Holden Eloise is Six!

Holden turned six on Saturday and we had the very best weekend celebrating her. The only thing I would have changed if I could, was the fact that she really wasn't feeling well. She has had a horrible cough and sore throat all of this past week and we just can't seem to shake it. I have had the same problem, and I am about a week ahead of her. It is lingering for so long. Anyway- we had a great time in spite of it.

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Saturday morning we opened presents- the biggest hit was the guitar my mom got her- and the lava lamp Nikki sent her. She is so excited about both of them. Little Davis gave her a lego kit and we gave her a horse for her American Girl Doll, Kit. Likely her very most special gift is the plate my grandmother gave her for her birthday. It is adorable- and has such special meaning. She loves it.

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After the boys left for jiu jitsu, we picked Elsa up and went for donuts. After donuts, we went to "Paint your Plate" and the girls each painted a mermaid jewelry box and a small kitten. I painted a bowl and I can't wait to see how they all turn out. It was really fun and I would love to go again...but I will say, it was surprisingly expensive. So, it won't be my new hobby by any means.

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Then later that day, we went and checked in to Great Wolf Lodge- the newly renovated waterpark hotel by Mall of America. The Ohmes were going to meet us there for pizza and cake and some swimming- but then they surprised us and booked a room and stayed over. The kids were beyond thrilled. 

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Sunday was pretty normal- just ran some errands and got ready for Monday...only to realize Sunday night that there was no kids club coverage for Martin Luther King Day the next day. WHOOPS. So, since Bennett had some big all day work meetings today- I took a last minute day off and had a really fun extra day off with the kids today. We stayed in our pajamas and made a family band in the morning, played legos, snuggled in bed, and the kids even got into sorting out stuff in their closets for Goodwill. It was a really cozy morning together, with no rush and no agenda. Then this afternoon we went to see "The Greatest Showman on Earth". And OH MY GOSH I have no words for how beautiful and magical that movie is. I'm not a big movie person, but I couldn't look away. And I left feeling so inspired. The kids loved it too- so we sang and danced to the music at the top of our lungs when we got home. 

It was a really great weekend. I'm having so much fun right now.

Back to work tomorrow- big meeting at 8:00 am. And then Thursday I am headed to Vancouver for work- for a two hour meeting within a less than 24 hour trip. I have to be home by 3:00 on Friday because Bennett is going ice fishing and I have to pick up the kids. So, I booked the latest non-stop to get me in before 3:00 and it leaves at 6:15 that morning, so I'll have to get there at 4:15. Which means I will get up at 3:30. ZOINKS. 

I'll nap later. ;-)

 

The Biggest Shithole in the World.

Donald Trump keeps me up at night. I, and many others, I'm sure, feel a constant uneasiness about the future. He has created this- and it's a fire that he invigorates each day with every stupid, racist, hateful, lie that he says. He is reversing everything good and everything that America stands for.

He is revolting and I can't watch or read the news without seething. I cannot wait to help campaign for the next election. Though I'm still hoping he is taken out before then.

 

More Holiday Highlights

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So, 5 (almost 6) and 8 are the ages when kids can sit together without an adult in the aisle and not burn the whole place down. These two have become really great travelers (hello technology!) and this time on our way to Texas, Bennett and I sat across from them and actually napped on the way there. At one point, I woke up, looked over and Davis had ordered himself a sprite and Holden a Fanta. Smooth. They were quite proud of themselves.

We got to spend a lot of time with my grandparents and had so much fun talking and playing chinese checkers. I have always been super close with my grandma and grandpa- and it makes my heart burst with joy to see how much Davis and Holden love them and visa versa.

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Holden and nanny played tic tac toe and Holden showed her all of her toys. Holden loves how much nanny likes birds and talks about her every time we see a bird she thinks might be a hummingbird. 

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Chinese checkers is pretty fun. I haven't played it in years- but it's actually one of the few games I enjoy. I know it's weird. It seems like only non-fun people would NOT like games. But I'm pretty fun and I don't really love playing games. I'm not sure why. I get bored easily I guess. And I don't especially love to act things out or draw things and guess. I don't know. Just isn't my bag, baby.

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Gosh I love this pic of these three. So happy!

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And of course we got to spend time with Honey- which we always love. I think we look a lot alike here. Twins!

