mentioned that. So we got to see her too. We're going to get together this week to catch up. 

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Saturday afternoon, we had a new potential tutor come over- she is great- just trying to figure out WHEN D can meet with her. She doesn't do weekends and of course, Davis is fully maxed out by the end of the school day, so it's hard to imagine he would be able to take anything in if they met in the evening. We'll figure it out, I'm sure.

Saturday night we went out to dinner with Nate and Sarah. Bennett and Sarah have birthdays within three days of each other, so we typically do dinner out together near that time. We had SO much fun. It was nice to get dressed up and go out and just talk and laugh. 

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Then today we went to church, then Holden had a play date with Elsa (they didn't get enough of each other at the orchard) then we had swimming lessons and then we just chilled out the rest of the day. 

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Next week Davis starts voice lessons. He has been begging us for months to sign him up- so we'll see if he enjoys it was much as he thinks he will. I'm feeling a bit over-committed but I do want them to be able to try all the things they would like to- and pick a few to focus on. 

This week Bennett is in LA and Detroit and I am here all week. That will be nice- being home. Things should slow down a bit in November- I can't wait. I have two more trips to LA this month, and Bennett travels a couple days out of every week. It's a lot. I'm tired. But I'm definitely still having fun and I guess that is what keeps me going!

 

Part II.

Puerto Rico was so beautiful- I have been like a walking ad for Puerto Rico tourism since we've been back. So, you can imagine how focused I was on Hurricane Maria and the disaster that is the aftermath. It's so sad. It's such a small island and they are already in such a horrible financial situation. And for sure we treat them like the red-headed stepchild so I can't imagine that as a country we will be putting our best effort into helping them rebuild. It's very sad. I feel very lucky to have been able to enjoy the beauty of PR ahead of the storm.

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We went to see the San Felipe Del Morro fortress- it was beautiful but SO HOT. You can see on the beans faces that they were less than into it- just due to the heat. Gotta get em some culture somehow.

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The kids LOVED Puerto Rico- I have never seen Holden more excited than she was playing on the beach. She jumped right in, dove into the waves, and loved the whole experience. And Davis, while he hates the sand and the ocean, had a great time swimming and eating ice cream.

Puerto Rico, Part I.

Listen, like all things in my life, Puerto Rico snuck up on me. My work and our personal lives have been so busy since March of this year, that I feel mostly like I'm running from one place to the next, so I don't always have time to think through things that are far ahead. But I was really excited and then almost surprised when our long-awaited trip to Puerto Rico for Honey's birthday was upon us. And the summer was SO busy with work that by the time it was time to go- I was desperately needing a vacation. I think we all were. So, when at last minute we almost cancelled due to all the hurricane activity, I was heartbroken.

But after checking a million sites and even chatting with the people at the hotel there- we decided to go. And it didn't rain a drop while we were there. It was the most amazing, relaxing, enjoyable and beautiful trip ever. The kids loved it, Honey loved it, I think Nikki loved it and Bennett and I certainly LOVED it.

It's like mexico, but with a bit more culture, and it is certainly cleaner and easier to navigate since it's a part of the US. It was great! We felt so safe and there was so much to see and do- we didn't have a dull moment- unless we wanted to. :-)

Here are a few pictures of the first part of our trip- and I will keep posting as there is a lot to cover! What a great trip. I want to go again. Tomorrow. And now I am especially sad since they really did just get hit by a hurricane. I can't even imagine. :-(

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Robbery!

Sorry it's been so long- but we had a break in last weekend and all of my work stuff was stolen out of my car. It's rather annoying because luckily I didn't have much of value in my car...but that's almost even more frustrating. The robbers didn't really get anything that will have any value to them- but my work computer, with all my files on it- certainly has value to me. 

Ho hum. I just keep reminding myself of the people in Houston and then I don't feel so bad about it. Anyway- Holden started kindergarten last week and she couldn't be happier. She loves her school, she loves her teacher, she loves Kids Club, she loves being with Davis, and she just learned to play dodgeball and by the sounds of it- the game has changed her life. HA!

Here are a few pictures of her first day of school. More to come! Still need to cover Puerto Rico.

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She wasn't nervous or afraid...and I didn't cry. She was just ready and so excited for her new world to begin- and so was I. 

2nd Grade

I know I haven't even updated on Puerto Rico yet- it was AMAZING- but today was Davis' first day of school and I am about to go pick him up. And tomorrow is Holden's first day of kindergarten- though she did meet her teacher this morning. They were both so excited this morning- it made me very happy. We listened to Michael Jackson's "BAD" the whole way to school and Davis told me not once, but twice, that he wasn't going to have a GOOD school year, he was going to have an AWESOME school year. :-)

Here are a few pictures from this morning:

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She really prefers to smile with her mouth closed- I am not sure why- but she does it a lot lately. It makes me laugh.

