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.

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.