Ski Jammers

I was very nervous last week leading up to Holden's first day of Ski Jammers. I was worried she would hate it, get discouraged easily, her skis would be too long (they are hand me downs from D), that it would be so freezing cold she would get frost bite, that she would get lost...all these things. So imagine that it was still -5 when it was time to drop Holden and Elsa for a bus ride with a bunch of instructors and chaperones I don't know, to a ski resort I've never been to, with hundreds of kids, most of which are far older than them. They are the youngest in the bunch at six years old. I was nervous.

I shouldn't have been. Holden LOVED it. She was so proud of herself and the way she talks about it makes me think she actually really enjoyed the act of skiing. I know I sound surprised by this- it's mainly because she can be a bit of a whiner. She can give up easily. And she's kind of been a complainy-pants lately that asks for help with each and every thing, long before she's actually tried any problem solving herself. In fact, the other day I said to Bennett "How can it be that I, of all people, have such a princess as a daughter?" 

So we were super proud and surprised with how accomplished she felt after the day of skiing on her own. And how she can't stop talking about it and can't wait to go back. Just goes to show- you gotta give kids a little independence so they can push themselves, see how resourceful they are, and find out what they are truly capable of. 

Speaking of resourceful- when we get to the drop off we realized we forgot to pack Holden's ski goggles. She looked right at Elsa, then at me and said "Does Elsa have ski goggles?" And of course Elsa had little pink ski goggles with a fancy strap. Holden was so disappointed so I tried to explain to her that I would pack hers next time (I didn't mention that they are black and neon green as again they are her brothers).

Anyway. I sent her with a lunch and a $5 bill to buy some snacks. That's it.

When they showed up at the end of the day, she strode off the bus, with a big old smile and all of her gear...including a brand new pair of fancy pink ski goggles. I looked at her and said "Holden! Where did you get those ski goggles?" and without skipping a beat she said "I buyed 'em." I DIED. I have no idea how "She buyed em" but I clearly don't need to worry about her getting what she needs.

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She leads a lovely life. Oh to be Holden Eloise. :-)

 

Holiday Highlights.

We had the best little holiday. We stayed in Minneapolis for Christmas for the first time- and it was really so lovely and even more special than I had hoped. My favorite things, ahead of leaving for Texas, included: making christmas cookies and then delivering them with carols to a few of our friends on christmas eve day...we sang the 12 days of christmas between every stop and laughed maybe more than we sang because we couldn't remember any of the days. 12 lords a leaping? 9 ladies dancing? I don't know. The kids now get in the car and ask if we can "sing that song" with the days. And you can't imagine people's faces when we showed up at their houses singing, with cookies. It was so fun.

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These two were so wound up making cookies- they just couldn't stop smiling and laughing. It was really a fun memory to make.

Then Christmas eve night, we went out to dinner at this cute little Italian restaurant we have been wanting to try. The meal wasn't without some drama- the kids were excited for Santa to come, and just wanted to go home, but we still had fun. I think it was a special little dinner out.

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We didn't dress them to match on purpose- but they sure look cute.

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We didn't get a picture all together- but got a few of each of us...

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And then on Christmas morning- we opened gifts. And Santa did these kids well. He brought snow tubes for sledding- if it ever snows enough this year. And legos, and dolls and nintendo switch games, and crafts. It was really fun. And we spent the whole day in our pajamas and didn't leave the house- because it was about TWO degrees out.

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If you're wondering how we ended up with the blue tinsel tree- that's what happens when your real tree gets so dry you have to take it down and start over. So we had two trees this year...

One of my favorite things about staying home for the holiday was that we had so much time to do special things- we could wrap presents, put them under the tree, do gingerbread houses, set up God's Farm...

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Holden loves traditions- and she loves the manger scene (God's Farm) that nanny gave her. She likes setting it up- but she enjoys playing with it even more. She loves the angel hanging over head, she loves that baby Jesus can come out of his bed and Mary can hold him...she thinks it is as special as I know my nanny hoped she would, if not more.

So we had some really special days ahead of the holiday- oh and for my birthday we were supposed to go out to dinner with four couples at this new restaurant- but we couldn't even find a stranger to watch our kids- so we had them over for dinner and drinks- and the kids were home and they were great so it was so fun.

And then yes, we had even more fun in Texas...so I'll write about that soon!

 

Weekend Fun.