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I had to say "Show me your teeth, Holden!" And this was all I could get.

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Davis insisted on doing his signature pose in the tree again this year- love it.

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How do I have an almost 8 year old that is in the 2nd grade? Not to mention, my baby is starting kindergarten. WHAT? I'm far too young for that. It's insane. 

On to The Next Thing...

There is always something happening at the Bennett house. So while I'm catching up, let's jump from Duluth to Chicago. Bennett and Davis have been doing Jiu Jitsu since about April. Bennett is crazy into it (as you can imagine) and recently signed up for his first tournament. Again- it sort of snuck up on us- and next thing you know, he was getting home from a week-long trip to Detroit and Charlotte (for the PGA Championship- poor guy) on Friday morning, and then packing up for the tournament Friday afternoon.

We had thought about everyone going- but I was signed up for a race and also, we didn't have a place for Pico. Plus- I had been traveling for the three previous weeks (Texas, New York, Duluth)...so we decided Bennett would just go. Or so we thought. And then Holden heard that he was leaving again...and he was going to stay in a hotel...and she had the opportunity to PACK...and it was all just TOO much. She had to go. We told her it was a 7 hour drive. And that she would have to sit in a gym for two days with a bunch of wrestling jiu jitsu guys...and that Davis and I were going to go have pizza with the Ohmes that night...but SHE INSISTED.

And next thing you know- she was in the car before anybody could say BOO. 

And she was incredible the whole way. And she helped Bennett bring home a third place medal! Yahoo!

Meanwhile, Davis and I hung around town...swimming, eating ice cream, sleeping in, fighting virtual dinosaurs at Dave & Busters...and we even went to a trampoline park with his buddy, Griffin.

It was another great weekend. And I know what you are thinking...how are we always going going going? Well, sometimes I ask myself that too. It is so fun, but can also be exhausting. And keep in mind- a lot of our trips are actually work trips. Or they start that way. Or we are working while on fun trips. I guess that's part of it...work never stops. I've never worked as hard or as much as I currently do- in my life. So might as well pepper in ME/US things too.

And to that point- we leave for Puerto Rico Saturday. :-)

Just the Two of Us

A couple of weeks ago, Bennett and I were supposed to go out on a double date with some friends of ours, sans kids. Because they don't have kids they don't really realize what it means to cancel on someone last minute that HAS kids. However, I almost never complain about having a sitter and a date night out...so we just took lemons and made really sweet lemonade. It was a BEAUTIFUL summer night, so we started with a drink downtown and then walked to one of our favorite restaurants in the North Loop. 

Luckily we paused to snap a selfie on the bridge. We often forget to do this and I'm glad we captured this one. You can see how beautiful the night was and you can also see that we were having fun.

And then the next week- we had one of the most fun events of the summer. Early in the summer, Bennett mentioned that one of his favorite musicians (Chris Stapleton) was playing in Duluth. On a Thursday night. So, back in May, we bought tickets, we booked one of our overnight sitters, and then, honestly, I sort of forgot about it. I'm not really a major fan of Stapleton...but it's rare that Bennett specifically wants to do something like that- so I wanted to make sure it happened and that it was fun.

Oh my gosh was it fun. We left around noon, drove in the rain to Duluth (about three hours), checked into the hotel, and then decided to go check out a local brewery that is pretty popular in Minnesota- Bent Paddle Brewery. The place was packed so I asked these two guys if we could saddle up next to them at the community table...only to have Bennett tell me later that it was totally NOT a community table. Luckily- we picked two of the nicest up north Minnesota guys alive. Ted and Eric. We sat and laughed and drank with them until we were almost late to the show. They were so fun. The whole thing was so fun.

Then we went to the show- and it was a pretty small venue- with great sound and not a bad seat in the house. 

We called Ted and Eric after the show but they weren't up for karaoke. Probably better for us...as we had a 4th meal and went to bed instead. Then we woke up around 10, grabbed breakfast and thought "What should we do before we have to drive back and pick up the kids at 5:00?" Bennett mentioned that Gooseberry Falls was about an hour away- so we figured why not.

We drove to Gooseberry Falls. We got out. We hiked to the falls. We saw the falls and then we drove back to Duluth and then back to Minneapolis in time for pick-up.

It is really pretty up north. Now, I don't know that I would ever drive four hours to go to Gooseberry Falls- but it was perfectly worth it for just a bit of a longer drive since we were already up there.

We had the best trip. And then right as we rolled into Davis' school to pick him up- the phone rang- and it was the head of Kids Club, letting us know that he had a headache and was throwing up. So there you go. Right back to reality.

At least we still had the weekend- and Davis was fine by the next morning. I seriously am so thankful for that weekend- Bennett and I haven't had any time alone together since January. And it just makes you feel like yourself again.

Women.