We had such a good time this past weekend- we were all so happy to have Bennett home. Friday night we just hung out at home and watched A Christmas Story- Davis is now obsessed with getting a bb gun- which he cannot have for any reason! And Holden is now terrified of getting her tongue stuck on a frozen pole. She said it was "the most terrifying thing she has ever seen..." Not at all dramatic, is she?

Then Saturday we all got haircuts and then that night we went to a christmas party with the Ohmes and Davis' friends at work. We played a bunch of silly games and had a great time. Sarah (seen below) was hysterical...

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Then Sunday, Holden and I went with Kelley and Elsa for our third annual lunch and theater date. The girls do a gift exchange and they were both so happy with what the other got them. It was really sweet. So much giggling. They were in awe of Belle.

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And while we were doing that, Davis was cleaning up this mess he made earlier that morning.

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He also went sledding with the neighbor boys later Sunday. On a trash can lid. :-) Good times.

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Yay! Good times.

Bits and Pieces.

Honey shared this picture with me the other night- were we just babies here or what??? And man, we had great hair- so shiny and golden. My mom has always had the best hair and I hope mine is even half as pretty.

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And did I show you guys our tree? We picked it out after Thanksgiving. It's a good one! Honey is worried it's going to burn the whole house down (not sure why except that she must believe in random combustion) but I'm not worried about it. :-)

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I don't think I ever talked about it but D and I got to go to the Gopher game while Honey was in town over Thanksgiving- we went to a Gopher tailgate and a Badger tailgate and had the VERY BEST TIME EVER. 

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Also, this weekend I got to fete Ellie for her birthday! We went to Blackstack Brewery and Can Can Wonderland and it was so much fun. We had great drinks, danced, played indoor putt putt, hit baseballs in a batting cage...the world was our oyster.

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The little plate says "We go together like drunk and disorderly..." it was made for us! I love Ellie- she is a great friend and I'm so thankful to have her here.

In other news, while I was out for her birthday, little D was invited to go with the Ohmes to a wrestling match at the Chanhassen VFW. He had the time of his life and the whole experience really solidified what he wants to be when he grows up. (KIDDING. Sort of.)

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In sadder news, I had to put Pico down this week. Now I don't want to be too sad about it. I don't like to focus on sad things- instead, let's think about the 17 amazing years we had with him. He was such a good dog. I'll never have another like him. We think he had a stroke- he just took a turn and wasn't himself anymore and was in great pain...which was heartbreaking. So I actually feel relieved afterwards. The kids were champs about it- I told them that all dogs go to heaven and that he lived almost twice as long as any other dog- and that he probably set a dog world record. They seemed very proud of that, and I think it's a nice way for Pico to be remembered. :-)

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But to bring us back up after that downer- here is a picture of Holden in her dance gear. She says she LOVES to dance- and dances all the time at home- but really doesn't like GOING to dance class. I can't decide whether I should make her see it through (at least until she has a recital in the spring) or if it's totally foolish that I am spending money on something she doesn't even care about. I peeked into the studio last week and she was lying on her stomach on the floor while everyone else was practicing their ballet. She really has her own ideas on things. Hmmph.

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Also- it was 55 on Monday (which was INSANE for the 4th of December in Minnesota- hello global warming- if you don't believe it- you are CRAZY.) And then today it is 10 degrees. So winter has arrived.

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Bennett's Big Adventure.

I don't know if I mentioned it, but I gave Bennett an 8 day Outward Bound trip for his birthday this year. He has been in a bit of a soul searching spot- feeling sort of beleaguered by the corporate world and his role in it- and I have tried a lot of different ways to help him out of his rut- but couldn't figure out exactly how to help him find a way to refresh and re-set...until Carrie came to town in September and I said to her "You know, I wish there was an Outward Bound program for adults..." and she said "I bet there is- you should google it..." 

So I googled it and sure enough- there are adventure trips for adults all over the country for any number of days. And so- long story short- for his birthday I surprised him with an 8 rafting/hiking/climbing trip to Big Bend Texas- and he left last Wednesday.

For the first few days- it felt pretty normal- I mean he travels a lot...but before this trip, he always had his phone and we would talk or text throughout the day. This time- he turned in his phone and has been off the grid since last Wednesday- and it feels very weird. I have thought of about a million things I want to tell him or ask him or laugh with him about throughout the day. Thank God Honey has been here to chat with! TGFH. Thank God for Honey.