I want to take a pause from my regular photographic, storytelling posts about my children and life in general, and I want to spend just a little time to talk about how impressed I am with myself. Yes, you heard me correctly. Let me be clear- today was no special day...in fact, it was pretty typical...and yet I am in awe of all of the things I got done today. And while yes, this story is based on me, the REAL reason I want to talk about this is because I do believe that this is the story of all women in today's world. Or at least many women. Women are incredible. Seriously.

And let me tell you upfront that this isn't a dig on Bennett, as actually he is one of the better ones...but really, this is a dig on men altogether. Yes, like all of them. 

Today by 10:00 am I had made the kids breakfast (sure it was cereal- but this story doesn't need overselling) gone to an hour-long workout class, and picked up groceries from the store. Between 10:30 and 11:30, I unpacked the groceries, Holden and I made caprese quinoa (off pinterest- nonetheless) I swapped the laundry from washer to dryer, put a new load in, washed a couple dishes in the sink, and had little Davis vacuuming the basement. 

I had a massage from 11:30-12:30 (gift card from a friend) came home, made lunch, showered, swapped the laundry again, put new sheets on Holden's bed, and hung out with the kids until 2:00 when we left to beat the rain and go to see "Despicable Me 3". 

We watched a two hour movie, stopped on the way home to pick some things up at CVS that I forgot at the grocery store, came home, I prepped a home-cooked dinner (okay I never do this- but I'm choosing the day I tell the story- and it's today) painted with Holden and Davis and then set the table. 

We ate. We talked. We told the kids to QUIT touching each other for goodness sakes 100 times, and then I cleared the table while Bennett started baths.

While he finished baths, I made Davis' bed with new sheets, took out the trash, and then read a book to Holden while Bennett worked on writing with Davis. Then I sat down to begin working while they finished writing together...

And now I've been working for two hours, and writing a blog, and well...today was just a normal day. What would this world be without women?

Deep in the Heart of Texas.

We just got back from Fred Sunday night- we all had such a good time. It was a very sweet and relaxing four days, getting donut holes in the morning, drinking La Croix by the pool, eating popsicles, swimming ALL day, going to bed early, getting to wake up late (8:30), and laughing and talking with my favorite people. These two littles were very happy and mention at least once a day how much they miss either nanny, grandpa, Honey or Nikki.

A Week In the Life...

We are farmers! Look at us- growing tomatoes, harvesting them and eating them within minutes! Holden is so proud- she helps me water them every day and she is constantly checking to see if there are any red ones. D had fun helping us too- he doesn't eat them so it's less rewarding- but he loved popping them off the vine.

This picture cracks me up- Davis is starting to look so different to me lately. His face is changing shape, I think, his body is becoming more meaty, and the hulk-like way he is standing reminds me of his dad in junior high. 

We also spent time on a real farm this week- we went back to the Two Pony Garden farm where they served pizzas off a stone wood-fired grill. SO good. 

And we did jiu jitsu, and Holden had a birthday party, and then Sunday we spent the afternoon at the pool with the Ohmes.

And then this week I am hustling to cram five days (or really ten) of work into three days so we can go to Texas Thursday. We are SO excited! The kids cannot wait and I have been using it as a threat to keep those crazies in line all week. Gotta do what you gotta do.

Separately- Holden got a card in the mail from my grandma this week and she is so proud of it- she opened it and set it on her shelf and then said she was going to bring it to Texas to thank her for it. When I read it to her she said "Well that is the nicest thing I've ever gotten in the mail..." just like a little adult. HA!

And Bennett has already been in both Kansas City and Boston this week- went to a Royals game and is at a Red Sox game tonight. Spoiled rotten these people. :-)

Potluck Roommates.

Katie, Ray and the kids came to see us from Houston this weekend, and it was sooo fun it felt like it passed in five minutes. We had the very best time. It was everything I needed and then some. My ONLY regret is that I didn't get a picture with Katie. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT? I guess we were having too much fun.

Katie's kids are just as sweet and fun as you can imagine- and they hit it off so well with Davis and Holden...Davis actually cried when they left. :-(

We rented a boat on Lake Minnetonka and had the time of our lives. It could not have been a more beautiful, sunny, hot blue skies kind of day. Everything I hoped for. They loved it. And we did too.

We mixed and mingled with all the lake people and might have even made some friends out there! So fun. I wish they were still here. Still can't believe Katie was my potluck roommate. Love her to pieces.

Fireworks.

We had the BEST long weekend, celebrating the summer and the fourth of July. Because the 4th fell on a Tuesday, everyone basically had the Monday and Tuesday off and it felt like a really long time off- in a good way. Don't get me wrong, come Tuesday night, I was ready to get back in the routine and back to work, but we had a really good four days together. 