Anyway- he gets back late late tomorrow night and I cannot wait to hear about the whole experience. I've been so curious how he has been feeling- I mean after four days was he like "Okay- this has been great and I'm ready to go home..." or was he like "I want to live off the grid forever! I've really found myself out here." (UMMM....I hope the former vs. the latter- if either)

So I'm looking forward to him being back - and I just can't wait to see and hear how he felt about it. Here are a couple pics of D and Bennett before he left...

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One more day!

Honey and the Holidays.

We had SO much fun having Honey in town for thanksgiving. Seriously- it was the best combo of relaxing family time and also some fun activities. I loved watching Holden and Honey together because they really are just two peas in a pod. I can't tell you how many times I heard one of them say "That's exactly what I was thinking!" or "I was about to say that!" They did so many crafts together and I think the highlight was that Holden put on a puppet show...and as you can see, Davis helped her out with the storytelling side of it when she got stuck.

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We also bought some card games like Uno and Go Fish and then we got this fun balancing game called Yeti in my Spaghetti that was really a lot of fun for everyone...

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That bow though...Holden is loving the idea of doing her hair these days...but she is very particular and hard to please. So my rule is- I do it twice- and if she doesn't like it- she is on her own.

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More on Thanksgiving later!

 

Weekly Deets.

Davis got his fourth stripe at Jiu Jitsu last night- and he is so incredibly proud of himself- it made me so happy to see! Also, the little gal he currently has a crush on was there (Amaya) and she said "Davis- I am SOOOO proud of you!" which made him beam from ear to ear. Bennett took him out to DQ last night to celebrate with dinner and a sundae- so he was walking on cloud nine when he got home. 

Holden and I hung out and built a lego house together- which was very lovely and fun- until I told her she couldn't have any hot chocolate because she had chosen to have skittles earlier in the evening. The tantrum that ensued upon hearing this news was explosive. She was not having it- and the more upset the got about it- the more I knew I had to stick with it. She was throwing such a fit that I decided to stand there and video her with my phone. She didn't realize what I was doing until I turned it around and showed her- which she did not like one bit. But I think she got the point. She sure does have a temper. She is easy going 90% of the time, but man when you set her off, she comes in HOT.

Bennett dislocated his toe at jiu jitsu last night- bent it all the way backward so it was sticking upright from his foot. I wasn't there but he said he hasn't seen anything like that before.

I have been running for my workouts- which I really enjoy. We have an awesome gym at Best Buy so I mainly go there when I finish with work.

This weekend we have a school fundraiser Friday night and plan to meet up with two couples there- it's nice to have friends at these different events now. And then on Sunday- Bennett and i are going to the Vikings game. I have never been- so I'm looking forward to it. 

Then Tuesday I go to New York for a day trip- and then Wednesday, Honey comes to visit! Lots of fun things ahead.

XOXOXOXO,
Sam

Ninja Warriors

Ever since we watched American Ninja Warriors at Mr. Gatti's with my grandparents this summer- the kids have been obsessed with doing the tricks and obstacle courses from the show. So, of course he chose to go to the Obstacle Academy with his 8 best pals. They had a blast and the ninja coaches wore them down and STILL- the hour in the pizza/cake/party room almost did me in. 8 year old boys are really something. 

D was very happy- so it was worth it! And as you can see- the blue eyed besties (Holden and Elsa) had a great ninja warrior workout too. 

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Sweet Louise Does it Again.

Carrie came in September and took pictures of us in downtown Minneapolis! She does such a nice job and I am so happy with the results. I didn't do a Christmas card last year because we didn't have photos done and it made me SO SAD. So this year, I am super excited to have new photos for a holiday card. Here is a little preview...

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And yes- I am having some issues with the banner image on my blog- I'm working on it!!

Happy Birthday Davis!

No one can believe I am old enough to have an 8 year old...I totally get it. But it's true, 8 years ago today I went through the worst pain of my life, seriously questioning my choices to have children the whole way through it, and delivered a big headed little boy we named Davis. Little did we know that his head would actually seem small in comparison to the things we would find inside of it! Happy 8th birthday Davis- we love you. I hope that the next year brings you tons of laughter, joy, confidence, good friends, and certainly a tooth to fill that long lingering gap in the top of your smile. :-)

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If I could, I would do it ALL over again. I would just drink more between years 3 and 5. 

Happy Things.

A few happy things happened this morning - even before work began. 

1) Out of the blue, Davis exclaimed "I love school! Except spelling. I hate spelling." 

2) Jessie, the reading specialist at Highlands, whom Davis has worked with before, agreed to tutor him once a week- and on the weekends! Talk about an answered prayer!

3) Davis asked me if I have ever joined a "Soda Club" and after probing with many questions to understand more- I discovered that he had heard someone order a "Club Soda" and thought it was a club you could join where you drank as much soda, and as many kinds as you liked, at the club. HA! If dreams came true...

And then I had a pretty good day at work too. I don't think I mentioned this- but I am taking a new role at Best Buy. Instead of overseeing all of their creative, and advertising, I will now specifically work on the brand strategy for the business. This is really where my passion lies- this is what I feel I am best at- so I'm very excited in that sense. BUT- I have to leave the team that I have built, the 14 individuals I have hand-picked (starting from an initial 3) over the last three years- and to be honest- I might be more passionate about THEM than anything. We have SO much fun together. I never dread going to work because of all the fun talks we have throughout the day- and how much we laugh together. And I think that the next team, the one I am inheriting, might be the exact opposite. So we'll see how this goes- all good things must come to an end, I guess. I transition over on December 1st. It's a really good move for my career- but honestly- I sort of like to laugh more than anything. 

The announcement was made about me moving yesterday and that was kind of a hard day. I know people are sad and feel like I am bailing...but today was better. And I have made them promise we will eat lunch together every day. :-)

More tomorrow.

The Resilinator.

Davis and Brooks competed in the Resilinator this Sunday- it was SO fun. At least I think it seemed fun. I had NO idea it was a 2.5 mile course around a lake. Bennett and Nate ended up running it with them because we were worried they would never make it back- ha! They seemed to have a great time- and Davis was BEAT last night.

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I'm so happy Brooks and Davis are such good buds!

Random Pictures

I have a lot of things to catch up on, so for now, just some fun pics from the last few weeks!

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Holden and I have started cooking together on sunday nights. Last sunday we made taco soup- very easy, and very tasty, and she gets SO into it. Loves cooking, loves setting the table, and LOOOOOVES telling everyone how they need to behave at dinner at "the family table". She wanted it to feel extra special that night so we lit a few votives on a plate. She was so pleased.

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Holden picked some plants from the backyard and told me they were umbrellas- one for me, one for her. :-)

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The kids LOVED working out with Nikki in the garage while she was here. She is so proud!

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The boys at Jiu Jitsu. It's so awesome that now Davis is starting to ask when he gets to go to Jiu Jitsu next. At first, we were talking him into going, and yes, he enjoyed it while there- but we always had to push him out the door. Now he cannot wait to go, and wants to go more than one day a week. I love that they do this together.

Can Can Wonderland.

Saturday was another fun day, though the weather was rainy and gray. We decided to try out this new place Can Can Wonderland in St. Paul. And it was AMAZING. It was like a make believe wonderland of characters and props and putt putt and pinball. And they serve everything from cotton candy to malts made out of your favorite ice cream and cereal. It was awesome.

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I recommended that we go there for our team holiday party- so fun. More to come!

Fall in Minneapolis.

So much to write about- so little time! We are in the thick of holiday production- so I spent part of last week in LA and then flew home to spend time with a special guest- and then flew back Monday and will be here till Friday. 

If you're wondering who the special guest is/was- it's Nikki! The kids had Thursday and Friday off for a teacher training (they call it MEA) and last year we went to Disney so I thought long and hard about what could compete with that- and clearly only Nikki can! :-) So she came on Wednesday night, I got home Thursday afternoon, and then I took Friday off so we could spend some time together. It was such a fun weekend- and the weather was GORGEOUS. 

On Friday we went down to Stone Arch bridge and it was 78 degrees. The leaves are turning and it was just a beautiful day to be outside.

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This bridge cuts over the Mississippi and you the buildings on either side are all old flour and grain buildings- so there is Gold Medal Flour, Pillsbury, and then a few other industrial type buildings. It's very charming and it's my new favorite place to take visitors.

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Gosh- they are getting so big. I hate it. But they're also so fun right now- so I'm really enjoying them at the same time! :-)

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Paused halfway to get a BRIDGE SELFIE!!

And then look at the color of the trees in this beautiful park near the bridge.

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Oh and to show you just how warm it was- D decided to take off his shirt and show off his muscles. 

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I mean 78 degrees is swimming weather in Minnesota. And if you aren't worried about global warming- you're crazy. :-)

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.