Here are a few pictures from the parade- and then I'll share some more in a couple days of when we went to my friend Ellie's house on the lake! Nothing says Minnesota summer like spending a day on the lake- in water that is almost too cold to swim in. 

How cute are these little patriots? Davis looks so big to me lately- I even feel like his face shape is changing. It seems to be getting rounder. And he just looks older. It's nuts. Slow down time.

Holden and Sierra- one of Ellie's two little girls. Holden insisted on bringing her gold basket from Rachel's wedding.

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And this little one in front- Avery- is the daughter of one of the gals on my team. We had a few people over ahead of the parade for breakfast and bloody marys and then walked down to the parade. It was really fun.

And then of course we went swimming later that afternoon! We had so much fun, and then we've been back at work the past two days and then tomorrow we are taking off because KATIE AND RAY AND THE KIDS ARE COMING!!! My best friend/college potluck roommate! We are all so excited. So we have another fun weekend ahead.

My grandma asked me if I fit any work in around all the fun and I just said "Here and there!"

MUAH! More later.

No Offense.

Lately, Davis likes to tack "no offense" on to anything he says that might be considered rude. He uses it in the funniest ways. I guess it kills me that he has found this freedom in saying things that are maybe not so nice, by tacking "no offense" on to it.

For example, this morning he told me that he would like to have our house once Bennett and I die. I looked at him with wide eyes, and he just goes "No offense..."

So there you go!

Today is a super busy day at work- but this weekend is going to be lots of fun. Tonight, Krissy and Patrick (and their kids) are coming over for dinner. Tomorrow, Holden and I have haircut appointments, and then in the afternoon we are going over to Ellie and Derek's house- they live on a lake and last year when we went, Davis caught about 8 fish. No plan Sunday- probably going to do some yard work and go swimming, and then Monday we are going to the Frend's house for dinner, and then Tuesday is the parade! 

Hoping for a hot weekend with lots of swimming. June is gone and we've hardly had any warm (non-rainy) days. So I'm crossing my fingers. Have a great 4th of July weekend.

This One.

Yeah. She's cute. And to her core, she is sweet and kind. But lately...she is a real pill. So whiney. So defiant. So damn stubborn. She really might be the most stubborn person in this family- and that is saying A LOT. The clothes situation has really reached a fevered pitch. She has so many cute summer clothes that she is simply refusing to wear. She wants to wear dresses each day- but only dresses with long sleeves- and she wants to pair these dresses with leggings. Is her closet full of new, never worn summer dresses and adorable jumpers in many colors? Yes. Does she have tens of adorable summer tank tops and flouncy shirts that still have tags on them? Yes. Does she insist on leggings with a layered, multi-colored, neon tutu that my grandparents gave her over two years ago over the top? YES. ALL THINGS YES. She is so stubborn and she cares so much about fashion. It was cute at first- but it's getting a little old. I bet her teachers think I am crazy sending her to school in long sleeved dresses with leggings. 

Oy vey Holden Eloise. She really is taking on her namesake- and she loves to read Eloise books every night and reminds me very often of how we need to go to New York to stay in the Plaza. And how once we are there we will have tea and ride a horse and carriage and SHOP till we drop.

 

Parties Galore.

Last weekend was filled with parties of all sorts. On Saturday Davis went to his friend Vishnu's birthday party and it was just fascinating to see how NOT a big deal it was for Davis that he was the only white kid there. Vishnu is from India and there were about 15 family members there dressed in traditional Indian attire, speaking with very thick accents, and it didn't even phase him. 

Then later that evening we went to my friend Lori's house (the one I met at Chick Fil A) for her four year old son's birthday party- where there was a bouncy house, a kids DJ, a full bar, catering, and ponies to ride on. It was like a kids birthday party on the Real Housewives show. And he had a blast at both. I love that he can have so many diverse experiences.

He loved that the DJ let him sing two solos in front of the whole crowd. Davis thought of that and arranged it himself and then came over to Bennett and I and said "I'm in. He's letting me do my song." It brought the house down.

Then Sunday he went to a friend's birthday party at the park and when we picked him up he was so upset because one of the kids punched him in the stomach. I reached out to the other parent via text, just to see if she could talk to her son and find out what happened, and also how they could get along better...and she didn't respond for two days. Then when she did respond- I could tell it was super curt and that she was feeling defensive. Which is so annoying because a) I met her at the pool last summer and was so kind to her because she was new to the area and didn't know anyone and b) I wasn't accusatory at all- just trying to understand what happened and figure out how to help them get along better. Because seriously- I know Davis starts stuff sometimes- they are boys. And our children are not perfect. Duh. The whole thing really bothered me. Parents can be so lame. Not Davis and I. But the rest of them. :-)

Anyway- fun weekend behind and fun weekend ahead. Hope you are enjoying better weather than we are. It was in the SIXTIES this past weekend. ??!!!!????